Translate

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Beware the spider vendetta

We all saw its shadow before we saw it.
“It” was a humungous rock spider that was walking out of the campfire. That’s right, I said walking out of the campfire.
It was the colour of granite with a big round body, huge fangs and a bad attitude.
It cast a shadow from the fire and was calmly walking within inches of the hot embers.
A friend took a stick and poked the multi-legged terror and it reached up with one of its front legs grabbed the stick and slammed my friend to the ground.
OK, maybe it wasn’t that bad, but you could see it pushing the stick down a little bit.
My buddy was stunned at the strength of this thing and I felt a shiver go up my spine that lasted for the next 17 minutes.
I had visions of this Godzilla of the spider realm hiding in my sleeping bag or attacking me from below as I used the outdoor loo.
Any such interaction with the arachnid (especially the loo part) would cause me to squeal like a small, frightened school girl moments before I passed out.
Spider, one; big, strong man, zero.
As we examined the spider he, or she, or whatever it was, took up a defensive pose and would push the stick every time it came near him.
I suggested we nuke the spider, so it would never frighten small children or big adults again.
“Hey, why don’t you put on those leather work gloves, pick the spider up and throw it in the fire?” I suggested to my friend with the stick.
“Why don’t you?” was his response.
“Are you out of your mind? Look at that thing. I’m not going anywhere near it. Why do you think I suggested you do it?”
Four fully grown adults stood trembling in fear over a spider that probably weighed less than my fingernails, but no one was going near it — no matter what.
OK, plan A was a bust.
Plan B involved death from above and a bombing run using a five-pound stone was decided upon as the best way to rid the world of the grey terror that was holding us at bay.
I threw the rock and it kind of hit the spider on his side. He then seemed to bounce off the rock and the last we saw, he was shooting across the hot embers to the other side of the fire.
No carcass was found, so we assumed he had survived the assassination attempt, which sent more chills up my spine (kind of like right now actually.)
This freaked all of us out as none of us are overly fond of spiders or any other type of insect, for that matter.
I had more visions. This time it was of a wounded monster spider hiding in the woods, plotting its revenge, waiting for the perfect moment to attack.
Perhaps it would limp its way up the tree behind me, climb out on a limb and then drop onto my hair-challenged head.
“Eeeek,” does not even come close to what my reaction would be.
Maybe it would die a slow death, but survive long enough to pass on a message of vengeance to its 20,000 offspring.
That would be just my luck — to have a small army of ticked off arachnids hunting me and my kin down to fulfil some sort of insect vendetta.
There were only so many rocks I could throw.
Fearing retribution, I conducted a more thorough search of the area around the campfire, but no sign of my new nemesis could be found.
Sure, we all hatched the murder scheme, but it would be my scent on the rock. I don’t know if spiders can smell, but I do not want to take the risk.
We tried to relax around the fire and laugh off the incident, but deep down every one of us was keeping a close eye out for any sign of the spider of terror.
We have been back to that spot since that fateful night and have yet to be carried off into the woods by avenging insects, so our fears of a sci-fi like rebellion by an arachnid army are unfounded.
My fear of spiders remains, however, as strong as it ever has — perhaps even more.


