Three Years, and They’re Still Here (Plus a Giveaway)

My experiment in blogging began three years ago today. Chewing with the Paper Chipmunk has changed quite a bit since then. A lot of things have changed since then.

Peek-a-boo...I see you...

But one thing has not.

My very first post was about the black widow spiders in my studio. They, alas, are still here. As I walked in the door the other day, I spied a rather large specimen darting behind a big heavy bookcase that is bolted to the wall (this is, after all, California). I can’t move the bookcase, and there isn’t much I can stick back there with which to remove her nor, I am imagining, her several hundred children waiting to hatch.

I’m not particularly worried about being bitten. Black widows, as far as I know, keep to themselves and don’t wander too far. She’s kind of cute, in her way. I’ve since seen her hide upon sight of me a few other times. Charming. Really. Delightful. Most delightful.

And now that I’ve probably scared off all my spider phobic readers (Wait! Come back!), I want to announce a celebratory blogiversary giveaway—my very first. I never dreamt three years ago how many fabulously eccentric, fun, funny, creative and all-around wonderful people I would meet through this blog. Thank you all.

Leave a comment, and I’ll send you a little surprise. I loved Amanda Watson-Will’s idea of sending a little something to several people (and, I must say, her little giveaway book was delightful). I’m not sure if my small surprise will be delightful, but that will be the idea here, at least for all legitimate and welcome comments (alas, unfortunately there’s been a dark side to having the blog as well…). The deadline is the end of this coming weekend (before Monday 12th) California time.

And I promise—you won’t find any stowaways in the the package.

23 thoughts on “Three Years, and They’re Still Here (Plus a Giveaway)”

  1. Funny, but I thought I ” met” you more than 3 years ago. Happy Blogday, Ellen.
    You and Carol should swap stories – she lives in funnel web country.:-)

    • It does feel strange that it’s only been 3 years, doesn’t it? Thanks for the greetings. Funnel webs… hmmm…I’ve heard about some of those spiders. From what I remember, they can have a bad attitude.

  2. And a very happy Blogoversary from me as well. Our friendship has been magical and I am so glad to know you.
    We have spiders here as well. Not funnel webs, but red backs and white tails. Live and let live. Unless you bite me.

  3. Well, I am a lurker who wants to say congratulations on your three year anniversary, which sounds a bit insincere with a giveaway, but truly – Congratulations :)

    • Greetings Amy and thanks for your comment. Much appreciated. It’s great to know who’s out there reading this. I’ll be in contact in a few days when it’s time to mail stuff.

  4. Although I don’t comment, I do read you regularly and enjoy your view of the world…both the real one and the creative one. Thank you for all of your insights.


    • dguff! Always a pleasure to see you here. You’re so kind. Thanks! And a sincere thank you in return for all I’ve learned about bookbinding from you. I appreciate you reading my blog.

  5. Happy Anniversary!

    I’m new to your blog – but I love it! Helps get my creative ‘brain juices’ flowing when I am feeling a little bored of the same old projects, so thank you!

    A big thank you also from the three MASSIVE (ish!) uk spiders that live in my studio. If you can put up with dangerous ones lurking behind your bookshelves, I can certainly survive with my harmless, but still scary ones watching me – with their big hairy legs, and beady little eyes!!! They have now been spared the horror or being evicted from their nice warm home and chucked out into the cold british springtime weather!

    Anyway, please keep writing and I’ll keep reading!

    Mary x

    • Greetings Mary, and welcome! I can’t tell you how happy it makes me to think my blog helps inspire. Thanks for the kind comment! It is deeply appreciated.

      As for your arachnid housemates, how compassionate of you not to evict them into the March cold. (The last time I was ever in the UK–a decade ago–was in March, and it was indeed @#$% cold. So I feel for those poor spiders. Even though they are hairy and have several beady eyes each.)

      Years ago I read about a research study in which spiders’ heart rates were monitored as shadows that looked like human hands were passed over them, mimicking a hand about to squash them. The sight of it made the spiders’ hearts pound. Poor things.

