Spiders and Lizards and Rats, Oh My!

My version of Halloween is pretend-scary. I trot out the plastic spiders and the rubber rats, then I fill in liberally with pumpkins.

Yesterday, life was having none of that.

Bungee Spiders

It finally cooled down by ten degrees spurring us into decorating action. My son set up his inflatables while I rearranged the deck furniture. I took my baskets of succulents from the hooks, gave them a quick tap, then set them in the kitchen sink for a cool drink. I put them out back this time of year to make room for decorating.

Giant cat inflatable and the great white hunter

Giant cat inflatable and the great white hunter

I saw a quick movement emerging from the stems and a spider *jumped* out of the plant. Spiders climb and swing in my experience, but this one jumped. It went from the plant into the sink, then half way out of the sink it jumped again. Yikes. I quickly gathered my wits and grabbed my spider catcher, keeping an eye on the jumper at all times. With the spider safely ensconced, I walked quickly to the back of the garden and released it on the rock wall. The bungee spider jumped one more time, turned in my direction and looked right at me with… blue eyes!!!  That really creeped me out.

Addendum: I’ve since learned that my bungee spider is none other than Phidippus audax. Based on the orange legs, my little visitor is a juvenile.  His eyes aren’t blue, but his chelicerae are. Feel free to use that word in a sentence over the next few days. According to Wiki:

Phidippus audax is a common jumping spider of North America. It is commonly referred to as the daring jumping spider, or bold jumping spider. The average size of adults ranges from roughly 13–20 millimetres (0.51–0.79 in) in length. They are typically black with a pattern of spots and striped on their abdomen and legs. Often these spots are orange-tinted in juveniles, turning white as the spider matures. The spider belongs to the genus Phidippus, a group of jumping spiders easily identified both by their relatively large size and their iridescent chelicerae. In the case of P. audax, these chelicerae are a bright, metallic green or blue.

Lizards are us

Mighty Mouse, our friendly neighborhood cat, brings us lizards. It’s happened so often in the past few months, that my boys simply call out ‘lizard!’ and I’m spurred into action. Protocol is as follows:

  • Confine the cat in a bedroom while someone else keeps an eye on the lizard.
  • Assess the size of the lizard, and find an appropriate plastic container, preferably with a view.
  • Grab a piece of cardboard and tiptoe behind the frightened and temporarily paralyzed little critter.
  • Pounce! I can’t stress this step enough. Otherwise the lizard goes skittering all over the place and my only option is to gradually coax a terrified and sometimes hissing lizard towards an open door.
  • Relocate the lizard in the back of the garden and hope he finds his way to safety.
Tiny lizard catching sun on the rock wall

Tiny lizard catching sun on the rock wall

Rat a Shoe-y

7:30 each morning is a flurry. Boys grabbing backpacks and lunches, putting on shoes and heading out the door for the carpool. It was the same this morning, but for one exception. My son put on his first shoe without a problem. When he stepped into his second shoe he could feel something at the end. He picked it up, looked inside and found himself gazing at a live rat. Startled of course, he screamed and tossed the shoe into the air and off scurried the rat.

Unfortunately only part of the lizard protocol works when you’re trying to capture a rat: cats confined to the bedroom. The rest is by the seat of your pants.

Unable to stay for further investigation, I left the rat patrol to my husband and quickly fled with the boys.

There are two up-sides to this story. My son is fine. No bites or scratches to his tender toes. Further, I had a proud-mama moment when, once recovered, he worried that he hurt the rat. Mike rearranged the furniture in the most interesting fashion, and in the end, the tiny rat fled through the back door.

The last text from Mike:

The cats did a once over of the living room and declared it boring, which I take as rat-free. I left it in disarray. Sorry. Just push everything back.

rearranged furniture

Rat-free living room

Phew!

No-Candy Countdown:

Throughout October, I’m keeping track of the candy I **don’t** eat.  They say it takes thirty days to make or break a habit, but I must say that eight days in I’m feeling great.  Yesterday I discovered Fat-Bottom-Fifties Get Fierce, via Pauline. M and E are doing their own 30 day challenge and are encouraging others to join in. You can follow along at Getting Fierce Goal-fest! There’s nothing like putting your commitment up on the internet, is there?

Under-the-sea Costume Update:

Since I don’t have the luxury of a crafting room, our living room doubles as my sewing space. This morning I set up my sewing machine, the ironing board, my ‘selfie’ and all my supplies so I’m ready to drape and sew.

Pumpkins on Parade:

Special thanks to Pauline for The Contented Crafter for the fourth suggestion this month. Pauline says:

I very much like your Baker Pumpkin – good on Boomdee for making that pick! – and I would like to suggest a gardening pumpkin in honour of the hard work and the hours you put in to your actual garden and your blog garden 🙂

gardener pumpkin

Garden Pumpkin

Garden Pumpkin Key: Hydrangea hair nestled in my new Flower Arranger. An elaborate collar, also made from hydrangeas, with an Alyssum necklace. Eyebrows crafted from Acer leaves and the lips pouting away between Acer seed pods. The nose leaf comes from one of the Abutilon. Bluebell eyes, punctuated with black flower seeds. Fluttering lashes come from a fern.  That cute little spade: a treasure from my recent trip to Victoria. It’s actually a key chain.  I’m incorporating it into my costume as well. The gardener looks pensive, but she really does have fun playing in the dirt.
You can read more about pumpkin-dress up month at, NEWS FLASH! Halloween Takes Over Gardening Blog.

If you have any suggestions for ‘pumpkin costume of the day’ please let me know. I’ll see what I can do.

24 thoughts on “Spiders and Lizards and Rats, Oh My!