Sunday, July 16, 2017

I prefer to be at the top of the food chain

“When you enter the ocean, you enter the food chain.”
Those words of wisdom came from a buddy who has made several trips to the sunny climes of Mexico and the warm, shark-infested Pacific waters that lap at the sandy beaches.
I thought about it for a second and realized how right he was. Personally, I prefer to be near the top of the food chain rather than another morsel in an ocean smorgasbord.
When you are splashing around in the ocean, you are little more than a fishing lure with life insurance.
The top of the oceanic food chain is the shark, more specifically the great white shark, because the great white is the biggest and baddest the ocean has to offer.
If it weren't, it would be called the pretty good white shark, or the slightly-above-average white shark.
I splashed in the Pacific Ocean when I was a kid and not once did I think of the food chain scenario. But now that I am older, wiser and more of a fraidy cat, I realize just how true my buddy's words were.
I read a story a while back about a swimming competition in Australia that involved some 700 people. It also included a couple of non-competitors in the form of sharks.
One was a hammerhead shark and the story did not say what the other kind was, but I am sure it was not the kind of fish you would want to meet in a dark alley.
One of the competitors had a rather nonchalant view of the whole shark situation.
“I was swimming along and a couple of guys put up the shark signal, I figure they had 700 of us to choose from and they couldn't decide by the looks of things.”
My reaction would be slightly different and would likely involve some type of high-pitched squeal followed by a panic attack.
I wonder if urine would act as an effective shark repellent because there would be plenty of that floating around my general location.
If someone had seen a shark in the vicinity, I would not go in the water even if I was on fire. The last thing I would want to do is provide the shark with not only an easy meal, but a barbecued easy meal at that.
A good friend moved to Australia where he was a high-level competitive surfer. He would talk about what he said were “big sharks” with little more concern than someone saying they saw a guppy at a dentist's office.
I asked what he did when he saw a shark. “Oh, you just try to avoid them and get out of the water.”
Well, no duh. I could have figured that out all on my own. I don't know if it is possible to run on top of water, but I am pretty sure I would come close as I hauled out of the Big Blue.
He made a good point that it is kind of like hiking in the woods of B.C. where there are bears and the occasional cougar, both of which can detract from an otherwise good time.
So instead of bears, he had to watch for sharks. I am not sure how you would do that seeing as how sharks attack from below while a bear has to come crashing through the woods.
When a bear attacks you can play dead until it goes away, with a shark no playing is involved.
I would rather attempt to outwit a bear than out swim a shark, but I've always wondered if urine would act as a bear repellent because....


Copyright 2017 Darren Handschuh

Friday, June 30, 2017

Here come the Lobster People

One of the things I always find amusing about summer is the Lobster People.
No, these are not people with weird deformities that causes them to resemble a delicious and expensive sea crustacean.
These are the people who are vacationing in our sunny climes and are as red as a stop sign from too much outdoor merriment.
It helps make tourists easy to spot as they look like tomatoes with legs.
Locals have either already gained a bit of a tan, or they know enough to lather themselves in SPF 4,000 before going out.
But many of our tourists come from a flat part of the country (I'm not mentioning any specific areas here) where summer is typically a couple weeks in late July so getting out and enjoying that great big ball in the sky is too much to resist.
So they doff their work boots, jeans and hardhat in exchange for a bathing suit and a floatie, and splash around local lakes as the sun slowly and subtly cooks them.
It is not until the next day they realize the folly of their actions. Then they grab all the after burn ointment they can find and cover every bit of bright-red skin they can reach.
I don't even want to think about what happens to nudists.
They are exposing parts of their bodies to the sun that typically don't interact with that big ball of brightness.
I have never been to a nude beach, and the world is a better place because of it.
I could see myself ditching my swim suit to splash around eu natural, only to cause the other beach goers instant blindness and nausea so bad not even a six-pack of Pepto would be able to help.
It would cause a mass exodus from the beach as if a land shark was gobbling up people like a fat guy at a Vegas buffet.
In other words, me running around the beach naked would be a bad thing.
I would also like to take a moment to apologize for any mental images I may have generated with the previous paragraphs.
Don't worry, with the proper amount of therapy and deep hypnosis the image will fade.
Hopefully.
Having spent my entire life living in the region, I have made a peace agreement with the sun: I will not run around with hardly any clothes on (again, you are welcome) and Mrs. Sun has agreed not to roast me like a pig at a luau.
Besides, even when I was young and in good shape and could run around without a shirt, I didn't because I don't tan so much as turn into a walking, talking mass of human bacon.
I have two colours: pasty white and lobster red. There is not much middle ground.
And, it would seem many of our foreign guests have the same problem.
They are ghostly white when they show up, and devil red when they leave.
But I suspect it may be a little harder to distinguish tourist from locals this year. We had a spring so wet even Noah was complaining about the rain, and that meant the local sun lovers had minimal exposure to the big bright ball in the sky.
And that means they will be pastier than usual when the big bright thing in the sky finally gets to shine – literally.
But at least the locals – well, many of them anyway – know when to get out of the sun.

