Tag Archives: spiders and snakes

Why ‘Spiders’?


Hi!!!! It’s Friday, and for the second time in nearly two years, that means something to me again! Woot! I have ‘me time’ for one evening and two whole days!

I’m having blogging withdrawals, and Brushes withdrawals. I’ve been working on a version of Usyaka, but I’m nowhere near happy with it yet, so I won’t post it tonight.

I thought I’d return to the reason I started the blog: the writing! I miss it. Sometimes I didn’t really feel like writing, but once I started I was happier every time. Except for the long-ass post that got lost, that still irritates me.

Anyhoo, one of the things I’ve been meaning to write about is my blog name, and why I chose ‘spiders’ instead of any other creature when ‘dragons’ was taken.

I used to be afraid of spiders, like every kid is, or should be. It is way easier (and safer) to teach your child that all snakes and spiders are dangerous than to wait until they pick one up and then decide if it is venomous or not. That never really worked with me as regards snakes – I could and did catch any of them I could find. I got bitten by a wild snake once, and to this day I have no idea what kind of snake it was because the bite worked: I let go. It wasn’t poisonous, thankfully.

In any case this was Florida. We had loads of dangerous spiders: the black widow and the brown recluse being the two we all worried about. But when I was small, all spiders were bad and scary so ‘eww’ and/or ‘eek’ would have been my reaction to any and all of them.

Until I did a chore for my father.

When we moved to Florida, we built a garage on to the ‘new’ house, which was a red brick ranch. The builders left a bunch of bricks and concrete cinder blocks behind. Dad stacked them up neatly at the side of the house, and there they remained for nearly a decade. One day he decided they needed to be moved – I think when we bought a shed and needed a wider path to get it around the back of the house. I was old enough, and strong enough, and tomboy enough, to either be chosen for the job or told to do it. I’m bad with time sense, but I was younger than 12 and older than 9… I think.

Every damn brick I picked up had spiders living in the three holes, or between the bricks. Every damn brick had at least three arachnid residents. Any other insect, I would have been fascinated. The spiders kept creeping me out.

I eventually got sick and tired of saying ‘eww’ and started paying attention to them. I saw how they never even attempted to bite me. I saw how they were all sizes and body shapes and colours. Some were tiny and black with bright white spots and jumped instead of walked. Some had skinny, long legs and elongated bodies. Some were large and fat and a lovely grey shade with brown legs.

I found that I was beginning to like some of them, especially the grey ones. I caught some and kept them in jars. I would take them out and play with them – they were 2 inches long, or longer with their legs stretched out. They never bit, but they were fast! I always worried I would hurt one by accident. For all their size, they were soft and fragile.

I just remembered this: a pencil drawing I did of my favourite grey spider when I was 13. I put the spider on the paper and drew points where her feet touched, so this is life-size.

I learned how to tell the males from females. I learned that if you blow a little puff of air on a spider, they freeze in their tracks. There goes the urban myth that spiders crawl into our mouths when we are asleep – I guarantee you they hate being breathed on!

Eventually I bought myself a tarantula. I named her Chrysanthemum the Tarantulum. She was incredible. Her feet were, to the naked eye, as round and smooth as a finger tip. But somehow they could hold on to you! You could feel the foot clinging. It was as if she and I were the opposite sides of Velcro. She was so strong, too – she peeled back the plastic lid on her massive pickle jar and held it open while she chewed through the screen to escape (found her in my closet). We obtained a terrarium.

My mother was fascinated with ‘Chrissy’ too. Her co-workers would catch crickets in the office for her to being home as food. If we had company over, mom would ask if they wanted to meet her. I’d put her on the kitchen table and we’d giggle as she turned her body sideways to go between the salt and pepper instead of going around or over. Then she’d put on a burst of speed and startle the hell out of all of us.

When I was 15, I learned how to give myself a tattoo. I sat on the couch and diligently branded my left hand with a spider tat. It was black ink but has been blue for decades because home-grown tattoos go too deep and the ink changes colour. But it still looks like a spider!

I don’t catch wild spiders to keep any more, and it is too cold here for me to want to get another tarantula. But I never kill them, and I always feel bad when Lokii gobbles one down.

That blue blur at the bottom of the pic is my tattoo. It isn’t actually blurry, just a bad shot!