What to do with haters?


Here is a series of comments I recently received on this post, simple watercolors of a mostly-dead praying mantis, from a reader named Ashleigh. Or is it Connie? Hard to tell.

those paintings made me sick im sorry there a bit strange my pray mantis stopped moving i assume its dead great artwork though.

ok another look and i will puke these pictures make my tummy feel weird so sorry though and please tell me if my mantis is dead i wont move is it dead shes a girl named Rocksenne.

Connie don’t those pictures give you the chills ?

to be honest i dont like the drawing there sick and disgusting it looks like you ment to murder him just for the painting thats just sad you did not even help him for all you care that makes me sad and i hate this website.

Comments like this, inhabiting that murky space between spam and lunacy, are hilarious and deserving of a thoughtful response.

Dear Ashleigh,

I find it thrilling that an animal rights activist and art enthusiast such as yourself has taken the time to view and comment on this post — not once, but four times! (As space is limited, I was only able to publish one, sorry!)

First, I created this watercolor in the tradition of 18th-century romantic still-life painters who were commissioned by wealthy estate owners to paint scenes of tables laden with the spoils of hunts and gardens in order to document their wealth. In the future, I will try to make this art-historical reference more clear by scattering a few cocktail onions and pomegranate seeds around the scene.

Second, I do eat these insects after I’ve painted them, so you can’t really call me a murderer. In any case, I shall be more mindful in the future about what I pick up off the sidewalk, employing life-saving measures whenever possible (CPR, transfusions, catheterization, etc), providing there is no DNR in evidence.

And finally, since I am the author of this blog and therefore ultimately responsible for content, I would like to send a donation in your name to the praying mantis rescue organization of your choice. Please forward the address and I’ll get a check off immediately.

Warm Regards,


P.S. I’ve added a more tranquil image below to help restore your offended sensibilities and both your personalities to a more joyful state. It’s a photograph by Joel-Peter Witkin. Google his name to find more!

Witkin Archive

Joel-Peter Witkin, Prudence, Paris 1996, 16″ 20″

Image courtesy of Bruce Silverstein Gallery.

The next hater to intrude upon my otherwise peaceful life is unfortunately closer to home. Literally.

Last night at 10:30 p.m. (I was in bed), I received a series of angry, sarcastic texts from my neighbor regarding the toads screaming in my back yard. Well, it’s not really “screaming,” per se, as much as a mating call, but you can decide for yourself by clicking the orange button.

She began with, “That frog in your pond… not the most beautiful noise especially on a hot summer night when I want to open my windows & get to sleep @ 10pm… Please Laura do something about this horrible sounding creature…” and quickly degenerated into accusations and threats that she was recording the cacophony (to what end, I’m not sure). S/he carried on — ignoring my apologies and offers to find a solution — as if I am a toad farmer who’s personally responsible his/her insomnia.

Toadies in love.

Toadies in love.

S/he continued with sarcasm and anger punctuated with triple exclamations. Keep in mind, this is a neighbor with whom I’ve been on perfectly friendly terms for 10 years! I give him/her eggs! I explained that I had no way of knowing Neighbor had been so disturbed “for ten years” because s/he never mentioned it. Neighbor basically claimed that I should’ve known, and that I was lying about being able to sleep through it myself. Then I said good night and turned off my phone.

A short while later, Isabella heard a big splash in the pond, presumably caused by an object hurled by Neighbor over the 8′ fence separating our yards. Then, a song began blasting through Neighbor’s window. The same song. Over and over again.  I can only guess that his/her intention was to disrupt our sleep like “we” were interrupting his/hers(?) This, coming from a mid-fifties, highly educated person who until now had shown no signs of, well, lunacy.

I find it fascinating that Neighbor was apparently able to sleep with a loud song on repeat, and not the amorous expressions of a couple of toads.

What now?

I think I’ll open this one to group:  Do I capture the toads and take them somewhere else? Do I thoughtfully explain to Neighbor that I am, in fact, not in control of the situation because toads come and go as they please? That my yard is a wildlife corridor, a safe haven for environmentally beneficial creatures like toads, bees, birds, etc? Or should I just put the recording above on Repeat on my laptop and keep it outside, facing Neighbor’s bedroom. Forever?

I would appreciate any advice in the comments below. I’m so tired right now that I’m probably not in the best decision-making state.



19 thoughts on “What to do with haters?

  1. They look like cane toads, but i’ve never heard them yelling like that. Any idea how long they mate for? Classic story, though. Ask your neighbour how much she loves mosquitoes, then inform her a single toad can devour hundreds, probably more, in a single night.

    • ooo, that’s good advice, John, thanks! They mate for a few weeks in early spring. Once the eggs are laid, they stop the noise, which is like a vibration that comes out of their back, or something. The sound carries on all through the night, which I realize could be a problem for some people, although the other neighbors aren’t bothered.

