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Ticklin’ Daddy’s Toes

Gotcha! I’ll bet that title has just enough of an Ew! Gross! ring to perk up everyone’s prurient interest. Now, the big letdown. The Daddy I’m talking about isn’t really anybody’s Daddy at all; well, maybe that’s not quite true, because there are lots of them, so many of them probably are somebody’s Daddy. Daddy Longlegs, that is; also known as Harvestmen, though I prefer the Daddy moniker. These arthropods are not true spiders, I’m told. My references, which are pretty scanty when it comes to crawlies, link them more closely to mites… and that’s about as technical as I’m prepared to get. This isn’t about technicalities. It’s about alternatives to reading while on the john.

Every year about this time, when I’m in the tub or sitting elsewhere in the salle de bain, I’m treated to the sight of a Daddy Longlegs scurrying across some slick surface. Within days, there are lots of these dainty creatures sailing across tile and porcelain. Most folks probably don’t experience this, of course, because they squish them at first sight. I’m here to tell ya, you’re missing a bunch of fun.

A few weeks back, while soaking up bubbles in the tub, I noticed the first leggy visitor of the season. He was crouched behind some lavender bath salts pretending he wasn’t there. I didn’t pay much attention at the time, as baths are a very stressful time for Lobo, the male Corgi. My baths, not his. A few years ago, I fell in the tub and was injured seriously enough to merit a trip in the ambulance. Though Sophie seems to have no recollection of the event, Lobo has never forgotten.

Showers in this house are completely ignored, but the moment water begins to run in the tub, Lobo starts pacing back and forth repeating the same litany: “Oh, my God! She’s taking a bath. Here come the people; here comes the big truck. They’re going to take her away! What’ll I do?” The only thing that saves bathtime from being painful for me is the resultant joy as I step back on terra firma, as it were. When this occurs my little Welshman rolls onto his back, all four stumpy legs pawing at the air — and he smiles. Ordeal over. I digress.

The morning after I had spied my first wispy Daddything, I was seated without my usual reading matter. Not a problem; there were four leggy critters on the edge of the tub. Two of them were engaged in what surely was a battle to the death. The other two were in the bleachers. Now, I’ve read that Daddy Longlegs eat each other, in addition to various other insects. I saw one of these guys eating a fly once, but I didn’t feel inclined to watch a display of cannibalism that morning. I reached over and touched the leg of one of the combatants. Wow! Did that ever get his attention! He backed up in a nannosecond, stood on his tippy toes and got VERY tall. The other three scurried to such refuges as loofahs and soap dishes, but this fellow stayed on full alert.

As a matter of fact, he stayed that way for so long I got bored — so I tickled his toes. Hee! Hee! This was fun. He ran for cover behind a pumice stone. As the days have progressed, so has my population of Daddy Longlegs. 

Every morning I find at least one Daddy mashed onto the bathroom floor, some of its legs missing. Mandy CWA (cat with attitude), is amused too. She just shows it differently. Yesterday, I had to start gathering up Daddies in wads of tissue and carrying them outside. Although watching the antics of these graceful creatures is really most entertaining, I draw the line when they start having tea parties in my face towels. Phee-ew!!!

It never ceases to amaze me where minor theatrics can be found. Any day now, I’ll be watching paint dry.

My six deer continue to visit for a few bites of apple every day. Recently, though, this year’s crop of three have become a mite independent. The does, Notchi, Big Mom and Scar show up without the kids on ocassion. The twins, whom I call Tiny and Fledermaus (she looks like a bat) and the big dude, Bambino, amble forth whenever they feel like it. These animals still represent peace and contentment to me. Their visits are just about my favorite moments in the day.

