Saturday, October 04, 2008

Tarantula Xing

If you're arachnophobic, like my mom, sorry for the photo. But where I am right now, in Santa Margarita, California, the tarantulas are migrating. No joke! My mom and I are down here visiting my sister, and as we drove out to her house in one of the remote golden canyons they have around here, Emily stopped the car so I could get out and look at a tarantula crossing the road. It wasn't like a stampede or anything, but still! Of course, I left it where it was, but my crazy sister, apparently, sometimes catches them. And not only that. Get this: she was driving home the other day and saw some tarantulas, so she decided to catch one for an invertebrate zoology professor at the university (where Emily is a biology professor). But she didn't have any kind of receptacle in the car, so she just thought -- and who wouldn't, really -- that she would just hold it in her lap while she drove home. ACK!!! But it turned out to be a feisty spider, so she reevaluated her plan and found a large manila envelope in the trunk, and tried to catch the tarantula in it. Apparently the spider was too big to fit easily in a large manila envelope, so she had to tear it lengthwise to make the opening bigger. Again: ACK!!! But she got it, and put it on the passenger seat, and was driving merrily home when it escaped in the car and was climbing around.

Help, I'm feeling woozy. Okay, not really. But can you imagine? Of course, this is the same sister who drove to grad school with a pillowcase full of snakes on the passenger seat of her U-Haul, so there's no accounting for hobbies! (Snakes aren't a hobby to her, though; as I've mentioned before, she studies rattlesnakes. Now, along with a friend, she is studying their brains. When she told the woman at the local native-plants nursery yesterday to call her if they had any rattlesnakes they needed caught, the woman was a little hesitant, imagining Emily catching the snakes only to cut out their brains.)

Okay, enough tarantulas and snake brains! There are also quails bobbing all over the place out here, and coyotes yipping in the night, deer, owls, and many more critters. Beautiful. It's kind of strange being out in the country. I'm not used to the silence. Yesterday someone identified hummingbird "song" for the first time ever to me -- I never knew that sound came from hummingbirds! I didn't know they made sounds! I feel like the "town mouse" right now. All I need is to get chased by a mountain lion, tee hee. (Last summer when we were here -- well, north of here in Paso Robles -- we did see a mountain lion!!!)

Oh, by the way, on Thursday, I got to see 2/3 of the Disco Mermaids for coffee in San Luis Obispo -- hi Jay & Eve! Always so cool to see them. And we met up in Linnea's Cafe, which I think Jay told me once was the inspiration for the cafe in his book Thirteen Reasons Why.

Anyway, I didn't mean to leave that last post up so long, but there's no internet access out in the canyons, so I'm at a cafe now. Thank you to everyone who left comments in the past few days -- I agree with the general hopefulness of how each generation has become less racist, less intolerant. It IS reason for hope; I just want it all to go away NOW. And in a way, even more baffling than the awful people like the woman (yes, it was a woman -- funny some people assumed it was a man) who used the "n" word, are the polite, reasonable-sounding people who are voting for McCain. WHY? Whywhywhywhy??? It can't be that anyone is still buying into his "maverick" b.s. I can't stand to look at or listen to him, and the thought that he could be president. . . For the past 8 years, we've been stuck with this evil, vile, stupid, nasty bastard of a Bush, and now we have a chance to have not just a president with a good heart who cares about real people, but who is intelligent -- VERY intelligent -- and people want to listen to McCain and Palin for the next 4 years? I will have to go on radio and TV blackout if they win. I can't even stand to think about it. So I won't.

Instead, I will say: I brought The Hunger Games, one of the CYBILS nominees, on the plane with me, and it was the perfect travel book, one of those books that makes you wish your annoying layover was even longer. It's "sci-fi" in the sense of being set in a vaguely described future, in a society set up in the Rocky Mountains region after human civilization as we know it is no longer even a memory -- there's just one brief mention of the conintents having shrunk due to devastating storms and flooding, just enough hints to suggest that the time is long after the global warming apocalypse that we are currently setting our world up for. Anyway, it's the story of Katniss, a girl who's grown up in hard times in District 12, the mining district and one of the poorest of the 12 districts controlled with an iron fist by "The Capital." One of the tools The Capital uses to keep the districts in line is "the Hunger Games," an awful sort of "Running Man" reality-TV-taken-to-the-extreme competition held every year. Two teens from each district are chosen by lottery to compete to the death, and this year, it isn't Katniss's number that comes up, but the number of the only person she loves: her fragile younger sister. So before she even knows she's doing it, she volunteers to take her place.

