Posted tagged ‘bugs’

“I’d rather have a hot dog than caviar.”

February 18, 2023

Winter is back. Last night it rained, but sometime during the night we got a bit of snow, and I mean only a bit, not even a dusting. The morning is cold, 30°, but it is a pretty morning. White clouds dot the blue sky, an every now and then breeze blows gently and we have sun, bright sun.

My dance card is still empty. I have been a sloth of late, but I make no apologies. Today, though, I have one chore. My kitchen floor is a mess. The tile has paw prints leading from the door to the hall, evidence of yesterday’s rain, and bits of pine bark litter the floor. Nala’s new obsession is chewing pine branches. Instead of bringing stuff out, Nala brings them in. I guess it is an improvement.

When I was a kid, Saturday was Creature Double Feature Day. I got to watch two wonderfully bad B-science fiction movies in black and white. They became my favorites. I liked the worst the best. I still do. My movie library is filled with films like The Brain Eaters, Attack of the Crab Monsters and the best of them all, The Thing with Two Heads. That one is not to be missed.

Last night I had hot dogs for dinner, a day early. I didn’t have beans. I never have beans. I also didn’t have brown bread but only because I never thought to buy it. I always loved the fried brown bread slathered with butter, but then again, I love anything slathered with butter. I do have a couple of hot dogs left for tonight and two top loading buns. I just wish I had cole slaw.

Where I lived in Ghana, I could buy beef in the market. The butchers would cut me a fillet and wrap it in banana leaves. The butchers were clad in filthy aprons. I don’t think the cutting surfaces were ever cleaned, but I didn’t care. I had stopped being finicky sometime during training. If my food had bugs, I’d pick the bugs out. If I missed a bug, no big deal. It was added protein.

“Only very brave mouse makes nest in cat’s ear.”

March 28, 2017

The morning has been a strange one. First off is the scary part. Halfway down from upstairs, Gracie started sliding on the steps. She panicked and started scrambling on all fours for a paw hold. She was five steps from the bottom of the stairs. I grabbed her halter and held on then lifted her to a step where she was able to gain control. The whole time I held her my back was screaming. She weighs 62 pounds. I felt every one of them, but Gracie was able to stand and make it down the stairs without falling. She was even eager to go down the outside stairs.

The second weird event was the finding of a mouse, not dead but wounded. I was on my way into the dining room which I saw it. It was the fattest field mouse I’ve ever seen. It couldn’t have run away so I’m thinking it waddled, which makes me believe Maddie got it. This must be the mouse which has been living in my cabinet, my pots and pans cabinet, where I occasionally store packages of food or crackers.  Last week I went to get the bag of potato chips I had put there a few days earlier. It had a couple of chewed holes. The Equal box which had had about 30 or so packets was empty. The corn flakes were gone. There hadn’t been many, but now there were none. That cabinet is due to be cleaned, and I was going to put a trap inside it. Now I wonder. Kudos to Maddie who is seventeen. As for that mouse, it is outside where I tossed it, still alive at least for the meantime.

I haven’t ever been afraid of bugs or snakes. I know a few people who squeal at the sight of a spider. That makes me want to slap them and say get a grip. In Ghana, I was introduced to scorpions and centipedes. Both took me a bit aback, scorpions because they bite and centipedes because of their appearance and the possibility of a bite. They are not really bugs, but that’s for another time. My favorite looking insect is the praying mantis. It, of course, had its own movie: The Deadly Mantis. The giant mantis had been frozen in the Arctic ice cap but was dislodged by a volcano’s eruption. Terror ensues.

Today is cloudy. What a surprise! Rain is predicted, another surprise, but it will be warmish at 44˚. I have some inside chores today, enough to keep me busy for maybe twenty minutes then I’ll need a nap.

“The fireflies o’er the meadow In pulses come and go.”

July 11, 2016

I am beginning to think I am an extra in the movie Groundhog Day. I wake up to the same weather every day: overcast, chilly and damp. The rain sneaks in, just spitting rain my mother would have called it.

