Season Of Spider Love


In my corner of the world spiders are considered summertime house invaders. With seasonal predictability they arrive on the promise of spring staking claim to the garden. As days lengthen we open windows and doors, inviting spiders into our homes with warm weather indifference. Canadian summers are fleeting, knowing they’ll be gone at first frost excuses occasional household spider drama.

As I write, autumn chill suggests a timely spider farewell – not so fast, this is the season of spider love.

Three species in particular, the Hobo, Barn Tunnel Weaver and “giant house spider” Eratigena Atrica reach sexual maturity in autumn. All three abandon their horizontal sheet or funnel garden webs in search of love. Just when Canadians let their guard fall with autumn leaves, harmless lovelorn spiders appear in bathtubs, basements and bedroom walls.

As spiders go they aren’t behemoth, venomous or likely to bite, all they want is a little love.Take a deep breath, stifle screams, scoop and show them the door.

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What Have I Done


Chances of finding someone who shares relaxed indifference toward a Black Widow spider living 18 months in their basement window are slim to none. Likewise genuine remorse for basement widow’s unceremonious death, or wobbly knee outrage over vacuum hose eradication wielded by a concerned family member. I sulked for weeks, outraged by audacity of family capable of decisive spider intervention while I was away.

“I liked that spider, it wasn’t bothering you!” met “Are you nuts? Have you seen what a Black Widow bite can do?”. Yes I replied, but you don’t understand, this spider liked the basement window. Knowing they acted reasonably didn’t ease the loss of basement widow.

I haven’t told them basement widow’s polite demeanor might have been a peculiar anomaly. Nor have I divulged “what have I done” alarm over recent Black Widow sightings. Widows I might add, who by all appearances lack the courtesy of basement widow. Three Black Widow encounters in the past two days, all eluding attempts to catch and release, not one downstairs where they belong. Oh my, what have I done.

These widows are feisty, smaller and alarmingly craftier than the soothing persona of basement widow. One in windowsill cactus above my kitchen sink, another attempting to claim the bathroom window, a third exuding what you gonna do about it confidence between folds of the spare bedroom curtain. What have I done? Three allowed themselves to be seen, how many lurk unseen.

Evangelical Hurricane


Common sense knows lesbians aren’t responsible for Hurricane Harvey. Radio preacher Rick Wiles begs to differ,suggesting Houston is underwater because it “boasted of its LGBT devotion”. Enter my favorite nincompoop Ann Coulter, who tweeted – I don’t believe Hurricane Harvey is God’s punishment for Houston electing a lesbian mayor,” “But that is more credible than ‘climate change.’ ”

Right Wing Watch reported Pastor Kevin Swanson’s caution on hurricane Irma –  the storm path would be altered by God if the Supreme Court quickly made abortion and gay marriage illegal.

Rush Limbaugh doesn’t blame hurricane season on God, however he fingers “liberal media hype” – “There is a desire to advance this climate change agenda, and hurricanes are one of the fastest and best ways to do it,” he argued, claiming that “hurricanes are always forecast to hit major population centers.”

Twenty years ago religious broadcaster Pat Robertson said Orlando should beware of hurricanes for allowing the Gay Days celebration. Robertson said the widespread practice of homosexuality “will bring about terrorist bombs, it’ll bring earthquakes, tornadoes and possibly a meteor.”

Jim Bakker deserves mention, his tenacious resolve to profit from God is staggering. Not for a post Harvey assertion “this flood is from God”, but for saying so while pitching “Tasty Pantry”, a line of dehydrated survival food sold to sustain the faithful during the coming apocalypse.

I shudder to think how many people take natural disaster as Gods wrath. How many buy nonsense of climate change conspiracy or fail to understand the significance of 79 degrees Fahrenheit – when surface water in the Atlantic reaches 79 degrees it evaporates at the rate of 180 tons an hour, water vapor rises forming massive clouds of low pressure. Caught in rotational force, clouds rotate pushing away high atmospheric pressure, feeding on energy of continuous evaporation a hurricane is born of warm ocean water, not God.

Stop this Biblical nonsense.

Skyglow


The term skyglow evokes poetic images – sunset petticoats of periwinkle clouds caught in flirtatious embrace with plump pomegranate horizons, gossamer tendrils of moonlight skipping playful stones across still water, calming arias of ethereal pre-dawn planetary conjunctions – all may glow, but none define skyglow.

Skyglow is light pollution. Artificial, unshielded, unnatural light directed upward into the atmosphere. Driving at night we’ve all seen a distant glowing dome over towns and cities, that is skyglow – the reason I strain to hear childhood stars sing.