  2. Where’s the orange button? I want to hear the mating toads, a sign of summer and of the cycle of life. They eat their weight in insects as John Zande says.
    Random sounds in the night are part of living in an urban environment, and we desperately need toads and bees and birds in our Albuquerque desert. Sounds like your neighbor is so upset that she’s turning to violent and desperate behaviors. I would offer to buy her a white noise machine during toad mating season and tell her that violent behavior is not neighborly or acceptable. Also, I know of a good psychotherapist in the neighborhood. EEEK!

    • Oh, sorry — the orange button is on the Sound Cloud icon, right below Joel-Peter’s image. Click the arrow, far left. This is great advice, thank you! Maybe I’ll write a letter, as I’m afraid I might have a melon lobbed at my head if I go knocking on his/her door. Maybe I could also get that psychotherapist number and send it over the fence in a paper airplane?

  3. Ha! tell her it was a great song to accompany the toads, but tonight, it would be even better if she could up the bass just a bit, to really highlight the harmonics!

    Or just toss a toad through her bedroom window.



    • Ha! I love that you are the only guy I know who could actually give musically sensitive advice, Guap. Demonstrating a strong knowledge and aptitude for the art form! I do like the toad-through-the window idea, but I would have to buy a rubber stand-in because I’m sure s/he would stomp a live toad to deal. Diminutive but vicious, she is.

  4. Hi Laura, LOL – What a contrast in essays – hate; then love; then hate caused by love… OMG, you certainly do find yourself in some unusual situations! Maybe somewhere in the universe there exists someone to be found under the classification of “toad behavior expert” who could suggest some way to lure those toads to another rondezvous site (perhaps into your neighbor’s backyard instead of yours? wouldn’t that be ironic) Or, are these toads light-sensitive? Maybe a spotlight on their honeymoon pond might entice them to move elsewhere for their nightly concert? I dunno; just a thought 🙂 Best of Luck!

    • Thanks so much Tina, great to see you here! The problem is, I didn’t put them there, so I’m afraid that if I remove this contingent, more will find their way into my yard. I think it’s the sound of running water…. a drug to amphibians. If the mating lasted all summer long I think it would be more of a problem, but it’s only a few weeks, so… live and let rendezvous!

  5. Oh still giggling from our discussion this afternoon! The world according to “Jinxy”

    Tell her your bothered by her “_____________”

    Please pick one according to season:

    1. Snoring! (Nice and cozy in the winter)
    2. Mating! (If she can find a partner)
    3. _______ Noise! (battery thingie)
    4. Fluffing! (Those beans)

    And you have no control over nature ~

    • Just as hilarious the second time around! I love all of your oblique references, tres elegante. I am taking all into consideration before making a decision — thanks for contributing!

  6. I almost didn’t listen to the toad mating call because I thought to myself, “Really? How bad can a toad mating call really be?” And then I pushed the orange button. Holy shit that’s a horrendous sound. Like someone’s being dismembered in a not so nice way (not that there’s an especially elegant way to hack of body parts). Putting the rude neighbor aside for a moment…how do you handle that horrific noise? Can you capture them and give them to a wildlife habitat? Not that it’s your issue, because you’re 100% right, you can’t control the toad’s primal impulses any more than you can predict your neighbor’s.

    • Hello Miss Stacie, thanks for stopping by! Yeah, it’s pretty loud and strange, but believe it or not, we get used to it again and again each spring. Isabella’s bedroom is only about 30 ft from the pond and she sleeps right thru it. I guess it’s like if you lived under railroad tracks or next to a dairy… you acclimate. Of course, I have recurring dreams centering around Silence of the Lambs and Celine Dion, but whatever.

  7. The sound is totally magical and reassuring. This explicitly demonstrates that screams and shrieks can be innocent animal pleasure and not the goings on of the drug addicts who visit the park across the street at night. Thanks. If I can’t sleep, I’ll buy ear plugs or drink a stiff martini.

  8. As always, my love of life increases each time I read your blog. I have no advice to offer as I am a good sleeper and might be initially startled by the frog yodels but as soon as I knew what it was would enjoy the idea of what was occurring just outside my window.

    Excellent response to the mantis haters/lovers, I look forward to their posts after they discover more about Joel-Peter Witkin.

    Good luck with the Neighbor – perhaps you can play the Neko Case Marais La Nuit toward her window to accompany the couple and get her acclimated to your pair.

    • Ginger, do you think Ashleigh/Connie looked at Joel-Peter’s photo and noticed that the woman’s hat is a severed head? Hmm. Thank you for being available to increase your love of life through a simple action like reading my blog — I’m truly honored! And inspired to do more…. 🙂
      ( P.S. I’ll have to look up that Neko Case song to appreciate the full value of your suggestion)

    • Thanks, me too! Maybe my neighbor had a whole symphony playing in his/her head (and maybe in her body) and only one part of it belonged to the toads. Horn section? Sleep deprivation can be an evil thing…

Talk to me! I spend too much time alone in the studio.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: