Category Archives: It’s An Aberrant Life

A Mother’s Surreal Moment #5847…


“Oh!  Mom! Mom!” my sophomore son says to me.

“I forgot to tell you! Today in PE, Coach was frustrated with the little kids, so we got to rip the squeakers out of their rubber chickens.”

I blink at him.  My kids attend a K-12 school and often help out with the lower grades.

But the phrase “rip the squeakers out” presents a picture of some rather strange carnage.  Maybe even some mayhem.

“PE? Rubber chickens? Why do the little kids have rubber chickens in PE class?”

“I don’t know, to wave around or something,” he says to me, clapping his hands and grinning mischievously from ear to ear.

“And look!  I got to keep some!”

He whips something from his pocket and holds up a fist full of white tubes.

“And guess what?!”

He declares more than asks.

“I figured out that they all make different notes. So I labeled them and…”

And while I’m still blinking at him, he holds the tubes together in his hand like some sort of modified pan flute and…

…begins to play Smoke On The Water.

With squeakers stripped from the necks of rubber chickens.

That, my friends, is metamorphosis.

And my musically talented son.

#ThisIsMySurrealLife

#AndILoveEveryMomentOfIt

Rubber chicken squeaker pan flute - graphic by Aberrant Crochet

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Life Enriched: My Fascination With Spiders And Webs


spiderwebinafternoonsun

9 foot Halloween spider web!

I’ve owed you guys a post and explanation about the whole spider web fest going on in my yard and in my designs.  I also owe you some more photos, since after all, last night was Halloween!  (You gotta see what I did!) So I guess it’s about time I give.

First with the writing.
Later with the Halloween photos.

Truthfully, I’ve had an enigmatic fascination with spiders since childhood. One of my favorite childhood stories was about a pet wolf spider named Wolfie.  (Come to think of it, oddly enough, I later had a cat I also named Wolfie after Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. I only made the pet spider – pet cat connection just now though. Interesting.)  I was also the first one my girlfriends called when the creepy-crawlies showed up in their space. Julia the spider-wrangler to the rescue.

I love spiders. Fiercely like most people don’t.

Energetically, I think spiders – especially cobweb spiders – often naturally show us where the stagnant places are in our homes – those neglected areas that need attention. They create action where there is none. Metaphorically, I try to imagine Grandmother Spider pointing out things that need attention in my life and I try to picture where that would be. “Oh look here honey. You forgot this area. Here, let me help freshen it up.”

Garden spiders – I see them a little differently. Grandmother Spider’s protective nature seems to come out in them, in a delicate and breathtakingly beautiful way.   Then there are the little black jumping spiders I generally nickname simply “Harry.”  They show Grandmother Spider’s nature to dance in the sunlight and play.

I also often talk about how spiders are Mother Nature’s first fiber artists and I adore their individual and distinctive webs. Water_drops_spider_web_800px.jpgOrb spiders are particularly fascinating in their design! They have such interesting and distinct designs, each one using a special technique and signature marking of its silk fibers.  I’m fascinated by the focus, patience and skill each spider displays, not to mention their grace and dance. Each web is like a fingerprint and I’ve toyed more than once with the idea of making a collection of different crochet spider webs, recreated to the design specifics of each unique species. It would be a neat undertaking.

I watch spiders, play with them, catch them, study them, and hold them in a place of reverence.

And that’s the truth.

But the truth is far more complex than just that alone.  There’s another side to it.  While I adore spiders, I also deeply distrust and fear them.  Almost inexplicably.

It’s a paradox.

You’d think with all my spider experience and fascination, that I’d be the first to own a tarantula or at least to pet them at a zoo.

But not me. Not by a long shot. Just watching someone else hold one gives me the creeps.

You see, another part of the truth is, there’s a constant attraction/revulsion magnetic thing going on inside of me when it comes to spiders. And I’ll never let them touch me. I just can’t. No matter how fascinating spiders are to me.

I can’t. do. that.

And I won’t allow the poisonous ones to live. Those are two lines I can’t budge on.

