Tuesday, July 6 2021

routine, the reptile store, and new spiders



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Dear Journal,

Good morning, everybody. Happy Tuesday. I’m doing my best to warm up for the day, but mentally I still feel like I’m at the airport. Everything about our home routine still feels just a little out of whack. Even Rodney tried waking up with me this morning at 6:30 AM. His bedroom light was already on, and he was quick to address me as soon as he heard the floorboards in the upstairs hallway creaking beneath me. I politely smiled and told him to put his head back down on the pillow, and he was asleep five minutes later. Sorry, Rodney. I can’t have you tagging behind me in my morning routine with stories about imaginary friends and off-the-wall questions about dinosaurs. One of the few things 6:30 AM has going for it is that everyone is still asleep, and I intend to keep it that way.

Hanging in there. Just need to find some semblance of a routine again - getting back to chores, work, and cooking. Last night, Marissa finally broke my long and depressing eat out streak when she whipped up her special fish tacos with mango and tangy cabbage salad, and it felt good to get something in my stomach that wasn’t from a restaurant or an airport. So we’re getting there.

Sip. Happy Tuesday. I hope you had a great holiday weekend. There are a lot of happenings in our family to bring you up to speed on, so I had better get started. Marissa and I had another spider hobby night. On the night before I left, she once again broke out the dremmel and the hot glue to fashion two more miniature enclosures. We were proud that these new boxes met the same construction standard as the first while still holding their own uniqueness. Nobody likes moving into a neighborhood where the houses all look the same.

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After spending so long talking about spiders, writing about spiders, reading about spiders, watching videos about spiders, it was finally time to get a spider. We took a family trip out to our local reptile store, a family run shop on our side of town. Their spiders were kept right up in front, so I led the charge.

“Basically looking for 1-2 spiderlings, terrestrial, new world, about an inch in size,” I said confidently. The woman behind the counter nodded and retrieved some cups.

I’ve learned a “new world” spider is any species native to North and South America. Instead of biting, these spiders kick itchy hairs when they’re threatened and they tend to be more docile. A “terrestrial” spider is one that prefers to live on the ground or in a shallow burrow, which is definitely preferable to a spider that spends all its time deep under ground or hiding in tall vegetation.

They had two deli cups that caught my eye. The first was an inch long Brachypelma hamorii, the Mexican Red Knee. I knew I would end up with one of these. Even from a baby spider, the sandy white and burnt orange pattern on its legs looked so exotic. I also selected a Brachypelma verdezi, a Mexican Rose Grey. Through the transparent lid of the deli cup, I could see its terrain littered with a dead cricket and a fresh molt. Its colors weren’t as interesting, but it looked bigger and tougher. If anything, I figured it would be able to survive whatever mistakes I committed early in this new hobby. I asked the woman behind the counter to set the two aside so we could explore.

The reptile store felt like an attraction in its own right. The thick, warm humidity and the pillowy white mist around the halogen lights made us feel like we were stepping into an unexplored rain forest. We toured the store at our own leisure to the audience of careless snakes, lazy turtles, chameleons with wandering eyes, and curious geckos pressing their hands against the glass.

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We made our way back to the front of the store. A simple swipe of the credit card later, I was the proud owner of two baby tarantulas. I gingerly opened the bag and set the deli cups on the table. Now was the tricky part - I had to coax them into their new enclosures.

First was Spidey, our Rose Grey. My first impression of Spidey was that he was a physically intimidating, but emotionally agreeable spider. He danced hesitantly around the eraser tip of my pencil while I tried to guide him over the wall. Honestly, we both looked like we were trying to appear more confident than we let on. Spidey expertly fluttered into the soft soil. How delightfully uncomplicated.

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Next was Karta, our Mexican Red Knee. We’ve been referring to her as a she because it seems to fit her thin frame and her more thoughtful, stand-off temperament. As soon as I lifted her plastic lid and challenged her to leave her familiar dirt, it was all down hill. She bolted to the opposite site of the container. I tipped her new enclosure at an angle to make it seem more inviting. She quickly scurried into the box, but immediately had seconds thoughts. She scurried up the wall for an escape attempt, but I was quick to close the lid. Not the most graceful move. My heart was beating out of my chest, but it worked.

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Both Spidey and Karta clung to the walls in fear for the rest of the day. I made the mistake of trying to coax Spidey into his cave, but it just freaked him out even more, and that’s fair. They must be grumpy from the move, as any of us would be. At least this morning they came off the walls and started to explore their new terrain.

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Thanks for stopping by today. Have a great week, everyone.