My Spider Journal: The Outhouse

Doug's Spider Journal

August 27. Spider Rug
Looking for spider rugs online. Looking for something tasteful. Impossible? Maybe not!

August 28. The Outhouse
All of this talk of spiders seems to have shaken loose a forgotten spider memory, and I think I have finally figured out where my fear of spiders come from.

When I was little (around age 4, maybe?), my grandparents used to rent a cottage on a lake somewhere in eastern Ontario. I don’t remember them renting a cottage later in life. Maybe it got too expensive? But for a few years of my childhood, we would go out and join them at the cottage for a weekend at the end of summer.

Doug and Mom in a boat
Here’s me and my mom in a boat. Not sure if this was near the cottage, but the mid-70s timing is right.

I have very few memories of this time. I remember drinking a can of Fresca down by the dock and thinking that Fresca was the greatest drink ever made. I remember fishing for the first time and catching a catfish (or was it a sunfish?), which nobody wanted to eat but my Grandpa cooked it and ate it that night. But my most vivid memory of the cottage was the outhouse.

I remember you had to take a flashlight to walk down to the outhouse at night. The outhouse was down a flight of stairs and down the path and nestled into the edge of the forest. It was rickety and small. The door closed with a hook that was difficult to latch shut even during the day, so it seemed to take forever to fidget with at night. And then you had to sit in the dark on this ramshackle wooden bench with a big hole in it. And there were spiders absolutely everywhere.

Spiders on the walls and the door, and near the tricky door latch. Spiders on the “toilet”. Spiders IN the toilet. Spiders scurrying around in the dark, occasionally stopping in their tracks when lit up by the beam of the flashlight. It was like being trapped in a dark stinky coffin filled with spiders. Absolutely horrifying. Hmm. I’m fairly certain that this must be where my fear of spiders came from!

August 30. Australian Ghost Spider
Today I discovered the creepy Australian ghost spider. I know Australia is a land of many spiders, but this one is especially alarming!

August 31. A Visit from the Parson
I ran a spider-related comic on Savage Chickens today. Thanks to reader Anna L. for passing along this awesome fact / nightmare fuel in the comments: “Some tarantulas keep tiny frogs as pets who eat even smaller invaders.”

Just found a big spider sitting on the floor in front of the stove. I must have jostled it loose earlier, when I got a cookie sheet out of the drawer at the bottom of the stove.

Janet was closest, so she grabbed a juice glass from the cupboard. I would have gone with a mason jar again, so I could get a secure lid onto it later, but she was thinking the juice glass had better photography potential. After a few pics (and Crumble trying to swat the glass over), I found an old thank-you card and stuffed it under the glass. I flipped it over and managed to keep the card secure against the glass. The spider was racing around in circles.

Our latest visitor. Photo by J. L. Martin.

I took it to the stairwell at the far end of the building this time. We’ve been spending time with the cats in the closer stairwell lately, so I don’t want that stairwell to get too spider-saturated. The window in the stairwell was open, so I set the glass down on the windowsill, lifted the glass, and the spider ran free and was out the window like a shot. It was gone so quickly that I was worried that maybe it had been stuck to a web and I had pulled it back with my hand when I stepped away with the glass. But no, it was free to run off and go find somebody else’s kitchen.

Later, Janet identified the spider as a Parson Spider. Which looks right, but Parson Spiders aren’t normally found on this side of the Rockies.

For the positive reinforcement side of spider desensitization, I rewarded myself by taking a break to goof off and play video games. (I’m replaying Stray!)

Crumble really wants to knock over this glass.

Sept 1. Spider Myth Debunked
I always thought that spiders came inside in the fall. Apparently not!

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4 thoughts on “My Spider Journal: The Outhouse

  • September 4, 2023 at 8:16 am

    Hi Doug, thank you so much for adding that sentence at the end. I can’t explain it but reading your previous posts about all these spider encounters and knowing how stressful they are for you, it always left me a little on edge. Reading that you did something to calm down afterwards had the same effect on me. Also, Stray is such a good game for relaxation. So, thanks again, and sorry to be a bother. 🙂

    • September 4, 2023 at 10:46 am

      Thanks Mathias! I added that for you! Thanks again for reminding me to follow up these spider experiences with some sort of relaxation activity. These are very stressful experiences, but I think they’re getting less stressful! 🙂

      • September 5, 2023 at 3:41 pm

        Lol, in the back of my head I was wondering if you didn’t write about the relaxation part because you didn’t want to, or because you didn’t do it. This sounds a bit more like the latter. Either way, I’m really glad you feel an improvement. 🙂

  • December 4, 2023 at 2:55 pm

    So glad, despite your aversion to Spiders.. you released this critter to continue its life. …
    Decent Fellow!!
    Am a GREAT FAN (also an Illustrator/Author … but do Kids’ Books).
    Thanks so much for ALL YOUR HEART & WIT!!


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