Needless to say, I have trust issues. As long as I can see them, I’m just fine away from it unless I have a jar – thank you.  Come near me, surprise me, crawl on me?  Forget it.  I’m your worst enemy.

How’d it all come to be?  I’m not sure I know.

But philosophically, I deal with it the same way I deal with every other challenge in my life. Education and observation.  If I’m going to be afraid of something, I want to understand it very, very well.  I’m just not into this fear of the unknown crud. Far easier to deal with fear of what I do know.  So show me that face.

445px-Steatoda_fg01

Common Cobweb Spider

My earliest memory of a spider is actually from a dream I had when I was about 4-5 years old. A honey colored little cobweb spider suddenly grew from a tiny little creeplie in the kitchen corner into a giant creature before my eyes. And then it told me (still dreaming here) that it was going to devour me. Yup. It said plainly, “Julia, I’m going to eat you.”

Right. Well at least it’s honest. Awesome.

And in my dream, fearlessly like a dutiful little daughter, I stood there staring up at the enormous creature and said frankly, “Don’t eat me; eat my dad. He’s bigger!”

I have no idea why I still remember that young dream, other than out of some sort of sense of guilt. But my adventures with spiders had only begun.

The next spider introduced to my childhood was the docile wood spider. Silly little bumbling creatures that are visibly more scared of humans than any other spider I know. They practically fall all over themselves just trying to run away from you. I tried to find a photo of one for you, but have been unable to locate one.  And I’m guessing the name “wood spider” is probably one of those “folk names” that families hand down and is not likely an “official” name.

The wood spiders I grew up with are simply brown and tan striped and look similar to wolf spiders, though not nearly as husky or hairy, nor nearly as brave.  They are the first spiders to run at the site of you or when the light is flipped on.  They liked to live in my dad’s wood shop and warehouse at work and some were so big, I wondered if maybe they were really hairless tarantulas instead, only more leggy and less body. And except for the fact that they seemed to trip over their own legs a lot.  In fact, I’ve never seen another kind of spider that seemed as likely to simply lose a leg as this one.  It was around this time that I first read Wolfie and other books on spiders.

It wasn’t too long later when I got to see tarantulas.  Like, a lot of them.  Somewhere around that time, there was a bumper crop of brown tarantulas out in the Wichita Mountains outside my home town. I remember we were on our way to and from a drive up Mount Scott, and the road was covered in brown tarantulas. So many of them were being smashed by cars going by. There was no way for the vehicles to avoid them and the tarantulas were coming out of the bushes into the road in droves. It was like some sort of giant tarantula migration. I stared at the numbers of mangled bodies on the road and felt both sad for their misfortune, yet thankful that they couldn’t jump into our car (I hoped). And still, they kept coming.  I could see they’d never have a chance against a motorized vehicle. Silently I wished they could hear me think at them, “Please don’t cross the road! There’s nothing there but danger!” Part of me really, really wanted to see one up close and to save all the spiders. And part of me just wanted to be the hell out of there.

Jumping Spider

Jumping Spider

As mentioned above, I was also introduced to a species of jumping spider that I simply call “Harry.”  I remember them playing/hunting on my Grandma Leona’s sliding glass doors and crawling the ceilings at home. I used to tap on the glass near them to make them jump.  They always struck me as a weird combination of cats and dogs in personality.  Cat-like reflexes with dog-like enthusiasm and play.  They are amazingly gifted at catching flies! And unlike brown recluses, I have never been attacked or stalked by one of these, even though they are hunting spiders. When they are scared, they like to warn you by jumping a bit like a dog does when barking at a stranger. But I find usually they lose their initial fear pretty quickly and like to play.

Dangerous Brown Recluse (Fiddleback) Spider

Dangerous Brown Recluse (Fiddleback) Spider

Fun, more docile spiders were not to be the sum total of my experience though.  Brown recluses soon crossed my young path and set a precedence for everyday survival, as you might remember from my stories past. It’s a story born of necessity. A clan of spiders surrounded my work space, and for years no one would believe me they were there. So out of sheer survival, I learned more about “fiddle-backs” than any normal child. Probably just desserts for offering my father up as a replacement snack long ago. Even if it was only in a dream.

