Saturday, August 22, 2009

She made me a mother

The eldest chillie, the one that made me a mother, turned 18 this past week.  

Lauren and candles wm.jpeg

Eighteen.  Hmmm.  She’ll start her college adventure on Monday.  I’ve been asked how I feel about that.  Old?  Probably.  Verklempt?  Only 3%.  I mostly feel “here”.  Definitely present. 

So, we had cake.  The fire warmed the gummie life savers that supported those 18 years of earned candles. The skittles dancing round the cake added some punch.  Punch and cake are good!

piece of cake wm.jpeg


bday puppet show words wm.jpeg

Written, produced and acted out by DR.  It was about the history of cats.  Mostly Siamese cats.  ?????? 

And we had 

spider pizza wm.jpeg

A.k.a. Margarita Pizza.  I guess I should explain.

I’ve told you before that I have basil growing in the backyard.  Everyone should.  We actually do eat the stuff we grow out there.  I’ve found though, that if one is not thorough in the washing of the basil, critters might be left on it.  Then those critters get added to the food, which results in your chillies telling you that there is a spider on the dinner you’re preparing.  Kids are such picky eaters.

My mind thinks in pictures.  And that is a funny picture: spider pizza!  I’m much more careful in my washing now. 

And all of this got me to thinking of  spiders.  Because right now, we have a spider growing by the basil. 

spider wm.jpeg Luckily, I saw her before I ran into her and she was quiescent (Pee Wee Herman’s secret word of the day) enough to let me pick some basil.  At this point, some of you are thinking I’m crazy for letting a spider like this grow by my basil.  I might be, but I’m more curious than crazy and so she stays. 

I had an interesting story (really!) I was going to share with you about these spiders (I think, it’s an Orb spider) but while I was looking for the name of this spider I came across way more interesting info that needs to be addressed.  More stuff that you can’t make up. 

Grab a Little Debbie’s snack and buckle in.  This is going to get sticky.  Here’s the spidey scoop…

Someone, somewhere, not only developed a technique for the forcible silking of spiders but also an apparatus.  Now, can you imagine what my mind is picturing?  Little, teeny, mechanical, sucker thingy’s all hooked up to the “udders” of some miserable spider while she’s being “milked” of her web.  There’s an arachnid rights group screaming somewhere. 

It’s not known who first discovered that “such silk could be forcibly drawn from immobilized spiders”, but a man named Wilder described a method in 1868.   I read that it became “imperative” that there be discovered a way to do this “under controlled conditions with sureness and ease.”  Yeah, that sounds like typical spider behavior to me.

I’m going to relay a few directives, for  you, from this “investigation”, as Wilder likes to call it and my thoughts on them.

“Although one investigator can manage the forcible silking operation, a second observer should be available if this is possible .”  (That second observer can also be referred to as your 9-1-1 dialer.)

“Certain auxiliary equipment is needed, much of which is commonly
available in laboratories…”
  (Sure, if your Uncle’s name is Fester and you have a fire breather living under the stairs.)

“While it is not imperative that carbon dioxide be available for anesthetization, its use reduces the hazard of injury to spiders .”  (And here I was thinking the “loopy gas” was for the investigator.)

“When the spider becomes quiescent… it is transferred, ventral side up, to the porous plate of the operating table.”  (Quiescent, quiescent… gonna have to get the dictionary…  Just as I thought, old word meaning quiet, still or at rest.  Typical, assaulted, spider behavior.)

“Whether the spider is placed posterior toward or away from the observer will depend on experience with species” (Like anyone could possibly experience this more than once.) “this investigator prefers the latter position. The same applies to the conditions for and the order of pinioning the legs with short lengths of self-adhesive tape. But, it is essential that this be done quickly, as the effect of the carbon dioxide is rapidly lost.  It is here that four hands are better than two.” (Important safety tip.)   “Each leg can then be fully extended with tweezers while the cephalothorax is gently held in place, and a first strip of tape placed across the leg. Sometimes two legs can be trapped with one length of tape.  (Thus saving money in these harsh, economic times.)  But if the spider becomes suddenly and violently active during this pinioning, (Possibility noted, thank you.)  “and appears to be in danger of damaging itself by loss of legs, (Enter the arachnid rights group.) it is advisable to envelop it with a loose wad of facial tissue.”  (Antibacterial or with added lotion?)  “It can then be freed from the tape already in place, reanesthetized , and the pinioning repeated.  With the spider now prevented from struggling free, it may be expedient” (Do you think?)to reposition or add additional lengths of tape to any leg that may appear to be insecure.”  (Tape down everything, friend.  The slightest tickle on your neck and…)

“Whatever the situation,” (The mere fact that you would find yourself in this situation, is a clear indicator that you’re in a real situation.)when in doubt it is best to make use of the flexibility of the silking equipment to isolate the fibers being secured . But before this step is described it is necessary to return to the problems posed by the spiders which react negatively to pinioning and forcible silking.” (We definitely should return to the loose, gassed, negative spider problem.)

“No facile descriptions can be given as to what an investigator should best do to secure the desired sample in such a situation . Sometimes the difficulties can be solved by sheer persistence.”  (Experience has shown me that sheer persistence is useful in potty training, not spider wrangling.)  “If not, the spider may require complete anesthetization . But this is not an easy way out.”  (I’ll take, “Stupid Experiment Outcomes” for $400, Alex.)

“Furthermore, as has been already reported, the physical properties of fibers taken from a fully anesthetized spider may differ from those otherwise secured.” (Then why are we here?  Because I can’t think of any other way a being is going to extract spidey silk from any kind of spider than from one that is fully jacked up on the loopy gas.)

“It has been found that with those spiders which do not resist forcible silking, winding can be done at about 3 m/min. for periods of ten to twenty minutes.”  (These would be the spiders in remedial “How to be Hairy,Scary and otherwise Difficult” school.)

I’m going to stop there and not even address the “apparatus” shopping list.  Let’s just say it involved a variable speed drive, a run-stop switch and a 115 volt DC motor. 

If you do ever stumble across the unusually “quiescent” spider that uncharacteristically submits to pinioning, taping and being gassed, and you happen to need 30 – 60 meters of spidey silk, perhaps you should just say “please” to your little eight legged friend (7 legged if she’s been unfortunate enough to run across Mr. Wilder and his observer).  Because in the real world we all know that the spider that acquiesces to forcible silking is probably dead.  And playing with dead spiders is kind of strange and weird.

Happy Birthday Sweetie!  Your curious mother really loves You!

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