So sit back, relax and watch the tourists turn red. It's always good for a laugh.


Copyright 2017, Darren Handschuh

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Man's disgusting best friend

Where would the world be without dogs?
They are man’s best friend, loyal companion and are great at cleaning up food dropped on the floor.
I never truly appreciated that last quality until I had my first kid.
Junior spent more time throwing food on the floor than he did throwing it in his mouth, much to the delight of our two mutts.
The dogs were a little put out when we first brought this squawky little human home, but once he was old enough to eat from a high chair, all was forgiven.
The hounds clued in real fast that the squawky little human was a good source of treats.
Problem was, once Junior got old enough to interact with the dogs, he discovered that if he dropped something they would pounce on it and soon it became a game.
He would be flinging grub around the kitchen like the lid had come off a blender and the dogs were lovin’ every minute of it.
Dogs are also good at barking their heads off when a hoard of bad guys are at the gate and about to invade your home, or if someone walks by, or they hear something, or they think they hear something.
They're a food-disposal system and alarm system all rolled into one. Who could ask for anything more?
Actually I could ask for a few less things, such as a dog’s ability and willingness to eat really disgusting things.
A friend was thoroughly repulsed when he noticed his then three-month-old hound chowing down on a nice, big pile of deer droppings.
He literally had to pull the beast away from the stack of mouth-watering morsels and the closer he got to the hungry hound, the faster the pooch would eat.
I readily admit, I have never sampled deer droppings, or any kind of droppings for that matter, so I cannot definitively say they taste terrible, but I have also never smashed my kneecap with a hammer and I am pretty sure that would hurt.
For some reason, their dog finds stuff like that very appealing. He is now much older and still scrums down on doo-doo every chance he gets.
I present you with reason No. 2 why I never let a dog lick me — ever.
Why is that reason No. 2, because reason No. 1 is equally as bad, but more common among our furry, four-legged friends.
Reason No. 1 is universal among canines. While not all dogs eat poop, every dog I have ever had has eaten their own vomit.
Why? I don’t know. If a cat hacks something up, they look around like someone better clean that up."
If a dog yacks something up, they look around like, “Hey, hey, where did that tasty morsel come from? Don’t mind if I do.”
And then they do.
Don’t blame me if you find the subject gross. I don’t make them dine-on-dog upchuck, I am just saying they do it.
Dead things are also a popular entrĂ©e for hounds — the deader the better.
My dog brought in half a dead mouse that the cat killed and left outside in the middle of January. Murphy the Wonder Dog thought the mouse-sicle was the greatest find ever.
He came bounding into the house with his prize clamped firmly in his jaw and I had to chase him down to see what it was. I finally got hold of him and he clamped down even harder.
It took a minute to figure out what it was, but as I looked closer I noticed his treasure was staring at me with a buggy mouse eye.
I added that to the ever-growing list of why I don’t let dogs lick me — as if poop and puke were not reason enough.
Man’s best friend — absolutely — a very disgusting best friend, but a best friend nonetheless.