Let’s fast forward…

Over time, as I watched spiders and noted their individual web designs, I became more and more fascinated. And I tried to share this fascination with my children, so they would learn the differences between the spiders they saw and come to appreciate their gifts and lessons too.  Some of the best entertainment we had together with spiders actually came from blowing bubbles into the webs garden spiders would weave on porches between roof and banister.  The glycerine bubbles and the tiny bubble blower you can get from Gymboree are the best.  Watching a spider attack a bubble only to have it pop is a sight to see.  They don’t have facial expressions and yet, somehow you know what’s going through their minds by watching their body language.  One spider was really upset that she could not find that fly she knew she just caught.  We never laughed so hard!

But in all of this, I can’t say I’ve lost my revulsion either.  I still can’t hold a spider.  I still don’t like being surprised by them.  I hate it when they drop on me from my ceiling and oh yes, I will scream and dance and throw things and hunt until I find it, because I can’t stand the idea that it might be inside my clothes somewhere.

And that moment you walk through a web you didn’t see?  Umm, yeah –  I still go ballistic-ninja. If you ever see me dancing around a yard, fencing with a stick, now you know what’s probably up.  I know it was a comedy, but I totally related to the scene in the movie “Arachnophobia” when that spider crawled up the main character’s body.  Only I’m not paralyzed by it.  I’m transformed into a something my kids don’t recognize as me.

Some years ago, at our old house, we had two mimosa trees in front of our house.  I decided to crochet a spider web and hang it up, doing my best to make and pose it as realistically as possible.  Noting little bits I’d observed in just watching how garden spiders will craft and hang their webs.  There has to be proper tension and support.

And it grew from there, every Halloween, into what you see today.

sideviewofspiderwebinaction_watermarkedMaybe someday I will overcome the fear part of my revulsive fascination with spiders. And maybe not. (I’m thinking after all this time, the later is most likely.)  But unlike others, I do face my fear dead on, day after day.  It’s called working with your fear, not judging it, not pushing it, not making it into anything that it isn’t.

By accepting my fear and distrust of spiders, and by embracing it, I also allow myself to still see the wonder in amazing creatures and their personalities and talents that I might otherwise miss.

And perhaps that’s what overcoming really is.  Perhaps that alone sets me free.


 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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The Story Of The Face-Planting Yellow Bird


I am way behind on blogging lately.  So black sheep of me.  And it’s not because I’m not writing.  It’s because I am, elsewhere and in other ways!  Life is amazing and crazy, but I’m totally enjoying the ride. I haven’t blogged about our new house or anything since writing a review for Andee’s book!  Our new home is simply totally awesome.  I can’t explain it enough – where you live matters.  Even when the changes seem small.  It matters.  This place is so good for us right now.  It’s not too fancy, but it feeds the soul.  And isn’t that what we all could use more of?  I must get some good photos and try to show you some of the amazing things happening in my back yard.  I have tadpoles!  TADPOLES!  😀  Can you believe it?  I love it!

And school will be out for the kids soon!  Which even as a parent, I dearly look forward to.  Summer’s when the kids and John and I finally get to just connect as a family, without all the crazy running and stress because of this assignment or another, or because of club or school events, etc..  We think of a 40-hour work week as full-time work, but most kids, most good students, spend far more time than that on education every week.  It doesn’t seem to be until summer when we can just be ourselves and pursue our own interests individually and as a family together. And just honestly get some well deserved rest.  And me? I tackle some more focused work and planning done during that time too,  ‘cuz I work from home anyway.  Summer is my time to get ready for holiday shows.  And I’m adding a book to my work load as well.

