"The way into my parlor is up a winding stair, and I have many curious things to show when you are there . . ."

I was helping Lindsay work out the details on a framing project yesterday when suddenly around the corner and across the glass of the frame I had pulled out of the closet came a fairly substantial house spider.

Lindsay let out a little shriek

Jessie Wilcox Smith

and I immediately thought, "EEEKK!! Was that thing on the frame the whole time I was carrying it out here??" but I said, "Don't worry -- I can get this one!" and I grabbed a tissue and popped the sucker in the toilet with very little fanfare.

Super Mom.

I tell you this story as opposed to the one last week

Willy Pogany

where a little bit smaller spider appeared in the kitchen and I was squealing like Little Miss Muffet and prancing around on my tippy toes while Hannah calmed me down and assured me that she would take care of it and it would be okay.

Weenie Mom.

Why the difference?

Well, spider #1 was one of those light colored, translucent guys. The kind we had EVERYWHERE in the house I grew up in.

Spider #2 was menacingly dark and a bit leggier -- a much-smaller-cousin of the kind we also had EVERYWHERE in the house I grew up in, but especially in the basement.

And when you encountered spider #1 in that house, you were just so darn glad it wasn't spider #2 that you could shrug it off and spit in its eye.

All of this reminded me that it's spider time once again (it being fall and also Halloween), and therefore we might perhaps revisit my spider post from last year's spider time.

If you've read it (*yawn*) and want to get back to carving your pumpkin then I shan't mind a bit.

If, however, you're looking for a leggy tale on this somewhat gloomy pre-Halloween Thursday . . . . then

"Will you walk into my parlor?"
(said the spider to the fly . . .)

and enjoy the rerun:

Late summer. The first cool nights. They want to come in the house. They will keep trying until they are dead.

I've been terrified of spiders for as long as I can remember. Literally. One of my earliest memories is of being afraid of the spiders in the window well of the basement bathroom when I was 3 years old. In my defense, they were black widows.

From the age of 5 on, my childhood was spent in an enormous house that was an absolute leggy wonderland. I could handle the ubiquitous yellowy-white house spiders. But the ones with hair (eek!) or red markings on their bellies (seriously! in the house!) were unbearable to me.

Every fall, my dad would give us the black widow lecture (be on the lookout for them -- I just found one ______ [fill in the blank]), including the tale about the woman who had the black widow fall in her hair.

This leads me to believe that my fear of spiders may be genetic. The fact that my father either (a) believed or (b) got a thrill from retelling that story makes me suspicious that perhaps he killed them because he was a man . . .

but inside he was squealing
like a little girl.

I have not used our backyard hose once this summer (it's in the spidery corner) because Russ failed to spray at the appropriate time and NOW . . . it being late summer and all . . . draw your own conclusions.

There's a story there and it may involve the words
"if you really loved me . . ."

Instead I have carried the dog's water down to his kennel from the kitchen every day. Silly?

Okay. But I told you I'm really afraid of spiders.

I was reminded of the spider-in-the-hair story recently in a Sherman Alexie poem, "The Summer of Black Widows." He tells of the spiders carrying stories in their stomachs.

I loved this idea of opening doors slowly, listening for stories. . .
Or peeking into windows, looking for stories. . .
Searching the lines of faces, hoping for stories . . .

My pieces have been referred to as "Visual Stories."

I like this description, and I hope it's true. During an interview with the curator of the Rochester Art Center, she asked me if all my pieces were in "the narrative style." At that point I was terribly nervous and I fumbled around to find an answer that would sound like I knew something about art.

But later I realized that the best answer was just yes.
Definitely yes.

Because I love stories.

I found a marvelous 1936 sticker book designed to give children a glimpse of the stories of other children around the world.

Inside the characters are blank except for outlines. The setting of the characters is drawn in. This reminded me of the way we see people. We see where they are now. We see their outline. But sometimes we forget that we're also usually seeing the blank.

And everywhere there's a blank, there's a story to fill it.

Sometimes we only get to put in a few stickers.

We should try to find as many of the stickers as we can. When we open doors we must always be listening for stories.

(but let's hope we only find stories.)


Allie said...

I did it. I read your post all the way to the end. Even though there were spiders in it. I hate fall. I hate spring too - it's when the babies hatch, and there are thousands of almost invisible little spots all over my ceilings....
I can't believe you grew up with BLACK WIDOWS IN YOUR HOUSE. Oh golly.

susan m hinckley said...

Virtual spiders are infinitely better than ceiling spiders, don't you think? And Sherman Alexie spiders are better still. Thanks for sticking with me, Allie!

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