A week or so ago, I was enjoying a late afternoon sitdown on the deck when I saw the does approaching from a neighbor’s land. Notchi squatted to pee… and quick as a wink, here came Spike! Remember Spike? He was the young buck, who a couple of years ago sported only one single puling antler. He raided my roses continually, the fence presenting him no problem at all. Spike has grown into quite a respectable looking buck. He has two antlers, each with two points. On that afternoon, Spike was urine-testing. This is a process bucks go through in order to determine when the does are ready to mate. I know this is very serious business for the deer, but the machinations of wiggling their flexible upper lips (thereby intensifying the sense of smell) is hilarious. As I was laughing at Spike’s lippy routine, his ears came up, he jerked around and ran into the woods.

Enter Henry the Handsome.

Henry is not just a respectable buck; he’s a huge, gorgeous, muscular and magnificent hunk of deer. He is made for producing generations of strong deer and he doesn’t doubt it for a moment. His neck is as big around as Notchi’s midsection; it has to be. His rack is a wonder; six points on each antler, with a seventh emerging at the base. He carries himself like a monarch, which he is, of course. Since that first afternoon, Henry has been here each day with the does. He is very possessive, keeping them together with him, though he is also quite gentle. I’ve seen him grooming the ladies from time to time. Spike has faded into the woodwork for now, but I’ll bet in a year or so he’ll be making his bid for master of the harem. In another few days, Henry will take off to hang out with the other guys, losing his heavy crown, only to grow another. For now, his beauty takes my breath away as he lolls under the silk tree watching his women nibble on the sparse Fall greenery. As for all of you people with itchy trigger fingers — I don’t begrudge you your legal hunting. But, it ain’t allowed up here.

Every smidgen of firewood has been stacked neatly in the woodshed. Once again, I did it myself, taking it in small increments. I still meander out there from time to time to admire my handiwork. The Bigleaf maples are dropping their leaves, the figs are ripening and the Fuji apples are almost ready to savor. 

The Fair is over. Is it my imagination, or has Dave Gowan done a really great job of managing this event? The grounds this year were particularly spiffy and the variety of events and foods was grand. I enjoyed the display of photos at the entrance with their captions in Boontling. I spent a lovely Sunday morning visiting with pigs and goats and exotic chickens and bunnies. And, oh! Those reptiles! Those beautiful snakes and turtles and lizards. Enough to give this ol’ gal heart palpitations. The sheep dogs, likewise, are a delight to watch as they ply their trade. The concentration of those canines is truly amazing.

As I watched the parade with my family and friends, I was once again reminded of what a diverse and, overall, peaceable community we live in. I pray it is ever so. Recent events have saddened us all, and rightfully. I don’t think anybody has the perfect solution; I certainly don’t. As long as there have been humans, we’ve mistrusted one another. We have fought and killed each other in the name of money, territory and Almighty God.

There have been many people who have blamed America for the slaughter which took place over two weeks ago. They say we spend our money on the wrong causes, that we are far too rich and that we are arrogant. They say we have become complacent. There is truth in these charges. It is also true that to destroy thousands of innocent people in a matter of minutes is an unconscionable act of blasphemy against all that is decent and, yes, civilized. To condone it by placing the blame on the victims comes too close to saying a woman deserves to be raped because she’s rich, her breasts are too big and her skirt is too short. That, to me, is blatant holier-than-thou hogwash. I want no part of it.

I am grateful to have had the good and accidental fortune to be born in a country where the vast majority of people enjoy the luxury of a full belly and a means of keeping out the elements. We are not shot for burning our flag; we do not have our hands cut off for stealing from our neighbors, nor will our tongues be cut out for telling our leaders they’re full of crap. Think about it.

Millions of men, women and babies will go to sleep very hungry tonight. Most Americans will not. Our concern will not be if we’ll have dinner; it will be what we will have for dinner. Think about that, too, while you dig into the pot roast or macaroni and cheese or tofu stir fry (Yuck!). It would be a wonderful thing if we could alleviate hunger and the entire world could share in the bounty. The reality of hunger has existed for millennia; so has brutality. Turning the other cheek is a righteous concept, but our country has just taken it on all four, if you catch my drift. It sure looks as though we’re in for a tussle and I’m glad I’m not on the other side.

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