Well, there’s a lot of news to share with you!  Including a couple of awards this blog has won (even while I wasn’t writing), how my daughter started her own blog (she has a quirky personality online and off) and how we’re getting ready for A-Kon in Dallas next weekend.  You should totally see Jess’ tail coat that she designed, then created a pattern for and then made, with some expert guidance from Paula, an amazingly talented seamstress in our town.  I am so incredibly grateful for her, because she knows how to help Jess with her far-too-advanced-for-me ideas.  Oh, and my son is in the middle of doing “flower-sack babies” for health this week.  It’s been rather comical watching him juggle “McGregor” his flower-sack baby AND his cat.   And of course there is much writing taking place.  Articles, books, etc..  I’ll have to tell you about them as I can/am allowed.  Oh yes, I will keep you in the loop.  (And hopefully, all this points to an income.)  Plus our high school Spain trip with EF Tours looms ever nearer, and we are fundraising like crazy suckers trying to get our funding together.  So much.  So much.

Well, I thought I’d start up on the blog again by telling you about an interesting experience I had yesterday. It involves a little yellow bird…
So I’m sitting outdoors with my laptop to work yesterday morning, enjoying the shade and pleasant temperatures. I know that later it won’t be this pleasant and I’m soaking up as much of my new backyard as possible. When suddenly a little brown and yellow bird plunges (falls, not lands) from above into the little flower bed next to me. At first glance, I thought it was a larger sized humming-bird with its slender beak. Then I see the color, size and shape and realize not at all. It looks like a warbler or a bunting, but not sure. Brown top, bright yellow breast.  The beak was totally different from I would have expected and the bird had white stripes on the side of the head on either side of its eyes. It looked kind of like a cross between a sparrow, chickadee and the yellow part of a goldfinch, with the beak of a hummingbird. Really slender little beak.  [Update: beak and yellow color looked a little like this prothonotary warbler! But with striping and such.]

At first I really thought it fell out of a tree.  Then I thought it was diving after a bug in the mulch, but I noticed again that it was leaning heavily to one side. Suddenly it falls forward and does a total face plant!  With its tail straight up in the air and its beak straight down into the mulch! “Are you OK?”  I speak to it, then get up and come over when it stays still. It’s not dead, but it’s obviously exhausted somehow.

It doesn’t struggle much when I pick it up from its face plant and it opens its beak wide. One of its eyes droops closed a bit. It does not look like a baby to me, but I sense extreme exhaustion and hope he isn’t dying. I take it to the waterfall in my yard and get a drop of water on my finger to give it. Then I carry it to my bird feeder to pick up some seeds. I open my hand and it sits quietly in my palm, leaning slightly to one side, letting my fingers support it. I notice some tiny “ruffled” feathers on its neck. Which I then reach to smooth, wondering if it’s injured.

At that touch, after being so calm all this time, the little bird freaks out as if it just woke up and suddenly realized I was there, chirps at me and flies away, landing on my neighbor’s roof.  I watched for a while, it didn’t roll off.

I wonder if one of the neighborhood cats took a swipe at it? Or maybe a grackle or hawk? I looked for a nest above where it fell, but did not see one.

What a curious experience! I wish I could have gotten a photo!

Well, so that’s my latest little backyard adventure story.  I shall have to catch you up on the rest of life, my mis?adventures with a snake in my pond and maybe wrangle a few decent photos somewhere.  Until then, be well.  Stay safe.

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Filed under Editorial, It's An Aberrant Life

“Mommy? You know what’s the one thing a person doesn’t want to see when they’re hungry? A Burger King…. And that happens to me a lot.”


(Random thoughts from Dear Son in the car one summer morning….)

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Filed under Conversations From the Passenger Seat, Friends and Family, Humor, It's An Aberrant Life

Don’t Put That Spoon In The Microwave


“Don’t put that spoon in the microwave,” I tell my 12 year old son.

“Don’t worry,” he says. “Unfortunately I’m not a moron in that way.”

“Ummm…” I say. “You mean to say ‘fortunately’ son.”

“No, I don’t,” he tells me.

“I mean unfortunately. Because I really would like to see what would happen.”


Go ahead and click a link below to “share this.”  You know you want to!  : )

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Dear Diary: It’s An Aberrant Life – July 10, 2011


I wish I had something really interesting and well researched ready to go for a post this weekend. But I don’t. I do have some posts in the works, but they are not ready yet. It’s been a long week, that was at the same time too short. I’m tired AND I didn’t get enough done, dagnabit. (How do you spell that anyway?)

