It’s Fall, Y’all!

Fall is here and with the change of season, for our family, comes football. My husband has umpired high school and college level games for years and loves it. With our move to the city with no yard for the dogs, it has become necessary to walk them more frequently and that job falls to me in the evenings when he is at a game. (See what I did there?!)

The change of season not only brings football, but the change in temperatures (from 85 all the way down to 79!), the little bit of crispness at dusk and dawn, pumpkin spice all the things, school in session, and of course Halloween on the horizon. The last dog walk of the evening is my favorite. There are very few people out, it’s quiet and calm and it gives us a chance to relax and settle in for the night. All the townhouses in our community have automated porch lights so it’s actually bright enough to see festive decorations trimming doorways along our route. Fall is here.

As I matched Hippo’s pace on our evening jaunt, my eyes scanned the sidewalks for possible hazards – the dog will eat all kinds of gross findings. I took a deep breath and as I rounded the corner under the large maple trees that line the walk, I saw something that looked out of place. It was a leaf, but oddly suspended mid-air. I stopped suddenly and Hippo looked up at me expectantly. I followed the line up from the leaf, and at eye level, about 5 inches from my face, is a spider the size of a quarter nestled in his ginormous web. (For the record, I’ve NEVER seen a web this huge before in real life. At least 6 feet high). His fat juicy body was the size of the coin, and his legs spread out from there, daring me to come just a little bit closer. I swallowed the bile threatening to exit and I abruptly stumbled back and turned the other way. Hippo glanced at me again, convinced I’m nuts because, let’s face it – I am certifiable when it comes to bugs. Scorpions, roaches and rattlesnakes were 3 things I was very happy to say “adios!” to as we drove out of south Texas. Spiders have never been my favorite, and after our stint in Hawaii and coming face to face with a cane spider, my hatred has far from waned.

When I say “stumbled back and turned the other way”, what that really means is this: you know when someone startles you and you freak out? Like when your kid stands at the top of the stairs, just out of sight waiting to nail you? You get to the stairs, they yell, “BOO!” or “Gotchya!” and you react by jumping straight up, hair standing out on end, and yell something super intelligible like, “HAWOGHGHHGHHHHH!” while your heart races and you marvel at the fact that you just almost died and why would your dear, sweet offspring want to give you a heart attack like that?! No?! Just me? I digress… But that’s basically how I reacted to a spider 5 inches from my nose. In the dark. In the fall. When it’s almost Halloween.

I consider myself a rational person. Intellectually, I comprehend the fact that arachnids have their place in the food chain and if we didn’t have them, other insects would flourish blah, blah, blah. I love trees. I don’t love that they are spider houses. If you are a spider, and I see you – I will murder you or hire someone to murder you. If you have more than 4 legs, I want no part of you. Do not come to my house. I don’t need roommates and I do not want to be your friend.

Picking up dog poo and taking deep breaths to calm down (not necessarily in that order), I collected myself and vowed to never ever under any circumstances ever go on that side of the road again. I also vowed that now my husband shall be the chief evening dog walker. I brought Hippo in and grabbed a drink of water to calm down. After leashing up the other two, we head back into battle. It’s the littles and me against all the creepy crawlies. I’ve just about talked myself back to a normal functioning adult when what do I see? A RED ROACH SCURRYING PAST MY FEET. I should mention that my feet are exposed – bare and in flip flops adding to the heebee-jeebee creepy feeling. As if that wasn’t enough, the universe decided that I must be tested further when it’s mate joined him from one patch of grass, across the sidewalk and under a bush, followed by what appeared to be a baby. Awe! How sweet. Mr. and Mrs. Roach and family crossed the sidewalk right in front of me. And on the same night that I almost died from a a spider on my face!

Just give me the dang straight jacket now. If it comes with a padded room, great. As long as the door seals tight and no bugs get in, I think I’ll be good. Happy Fall!

