Araneidae, making her web.

I was listening to the radio on the way into work this morning. Let me back up a little. Our morning starts with himself up early, and then I get up about six, and he usually asks me how I slept as the lights come on. This morning, I told him in response to that: I need mocha. he immediately understood, this was more than a coffee morning, this was coffee and chocolate kinda day. So by the time I was driving into work, I had one cupful in me, and a second being sipped while I drove. And you know how your morning commute is always the same because you can drive it on autopilot? Well, the road that is the most direct route to work is under construction, so I looked at the map, mentally plotted a secondary route (I should come up with a tertiary, too, but… not today), and went thataway.

The song on the radio wasn’t directly pertinent to me, but it got me thinking. As the singer talked about how he’d been raised one way, but he liked women that were not to his parent’s taste, it made me think about my own parents. Not me. I was raised different than mainstream culture (more on that later) and I don’t know that I turned out how they expected, but I didn’t fall far from the tree, as it were. Dad, on the other hand, was completely unlike what his parents wanted and expected, and they treated my mother (who was a good match for Dad in personality styles) accordingly. Which sucked. Still does. Fortunately, even though my parents are no longer a couple, they still like each other, and I love both of them – and not just because I had a great childhood.

Mom was house-hunting in Kentucky, moving closer to me, this weekend, and we had  a lot of time to talk, which was lovely. We chatted about what she wants to do with the land/house/warmer climate, and then yesterday she made an offer which was accepted so now we’re all excited for the next stage. Mom – and Dad – are both into permaculture, have been since before it was cool. I grew up on sustainable, intensive agriculture ideas and experiments.

Dad is the kind of person who is perpetually surrounded in a tangle of vegetation. I’m not exaggerating – while he was stationed high in the Arctic, he turned his windowless cement-walled military barracks room into a tropical oasis. I’ve seen photos, and it was complete with a hula girl statue! He’s the guy who had a big aquaponics set-up running from his 55 gallon fishtank (polyculture experimental bed, rather successful even with bad grow lights) with tomatoes bearing fruit, lettuce, and herbs. Then one day he made me facepalm by inviting one of the local cops in to see his set up. It was very obviously tomatoes, but still! I have to laugh. I always think of Dad surrounding by untidy garden, with him reaching down and coming up with something unexpected. The year he planted these yellow pear tomatoes in the hightunnels and oh my goodness they grew into these huge vines with clouds of blossoms and then so many yellow tiny tomatoes I didn’t know what to do with them… That’s Dad. He’s been telling me what he’s planting at his new place – figs, berries, olive trees. He doesn’t like olives, so I don’t get that, except that I do understand. He wants to grow them to show he can.

I told Mom my housewarming gift to her will be to get down to the new place before she moves in, and plant daffodil bulbs (and others. Shh… don’t tell her!) in random spots. Best kind of gift – a surprise that keeps on giving. That should be a fun expedition. We might even get a posthole digger and put in a couple hundred bulbs. I learned that one from Dad, who had literally thousands of bulbs planted and naturalized along the road at the Farm. I miss that yellow carpet of daffs.

But between the two of them, it’s no surprise that I should have turned out like I did. I’m not a good housekeeper – I don’t mind cleaning, and there are times I quite enjoy it – but it’s boring, and there are other things I could be doing that interest me a lot more. I’m not a career woman. Yes, yes, I know, I’m working on a career now. But it’s not the normal sedate sort of thing my paternal grandparents made it clear that they expected from anyone with sense. And it’s taken me twenty years of rather outré methods to make a living to get here. Sitting in an office is not my cuppa tea. I like the benchwork, the learning constantly, and the challenge of making chemistry dance to my tune. And on the weekends and evenings I make art, write, and photograph bugs.

We were looking at a house and I spotted a beautiful argiope, and veered off camera in hand. As I angled myself for the right shot, I could hear Mom explaining to the related-by-marriage cousin who was showing the house to us, “she likes bugs and the camera is part of her.” Yesterday night, the First Reader called me out on the porch to see a stick bug, and I hurried out, camera on hand, to find a funny mantis trying to scale the window frame and falling down every minute or so. My son wandered around the yard with me, talking to me about school and his games, while I photographed spiders and made a cool video of an Araniedae making her web (and then went in and started teaching myself how to edit video to remove the audio track…)

Yep. Mom knows me, my husband knows me, my kids know me. I may not be normal, but I’m happy.

Argiope, the Banded Garden Spider


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