SO how did this week go? Well, though I got a lot done, less was physically about getting closer to moving and more was about catch up on regular chores and paperwork and such. Which always leaves me dis-satisfied.  Chores never stay done.  Neither does paperwork it seems.

imageDear daughter had her 14th birthday on July 4th.  We got together with family and friends to celebrate our nation’s and our daughter’s births, as always.  Sunday before I met with my fellow crocheter from NY, Maven who happened to be in Austin visiting family.  We’ve chatted with each other for a couple years now online and we finally met in person over coffee.  That was very enjoyable.  Saturday before that we spent time with extended family for a baby’s 1st birthday.  So the weekend was lots of family and friends with packing and demolition interspersed.

For those new here, we’ve been in the process of getting the house on the market this summer.  I update about our process occasionally and will be writing about our experiences.  We want to sell our two-bedroom home of 15 years even though we’re supposedly in a real estate slump.  They say it will be very difficult, we’ll see if we can beat the pattern anyway.

Tuesday I was a domestic goddess of power, accomplishing a weeks worth of catch up in mere hours.  Wednesday I was a handicapped dial-up modem as punishment, complete with blue screen moments.  There’s always a sacrifice, isn’t there?  What happened to my super-woman youth?  Oh yeah.  Lost her in college.  Why on earth didn’t someone tell me that it was not physically possible to hold down four jobs and 18 credits without breaking.  Until the day I woke up and couldn’t get up. Not sure I would have listened back then.  At that time, it seemed the only way to make it. Now I know better to appreciate my limitations and work with them, not against.  And to sleep.  That is a story for another time though.

The kids were incredibly helpful too, especially dear daughter.  imageI wrote out a huge list of items that needed attention, cut them out and created a job jar with some old party favor balls we bought one year. We each drew two at a time and tackled them until dinner.  Family teamwork is awesome when there’s no homework. imageI love summer.

During the kids’ piano lessons, I worked on another crochet shape for this square vintage pin I have.  I think I like this shape better for it.

Thursday I had to tackle repairing the upright piano again.  The kids can’t practice if the keys don’t work.  😦  The action had come apart on another key and while I was in there I found I needed to re-repair one I did a few months agoimageI guess Liquid Nails is not that great on an old piano, because it did not stay glued.  So I went with classic wood glue this time.  Back together again.  Back to working.  I tried to see if there was any way I could fix the baby grand too, but it appears a hammer broke off and fell deep into its bowels.  After taking everything apart that I could right here in my living room, it became obvious to me that the only way to fix the permanent sustain (a broken hammer piece is keeping the sustain engaged full-time) is to pull the harp, or pick up the piano and shake it and see if it will fall out, whatever is more likely possible.  😉  So back together it went and will have to wait until after we move, hopefully soon.  Oh and if you didn’t catch on, I’m talking about two different pianos.  Yes, I have an upright and a baby grand in my two-bedroom house. I did have a drum set too, but it’s packed now.  The guitars aren’t though.

Friday was put the house back together and have family for dinner day. Hubby fixed his most excellent smoked salmon served with brie and yummy rye.  So very yummy!

Saturday hubby worked on his closets while I worked in the garage.  We need to replace carpet in at least two rooms.  Whether we replace with more carpet, or go with the old original wood floor, we need to move furniture out of the rooms to do it.

After working out in the garage for the afternoon yesterday, I had a touch of heat exhaustion to deal with in spite of drinking a lot of water and wrapping my head in a Chilly PadWondrous things those, btw.  There is nothing like Central Texas heat to make mush of your body and brain.  Having the experience has made me think on writing an article about dehydration and heat exhaustion.  I wasn’t exactly very educated on these things as a kid and thank god to know better now.

Today, I’m trying to piggy-back off yesterday.  Trying to complete the tasks we began yesterday and get ready for our daughter’s week of National Ocean Science Bowl meetings.  And new contractors with new quotes. Hopefully more timely than the last.

My week in review. Ending the day with Tai Wraps and about 5 minutes of rain (finally). It was a celebration.  I’ll have to post some photos tomorrow.

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