The week ahead is a quiet one for me with nothing planned, an empty dance card. We have yet to have a movie night as the nights have been quite chilly, down to the low 60’s. I’m hoping as the days gets warmer toward the middle of the week the nights too will be warm.

Yesterday I spend over an hour scrubbing the chairs and the table on the deck. They had been scrubbed once already, but it doesn’t long for the caterpillars to leave their frass all over the deck wood and the furniture. What is frass you ask?  It is caterpillar poop. There’s a new word to add to your vocabulary. Think of ways you can pepper your conversation with the word frass.

When I was kid, we used to capture caterpillars so they could walk all over our fingers and go from one hand to another. We thought they were fun to watch. I flicked a caterpillar off my deck the other day. I’ve had to spray some plants which have holes from munching caterpillars. They are eating machines who eat and poop and eat and poop.

When I was young, I was far more fascinated by bugs and snakes than I was afraid. The grasshoppers were great to watch as they jumped in front of us while we walked through the field. They were brown and not very big. They also weren’t all that fast as we could catch them with our hands. We always let them go. It was the fun of the chase we loved.

We didn’t often see snakes but the ones we did see were garter snakes. We’d find them in flower beds. I loved the way they moved. We’d stand and watch. We had no need to catch them unless it was to scare someone afraid of snakes. We’d hold the snake and run after the ‘fraidy cats and tell them the snake was going to bite them. We knew it wouldn’t but they didn’t.

The other night I went outside for a bit. My yard was aglow with fireflies. They were blinking in and out of the trees and along the fence. I stayed and watched for the longest time. I didn’t want to go in and miss them. They have always seemed magical to me though I know the mechanics of the glow. Science has its place and so does magic!

“If you think you are too small to make a difference, try sleeping with a mosquito.”

August 24, 2015

We have yet to shake the dark and damp of the last few days. It almost feels as if we are living in a weather limbo. It doesn’t rain and the sun doesn’t shine. Today though feels a bit cooler than yesterday. The weather in the paper says maybe showers tonight and maybe showers tomorrow.

Last night’s movie was What’s Up Doc. My friends hadn’t seen it in years, and they laughed all the way through. It was a perfect choice for our weather moods, for the dark days we have been suffering through. The deck was still damp as we had no sun to dry it yesterday, but the table and chairs had been under the umbrella and were dry. There was no breeze and the air was heavy. We had bugs, a rarity on my deck, so we lit punks to keep away the bugs. We all had memories of those punk sticks from our childhoods when we’d spin one in the air and pretend it was a sparkler. I love the smell of punks. There is nothing else like it so my nose easily triggers punk memories from way back. We could even buy them at the white store. They were kept in a large glass jar. Last night we put a few sticks in the deck boxes, and they worked: no bugs.

Some volunteers used mosquito coils in Ghana to keep away bugs. The coils were spiral-shaped and were mounted on a small piece of thin metal so they were suspended in the air. Most of them were green. They too had a distinctive smell to repel mosquitos, and I know I’d recognize that smell if my nose ever got even the tiniest whiff. The coils burned for a long time so you had to be careful where you put them as they could cause fires. Some volunteers without screens used them inside. None of us gave any thought as to whether or not they were harmful. Come to find out the burning of one mosquito coil releases the same amount of particulate matter as burning 75-137 cigarettes. At least we didn’t get bitten!

“There is plenty of time to treat yourself to something good to eat our refreshment center.”

July 13, 2014

The premier of movie night was wonderful, almost perfect. We had appetizers then dinner then War of the Worlds, the one made in 1953. The movie was fun to watch. The heroine was a typical 1950’s science fiction female. She screamed a lot with her hand to her open mouth wide with horror, buried her head in the hero’s shirt and promptly fell in love with him. The only crimp in the evening was how cold it got. There we were on July 12th wearing long pants, sweatshirts and one of my guests even added socks to her ensemble. Two were bundled in blankets. Wearing pajamas was optional but one was clad in warm and cozy night clothes, including slippers. I wore a sweatshirt but in honor of summer stayed in bare feet. I love these movie nights, and every time I have one I think how cool it is to be outside on your deck watching a movie.

