Tag Archives: salamanders

Off The Wall(s)

Well, we’re moving again:  Out of our current rental (our term expires Friday) and into our friends’ place to housesit for a couple of weeks while they’re on vacation.  We’re really hoping our place will be ready by the time they return.  (Not that they’ll kick us out when they get back, but we’d really like to be in our own house!)

So… yesterday afternoon I was sitting in the mostly-empty-but-still-disorganized rental, trying to come up with a blog post in fifteen minutes or less while the phone rang frequently with house-related questions.  My mind was in red alert mode:  “AWOOGA-AWOOGA!  NEXT CRISIS INCOMING AT TWO O’CLOCK!  DECISION-MAKING CAPACITY CRITICALLY LOW!  TOTAL SYSTEM FAILURE IN THREE… TWO…

I took a deep breath or ten and thought, “It’s okay, I’ll just quickly write something off the wall…”

That’s when my overstressed brain got nitpicky:  “No, idiot, you meant ‘off the cuff’; as in ‘informal, without preparation’, not ‘off the wall’; as in ‘eccentric, unexpected, unconventional’!  How do you expect to write an intelligible blog post if you can’t even form a coherent thought?”

It was an excellent question; and one with a very simple answer:  I can’t.

So I’m going with ‘off the cuff’ and ‘bouncing off the walls’, as in ‘nervous, confused, hyper’.  That, I can do.

Here are a few events from this week’s jumble:

  • One of my favourite aunts died this week at age 82, of complications from diabetes and heart disease.  Even though distance prevented me from seeing her as often as I would have liked, her passing still leaves a hole in my life.
  • The herring spawned in the strait outside our rental a few weeks ago and we’ve been enjoying all the action from front-row seats:  the water turned milky jade-green (yes, the entire ocean – that’s a LOT of herring milt); scores of fishing boats rushed back and forth; thousands of seagulls swooped in; followed by thousands of ducks; followed by hundreds of seals and sea lions frolicking and barking only a few yards offshore.  What a show!
  • It’s almost spring:  After the longest, coldest, snowiest winter on record (which must have been scheduled just for us newcomers), the snow is gone, the grass is green, and the rhododendrons and cherry trees are beginning to bloom.  And I saw this cute little guy on one of my walks:

He was moving very slowly – it’s still pretty chilly for salamanders.

  • Our housesitting gig comes with a friendly roommate:  Blue the cat.  After only one day he hasn’t quite forgiven us for not being ‘his people’, but it seems his affection can be bought with a can of Fancy Feast.

Blue the cat is a little blue without his ‘people’. (Actually he’s a LOT Blue – he weighs 22 pounds.)

  • Apparently my brand new 2017 Ford Escape had a leak from the factory-installed roof rack, so the body panels and spare tire liner have been marinating in stagnant water for the past six months.  The whole thing smells like stinky socks when I turn on the heat, but I’m on my third trip to the dealer and it should be fixed soon.
  • Work is proceeding on our house:  We now have electricity, a working septic system, half a heating system, and most of a water supply.  The walls of the garage/workshop/addition are all framed and the roof trusses are arriving today.  It’s happening!  It’s really happening!  🙂

Aaaaand that’s the wrap-up for this week, folks.  What’s new with you?

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Fear Factor: Creepy-Crawly Edition

Warning: There’s a snake photo at the bottom of this post!  (Just thought I’d mention that for those who hate/fear snakes.)

No Fear Factor would be complete without a few creepy-crawlies, so here we go:

Even though I’ve had quite a few close encounters with things that crawl and slither, most of them don’t really creep me out.

(See what I did there? ‘Creep’ me out…?)

*ahem*  Sorry.

Anyway, I’ll start with spiders (and I don’t mean the lovable Spider Webb from my books).

I guess after you’ve had a large spider walking around in your mouth it’s hard to get too wound up about bugs of any sort. Mind you, I didn’t tongue the spider intentionally. I just didn’t realize the potential consequences of drinking from a hose without letting it run for a few seconds first. That poor spider probably achieved low-earth orbit when I spat him out. (The world’s first spidernaut: One small step for man; eight giant steps for arachnids…)

Over the years I’ve lifted spiders off my eyebrows, shaken them out of my hair, and, if statistics are to be believed, probably eaten close to a dozen in my sleep by now. Spiders don’t bother me.

But wood ticks?

Bleah!!! I hate wood ticks! They’re bad enough when they’re crawling around all flat and icky but once they latch on and get engorged to the size of revolting dead-white grapes… *shudders*

Before the advent of flea-and-tick collars, picking engorged ticks off the cats and dogs on the farm was a disgusting but necessary chore. It was too bad they didn’t make flea-and-tick collars for humans, too, because after being outdoors in Manitoba we almost always had to evict a couple from our clothes or bodies.

Moving on to the crawlies: I’m not crazy about centipedes, mainly because I’ve heard they bite. But wooly-bear caterpillars are cute. As kids we loved to pick them up and watch them curl into a furry ball. Then after a few seconds they’d relax and crawl around our palms while we giggled at the tickly sensation.

Cold-blooded crawlies don’t bother me, either. My fifth-grade teacher confided to my mother with some dismay, “All the other children bring me flowers. Diane brings me salamanders!”

I didn’t mean to upset her. It was just that the other kids were tormenting the poor salamanders, so I rescued them and carried them home to release by our pond after school. I kept hoping they’d stay and have families, but I never saw them again. (Maybe I should have tried bringing two salamanders home. Clearly I didn’t think that part through.)

And then there are the ‘slitheries’.  I class leeches under ‘slitheries’, and they revolt me; but then again I figure it’s probably healthy to harbour an aversion to critters that want to suck my blood.  (No vampires for me, either, thank you very much.)

Snakes, on the other hand…

Years ago, friends had a six-foot long boa constrictor who loved to cuddle up and tuck his nose under my hair where it was nice and warm.

Years ago, friends had a six-foot long boa constrictor who loved to cuddle up and tuck his nose under my hair where it was nice and warm.

Snakes are okay, but I do prefer a little advance warning. Sudden snakes are rarely a good thing, particularly if you’re poking around one of our desert micro-climates where the rattlesnakes hang out.

Snakes in quantity are another thing entirely. The garter snake pits at Narcisse, Manitoba are amazing (click on the videos at the bottom of their page if you dare). I don’t know how they all manage to untangle themselves. Apparently the accepted collective nouns for snakes are ‘bed’, ‘pit’, ‘den’, ‘knot’, and ‘nest’, but I think a ‘macramé of snakes’ would be appropriate.

Which creepy-crawly do you loathe the most?

P.S.  You may have noticed that my site was down for the better part of a day last week.  My domain host crapped out completely (yes, I’m switching to a new one now) and all my emails vanished into cyberspace.  If you emailed me any time within the past couple of weeks but didn’t get a reply, please resend your message.  I promise I’m not ignoring you!

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