Freeloader

I’ve been meaning to write. Really.

The excuse is the same; I’ve just been busy. This time though, the twist is that I’ve been busy learning. Partially about home ownership, but for the most part I’ve been learning about myself.

I used to think that the people who complained about how hard it was to own a home were lazy or complainers or maybe just not that handy around the house. Now, at the expense of my free time (ha!) and my last shred of dignity, I realize that it’s true. The very act of owning a home turns people into exhausted, cranky, bleeding and broken lumps.

I don’t mind doing little home repairs like filling holes or repainting, or even the occasional job like installing a ceiling fan or light switch. However, since last week, I’ve installed track lighting in the kitchen, replaced the recessed canister light over the sink, swapped out the tub and shower fixtures in the two bathrooms, and the faucet and drain fixtures in the guest bathroom. Still on the list is the stack of ceiling fans with add-on lighting kits, replacing the hallway and bathroom lights, and installing the faucets and drains in the master bathroom. All, of course, done after the day job.

I’m pooped.

I remarked to my wife that it was nice to be back at the office after the weekend to give my arms a rest. The bad thing is that now that I finally have a chance to sit down I tend to fall asleep.

Since I replaced the shower fixtures yesterday, I was really listening to the water during my shower, just to make sure it wasn’t leaking down into the wall when I heard a foreign sound.

It sounded like buzzing.

I looked around the bathroom windows, thinking a fly was just trapped inside, but nope, nothing there. Turning off the water and listening closely, it sounded almost like the buzzing was coming from inside the wall.

“Great” I thought. I’d been in a home once where the walls were taken over by a hive of bees, and they basically had to tear down one wall to remove the hive. After dressing, I went out into the back yard to see if I could spot the tell-tale signs of bees or wasps setting up a sub-let in my wall.

Nothing.

I did see a place where, if I were a bee, I would totally build a hive. Easy access, shielded from the sun, no danger from below because of the awning. Thing was, there were no bees flying in and out. Actually, no insects at all.
I pulled over a patio chair and climbed up on it, peering into the crack in the stucco. “If there wasn’t a bunch of bees in there yet, there will be if I don’t repair it,” I thought. “Better add it to the list” I muttered to myself.

While standing on the chair, I saw what looked to be a little spider web in the upper corner of the bathroom window. Wondering if a spider could create a buzzing sound, I leaned in to try to hear over the sound of the morning traffic. About a foot from my face I saw something that almost made me fall off the chair:

A leg.

At least I think it was a leg. At first, there was just the one, descending slowly out of the shadow in the space in between the window frame and the stucco wall. “Chill out, it could be an antenna” I thought. If it was actually an antenna, it could very well be a large wasp, and easily responsible for the buzzing sound heard from inside. Whatever it was, it was big. It was smooth, and close to half an inch between digits. Very deliberately controlled, it dropped down and hung there, almost as if to say, “Occupied, move along.”

Since I was standing on a chair, I could only back up so far, so I stood there in my dress clothes, holding a cup of coffee, fighting back the heebie-jeebies. Something with a limb that size, whatever the protuberance was, had to be big.

Trying to figure out what I was seeing, a second probe unhurriedly dropped into sight. Now that there were two, I briefly felt a little better since they had to be antennae, right? Maybe a tarantula wasp or hornet shacked up in the crevice for the night. I leaned in again to try to see the owner.

That may have been the last straw. A third appendage extended slowly towards me, resting on the glass below it, showing me, without question, that yes, these were legs. My thinking is, if there are three legs hanging down, there were still plenty out of sight holding this sucker to the side of my house.

I decided now was a good time to get off the chair and out of the face of whatever was staring at me from the shadow.

Growing up in the Arizona desert, one of the things you learn pretty quickly is that most of the things out here can do a person serious harm, and the rest can kill you. Here, either you learn to live with the critters or you stockpile the goods to protect yourself from them. We fall someplace in between the two extremes. We don’t have any bug spray, and if we did this thing was over my head so I’d be loath to spray it anyway.

Deciding that this behemoth will be here when I got home from work, I left to meet my car pool, frantically brushing away the imaginary bugs from my face the whole way to work.

We shall resume our conversation this evening, you eight-legged freeloader.