for real. This is a REAL spider. I found it September '07 on the fence post. I've never seen anything like it in my life- EVER! We don't have meaty spiders like this in Canada- or at the very least not in Alberta. The ones we have are usually fairly wispy with the exception of a Wolf Spider that lends its self to thicker legs but it never gets larger then the end of a pencil (the body that is.). THIS spider (said picture above) was almost 2 inches in diameter (!). After spending some time on Google I finally decided that it was a Araneus gemmoides (Cat Face or Jewel Spider) and 100% harmless.
And that is your spider lesson for the day. No need to thank me, it was truly my pleasure. Perhaps I'll share with you someday the 15 minute video of me trying to capture another spider that I had found in my condo. It truly is enlightening.
Photo credited to ME! Actually my mum because I was too scared to get that close even with the digital zoom.