"Spiders so large they appear to be wearing the pelts of small animals." - Dave Barry

Through my living room window I can see the world's longest spider web thread that runs from my clematis vine diagonally upward across the landscaping to the corner eave of my house. Now in spider steps that seems much like the expanse of the Bay Bridge in Maryland or the Mackinaw Bridge in Northern Michigan. Occasionally a slight breeze, combined with the right angle of the sun, illuminates its entire strand span. Impressive to say the least! Though I am neither a spider fan or crippled by fear, I marvel at their web skills, architectural displays of brilliant originality and a sort of Evel Knievel defiance of the laws of building.

I kill spiders. Sorry to those out there that relocate them away from their house when found.Though they are a great part of the Eco system both as predators and food for other predators, I do not want to them to get in my house. Period. It could be that they are sneaky and I don't much care for the sneaky, easily hidden insects. It could be that I was bitten by a brown recluse once and don't care to repeat that ordeal! I've had too many spider experiences in houses I've owned over the years - much too many indeed! My sisters tell me I am a creature attractor for all the insects and animals I have been witness to.

Tarantula - WikipediaWe lived in Arizona at one point, home of the magnificent tarantula.  To see them up close in nature is a wonder! My husband's employer had a loading dock in the back of the building that bordered the desert. Every morning the back dock area would be riddled with dozens of dead tarantulas. They eat insects [that's why they came to the dock area at night to eat the bevy of insects that the overhead light pole drew], but will eat frogs, bats, small rodents and snakes. Though they have a hearty appetite, they rarely bite humans, and if they do it's said their bite is no worse than a bee sting typically. Typically leaves room for exceptions so that leaves me out in holding one!

Black and Yellow Garden Spiders On her web facing toward ground  as a means of protectionThese once terrified me - big black and yellow garden spiders that like to build webs in and near plants. Their girthy size and brilliant color is alarming but they don't hurt humans. You will know one when you see their elaborate web that has a zig zag thread in it. They can build an elaborate web in a night.Talk about Extreme Makeover Home Edition! Anything that gets caught in their web they will mercilessly eat. If they feel threatened they may get aggressive which usually means they drop quickly to the ground. Their venom is not poisonous to humans but you may die of fright if one got on you! Adults can live several years but die at the first hard frost if you live in a cold weather climate zone. 

My daughter has been terrified of spiders since she was a small child. She used to lay, paralyzed in her bed or whatever position she was in when she spotted a spider, screaming for me to come kill it. There was no reasoning with fear, though I tried with her spider phobia. Fear is totally unreasonable and usually significantly off in reality. 

I had a friend years ago who was bitten by a recluse spider and eventually had to have her leg amputated due to complications of that bite. When I was bitten by that same type of spider, I took a pic of my leg and texted it to my doctor who said, "get in the car and get here as soon as you can." Between his antibiotic specific for spider bites and my concoction paste of activated charcoal and baking soda, I didn't have any lasting or adverse problems.They are not good at all to humans. Do not re-habitat them!

Image courtesy of gdaywa.comI saw one of the biggest daddy long leg spiders ever yesterday perched on my office window screen. I felt extra benevolent and let him live. Daddy long leg spiders are known to be fairly slow moving, docile and do not bite humans. They do eat other spiders that are poisonous and other insects as well.They live, without being killed or eaten, huddled in a corner somewhere about 2 years.

And finally, do we really eat 8 spiders in our sleep a year? Fiction is the biggest consensus. It sort of flies against what we know about spider and human biology. That myth was probably made up by an older brother to prey on his younger sister's fear of spiders. 8 is such an arbitrary number anyway. That scenario only further fuels my current insomnia.


7.8 billion

We all love different things.  And, we love those things in differing degrees and intensities. It's both enlightening and mysterious to see what people gravitate toward - activities, products, choices, energy output, passions, addictions and even relationships. Something in our coding lends proclivity to this or that style, purchase, drink, food, house, hobby, vacation, friend, church, vocation, way of communicating, and even our choice of words. Variety is the spice of life, it's often said anyway. 

There have been lots of studies regarding genetics or environmental influences on people. I find those topics riveting. I gulp that genre of books and information down like a bag of M&Ms. That interest is merely a result of paragraph one - we are all different. It's why I love memoirs and autobiographies. It's also why I love to observe people operating fully as themselves with all their nuances, quirks, choices and bents. Many say one of my gifts is allowing people to be fully themselves in my presence without an expectation to perform, or hide parts of themselves - they let down. I hope I truly do that for others.