In 1928 naturalist and writer Henry Beston published The Outermost House. In it he wrote –

Our fantastic civilization has fallen out of touch with many aspects of nature, and with none more completely than with night. Primitive folk, gathered at a cave mouth round a fire, do not fear night; they fear, rather, the energies and creatures to whom night gives power; we of the age of the machines, having delivered ourselves of nocturnal enemies, now have a dislike of night itself. With lights and ever more lights, we drive the holiness and beauty of night back to the forests and the sea; the little villages, the crossroads. Are modern folk, perhaps, afraid of night? Do they fear that vast serenity, the mystery of infinite space, the austerity of stars? Having made themselves at home in a civilization obsessed with power, which explains its whole world in terms of energy, do they fear at night for their dull acquiescence and the pattern of their beliefs? Be the answer what it will, today’s civilization is full of people who have not the slightest notion of the character or the poetry of night, who have never even seen night. Yet to live thus, to know only artificial night, is as absurd as to know only artificial day.
― Henry Beston, The Outermost House, 1928

Entirely light polluted Shenandoah National Park, Virginia

Entirely light polluted Shenandoah National Park, Virginia – “In Shenandoah National Park, only the occasional passing clouds block enough light from the surrounding cities to offer visitors a decent view of the heavens. With an estimated light pollution growth at 6 percent a year, National Parks, along with all of the developed world, may lose their dark skies by the end of the 21st Century.” – https://skyglowproject.com/#dark-sky-movement

Light Pollution Visualization.jpg

In 1958 Flagstaff, Arizona became the first city to pass light pollution laws. City ordinances prohibited the use of commercial search lights within city limits, violation of said ordinance was punishable by up to 90 days in jail. In 2001 the International Dark Sky Association named Flagstaff the first international dark sky community in recognition of pioneering efforts to maintain dark skies.A well deserved nod born in 1958, schooled through 1973 when Flagstaff’s county of Coconino passed sweeping lighting code regulations, and educated by 1981 when all illuminated billboards were banned.

Flagstaff is world's only city of 100,000+ residents to feature readily-available dark skies. 

Flagstaff is world’s only city of 100,000+ residents to feature readily-available dark skies.

With the estimated light pollution growth of 6% a year, all of developed world may lose its dark skies by the end of the 21st century.

“Skyglow” is also a project by timelapse photographers Harun Mehmedinovic and Gavin Hefferman to raise awareness of light pollution. Spend a video moment with Gavin and Harum, it will forever change how you gaze at night skies. –

“The age of dark skies, with us from the very beginning of humanity, has come to an abrupt end.” – https://skyglowproject.com/#music

 

 

RIP House Widow


On a trip to the laundry room several years ago I discovered a black widow spider. As the only family member licensed to dispatch spiders, her demise was automatic and swift. My husband protected us from snakes, spiders were my responsibility. A practical, unspoken arrangement acted upon without hesitation, quelling arachnid hysteria never bothered me. If a snake ever hissed in the house my husband would do the same. I forgave the one and only house snake in our 35 years, the garter snake he and the kids brought home in a bucket, the one they named Mrs. Slithers when she gave birth to 11 babies the following day, but that’s another story.

Soon after finding laundry room widow, many more disturbed domestic harmony. Upstairs, downstairs, bathroom, kitchen, bedrooms – black widows were becoming a problem. Some had to be executed, but only as a last resort when catch and release failed. Along the way a peculiar affinity developed for well mannered widows. Rogue spiders couldn’t be allowed to roam at will, homesteaders were another matter.

For a while “No, of course I don’t want a black widow bite”, “Yes, I’ll do something about basement widow” sandbagged rising dismay. Relax! Spiders are my job, the situation is under control!

My son broke the news. “You were sleeping…” “We saw an egg sack…” “Sprayed it with Raid…” “Got the vacuum out…” I heard myself say, you killed my spider? Then wished I could take it back because it sounded so crazy. “We can get you a pet spider” he offered with genuine sympathy. “It’s ok, I don’t want a pet spider” was spoken, “I liked that spider” wasn’t.

I couldn’t explain without sounding unbalanced, wouldn’t expect them to understand mild obsession with observing the same spider for almost 2 years. Their spiders are my snakes, I get it. RIP basement widow.

 

Basement Widow Update


Basement widow hasn’t crossed my mind in a while. Paid a visit after work tonight, snapping a hasty cell phone image of her impressive domain.

Research indicates female black widows have a life span of up to three years. My spider is entering her second basement summer. Rest easy, I’ll update her status every few months.

Steveston Sea Lion Stupidity


Anyone who’s seen the program When Animals Attack understand it almost always starts with nincompoops too stupid to grasp imminent danger.Yesterday afternoon the dock at Steveston B.C. catapulted stupid to the stratosphere. Hey, lets feed this wild animal! No wait, lets put this child in its face. Hahaha, it tried to kiss her, lets put our child even closer. NO STUPID! It wants to eat her, she looks like food! Hit play and watch stupid in action –