W is for Whittling
A Swiss Army knife, a campfire, and a good stick. All good for whittling.
I am easily distracted. I probably would have been diagnosed with ADD when I was a child, if it had been as widely known back then as it is now. It hasn’t exactly been a problem for me now that I’m an adult, but it can be annoying at times. As a teacher, I find there are some classroom noises that distract me to the point of major irritation.
I have quite a few kids this year that hum. Constantly. I understand their desire to hum and I don’t think they do it on purpose. One of these days, I’m going to have to count the number of times I hear myself say something like, “When we reduce fractions– please stop humming— we need to find the greatest common factor. After that , divide– stop humming— the numerator and denominator by the– whoever is humming, please stop— er, what was I saying…?”
Then there are the desk drummers. I have a few of those this year. Sometimes pencils become drumsticks. If not pencils, hands work well, too. The drumming is less annoying than the hummers because I can immediately pinpoint where the noise is coming from and address the offending percussionist directly.
Foot tappers fall into the same category as the desk drummers. They can be a little more difficult to identify, but not as difficult as the hummers. I don’t have many foot tappers this year, fortunately.
There are also the water bottle crumplers– a big NO in my class! That just makes me mean. It doesn’t matter what I’m doing– the second I hear the crumpling of a water bottle, I lose all concentration. I reserve my most severe teacher glare for those who crumple their water bottles. As a result, it doesn’t happen often in my classroom.
I wish I could be one of those teachers who doesn’t notice the hummers, drummers, tappers, and crumplers. But I do.
Distraction– it isn’t just for students anymore.
I don’t really like Mondays. I guess that places me in just about 99% of the population who feels the same– give or take 30%. At the end of the day, the last thing I want to do is think too much. So, it’s good to deal in the mundane– the minutiae. It’s also good to use bullet points. I like bullet points.
As far back as I can remember, I’ve been a night owl. If I could choose my own schedule, I would sleep from two am to ten am. But, as with most people, I don’t have the luxury of making my own schedule. Work, kids, family, appointments, etc. all join forces to make sure I don’t do what my body naturally wants to do. I’m OK with that, it’s just how life is.
As a natural-born night owl, I have always resented having to get up early in the morning. Recently, however, I discovered the pleasure of having about thirty minutes to myself in the morning before everyone else has to get up and get ready for their day. There’s just something wonderful and rare during this time- I believe it’s called silence.
I swear, my coffee tastes even better when it is sipped in the stillness of the early morning.
I’m certain that one day, I will miss the noise of my children getting ready for school, arguing with each other, and asking me where their shoes are. But, for now, I’ll appreciate these silent moments. They don’t last long, but they are golden.
I am going to hate writing this blog but I feel like it needs to be done… regardless of how heevie-jeevie it makes me feel.
Let me start by declaring that I really dislike black widow spiders. When I say “dislike”, I mean hate, despise, abhor, loathe, and detest black widows. I’ve never liked them but it seems like my hatred and fear of them has grown over the past few years. Actually, it’s no coincidence that my black widow hatred has grown since we moved into our current house.
I’m pretty sure our house was built on the Mecca for black widows. Each spring, they make their pilgrimage to our backyard and set up permanent homes. They party, have spider sex, kill their partners, and lay eggs. Lots and lots of eggs. In egg sacs. Lots of disgusting eggs in lots of disgusting egg sacs.
We rarely see the egg sacs but we know they’re there because a few weeks later, those eggs hatch and out come the baby black widows. Fortunately, many of them don’t survive the hatching process because they eat each other. I guess the ones that survive are the ones that a) float away in the breeze to another part of our yard; or b) do the eating.
When Matt and I first moved into our house, we kept noticing these little spiders in the backyard. They seemed to be everywhere in the back. They did not look like black widows… because they weren’t black. Their bodies were usually shaped like black widows, though, so we took a closer look. We noticed these little grayish spiders had whiteish hour glasses on their abdomens.
We did some research and found out that the little spiders we kept seeing were baby and/or juvenile black widows. The information isn’t clear regarding whether or not juvenile black widows are poisonous. Some sources say yes, and some say no. I don’t intend to find out for sure the hard way so I kill any and all black widows.
In case you’re wondering what newly hatched black widows look like, check out this disturbing picture.
I took the following picture yesterday. I was on a black widow spider killing spree in our backyard. This one is not a newly hatched baby. In my unscientific backyard observations, I label these the “preteen” widows.
I am pretty sure this is an immature female black widow. The males don’t usually have such round butts. Notice that she is not black. You may also notice that I found this little devil on the underside of the boys’ Little Tykes Picnic Table.
Here is another one I found on the same table:
Based on its shape, this one is probably a female, too. The white stripes indicate that it is an immature spider. My label for this stage of widowhood is “Late Teen”. She’s almost grown up, she just needs to get rid of those stripes and she’s a full-fledged black widow.
Both of the spiders are dead now… along with about 11 of their friends. I mostly find juvenile black widows in our yard but when I do find the full-fledged black widow, I am always happy to kill them with a little extra “umph”. My weapons of choice are bug spray and a croquet mallet.
Here are some black widow spider facts:
If I seem obsessed with black widows, it’s probably because I am. They both horrify and intrigue me. They mostly horrify me. I’ve always believed that in order to appreciate something, you need to learn about it. This may be true in many cases, but I’ve learned more about black widows than I ever wanted to and I only hate them more.
I dream of one day living in a place where there are no black widows. A place where my boys can go out back to play without me having to do a spider check first. A place where we can have spider-free outside toys and play structures. A place where I don’t need to shake, stomp on, and turn inside-out my garden gloves before I put them on.
I know there are dangerous creatures in every place. But believe me when I say I would take rattlesnakes, coyotes, bats, chiggers (whatever those are), ticks, scorpions, and rabid bunnies over black widows, any day!
By the way… I know some of you are thinking, “Why don’t you hire a pest control person to spray the backyard?” My answer to that is, “That’s probably a good idea.” A good idea, assuming it works better than the ant control we used to have done… until we realized we were still getting ants.