      I just got curious and googled to see if I could find a mention of that study. What I found instead, for some reason, was an alarming article on WebMD about black widow bites. “Symptoms,” it tells us, “are often not easily relieved, even with narcotics.” Hmmm…..

      • Oh blimey, that makes me feel really bad about all the times I have removed spiders from my home! Maybe in future I will get my 3 year old to do it, they will not find her ‘diddy’ hand as threatening – oh what a bad parent I am!!!

        I do wonder if it is similar to the ‘story’ one of my friend told me, that if you throw a spider out of a window, it breaks all its legs!

        Oh, these poor creatures, if only they were cute and cuddly!

        Maybe you should invest in one of these, just in case!!

        • Heh heh heh…. what a nice mummy. I tell myself that a few moments of terror trapped in a jar before release is still preferable to being smashed. (Well… maybe not in March…?).

          It’s a shame that bug grabber probably wouldn’t be thin enough to fit behind the bookcase! Still, an intriguing possibility. It’s been as cold as a UK March here, but when it comes to black widows…

  6. Love reading your blog..even when l am in a hurry and don’t have time to leave a message! I too have British spiders in my home and studio but they don’t really worry me. I have lived in Dubai, PNG and the Bahamas and they have huge nasty spiders, so out “little” ones here in London are safe. I hate the thought they are scared of us..poor little things!Haxxxps..forgot to sy happy 3rd anniversary my blogging friendx Lynda

    • Lynda! So nice to hear from you again. I shudder to think what kinds of multi-eyed and legged wildlife you saw in Dubai, PNG and the Bahamas. I used to live in a part of California that had tarantulas out in the wild (fortunately, never in the house!). Bad enough. I do think that black widow is scared of me. She does not like to be seen and runs to hide if she sees me. All to the good.

      Thanks for the good wishes! I’ll be in touch in a few days…

  7. Congratulations Chipmunk! Well done! I love your blog – it’s a great mix of posts and I always learn something.

    I also thoroughly approve of your “live and let live” attitude to spiders. I think they are unduly villified for the most part, although it pays to be respectful! Thanks so much for the mention BTW.

    • Greetings Amanda, and thanks. I’m so glad to know you enjoy the blog. And thanks for your surprise book, which is sitting next to my computer.

      I like spiders. They’re fascinating. Although I must confess the ones in the studio are beginning to wear on me. There are just so many of them. And some of them actually are poisonous. Still, even the poisonous ones go out of their way to be left alone. They just want to live like the rest of us. That said, I have no qualms about vacuuming up their nurseries. As far as I’m concerned, the ladies can eat their mates inside, but they should go outside to lay their eggs.

  8. Yesterday, I picked up a box of printing stuff in the basement/studio…it was full of spiderlings! OK, not *full* but they numbered in the dozens. Teeny, tiny, tickle-y things. I shook them off and headed to my friend’s studio, where I discovered…guess what? Yep! The press hadn’t been used for a while and I had to release the rollers and take the blanket out for a good shake.
    No idea what species. (we do see red-backs from time to time.)

    • Doesn’t it leave you feeling all itchy and creepy crawling? Especially when it’s a lot of little ones. I’m feeling itchy creepy crawling just thinking about it… (Hopefully they’re not red-backs!) There’s artistic inspiration here, I do think. Printmaking with spiders.

  9. Happy blogiversary, and so sorry that I have apparently missed it! Even at the moment when I have so much else to do and so little time for reading, I do read your blog – just not always on time. I always enjoy coming here and I am looking forward to another year! All the best and greetings from across the big pond,


    • Dearest Hilke,

      Thanks for the good wishes! Especially seeing as I am still packing things up to send, and especially knowing your current situation (I feel honored you are able to make time to visit at all!), of course you will be included. Truth be told, I’d been thinking of sending you one anyway, knowing how supportive you’ve been over this project.


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