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I'm a natural resource producer


Dangers in the Countryside

There is a new exhibit opening this weekend at the Natural History Museum in New York City called Spiders Alive! While I am excited to see the creepy crawlies they will have, it is a little less thrilling now that I have come face to face with some disturbing specimens in upstate New York. On Monday night, I was about to walk down the stairs of the house we rented when I felt like I was being watched. I looked down. Sitting on the ledge by the staircase was an enormous spider (maybe half the size of my palm) with stripes.

"Oh shit!" I yelled. "You have to see this!" Unfortunately, I then emitted a cloud of dangerous toxic gas. (let's just say I've been indulging in a lot of rich foods while away.)

This would have been fine if it had killed the spider, as it should have because I cannot understand how something so tiny could withstand that level of fumes. This just shows how scary the spider was. The other problem was that I had summoned others to witness the spider, and therefore my friend walked into the gas cloud.

"What is that?" he said and coughed, referring to the horrendous smell, not the frightening spider.

"Sorry," I said.

Then he noticed the spider and shrunk back a second time. We decided that the best course of action was to kill it with a very large flyswatter with a long handle. I slapped at it, but it jumped off the ledge and ran down the stairs. We screamed. My friend down the stairs, through the kitchen, and outside. I was left to contend with the monster alone. I am sure by then that it had armed itself with a little pistol and threatened to cap me. But that could be my imagination.

I chased it around the kitchen (it cleverly stuck to corners that the flyswatter couldn't reach well), and finally beat it to death. For good measure, I scooped it up in a paper towel and crushed it. To be honest, I hate killing spiders since they get rid of so many evil bugs, but this one was too much. My cousin wisely pointed out that a bite from that thing in the night would be really bad. (She also, before seeing it, yelled at me to stomp on it with my shoe. Then when it an to the kitchen and she saw its size, she realize the folly of this advice.)

Not long after that, we realized that mice had torn into a package of bread. We double bagged the rest of the vittles. A day later, we found a gray mouse scurrying around the kitchen. Nothing else seemed eaten, so we shrugged. "It's the country - what're ya gonna do?"

Last night the mouse and his/her friends provoked us into drastic action. I walked in the kitchen, and it was running along the shelves. Fine. Then I looked at a chair. Turds. Little fucker. This morning, more poop on another chair. Dammit mouse. You eat my food and I look the other way. They way to repay my kindness is therefore not to shit on my furniture.

So it was not without a sense of poetic justice that I noticed the headless mouse corpse on the brick path leading to the driveway. Really, it wasn't even headless. It was sort of a back leg and tail, with some side. "That is what happens when you spit in my face, asshole," I muttered as I scooped it up with a slotted spoon and dumped it in a remote patch of trees and high grass.

The slotted spoon? I threw that out, although I was tempted to leave it out as a reminder that no good comes to creatures that fuck with me.



A Camp Story

One spring, my mom waited until the last minute to register for me for Junior Day Camp at the Wilmette Park District. By the time she got around to doing so, the program was full. The only camp that had space left was at Terminal Park in Skokie. Terminal Park had no trees. While there, I learned the delightful, 15 verse whine-song "Found a Peanut," which was probably her punishment for sending me to a camp with no shade. I also learned a song that had something to do with Terminal Camp counselors being murdered by a crazy man and if anyone found their bones in the woods, we were supposed to paint Terminal Camp Counselor on them in green paint, or something like that. (Obviously they weren't murdered at camp since there were no trees and there bones were in the woods.) My mom preferred "Found a Peanut" to that ditty.

One day after it rained, we were eating our lunches in the parking lot of the Soloman Schecter Jewish Day School near the park. I have no idea why. Maybe the treeless grass was too wet, so we sat on wet pavement instead. Whatever the case was, I had to pee. Either we were told that we couldn't use the school bathroom or I didn't want to ask, but for some reason, I tried to hold it for as long as I could.

Eventually the damn burst, however, and I found myself eating my peanut butter and jelly while sitting in the middle of an expanding pool of warm piss. I was pretty old to have an accident, so I was extremely embarrassed. I sat in my pee for a few minutes while I tired to come up with a plan. My eureka moment was when I decided I would walk up to my counselor and tell her that my shorts were wet because I fell in a puddle of rain water. Yes, brilliant, I thought. She was nice about it and called my mom, who was once again punished for not getting her act together in time for me to go to a good camp and had to bring a change of clothes.

In subsequent years, I realized the problem with my plan was that I probably smelled like piss. There is no way that the counselor believed that I sat in regular water. I am eternally grateful to her, though, for pretending to believe me and not humiliating me any more than I was. That is called compassion. Whoever she is, she probably has better karma than my mom.



Professor Owlie

Last year, Husband told me that he was thinking about moving to Connecticut because New York state was so grossly mismanaged that he could not stand to see his tax dollars squandered any more. "But don't worry," he said. "It'll only be for a few days a week and you can stay in New York." "Excuse me?" I said. "I didn't get married so that we can live apart for part of the week. If you are moving to Connecticut, then I am moving with you." I sighed. I really didn't want to move to Connecticut.


"Fine." I paused. "If we move to Connecticut, can I have a horse?"

"Absolutely! Everyone in Connecticut owns a horse," Husband said.

I laughed. "Will we live on a horse farm?"

Husband nodded. "Yes! That's how everyone lives."

"So we'll live in a former barn?"

"Uh huh."

"We'll have to get a pet owl then because there will be lots of mice. Our owl's name is Professor Owlie."


"Blraghblechretch," I said. "Yergarchchchch."

"What was that?"

"That's Professor Owlie throwing up the mice he ate. Owl's eat their food whole and then barf up the bones and skin and fur. I just want you to get used to the sound since he'll be puking up all night when we live in a barn on a horse farm in Connecticut."

Husband tickled me. "You're ridiculous."