  1. That giant inflatable creature is scary! Even Mouse is looking at it slightly askance!

    Great stories today – the rat in the shoe? High five to the son who didn’t automatically stomp on it and who later worried he had hurt it. That young man will go far! I have several rat/mouse stories I can tell – why is that? I am also an expert at knowing how to arrange the furniture so the loose rodent is guided from its hiding place to an open exit door. When he was a young sprightly lad Orlando was much given to bringing live rodents inside and then losing them. Many a quiet evening was disturbed by the sight of a stealthy rodent form scuttling from some place to somewhere else.

    I have to say I think the Gardener Pumpkin is your best effort to date – she is quite magnificent!
    And I am so glad you popped over to my fat bottomed friends and are joining in the fun. You are doing so well with your sugar avoidance and I have actually done some work on the painting 🙂 Feeling most pleased, proud and happy with myself! 🙂

    Like

  2. What a lovely pumpkin again, and what a laugh I had at the spider, lizard and rat stories! Glad no harm was done. Hope you don’t get any larger or more dangerous visitors!

    Like

  3. “Real” crawly things in the house scare me. My thoughts are: If I did not put it there on purpose, it’s gotta go. When you started talking about the rat, I first thought that you put a fake one in his shoe, eeee-gads when I read it was a real one. That would have done me in! I got my boyfriend real good on his arrival home – I hung up a battery operated bat on our kitchen fan that flew past him when he came home! Enough said! LOL Gosh, I love this time of year! Yesterday, I walked around in the woods and gathered some nice long skinny branches and tied them together, fanned them out at the bottom to make a holder for my huge plastic cauldron. I’m going to put it in the front yard with a few of our Skellies around it roasting marshmallows! (oh yeah, I am also putting some wood pieces under the cauldron and some white and orange lights too to make it look like flames!)

    Like

  4. Look at cute Mr Mouse admiring your lovely long locks 😀 Or it’s possible he’s checking out that giant frightening cat? He’s probably thinking, “how do I climb up on this thing”.

    Snap, you really have your share of creepy crawlers. I’m not sure how I’d react to a rat in a shoe, I’m thinking the poor thing would have nightmares from my screams. The scariest of the three is totally the jumping spider. My skin is crawling all the way from here. Jumping spiders? Oh no no no. That would totally freak me out. Bravo for being able to get close enough to rescue it. I haven’t got my porch Halloween attire out yet but hopefully this weekend. I’m also thinking of putting up the Christmas lights while it’s still nice out, LOL So much to do. xoxoK

    Liked by 1 person

    • Mr. Personality loves lounging across my shoulder. The surprising part is that he did so next to that noisy, cat inflatable.

      Yes, lots of creepy crawlers last week. I saw another jumping spider in the garden this weekend, and was pleased that I could identify it. Knowing it jumps, kept me upwind of the little fella as well.

      Did you get any time to set up Halloween? I can’t wait to see what you do.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Oh Mr Mouse, you’re lucky to have such a sweet girlfriend that picks you up for snuggles and of course a better view. Unfortunately my entire day was spent in the kitchen. I made a desert, then stuffing, then brussel spouts and carrots, then two types of potatoes to mash up, then my roasting pot with Tofurkey Roll…all needed chopping, mixing, measuring, baking, melting, timing, mashing and heavens only knows what else. The kitchen was one hot mess, lest I say. I did however manage a small vignette on the table with some pretties. I took photo’s to blog. Hopefully I’m not too sleepy to get er’ done. xoxox

        Like

        • Oh my goodness that is a lot of work. Did you entertain or was it just the two of you? You must be exhausted. It doesn’t sound like a day of Thanksgiving, unless you were on the receiving end of that fabulous meal. I hope it was appreciated. I’ll look forward to your post and what is surely a gorgeous vignette. Good night, dear one.

          Liked by 1 person

          • 😀 “it doesn’t sound like a day of Thanksgiving” LOL. It really doesn’t, does it? Sometimes I just got to suck it up cause cooking for someone is a labour of love. It was just J and I after all and yep, I fell asleep without finishing the post…back at it today 😀

            Like

  5. I love your garden pumpkin. It looks like it’s back from a trip to Hawaii. Mouse looks somewhat taken aback by the big black monster. He doesn’t poke a hole in it to bring it down to size does he?

    I have to admit, oddly, I can handle the rat easier than the spiders. I think the poor rat was as terrified as your son and maybe they were both lucky he was facing away from where he would bite. Then you would have had to contain him.

    Lizards are my friends since I lived in Georgia. I wore one like a pin on my dress at school one day and freaked the teacher out. I think I was 11. We would tie a string on their neck like a leash. They ate a lot of bugs so they were our friends.

    I’m back on the wagon again too. I refuse to buy Halloween candy until that day and my daughter must take what’s left to her co-workers to make sure nothing is left here. I’m eating almonds for the crunch factor and the protein. Feeling so much better already. I’m hanging in there with you. Go Alys!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, Marlene. They had a special on Hawaiian Air so I sent my little pumpkin on a journey. She came back all dressed up. 😉

      I agree that both rat and son lucked out that day.

      I’m mixed on the lizards. I enjoy looking at them and I’m not really afraid of them, but they startle me and so I prefer they live in the garden. I feel sorry for them when the kitty brings them in, knowing they were probably sunning themselves on the rocks.

      They do eat a lot of bugs and are great for the garden.

      Congratulations for getting back on the no-candy wagon. Good idea, too, waiting till the last minute to buy the candy. Almonds are a great snack. I’ve recently added pistachios too (already shelled). Yum.

      Thanks for hanging in here with me.

      Like

  6. Pingback: Hot August Melancholy – Gardening Nirvana

Please join the conversation by leaving a comment, below.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s