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Spiders

Growing up we lived in a few different houses, but one in particular was a magnet for spiders. It was nestled in the woods of the pacific northwest on the side of a lake. One of my chores was to sweep the decks and clear out spider webs out of the railings. There were always webs and more often then not, a big (or what I considered big at the time) fat spider waiting for me to gulp down my stomach and screw up my courage to plunge him off the deck. I hated this chore. Not because I disliked the work necessarily, but rather my irrational fear and loathing of spiders.
And then they would climb up the bathtub drains and oops! As you go to brush your teeth while still a little sleepy – there is your good friend Mr. Eight legs. Yuck and a half.
I’m not quite sure why I dislike them so much. I think it may be because of the creepy-crawly nature of those 8 disgusting legs. Blegh. And really?! I know that all of God’s creatures serve a purpose in the food chain, but I could have done without spiders thank you very much. It seems their only purpose is to make me wig out like a lunatic in need of a padded room. Oh – and cock roaches. Not a fan of those vermin either.
So fast forward 30 years and we are living in Hawaii and have a little “encounter” with a cane spider. Here is what they look like if you are not familiar:
Yeah, even putting that picture up is giving me the heeby jeebies. Hlghhahghhgalablegh! (Yes, that is word!) The rental we lived in when we first arrived to Oahu was INFESTED with roaches. (climbing up drains, on garbage cans – EVERY.WHERE!) Upon several visits with our friendly Terminix representative, he surmised that the cane spider was probably attracted to our home due to the infestation of roaches. Needless to say – we didn’t stay long and I gladly paid to break the lease and move into base housing the following month.
This past Saturday evening, the kids and I returned from a mini vacation. We unloaded the car, played with toys we hadn’t seen in a week or so, I did 64 loads of laundry, got the kids fed, bathed and tucked in bed and finally sat down to watch a little television. And then I see it. Just a little movement in my peripheral vision.
Nah, I didn’t see that, did I? It was just out in front of the couch and I think I saw it crawl under it. But no, couldn’t be. I continued watching t.v., nearly willing it to not be what I thought it was.
Then the dang thing decided to make a beeline from under the couch to under the television stand. Okay. Breathe. It. Was. Huge.
Bigger than any other spider I’ve ever seen in Washington. It wasn’t a cane spider or anything, but it was the size of my palm. Big.
It’s 11pm, I’m in my jammies, feeling vulnerable. The kids are in bed, I’m barefoot and I HAVE to do battle with this thing. Hubby is deployed. (This is SO his job!) Kids are asleep and there is NO ONE to come save me from this thing. So I scramble to the kitchen (with my toes severely curled) and grab my lethal spray bottle of…..409?
Yup. I sat on the couch with my feet curled up under me with a bottle of 409 and waited. Again, screwing up my courage to do what I have to do. Cause there is no way on God’s green earth that I can go to sleep knowing that thing is crawling around down here. It has to go. (Or I could check into a hotel for the remainder of the deployment….ha! I wish! Although maid service has me considering it seriously for just a moment!)
Then I see it crawl up the wall behind the t.v. Okay – do or die. I look at the thing for a moment. I say out loud to the spider, “Dude! Do you seriously have to be that big?!” He didn’t not answer me back. I shot him with the 409 while simultaneously doing the silent scream. You know that scream that you have to get out, but really don’t want the repercussions of waking up the kids? That’s the one I did.
409 didn’t do the trick. He just stood there frozen on the wall. So I RAN into the kitchen, grabbed the wasp and hornet spray that kills on contact and shot him with it. He curled up and fell to the floor.
Breathe again. For about 5 minutes I just sat on the opposite side of the room. Finally I gathered myself to ensure his demise. I successfully sucked up the carcass in the vacuum and then he made his exit via trash bag to the garbage. He has since been picked up by my good friend Mr. Garbage Collection Technician. He is my hero!
And since I won this victory against arachnids everywhere, they seem to be launching a counter attack because I have seen at least one spider everyday since we have been back. A fat one (although normal sized for Washington) up in my sink drain, another on the ceiling in the laundry room and I found a cluster of babies in the garage. And just this morning a little 8-legged fellow graced my front door. I screamed in shock as I almost touched the thing when I walked out the door this morning – much to my kids delight. They think its hilarious when I freak out or shriek or get injured. What is up with that?! Crazy kids!
Not really sure why I felt compelled to share my arachnophobia with the world other than perhaps by sharing my heebie jeebies – I can stop thinking about it and get some sleep!
Notice to all arachnids: I am seriously not a fan and not your fan. Please stop visiting me. I don’t want you. GET OUT! Thank you!