It's fascinating we can share sameness in the large pool of  human beings but have so many individual variances. What an absolutely beautiful fully stocked crayon box of even idiosyncrasies to color the world. Ever look at clothes in a store and say to yourself over much of it, "who would buy that!". The answer is someone or the store wouldn't stock even what you find ugly. Amazing:) 

To my butterfly loving friend Dorothy
The trick, the zen place to get to is to be more than tolerant of those differences. We need to celebrate and affirm each difference as a piece in the beautiful mural of humanity. We are a quilt garden, a 7.8 billion piece puzzle, a divine 8th wonder of the world.

During this pandemic of 2020 the only puzzle I could find in the store was something outside of my liking - totally not into butterflies and bright colors. There was obviously a run on puzzles in my town, but my mind needed a distraction despite the ugliness of the puzzle left on the shelf! When I got to the last couple pieces of that gaudy puzzle, it was missing the corner piece. Though there were hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of other pieces all in place, it felt incomplete without that one piece.

I am my own piece, different than yours.
 Without me, without you, there would be a hole somewhere in the puzzle.


BLACK WAS CREATED BY GOD, and so were the principals of love, kindness and grace

I live in a woods teeming with creatures of all kinds; turkeys, fox, deer, bunnies, gray squirrels, skink lizards, wood roaches, every kind of bird I know and some I don't, snakes, eagles, coyotes, big turtles, Blue Heron, all sorts of insects including deer flies, and the most dreaded of all - the horse fly.  Teeming is an accurate word and so is plague - think biblical proportions if you can! 

The horse flies chase and bite in swarms due to the heavy foliage and nearby water. On the Eastern shore horse flies have a huge presence and long season of bullying from the end of July through September. They drive people indoors, relentlessly and viciously chase both people and cars, and loiter their biting presence all over my porch. I hate them. Greatly. They almost make me forget the beauty that is still present when they invade. What an odd dichotomy.

History shows us that same picture over and over. The darkness always seeks to destroy the beauty, the light, the good - to extinguish pure love. It's been its mode of operation since the Garden of Eden. It's not new at all in the scenery of humanity. It is none-the-less soul disappointing. Its wake is like a tornado touch down leaving ugly disfigurement all around. It feels unchangeable, insurmountable and despairing to all. Yet here we are again with another reprehensible injustice, actually several all rolled up into one.

This I do know, every person is created by God. That literally means, EVERY BLACK SKINNED PERSON! [I have always gotten lost in how we say white or black or brown when it is just a piece of who anyone is - a color of skin! No one should be defined solely by a color. It should be a descriptive adjective without emotional connotation, negative reaction, judgement or unequal treatment! Our country should be far past this short of treatment of black people! I am grieved over the continuing reality around me that shows some are not! We also then, in our support of the injustice, get miffed off criticizing words from people who support equality and black people because they didn't say it exactly right or support the right phraseology! Let's take that down a notch as well. I would surmise that some of those that say All Lives Matter do NOT mean it to avert the spotlight from the struggle of black people presently, but to say IT MOST DEFINITELY IS BLACK PEOPLE THAT MATTER and their mistreatment shows a HUGE CULTURAL PROBLEM. We fail to even give grace when support is not given as we think it should be given.If their lack of eloquence pisses you off either keep your energy focused on the bigger problem at large or just be kinder in general, please!] 

God is called Creator for a reason.  He formed us individually. Like a Picasso painting, we are His masterpiece both individually and collectively. God knew us BEFORE we were born. He called each of us by name and holds our tears in a bowl. He knows the number of hairs on each of our heads and dwells all around us. That is a vivid picture of God's sacred, intimate, respectful and deep love for for each of us - for black people. God's purposeful, creative creation of me shows how He places value, worth and importance on me, on you, on George Floyd and like it or not, those four police officers. We are not better than the least of us nor are we worse than the best of us.   

There is dignity and sanctity to every life. Usurping care and value of others, the person before us that God also created, named, called by name and holds their tears, is an offense against the Creator of us all. I wondered out loud this week how much God's heart was breaking by humanity's care of others' bodies, belongings, livelihoods, and spirits - the horror of the dismantling of empathy and respect for all things living. My heart felt that way too - heavy.

Like you, I cannot grasp or process this continued abhorration of grace, kindness and basic civility. It's too big to make a concise statement, a synopsis, to wrap it up neatly or to legislate it away. Even with a band-aid the wound is too big to be covered presently. Empathy moves us to inclusion which stems from love.  Love is respect, dignity, equality, value and care. 

Evil takes all avenues at its disposal to divide, destroy, grow and infiltrate. It uses all vehicles that can kill love, empathy, ethics, equality, and morality. Evil has a knack of taking simple things and making them complicated. It all feels huge, unstoppable at times and makes me very sangry (combo of deep sadness and anger). This I know, life was created by God.  And LIVES matter greatly.  Period.  

In my anger, outrage and great sadness over George Floyd's murder, I also need to be reminded that evil can be redeemed - it's destruction can be repurposed.That is where grace enters most elegantly, at the point of worse to make it right.