Last night I was trying to relax with a book and I kept hearing the dogs on our street barking like crazy. I braced my ears for what I knew was coming, and sure enough, Phoebe and Callie quickly picked up on the sound and started going off as well. I put them outside, giving them the chance to join the barking and pass along the message that “the puppies have been stolen!” or whatever urgent dog memo was passing through our neighborhood. I figured that after a minute or so of barking, the dogs would get tired and be ready to come back in. Not so! For a full five minutes (which is a long time, when you’re sitting on the couch trying to read above the din of a bunch of neighborhood dogs), the barking was still at full energy, with my two dogs leading the pack. I bravely stepped out on the back porch to investigate (half expecting the Return of the Guineas), but all I could see was Phoebe and Callie’s shadowy forms racing up and down the fenceline.
This situation called for a more intensive investigation, so Stephen got a flashlight and looked over the fence. The mystery of the Barking Dogs was solved, and the culprits were two loose cows, grazing up and down in the field behind our house. I do not even know where the closest cows live, so these guys were clearly refugees from some faraway farm.
While I’m talking about animals again, I thought I would explain the “Spider Hunting” that my home is now becoming famous (notorious?) for. We live in a house that is 1) newly constructed and 2) in the country. Apparently this is a perfect recipe for spider infestation. The spiders with which we cohabit are about the size of a thumbnail, consisting of a smooth, brown, bulbous body and little, well, spiderlike legs. They are non-poisonous, and they make a very loud popping sound when they are squished. They tend to come out at night, especially if I happen to be watching television, and I think they are attempting to break my will to live by invading my home in large numbers. In the course of one evening, I might kill thirty to fifty spiders. Attempting to pick up after every kill is an exercise in futility. I usually just slap around with my flip-flop or a magazine (already read, of course, and NEVER Karen’s Real Simples) and pick up the carnage in a major cleaning campaign right before bed.
The real charm of this spider-killing is especially evident to me when we have guests at our home in the evening. I always nervously watch the floor for the first spider of the night, and upon his arrival, I begin to nervously watch my guests to see who will be the first to notice the extra company. It’s a great test of friendship: the people who are truly comfortable in the living room will remove their flip-flops and whack away without missing a beat in conversation.
So on that note…to all you dearly beloved friends and family, we want you all to come and see the new house…I hope you still will…