Copyright 2017 Darren Handschuh

Friday, June 9, 2017

Yes, I am a spider wimp

I'm man enough to admit it.
I'm not ashamed to admit I made a noise typically reserved for a small, frightened child before fleeing like I was on fire when it happened.
And I had every good reason to be scared, because it was scary.
It happens every spring and gets worse as the days get warmer and stretch into the summer months.
But with all the rain this year and the cooler weather, it really hasn't been that bad.
"It" is interactions of the spider kind.
I hate spiders. Not many things in this world scare me as much as an arachnid. Big, small, fat, skinny, you name it, if it's a spider I do not like it.
My most recent encounter with one of the eight-legged terrors was when I was working in my garage.
I grabbed a pair of coveralls I have hanging from a nail to do an oil change on my car.
For some reason, I shook the garment before putting it on, something I never do.
Call it the voice of God, dumb luck or some other glorious interaction of the divine kind, but when I shook it, a large spider fell out of a sleeve.
Eeeeek! does not even begin to describe how I felt. And this was no ordinary spider. This guy must have been on steroids because I have never seen one this big, this early in the year.
Sure, there are billions of little spiders roaming the area, and being the big, tough guy that I am, they hardly bother me, but this one was the size of a bagel.
It was so big, I could feel the ground vibrate as it fell from my coveralls and landed on the concrete.
OK, maybe the ground didn't vibrate, but I did pee a little and jumped 10 feet straight back as the black mass of doom raced for cover under a nearby cupboard.
It was at that moment, I knew I must take action, for if the monstrosity managed to find cover, I would likely never be able to enter my garage again knowing it was in there, watching, waiting for the right moment to pounce.
So, I summoned up all of my courage and sprang into action: I leapt across the room and smashed my foot down on the offending critter with such force my toes were numb for an hour; the impact of rubber sole hitting the smooth concrete was so loud it sounded like I had shot the spider instead of crushing it to death.
At least, I hoped I crushed it to death. I stood for second frantically looking around to see if the beast,which must have been some sort of Jurassic spider because of its sheer size, was embedded in the bottom of my shoe.
Slowly, I lifted my foot and to my relief I found an assembly of spider guts and legs smooshed into a gooey mass.
Yay, me.
I had survived a potentially lethal encounter with an arachnid.
Then one of the scariest thoughts I have ever had formed in my mind: if this spider was that big this early in the year, what will be waiting for me over the next few weeks.
Even as I write this, I shudder at the thought.
Perhaps going outside is over-rated.
Perhaps there are benefits to living in a sealed room with filters and screens and anti-spider lasers surrounding the house.
Am I over reacting?
No! No, I am not.


Copyright 2017, Darren Handschuh

Sunday, June 4, 2017

Look out, here comes Grandma Dinomite

It was one of those things that was so odd, it was funny.

I was driving down the street when a little, old lady in a silver car pulled in front of me and I had to slam on the brakes to avoid some up-close-and-personal interaction with granny.

I managed to slow down and swerve to the point where the collision was avoided. You could say I was a little annoyed at the almost accident, until I noticed it was a kindly, little, old lady behind the wheel.

That changed my attitude rather quickly because who could possibly be mad at granny?
And besides, stuff happens, no one is perfect and I was sure she simply did not see me. No biggie.

I gave granny a little toot on the horn just to let her know I was there and we almost got to exchange phone numbers and insurance information.

This sweet, kindly, granny-looking, little, old lady, peered into her rearview mirror and proceeded to flip me the bird. 
I must admit, that was probably the last thing I expected a little, old lady to do. Shouldn't she be at home baking cookies for the grandchildren, or knitting something instead of making an obscene gesture?
Especially when you consider it was Grandma Dynamite who was at fault in the first place. And this was not a quick flip of the driving finger.
This was a prolonged, hey-butthead-behind-me-I-got-your-granny-greeting-right-here kind of gesture.

It took a couple of seconds before I fully realized what was going on. At first, I thought she was waving to say sorry for almost causing our insurance rates to go up, but most people use all five fingers to do that.

I stared for the duration of the salute and sure enough granny was giving me the what for with a certain finger reserved for non-verbal communication of the unpleasant kind.

So I did what any other driver would do, I got in close, hit her car from behind and spun her into the on-coming lane where she was creamed by a dump truck.

