Thursday, August 26 2021

molting, u-haul, and dogs eating peanut butter

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Dear Journal,

Today's journal entry banner image is brought to you by Ziggy. It took a freshly washed and dried blanket for her to realize that the bench pushed up against our dining room window makes her feel even more like a queen. This royal throne allows her to warm up in the summer sun, patrol the driveway, keep her nippy little sister at a manageable distance, and take stock of all the food we're eating at the table without subjecting herself to humbly begging at our feet like some kind of dog.

"She likes that seat because she can plan her attack," said Marissa.

I imagine Ziggy was thinking, I'll scoot one of the chairs over and go straight for the takeout Peruvian chicken. I'll skip the cilantro rice - no time since it's not bath night.

Good morning, everybody! Happy Thursday. It's a beautiful morning here in lovely Madison Wisconsin - beautiful for all reasons except for the heat and the humidity. These days every time I step outside to grab a piece of mail from the porch or toss something into our garbage can, I return with dark sweat stains on my t shirt as if I had attempted an ironman race. Just being outside and breathing the air feels like a cardio workout - how brutal!

Over my shoulder, Rodney and Miles play together in the living room. Marissa busily fits frames on new paintings, stopping momentarily to scold Rodney for playing too roughly with Miles. "Rodney, don't stick your butt in his face," she says after taking a sip of coffee.

Taking a sip of coffee - now that sounds like a good idea.

Sip. How's the week going so far? How do you feel? How are the spiders in your life?

I have some big news from the Recker family spider nursery. This morning I found Glassy in rare sorts. He hid himself in a shadowy corner of his cork bark cave. I saw four pairs of lifeless, hallow legs pointed straight up in the air. Glassy rested on his back completely motionless.

You can save your condolences. This isn't bad news. In fact finding him like this at 6:32 AM I silently pumped my fist and mouthed the words hell yeah. Glassy is molting.

Glassy has been in the "per-molt" phase for the last thee weeks. When a molt is on the horizon, a tarantula stops eating and avoids the outside world. The pre-molt stage can last anywhere between weeks and months. It's been weeks since I've seen Glassy climb, dig, eat, or playfully pounce at a soft paint brush. Even though he's been right there on my shelf, in a weird way I've missed him.

I would share a picture of the molt process if I could, but Glassy wisely picked the one spot in his enclosure that is nearly impossible to photograph. However, I have a picture from yesterday that shows off how big his butt has gotten before this milestone. Another sign that a spider is entering into pre-molt is the abdomen - just before a molt it will get dark and shiny, like a fat blister waiting to pop.


Don't laugh - puberty is hard.

When I took this picture, Glassy was flexing and twisting his legs. I excitedly grabbed my flexible tripod and set up a time lapse recording. It just figures that he would remain totally still for two hours, then begin the transformation sometime in the middle of the night. I think I'll eventually get a molt on camera, but Glassy was just too clever for me to catch.

So what happens next? Glassy will remain on his back until he can slide his old body off like an eight-legged pair of skinny jeans. He'll spend more time sitting still to recoup from the physically exhausting transformation, letting his fangs harden and the hemolyph fill his fresh new legs. He might even eat the molt afterwards as a treat for reaching the end. Most importantly, he'll take as much time as he needs. I won't touch his enclosure, and I'll try to stifle my curiosity and bother him as little as possible. At this point I've done everything I could keeping him fed, watered, and happy. Just getting Glassy to this point is an accomplishment, and I'm feeling proud to reach this milestone.

So that's the spider news. In other news, we're still getting ready for our art show this weekend, and Marissa has been majorly striking out in the vehicle department. This time around, we wanted to rent a trailer for our car so we would only need to drive one vehicle down to the art show. Marissa scheduled an appointment with Honda to hook up a trailer attachment to our car weeks in advance, but they forgot to order the part. "Just have U-haul do it for you," they said dismissively. The Honda dealership is lucky they had a calming saltwater tank for Marissa to stare at, because otherwise she would have turned into the she-hulk.

U-haul couldn't help us either. They blamed it on a national metal shortage.

"A metal shortage? What, is it in the 1940s?" I quipped.

So we're taking two vehicles down to the art show anyway, and if that's the only thing that goes wrong, it should still be a great time.

As a pallet cleanser, why don't we devote the last hundred words of this entry to making fun how our dogs look when they lick the inside of an empty peanut butter jar.

Ollie looks determined to not make any ridiculous faces for the camera. Just take small licks, and don't let your eyes bulge he's thinking.


Ollie, for as wise as he is, is only so strong. The delirium of peanut butter madness takes control. He goes full bug-eyed.


Ziggy does a much better job of maintaining her royal poise while she indulges. She looks cool, calm, and indifferent, doesn't she?


Until you see what she's doing with her hands. The taste of peanut butter grips her body like she's attending a pentecostal faith healing.


Minnie, yet a puppy, has no such inhibitions. She embraces the messy peanut butter, but who knows how long it took her to find that dollop on he nose.


Is there a more classic combination than a dog and a jar of peanut butter? One of life's treasures. Thanks for stopping by today - have a great Thursday everyone.