7.20.2010

Spider War Rages On

One of my friends suggested I get a can of Raid to help manage the spider situation around our place. While I was working, I looked up and saw a nasty little spider crawling on the outside of my window. It was a quick one that reacted to my movement even inside, so I grabbed the can of Raid and ran outside. I gave it a good dose and sprayed around the window to discourage future visitors. Since there was quite a bit of the poison floating around out there, and a couple dead bugs along with the spider, I didn’t want to let my cat out until the fumes had dissipated and I’d swept the poisoned bugs away.


A few days passed before I got around to going out there again… I really don’t like to anymore after all the spiders started showing up. After I got home from the pool one afternoon, my cat was crying by the sliding glass door so I decided it was time to finally sweep the balcony off so he could play outside again. Realize that I was in a bikini and flip flops when I opened the door and took the first step onto the balcony… overhead was clear, first glance to the left… not clear.


In an instant, my brain took in the new web surrounding the little outdoor light fixture – odd since we destroyed all the webs out there a month ago. Then, my mind registered what was under this web… the biggest spider I have ever encountered besides the tarantulas you see in a pet store. This thing was huge, dark and I was feeling very exposed. Oh my gosh. Oh my gosh. Was all I could formulate as I blocked my cat’s exit onto the balcony. Nooo, not today. I shut the door and stood there, trying to remain calm.


I was home by myself, but I knew that a chance like this may not present itself in the near future and I would just end up worrying about where the spider was hiding if I didn’t take care of it. Problem: I don’t know if it’s poisonous, fast, jumping, or how it will react if I confront it. Solution: jeans, hoodie, and rain boots as quickly as possible. I rolled up my jeans so they were just covering the tops of my boots. No reason to give the spider access to fall in a boot, or climb up my pants. I pulled the hood of my sweatshirt over my hair, and after thinking twice I left it untied. No reason to trap myself in it if I had to whip it off quickly! Then I remembered my leather gardening gloves – excellent! I grabbed the Raid and the fly swatter and headed out to battle.


The big spider was still there – just sitting under her thick web. I was kind of in awe of how large it was, and the fact that it was still there and I was about to confront it. I decided to stand on our patio chair so I could be at a better height to spray the Raid directly on my nemesis, and so I wouldn’t have to jump around if it fell to the ground and started running around. Of course I dawdled just a moment too long and I saw it start to move and slowly it disappeared behind the light fixture – just as I started to douse it with Raid. It was gone. I couldn’t tell if there was a hollow spot in the fixture or a hole in the wall, but the spider had completely disappeared.


I coated the entire fixture with Raid. It was dripping. Then I took the fly swatter and stuck it between the fixture and the wall and scraped up and down and jiggled it around. I still saw nothing, so I squirted the Raid in the crack again. I banged on the fixture. Nothing. Sigh… well the exterminator who had visited our place had mentioned that Raid was a good idea for dealing with spiders because even if they ran away after you sprayed them, they would still die.


Back inside, I inspected the wall opposite the exterior light fixture. I repeated to myself that the Raid should still kill it, as I looked at the air vents in the ceiling and wondered at the construction of our military housing. Nah – cockroaches come in that way, but probably not spiders… right? I sat in my husband’s office chair for a few minutes contemplating what to do. Rain boots off. Gloves off. Sweatshirt off. Try to put it out of my mind. I wandered back towards the glass door to see if I could see anything out there on the wall now. Nope, but as my eyes glanced down to the floor, there was the giant!!! It was crawling along the outside of the doorframe – reaching towards the glass at one point even! Then it started to crawl along parallel and away from where I would have to open the door to get outside again.


I raced to my rain boots and slipped them on as my cat trotted along beside me. I also thought to grab my camera - along with the Raid. The camera wasn’t useful because as soon as I stepped outside, the lens fogged up with humidity. It wasn’t going to clear up anytime soon with the intense humidity out there, so I gave up on the picture attempt. I jumped up on my chair and started shooting. The spider was in the corner near the door still, and it starting running forward towards me. I held that spray on it in a constant stream! I had a little jolt of fear as it continued forward, but then I saw it crumple back – finally! Take that you monster! It shrunk back from my spray, but was still kicking. I was determined not to squish this one, so I could try to identify if it was one of the poisonous varieties common around here. It was dying, but not quickly. After I thought it was dead for sure, it flung its two front legs forward and started clawing itself out of the Raid puddle. Too bad… I still had it in my sights! Once it had stopped moving completely and the legs crunched in toward the body in the typical dead-spider pose, I investigated its markings. I’m fairly certain it wasn’t poisonous. I left it out there so my husband could see what I had taken care of while he was out. I snapped a pic of it crumpled up and dead through the door too.






