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5:29 AM Fri, Nov. 16th

Bluhm: Sometimes the best houseguests have eight legs

HE’S BACK! Since the early 1990s, my friend, Diane Wilson, has had a tarantula come walking up her driveway and into her home, staying from late July to early October every year since! She lovingly calls him Manuel.

It’s a scary world out there. Sometimes, Dear Readers, we just need a friend. A friend who will walk miles through a scorching desert, escape the perils of predators, suffer through the wind, rain and dust of monsoons with no map, GPS or cell phone, just to walk up your driveway, saunter in through your open door and once again, grace your life with a visit. This is Manuel.

My friend Diane gave us thrilling reports of finding Manuel in very odd places. You see, this is what he does. Shows up, unannounced, and then lounges around the house for three months. On the ceiling (would scare me over my bed), in the shower stall (stay dirty that day), on the kitchen counter (eat out) and sometimes just resting on the back of the sofa (keep standing). And in a most peculiar place, resting inside her hair curlers (wear your hair straight). Yes, Manuel makes himself at home!

Let me tell you the story from the beginning. Our spidey shows up for about three months each year. The arachnid specialist at the Phoenix Zoo speculates that this tarantula has an established migration pattern that has been likely imprinted into the offspring. And since a female tarantula can live 25 years (males usually 10 to 12 years) it might be safe to say that this furry little beast is actually a son or daughter of Manuel.

It all started one July day, when Diane noticed something with a big belly and hairy legs walking into her house through an open door (no, it wasn’t her neighbor). Yikes, a spider of the biggest, furriest kind was strutting around her kitchen! Consider the kind heart and calm disposition that it takes to open your home to a big, fat spider! Not a pet, nor a companion, just a little creature of God that strolled innocently into the house and decided to hang around. After checking out the premises and the occupant, he liked what he found and keeps coming back.

This year, Manuel arrived on July 30. He likes to be in the house, but also hangs out quite a bit on the back patio. Diane leaves the lights on for him, so he can catch plenty of bugs. Diane’s dog, Lucy, greets Manuel like he is an old friend, sniffing the spider thoroughly but mostly leaving him alone. The cat also will acknowledge Manuel’s presence, yet never bothers him.

There might be problems in the world, but with Manuel’s arrival, it is a reminder that the earth is spinning on its proper axis and the stars are lined up just right. Life is good, because one, happy eight-legged critter seems to have found his way “home.” So Dear Readers, if you see one of our Arizona wonders, like the tarantula, please look kindly and do not be afraid. They make perfect houseguests.

Judy Bluhm is a writer and a local Realtor. Have a story or a comment? Email Judy at judy@judybluhm.com.