I'm kidding, of course. It was a cement truck.

In reality, all I could do was look on in a mild state of shock. I pulled up beside the car to make sure it really was a granny and not a teen wearing an old-people costume, but sure enough, this was a full-fledged, grandma-type driver.

I tell you, seniors are getting harder and harder to raise these days.

Once the initial surprise wore off, I had to chuckle at granny for not taking any crap from one of those young whippersnappers.

Now, I have never snapped a whipper in my life, but according to Hostile Hilda in the Honda, I was just some punk kid with an attitude. A punk kid who, at the time, was in his mid-30s.

What is the protocol in that situation? I couldn't give her the finger in return. Flipping granny the bird would be too strange and just seemed plain wrong.

Two wrongs do not make a right, no matter how good that second wrong feels.

Eventually, granny went her way and I went mine, both with stories to tell:
  • Hers was of some jerk in a little, red car who was harassing her with his horn.
  • Mine was of a member of the blue-hair crowd who gave me hope that when I become a senior, I won't have to take any guff from some punk on the street.

Copyright 2017 Darren Handschuh

Sunday, May 28, 2017

I nod, you nod, we all nod

I call it The Nod.
The Nod is when you are walking down the hallway at work, or down the street and you see someone you know, but not very well.
Usually, it is an upward nod for an acquaintance.
And how much you do the up nod depends largely on how well you know the person.
If it is someone you have seen once in a while, there is just a slight upward nod to say yes, I recognize you, but don't really know you. But because we both sort of know each other, social convention dictates we acknowledge each other, so I am sending you the up nod to say I know you, just not very well.
The better you know the person, the bigger the up nod.
A full head tilt means I know you to the point there have been a few conversations, but you are not exactly on my Christmas card list. However, there is a personal connection and I am acknowledging that.
Then, there is the up nod with a smile or perhaps with even a “Hey” thrown in.
This is for people of an even higher social status, but are still not at the point of being considered a friend.
However, their presence is important enough to warrant a full up nod and a vocalization that I see you there, I have some sort of connection to you and in general I would consider it a favourable connection.
There is also the down nod.
The down nod is almost exclusively for those people you don't know at all.
Perhaps you are walking down the street and happen to make eye contact with someone who is also walking down the street.
Rather than stare at each other awkwardly, social convention has developed the down nod.
The down nod says several things:
  • I see you and acknowledge that you are in fact, alive.
  • That you exist on the same planet as I do and because we made eye contact – intentional or otherwise – it is polite to acknowledge that we are both alive and living in the same community even if we don't know each other and will likely never see each other again.
  • It is sort of an “Attaboy for being alive” kind of greeting.
There are numerous variations of the up nod/down nod. And they can be altered to best suit whatever situation you may find yourself in.
You could run into someone you have known for a long time, but don't like. That is when the down nod is acceptable.
But nodding is mostly used for face-to-face encounters.
While operating motorized vehicles, there are other forms of non-verbal communication that can be employed.
We all know what the No. 1 signal is for drivers, but only slightly behind is when you use all five fingers to wave.
Cut someone off in traffic? No problem, a little wave of the hand means I see I cut you off and I acknowledge the fact I did so, but I gave the little wave so that's means it's OK because I just apologized.
Whether the other driver accepts the apology is determined by how many fingers are used to wave back.
If it involves two or more, all is good. The driver is not offended and realizes stuff happens. If they wave with only one finger, then they are not in a forgiving mood.
Cut someone off in a parking lot?
Give them a little wave and all is good.
Nearly hit them backing up in said parking lot?
Wave.
Pull out a little more than than you should have, causing them to touch the brakes and have a hostile look on their face?
Wave.
Run over their garbage can, flower box and garden gnome?
Wave and you are good to go.
Well, that last one may require a little more than a wave.
Perhaps a wave and a nod.

Copyright 2017 Darren Handschuh

-->