It’s still out there. A warning to any future invaders. I. Will. Kill. You. Spiders not welcome!

7.07.2010

West Coast Differences

Coming from the North-West to a place like Fort Polk, Louisiana can be quite a culture shock. I have tried to explain this to my new friends here, and I thought we all were on the same page about things… No one really likes being stationed here; we all have our moments of complaining about anything and everything awful about this place. It turns out though, some eye-opening facts were revealed to my good friend when she finally traveled to the West Coast for the first time.

This friend of mine is another Air Force wife stuck on this Army base. She is unique in that she is from Germany, and met and married her husband when he was stationed there for a few years. Since then, her experience of the United States has consisted of being stationed in North Carolina and now Louisiana. She has also traveled through to Northern Florida a few times since that is where her in-laws reside. I’m giving you this background because hearing her exclamations regarding her trip to the other side of the country not only made me laugh hysterically, but also made me realize how truly different life down here is… a foreign eye seeing things for the first time gives a clear impression of the minute details that my mind now neglects to even take note of. I’ve traveled through most of the U.S. by now, and I am well aware that we are a nation of many many differences.

I happened to be shopping in the Commissary (the grocery store on “Post” [base] for you non-military types) when I got a call from my friend. She and her family had arrived that day to the San Diego area. It was a horrible day for me to go pick up groceries; I have never gone on pay-day and I apparently hit it right on the nose. The place was packed, there were probably 3 loaves of bread left in the bread aisle (luckily I did not need bread), and there were tons of Army Joes in uniform and pregnant girls pushing overflowing carts around. Lovely.

I was trudging up and down the aisles trying to maneuver my own cart around kids and away from the hurried shoppers in uniform, when my friend started raving to me about how nice California is. She asked if I’d ever been there, and I told her that I have – to L.A. and when I was little my family went to Disneyland and the Red Wood Forest. “Oh my goodness!” she says, “I can’t believe how nice it is!” At this point I couldn’t help but laugh – she was so excited. I mentioned that she was finally seeing another American culture and she stated that she had told her husband she could not believe she was still in the same country.

“See,” I said, “now you can understand a little more of where I’m coming from when I say it’s so different down here.”

“Yes, I can! I finally really understand what people mean when they say California is so nice and clean! And now I have an idea of what you mean about the West Coast being so different and how hard it is to be down there…” I was so happy that she was getting to see another part of the U.S. I can only imagine what her entire opinion of our country had been before this, as the next words out of her mouth were, “You know, we are staying kind of near the airport, which is usually not such a good area in a city, right? [yeah] But you know what? We’ve driven around here – about an hour from the main city – and I still don’t think I’ve seen a single trailer.” She wasn’t trying to be funny, but I lost it. Right there in the middle of the commissary, I could not stop laughing. I couldn’t help myself! She just continued right on, “And there are no yards with cars broken down in them, and trash laying around. It’s so nice here!”

“I know! Now you know why I hate it here so much!” Okay, so if you don’t want dirty glances you probably shouldn’t say that in the middle of the commissary. But I didn’t care!

I was laughing so hard at her descriptions of things here and how she was seeing a place lacking the broken down buildings and overgrown yards full of trash and old vehicles that I forgot what I was even shopping for. I was just pushing my cart around and finally when I had heard all about the beautiful West Coast and the yummy In-n-Out burger and fries, I got back to my shopping. As I rounded a corner past a line of shoppers waiting to check out, some Army dude in uniform stares at me and says, “Hey. You trying to check out?” Umm… no, I am not an idiot trying to cut off your line. I’m trying to shop around the masses of people packed in this place. I only told him no and that I was just trying to get to an item, but that is the attitude of an Army “soldier” that I have seen way too many times. Some wanna-be hot-shot with a couple of bars on his sleeve. I, quite frankly, do not care. I’m Air Force. I don’t have to take your crap. I just have to live here with the Army.

Back to the current story… I’m not claiming that there are only trailers in the South. There are trailers even in California. But, places are kept much nicer in general than what I have seen down here. The over-grown trashed houses, trailers and vehicles are a breed of their own in the deep heat. So much so, that I have taken a brief tour photographing things, so that you might also understand a bit more what it truly means to say: “Things are so different down here in Louisiana.”

Trailers can be abandoned, trash can be left, weeds will overtake anything here if you let them. Foundations can be made of a few stacks of cinder blocks or bricks. How do you think a trailer standing up on cinder blocks in the middle of spindly-tall trees will fair through a hurricane? Just think about it. I hope you enjoy my snap-shots. I didn't travel outside of a 15 mile radius here for any of these... it's not like I had to go searching. This is what we see on a daily basis. Lovely Louisiana.


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