That all happens within a few pages, and the book rockets forward toward, never a lull, into the horrific experience of the games. It's a terrific read up to the very last page, where I was left frustrated by the abrupt ending and the words "End of Book I" -- because there had previously been no hint that this was a "book I." So, Suzanne Collins, I ask that you please hurry with book 2. (Though who am I to ask, seeing as how two years will have elapsed between Blackbringer and Silksinger?)

Happy weekend to all. Let me know if you want me to catch you a tarantula while I'm here. NOT!


Anonymous said...

She just approached the tarantula?! Well, she seems like lots of fun. ^_^ Who doesn't love a person that's willing to put a tarantula in her lap?

Anonymous said...

if i could only post pics of your sister in her fledgling snake handling days. hehehe.

and with this awesome book review, who, may i ask, did the orchid witch talk to on the annoying layover? ;)

love you.

K. M. Walton said...

I have major arachnophobia and couldn't even look at the photo of the tarantula. The part when your sister picked it up made me shudder and pull my hands to my chest. I honestly think I would've passed out cold if I came with in 100 feet of that thing.

God bless her and her adventurous, no-fear ways.

Anonymous said...

I want one. I want one. I love spiders.

Vivian Mahoney said...

Wow. Your sister sounds amazing. And you are too, with your courage from the post below.

Enjoy the rest of your weekend.

Christine Fletcher said...

I lived in the Sierra Nevada foothills for a year, and saw the Great Tarantula Migration first-hand! And I am a HUGE arachnophobe...If that had been me in that car, I'd have been bailing out a window. Do you know they can jump like 4 feet in any direction?

Great review of The Hunger's now on the TBR list!

Diandra Mae said...

That girl's got guts, that's for sure! :) When I was about twelve, my family drive down south to a lake to meet up with family friends. We're in Texas, so big critters aren't unfamiliar to us. However, the sight that greeted us when we got to the state park was mind boggling. The road looked like it was ALIVE; thousands and thousands of tarantulas! I almost snagged one for a pet, but my dad flipped his lid and I had to shut the car door before I got grounded for life. :)

Great job on the conference posts, btw. Makes me wish I lived in the NW!

Amber said...

Wow, that spider stuff almost made me yak. Oh.My.


Disco Mermaids said...

Always a treat to see you, Laini! And yes, Linnaea's was the inspiration for the coffeeshop in my book.

And guess what I picked up at the NCIBA tradeshow this weekend? The Hunger Games!

- Jay

Cuppa Jolie said...

Aren't hummingbird sounds awesome? You'll probably never forget them and now there will be times when you won't see them, but you'll know they're around. We have hummingbirds staying for the winter for the first time. Yay!

I tagged you in a meme over at Cuppa Jolie. Feel free to play if you like. I'd actually like to hear your answers...although maybe you've shared all at Not for Robots.

Unknown said...

seriously, put a spider in a yogurt container and sneak it in your onboard bag and bring it back to me. i will give it a home and it will never migrate to your house i promise! mom would never let me have a tarantula...

Stephanie Perkins said...

Your sister is so cool! I LOVE the idea of her driving around with a tarantuala in her lap. And then in an envelope. Weird and fun.

The Hunger Games -- Man, everyone's talking about this right now! Apparently Stephenie Meyer really liked it, so a lot of teens are reading it. (I'm on the waiting list!) Thanks for the warning that it's only the FIRST book. I hadn't heard that yet.

And guilty as charged. I assumed the jerk on the phone was a man. Thanks for pointing this out -- I hope I think more carefully next time.

holly cupala said...

Hi, Laini! I have nominated Not for Robots for the I Love Your Blog Award! I would double-nominate if I could, because I love this one, too.

Heather said...

oh my. catching tarantulas....I think I would faint!