Thomas Wictor

Dragonflies and tarantula hawks

Dragonflies and tarantula hawks

My friend the Father Who Dances asked me to please keep writing about what I consider possible signs and patterns indicating that all is well. Therefore, here’s a post about dragonflies and tarantula hawks. This is for you, Father.

The last two weeks have been very hard on Tim and me. There’s no specific reason. We’re both kind of senile from trauma. I forgot a doctor’s appointment yesterday, and Tim keeps misplacing things. Also, every single house on our street now has an incessantly barking dog. There’s nothing we can do. The city refuses to enforce its noise ordinances, and the dog owners are barely human.

Maybe a dog owner can explain to me how you can ignore something going, “LOAF! LOAF! LOAF! LOAF! LOAF! LOAF! LOAF! LOAF! LOAF! LOAF! LOAF! LOAF! LOAF! LOAF! LOAF! LOAF! LOAF! LOAF! LOAF! LOAF! LOAF! LOAF! LOAF! LOAF!” as loudly as a pile driver in your yard for eight hours straight. The three houses that our parents left us have some kind of acoustic aberration that amplifies outdoor sounds so that they become much louder inside the house.

Tim has to wear radio earbuds, and I usually turn up the radio or just use earplugs. We’re counting the minutes until we can get out of here.

A few years ago Southern California suffered two tornadoes in two consecutive days. We never have tornadoes in this part of the country. Guess where the tornadoes formed? Yup: right over Tim’s house. Two days in a row, we went out and watched clouds coalesce into rings that spun counterclockwise and then dipped down into funnels. The sky was yellow, and the roar of the wind was so powerful that I had to scream at Tim to be heard, even though he was right next to me.

The first day I screamed, “What do we do?

We die,” he screamed back. “There’s nowhere to go.

When a second tornado was birthed over Tim’s house the next day, we just laughed. He has a simple answer to why things are so crappy.

Our three houses are on top of an entrance into the underworld. We live at one of hell’s portals.

Sorting through our parents’ things is very sad and draining. Every day we re-experience their suicides. What they had were lives unlived. Tim’s analogy is that they were born, their legs were broken, and then they were told to run the race.

Yesterday I had to relive surviving the Regent’s Park bombing of July 20, 1982. My brother Paul and I turned left instead of right, and we came within sixty seconds of being murdered with a nail bomb. Though I don’t hate the Irish anymore, I was surprised at the rage I felt reading comments by people who supported the IRA.

So it’s not been a good time.


Four days ago Tim came into his house and was overwhelmed with the scent of roses. It lasted for about fifteen seconds. Mom was a Catholic; the scent of roses has multiple meanings in the Catholic religion. Saint Thérèse of Lisieux is associated with the scent of roses. She’s the patron saint of…parental loss.

I go over to Tim’s house every afternoon or evening to talk, so he told me about smelling roses. As he got his coffee, I noticed something, but I didn’t say anything about it.

Today, after four days, I finally asked him if I could move the wooden dragonfly off the edge of shelf. I was worried that it would get knocked off.


It’s a clothespin dragonfly, so it’s obviously Mom’s handiwork.

“Did you put it there?” Tim asked. “I saw it a few days ago and figured you put it there because you wanted to take a picture of it or something.”

I didn’t put it there, and Tim didn’t put it there. It appeared the same day he smelled roses. In the dust around the dragonfly are lots of small fingerprints.


Tim made the one big one in the foreground to show how much smaller the other fingerprints are.

We’ve never seen this dragonfly before. I wasn’t even aware that Mom made them. As far as I knew, all she made were clothespin people. Among other things, dragonflies symbolize change and transformation, adaptability, joy, lightness of being, and an invitation to delve deeper into your emotions.

After I took photos of the dragonfly, I put it up on the shelf and headed home to go shopping. As soon as I left Tim’s yard, a giant black wasp with bright orange wings buzzed my head. It was almost as big as a hummingbird. I had no idea what this hideous creature was. It landed a few feet away and scuttled in short bursts along the ground. I followed it, trying to get a photo, but whenever I came close, it flew off. On my third attempt to take its picture, it simply vanished.

Before I went shopping, I Googled “giant black wasp with orange wings” and discovered that this thing is a tarantula hawk.


The tarantula hawk is a wasp. After an encounter with a wasp, you should ask yourself certain questions.

Are all my affairs in order?

Am I aligning myself with my goals?

Am I procrastinating about something?

Am I keeping myself from reaching my highest potential?

Am I allowing my progress to be held back by others?

If the wasp is a huge monster like that tarantula hawk, I assume it means the questions have more urgency. I’ve never seen a tarantula hawk in my life. Why, of all the wasps available in Southern California for me to see, was it this behemoth with an attention-getting color scheme of jet black and bright orange?

What happened today might mean exactly nothing. But I feel much better. That’s all that matters. If I’m crazy, who cares? It makes for entertaining reading, doesn’t it?


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