Four fingered, four-thumbed hand
Monday, June 27 2011
My new garden plot project continued throughout the day today. I'd begun laying down rocks for the new wall's foundation yesterday, and I continued that today, filling the foundation ditch and completely burying the drainage pipe. For this foundation, the size and shapes of the rocks were not important, so I mined "junk rocks" from the forested patch between our lawn in the farm road. This patch, only about forty feet from where I was working, is something of a talus slope or small glacial moraine, carpeted by a chaotic jumble of rocks from decomposing bluestone strata that, instead of having formed flat, had been laid down in weird knots and bends, leading to many oddly-shaped pieces. There ended up being quite a few rocks on this slope I could use for the wall itself, so I made good progress building it up throughout the day.
This evening Gretchen finally tapped into some of that precious pici we'd brought home with us from Tuscany. She cooked it al dente with pesto and mushrooms and it was delicious, though it was perhaps a little too sacred for eating in front of Jeopardy (which was where we ate it).
I was tired and dirty after all the stone wall work today, so I decided not to go watch The Bachelorette with Nancy. Instead I watched it at home, and Gretchen joined me (though she couldn't last through the whole thing, leaving soon after Ashley confessed to JP her just-finished obsession with Bentley. But Gretchen missed the best part, which soon followed: Ashley confessing the Bentley thing to the other guys, some of whom were deeply angered (and one of whom left the program).
Later I was down in the basement taking a bath, and I couldn't help but watch the long-legged cobweb spider that live up in the corners of the ceiling overhead. These spiders have bodies no larger than those of large ants, though each of their legs is easily an inch and a half long. Yesterday one of these spiders had decided to come down from the ceiling to hang out near the tub, and, fearing he would jump into the water with me, I flicked water at him with my toes. This was an effective strategy, and he quickly climbed back up to the ceiling.
Today, a the same thing happened, though this time the spider could not be repelled with my flicking of water. He came down very suddenly, falling from the ceiling corner above my left foot as if deliberately free-falling. Then he proceeded to walk along the edge of the bathtub, feeling as he went along the smooth tile wall for purchase upon which to climb. His hunt for "handholds" seemed to depend on randomly feeling back and forth across the tile. Whatching this behavior reminded me that, prior to the existence of man, there were very no environments in existence where spiders would encounter such smooth vertical surfaces. The spider's search for a path upward looked exhausting, something his behavior confirmed. Periodically he'd stop and rest for ten or fifteen seconds of complete motionlessness.
Sometimes he'd manage to climb up as high as a tile or two, but then he'd slip and fall back down to the rim of the bathtub. Evidently there was no usable web infrastucture. Sometimes he'd press his tail against the tile and I thought maybe he was anchoring a new web, but if he was, his horizontal progress soon made the anchor useless for vertical advancement.
Functionally, a spider is like a disembodied eight-fingered hand, or perhaps a hand with four fingers and four thumbs. There don't appear to be any pinchers on the tips of those finger-legs; they just do what they do the same way fingers do, by pushing and friction.
At some point I got tired of watching the spider trying to scale the tile, so I rose up out of the water like Godzilla, but instead of wreaking havoc on the spider's tiny world, I scooped him up and put him high on a marble shampoo shelf about half-way to the ceiling. I thought the assist would help him get where he was going, but it seemed I didn't know where he was going. He quickly jumped down from the shelf back down to the rim of the bathtub and proceeded along its base, ultimately ending up in the corner above my right shoulder. At this point he found some sort of usable web infrastructure, which he quickly scaled to a web beneath another marble shampoo shelf overhead. He sat there in his web, motionless, and I would have thought he'd finally made it home (perhaps after a night on the town with a lady spider) and was finally happy had he not then done the following: suddenly leaping from his web down into the bathtub to be swallowed up by the warm bath water. Such spiders cannot swim, so this move would have been suicidal had I not immediately fished him out and returned him to the rim of the bathtub, where he gradually dried off and came back to life. I drained the tub before I left so he'd have difficulty killing himself in my absence.
A spider similar to the one described above.
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