At the beginning of the semester, a student came into my office upset because his apartment has spiders. His family found a spider in one of their beds, and it turned out to be a brown recluse. After learning that they are poisonous, his wife wanted to pack their luggage and head back to their own country. None of the other teachers seemed particularly concerned about the spiders, so despite the fact that I recalled seeing some really nasty pictures of what these spiders can do, I pushed any concern I had out of my mind.
And then, as the weather started getting cooler, I noticed more and more spiders in our apartment. Most of what I’ve read about dealing with brown recluse spiders online has said that pesticides and exterminators don’t really do much, and so The Husband and I decided to try glue traps*, more vacuuming, and shaking out blankets, shoes, and clothing items before using them. For as long as the spiders were out of sight, it was pretty easy to keep them out of mind.
One night, as I sat on the couch watching a movie and grading papers, I detected movement out of the corner of my eye. A rather large spider was silk cabling itself from one of the air vents on our ceiling down to the ground. Determined to catch and identify our uninvited guest, I grabbed the nearest glue trap and engaged the spider, trapping it and subjecting it to a photo shoot.
* We bought two types of traps. The Victor poison-free M293 seems to entice a lot more spiders than the Victor poison-free M256, and for each type of trap, it takes days, weeks, and even months to see any action. Don’t expect results overnight.
One of my students asked me why Americans do not celebrate All Saint’s Day. I’ve known some people who do celebrate, but not on as large of a scale as they do in other countries.
All Saint’s Day, or Wszystkich Świętych, is a national holiday in Poland that is celebrated every November first. At his time last year, The Husband and I were visiting a cemetery in Warsaw to observe the locals tidying grave sites and spending time with their loved ones who had passed on. Everyone (except candle and flower vendors, it seemed) had the day off from work, and the already crowded cemeteries were even more congested with families who had come from near and far.
The candles people buy and light on their loved one’s grave give off a particular scent, and the smell of it was noticeable before you even set foot in the cemetery.
I may not be Catholic, but I do really enjoy this holiday. I also think it’s fascinating to learn about how people in other cultures deal with the subject of death.
We live in tobacco country.
Until we moved here last August, I had never seen a tobacco plant before. And up until last week, when the last of the area’s plants had been harvested, I drove by them at least ten times a week.
I enjoyed driving by the neat rows of beautiful plants day after day, and watching the harvesting process has been interesting.
First, the plants are grown.
Then the plants are harvested.
The tobacco leaves are hung out to dry.
And then the tobacco leaves are moved indoors to dry some more, and then get cured.
The first time I saw a barn filled with curing tobacco sending spirals of smoke up into the sky, I pulled off the road and got ready to call 911 because I thought someone’s barn was on fire. And then I realized that the farmer and his farm hands were standing right outside the barn, not looking particularly concerned.
Yesterday, I was the accidental recipient of an email from the director of the commission in Morocco that oversees Fulbright grantees. He wanted to know about current class schedules for the 2012-2013 Fulbright ETAs.
Moments like that, and a number of others, have had me thinking about just how similar living here is to living in rural Morocco. Here are a few of my favorite ways in which rural, western Kentucky and Tennessee reminds me of my time in al-Maghreb:
1) People drink lots of tea, and they like it so sweet that it’ll make your teeth hurt.
2) The nearest airport is very small, and only has flights to one city.
3) If you’re at all different, folks may stare at you.
4) It is not uncommon for people to be selling used household goods on the side of the road/in parking lots, souk-style.
5) No one will think anything of it if you burn your trash.
6) People sit in chairs facing the street and watch the world go by.
7) Cash is king; your debit or credit card may be useless in a number of places.
8) Outside of town, driving down the middle of the road is commonly practiced.
10) Signs are often written in two languages.
11) There is a limited selection of many products, and certain things can only be found if you know where to look for them.
12) And best of all, people are very friendly and helpful once you get past any initial stares.