I'm lucky to be alive today. Last night I was accosted in our storage shed by an enormous spider. And by accosted I mean it sat there quietly and looked creepy and scary. But being the brave blogger that I am, my first thought was not of myself or my safety. Nay, dear readers, it was about YOU! And how at least one of you might actually want to see this sucker. My first words upon spying this giant arachnid were "Holy crap, look at the size of that spider!" Then as I was running back into the house to get my camera I told my husband, "I've got to get a picture of that thing!"
I'm not up on my spider family trees, but I'm going to say this is a Wolf Spider. Because #1, it could actually be a Wolf Spider. And #2, the name Wolf Spider sounds awesome.
Perhaps you are noticing that this little lady has quite the badonkadonk. That's because being a huge spider wasn't creepy enough, so she's carrying around about a bajillion baby spiders on her back. You could see them moving around on her. Talk about making your skin crawl! It's both horrifying and fascinating at the same time.
I was all up in this spider's grill to get these pictures, too. I tried keeping my distance and just zooming in, but either the flash was too bright and kept washing it out, or it was too fuzzy. (I'm not the best photographer, for sure.) So that picture above was taken on my macro setting. YES! I was close enough for one of those baby spiders to reach out and touch me almost. *shudder* Now I have to admit, while spiders don't really bother me all that much, so long as they aren't in my house, crawling on me, or lunging toward me, I'd still rather keep a safe distance. For some reason, whoever put the light switch in our storage shed was an idiot and put it halfway down the wall so that you have to walk at least 2 feet into the room to reach the switch. And after I took my spider pictures, I wasn't about to step over that thing, turn off the light, and then step back over it IN THE DARK! Sure, it was all docile and unthreatening-looking while I was taking pictures, but I know as soon as I turned off that light it would have attacked. I can't help but remember that awful alien spider-thing from John Carpenter's The Thing. So I grabbed the broom and used the handle to reach down the wall and turn off the switch, all the while hoping that spider didn't pounce before I could get the door closed.
Here's a different picture that might help give a bit of scale so you can see how big this thing really is.
I'd also like to point out that while most bugs don't bother me in any abnormal way, I have a huge hate for cockroaches. They turn me into a screaming, yelping, climbing-onto-the-furniture, "Holy crap, it's coming to get me!" sissy little girl. I would not have stopped to take pictures.
I've heard plenty of stories of animals that have saved their owners' lives - warning them of fire, too-high carbon monoxide levels, gas leaks, you name it. But this is the first time I've heard of a beloved pet actually using the phone to do so! Suddenly my own furbabies seem a little unambitious...
I first read this story in the Healthy Pet magazine my vet subscribes me to. The dog, a German Shepherd named Buddy, was trained by his owner to bring him the phone whenever he started to have seizure symptoms. If he couldn't make the call himself, the dog was trained to use his teeth to press programmed buttons that dialed 911. He has to hold the button (any button) down for 3 seconds to trigger the call. How awesome is that? According to this news story, Buddy has done this 3 or 4 times now. Buddy whimpers and whines into the phone once the call is answered. The magazine says that the dispatcher recognized Mr. Stalnaker's name on the Caller ID as someone who was well known to be susceptible to seizures. Mr. Stalnaker has been training Buddy, who was 18 months at the time of the story, since the dog was 8 weeks old. I couldn't do more than get my dogs potty-trained. I can't even imagine how much time and effort it must have taken to train Buddy! I know German Shepherds make great work dogs and service dogs because they are so smart, but I still say it takes LOADS of effort on both the trainer's and the dog's parts to make it work.
I love all kinds of warm-fuzzy pet stories, but the ones where the pets save people's lives are somehow extra special. And don't forget pet therapy animals! It would be a sad world indeed without the love of an animal or two.
Unless you've been living under a rock, all you USA-ers out there know about the 2010 Census. Back in March I received a notice that I would be receiving a Census form. Then I received my actual Census form to be filled out and returned. And then I received a notice reminding me that I had received the Census and please don't forget to fill it out and return it! All of this before April 1st, the date referred to in all the questions. Couldn't they have waited until closer to the reference date before sending these things out? If you mail them out 3 weeks before they can fill them out and send them back in, it's no wonder so many people never do it! They probably lose them or completely forget about them. Even the last reminder is sent out before April 1st.
If anyone doesn't send in their Census form, they're going to send someone to your house to try to get you to answer the questions on the spot. I'm sure most of you already know all of this and have probably already experienced it.
BUT - Did you know that if your neighbor doesn't fill out his form, and doesn't answer his door when they come knocking, that they will knock on YOUR door to see if YOU can help them fill it out? That's right. Someone came to my door the other week and when I saw the Census Worker ID badge and the Census form in his hands, I was about to open my mouth to exclaim that I had already sent in my form when he started asking questions about my neighbor across the street. Just how accurate do they expect that information to be, anyway? The only reason I even know this neighbor's name is because my friend is his landlord. But I only know his first name and I certainly don't know his birthday!
After that, about a week later they sent around a Quality Control person to ask me the same questions again. And guess what? I still didn't know his last name or his birthday! Gee, I'm so glad I can do my part to help my country.
So today I finally broke down and turned on the AC. I might be the only one in Myrtle Beach who waits until June to turn it on every year, but I love the fresh air that comes from leaving the windows open. My DH and I like to be warm, so we try to last as long as we can before we give in. Basically when the nights start getting warmer it's time to turn on the air conditioning. This year I'm actually early! Normally we don't turn it on until we almost can't sleep at night for the heat and humidity. It hasn't quite gotten that bad yet (thanks to ceiling fans) but based on this week's upcoming forecast it wouldn't have been long!
Now I just need a swimming pool. I miss having a pool so badly. I was actually severely tempted to buy one of those inflatable kiddie pools. They have one that's ten feet long! Of course it's less than 2 feet deep, but at least I can lay down in it and swish my arms around some. As the summer gets hotter I may actually get it. My neighbors down the block just got a fancy inground pool. I'm so jealous. Do you think it would be too obvious if I all of a sudden decided to be neighborly and introduce myself and find reasons to come over? I mean, DH and I have only lived here for 6 years. It's never too late to make a new friend, right?
When I was a kid we didn't have air conditioning until I was in 7th grade. And even then it was just one single window unit for the whole house. How in the world did I survive those summers without sweating to death? Oh wait, I remember. We had a pool!