Wednesday, July 14 2021

a belated birthday, molting, and a guac grievance

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Dear Journal,

Good morning, everyone. Happy Wednesday. This morning I sat down at my computer at 8:16 AM - exactly one minute later than my usual time. I don't really have a good reason why I was running late today. Everything was going fine, but I must have spaced out in the shower or stared at the bugs on my bookshelf for too long while I was getting ready for the day.

One minute late. A small deviance, but small deviances like this have the potential to bring about all kinds of havoc - we learned that much from the very mediocre movie The Butterfly Effect starring Ashton Kutcher.

I think I'm just feeling a little tired, and consequently running a little more slowly today. Last night when our bedtime alarm rang, Marissa and I had only fifteen minutes of The Sixth Sense left, so we just decided to stick it out and finish the movie. Then Minnie and Ziggy climbed into the same chair and started snuggling with each other, and it would have felt wrong to break it up to take them outside to go potty. Then Marissa and I got to talking and laughing, and then all of the sudden it was one in the morning.


This morning, I'm thankful for coffee. I know that by the time I reach the bottom of this mug, that nagging sleepiness will be obliterated, or at least just postponed until right after dinner time. To hell with feeling tired - it's a small price to pay for staying up late to laugh with your wife and watch movies you've already seen. And we have all the fresh coffee we need to fudge the difference. To quote the philosopher Patrick Star, "I can sleep when I'm dead."

Sip. Let's kick off this entry with a very belated Happy Birthday to one of my favorite readers, Cherril. Cherril's punctuality in the Facebook comments of these blog posts puts me to shame as I appear to have missed your birthday by a whole four days. Cherril, I hope your special day didn't get lost in the fray of this busy birthday month and that you still treated yourself to cake or ice cream or something. Happy (belated) birthday.

In other news, I managed to finally get a decent picture of Spidey. Taking a good picture of a tarantula poses a bigger challenge than you'd think. The acrylic walls of their enclosure make a lot of glare. The small vibrations felt when I click open the nursery latch send them skittering back into their bunkers. But Spidey was in a good mood yesterday - even when I had his box out of the nursery, he remained as cool as a cucumber.


Maybe I've been staring at these spiders for too long, but I think this picture captures a glimmer of personality. The way he's awkwardly squatting over that patch of moss reminds me of a school photo. Even his eyes are looking at the camera.

I took the lid off Spidey's enlcosure again just before putting the kids to bed. I tried to feed him. Whether the worm just a little too big or Spidey wasn't very hungry, he retreated back into his mossy nook on top of his cave, sparing the worm from its death sentence. While the lid was off, I took one more photo with my thumb in the frame so it would be easier to see how big he's getting.


I feel like Spidey gets all the attention. Even I sometimes forget that I have a second tarantula. In time Karta will probably steal the spotlight with her flashy orange stripes, but for now she remains the pale, stoic spider in the corner.

Caring for Karta and Spidey alongside each other has shown me that there's a big difference between the first and second molt. Spidey, having finished his second molt in the pet store, feels like a tiny tarantula. Bringing home spidey was like bringing home a puppy. He's eager to explore, hunt, and interact with the world. Karta, on the other hand, had only finished one molt when we got her. She still feels like a spider you might find in your shed or in your basement. Bringing home Karta was like bringing home a newborn baby. She's too small to do anything other than eat, grow, and rest.

Karta wasn't very excited about eating last night either. She jumped up on her favorite wall, fleeing from the beheaded worm. But Marissa noticed a small dark circle on her abdomen.


When a spider molts, its body secretes a special enzyme that eats away at thin tissue between the layers of their skin. The outer body slowly pulls away from their inner body, starting in the abdomen. That dark spot, a bubble forming between the two layers, is a telltale sign of pre-molt. Karta's body will slow down while her muscles detach from the old shell and re-attach to the folde dup inner shell. She could refuse food for anywhere between a few days or a few months. Then finally, she'll flop onto her back to begin the agonizing process of molting. Growth is painful, but exciting.

I'll close this tired, scatter brained entry with a grievance to air about my family. Marissa and Rodney love to eat guacamole. As a family, we love bonding over a bowl of crisp taco chips and fresh guacamole before dinner. In anticipation of that special family bonding, I do my best as a home chef to make that guac memorable. I like to use lime zest, fresh garlic, and cilantro for extra pizzazz. I chop up a red onion as finely as humanly possible. I use a whisk to suspend the olive oil in the mashed up avocado. I season it to precision using one miniscule pinch of kosher salt at a time.

But when it comes to Marissa and Rodney, one misplaced ingredient will put a hard stop on the guac eating. There was the night I added just slightly too much salt - the guac was untouched. Then there was the night that I whisked in a dollop of sour cream - Marissa and Rodney didn't like the taste. Last night, I made the fateful mistake of sprinkling some crumbled up cojito cheese on top as a decoration. Marissa and Rodney felt the cheese was too spicy.

It's like I'm living in a house of guacamole scientists. Some people are so hard to please. Thanks for stopping by today, have a great Wednesday everyone.