Last month, I started an apprenticeship with a midwife in Bryan, Texas. I am there for clinicals two to three days a week. Typically, we are open Tuesdays and Wednesdays, but she often has to see clients on other days of the week, as well, just to fit everyone in right now. I am loving being there, and loving being a part of this sacred process again. The birth center has such a sweet spirit, too. Just being there is peaceful!

Because I’m there for at least two days a week, I’ve been staying with my cousin and his family for a couple of nights a week, instead of commuting from Austin each day. This has been a treat for me, because we’ve not gotten to see very much of him over the past several years, and I thoroughly enjoy his family! He has the sweetest wife and such talented and fun children, too. (Okay, I’m a little scared of one of his daughters after I saw the video of her taking down a small cow in a calf-roping competition, but I think I’ll be okay as long as I don’t put a bell around my neck and run out into a rodeo arena!)

There are, however, a few drawbacks. One is that I’m not at home, and I miss my family a lot, and I really miss my cats! And, because I’m not home, I’m not getting very much quilting or sewing done. The other problem is the spiders. My cousin lives out in the country, on a really lovely ranch. Complete with a barn, horses, and goats. And spiders. Did I mention the spiders? They’re EVERYWHERE. And they are ginormous!

Now, before you blow me off because you think I’m exaggerating (due to my unreasonable and uncontrollable terror of arachnids) let me set you straight. Gaylon held a snuff can up next to one of the barn spiders (aka: “writer spiders”, “banana spiders”, “zipper spiders”, etc.) and this thing’s legs extended past the can on both the top and the bottom! Naturally, they’re all over the barn, but there are also two or three of them in every bush, and hanging from every eave. They really, truly are EVERYWHERE. But they’re not the worst ones. Because they are orb weavers, they generally stay put. You know where they are, and as long as you don’t wander into their web, you’ll probably be okay. But. There are also wolf spiders and grass spiders. Roughly the size of tarantulas! (And I have no doubt there are tarantulas, too, but praise be to God! I’ve not seen any of those yet!)

The second week I came over here for clinicals, my cousin and his family had gone down to the Frio for a much-needed summer vacation. I had the house to myself. I was thinking, “Ah! This will be great! I’ll be all alone, and get so much studying done!” I volunteered to feed the goats (although I wasn’t feeling so confident after being informed that they were Show Goats and that everyone else’s goats had been getting sick and dying. . .) I went to the barn and fed the goats, and the cats. And one horse. I saw the barn spiders, but they were way up high, and didn’t seem interested in me, so I just headed back to the house asap, and figured that was it for the night.

But then the dog wanted out. So, I opened the garage door to let him out, and there, about 12 inches from my foot, was THE BIGGEST GRASS SPIDER I’VE EVER SEEN IN MY LIFE. It was the size of my hand! Right there on the dog bed! I broke out in a cold sweat, my mouth went dry, and I froze. I didn’t have anything to kill it with, and besides, I wasn’t sure anything shy of a flame thrower would even come close to being effective. I managed to get the dogs out of the garage, slammed the door shut, ran into the kitchen, and did what any other rational, grown woman would do. I had a panic attack! I could not figure out how to get the dog back into the house without opening that garage door again, and THAT was NOT going to happen. But the dog is really little and cute, and I really didn’t want him to become coyote bait. So, I called Abby, because I knew she’d be awake, and she talked me through it. I went to the front door and called for the dog, and he finally came in that way. Problem solved for the moment, as long as I didn’t have to go out again that night for a birth or anything like that.

But the damage was done. I couldn’t sleep all night long, and the next morning I felt pretty rough. But I knew I had to go feed the goats and get to the birth center. So, I managed to get a shower, forced myself to open the garage door and brave the possibility of that spider still being there. When I opened it, I didn’t see him. I knew he was there, somewhere, but I kept telling myself that if I couldn’t see him, he couldn’t get me. I know, I know. That’s ridiculous, but it worked. I got to the barn, where one of the horses introduced me to one of the biggest barn spiders I’ve ever seen in my life, had a minor panic attack (c’mon. . . this thing was eye level to me!) and managed to get out with my life and back into my car. But I was far from okay by this point. I’d had no sleep and no coffee, and hysteria was creeping in.

So, on the way into Bryan, I called Gaylon. I figured I’d just talk to him, and everything would be okay. But instead, when I heard his voice, I burst into tears and told him everything. (So much for my makeup. . .) My wonderful husband offered to come and be with me. He was there by that evening, and he found (and killed!) Shelob-of-the-Garage, and saved me from any further terrifying encounters. He even took over the feeding of the goats and horses (although I think I was okay with that part, actually. . .) That man deserves an award for Best. Husband. Ever!!! He is just so amazing, and I am so grateful for him. We’ve been married 28 years (almost 29) and honestly, it just keeps getting better!

I’m adapting to life on a ranch a little at a time, and now that my cousin and his family are home it’s much better. (They can let the dog in and out and brave the giant spiders!) Plus, it’s just nice to have them there. . . their house is very big and empty without all of them. 😀

I’ll probably spend more time here than at home this month, due to the fact that we have a lot of births coming up, but my family is super supportive and they can come over here and visit me anytime. So far, for the most part, this adventure is turning out very well!


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