My town used to have a very small, secluded drive-in off the beaten path. It was surrounded by woods. Bugs, especially mosquitos, were plentiful. We’d daub bug spray on us in the car or burn mosquito coils around us when we’d sit outside on lawn chairs. High mounds of dirt for some unknown reason separated each row of parking spots. The car went up and down and up and down until we’d finally settle on a spot. Our drive-in snacks included crackers and cheese, a dip or two, chips and a bottle of wine or a thermos of already made drinks, summer drinks with lots of ice. It was a favorite spot of ours on a Saturday night. Being in the car was almost like being in your own house to watch a movie. You could eat noisy snacks and you could talk any time you wanted. I was really bummed when that drive-in closed. Where it used to be is a field now, and I am sometimes tempted to get out of my car to see if any remnants of the drive-in remain hidden in the tall grass. It would be a sort of archeological dig of places from my past.

“In summer the empire of insects spreads.”

June 4, 2013

I should be outside singing, “Oh What a Beautiful Morning. The sun is brilliant, the sky dark blue and the air cool after the rain.  This, morning, however, has been hectic. Grace woke me up barking her intruder bark, and I went downstairs to find the irrigation man standing and waiting with my paper in his hand. He needed to finish the job. Meanwhile, I let Gracie out then shortly thereafter went out myself to greet the morning. That was when I noticed the gate was open and Gracie was gone. I immediately called out the troops. Sebastian, my neighbor and landscaper, was checking on the progress of the irrigation and said he’d get her so I gave him the leash. Gracie came running of out of my neighbor’s backyard and ran down the street followed by Sebastian. Both of them disappeared but both surfaced in a few minutes: Gracie caught and leashed. Next, Gracie was a crazy dog running from one inside door to the other. I got up to grab her and noticed her friend Cody had come to play and was outside the front door. I let them both into the backyard, now secured. In a while both dogs were  too tired and were whacking the dog door hoping to get my attention. They did, and I let Cody out and he ran home. Gracie is now calm for the first time all morning. The irrigation is set and ready so I’m going to stop for a moment and get more coffee.

I poured the coffee and found a dead moth floating in my cup. I picked it out and tossed it. Bugs on my food stopped bothering me in Ghana. The whole time I lived there bugs were my roommates. Most were fly bys, but my flour was the exception. I had to buy it in big bags because that’s how it was sold, and it took little time for the word to spread. All sorts of insects made the flour their home so it had to be sifted before it was used. Most of the bugs were caught by the sifting, but those that weren’t became part of the dish. We considered them protein.

Today I have a few errands and chores on my docket. I need to change the bed and the cat litter then hit the road to the pharmacy and the garden store. I need to buy the rest of my flowers and herbs, the flowers for the front garden and the herbs for the big herb garden. When I get home, I need to plant the rest of the deck flowers. Nothing’s better than getting down and dirty. That would make my shower the last activity of the day!

“Sewing mends the soul.”

February 28, 2013

Since Sunday it has rained every day but one. That was the teaser day when it looked as if spring was finally poking its head out of the snow, but that was just a single joyful day. Yesterday it poured and today is dark and grim, the kind of day when you know it’s going to rain but don’t know exactly when. Gracie and I haven’t yet done our dump run. It was pouring too much. We’ll go today before it starts to rain.

My neighbor is taking classes to be a masseuse. She asked if she could practice on me. It took me a nano second to agree. Yesterday I got a wonderful massage. She spent over an hour making me so relaxed my limbs forgot how to work. It was wonderful! When I was leaving, she asked if she could practice on me again and give me another massage. You can guess my answer!

The pant leg of my cozy pants caught on the bureau knob and a small hole became a large one. I grabbed my trusty stabler. I do have a sewing kit complete with everything I could have needed to sew the hole shut, but the stapler worked quickly and the hole disappeared. I just hope the staples don’t rust in the wash!

When I was in Ghana, I made my own bedroom curtains, a feat for which I felt accomplished because of my total lack of sewing skills. I could have had them made, but I wanted to give them a try. My room had a whole wall filled with two really large, long windows and another wall with a much smaller window. These windows had screens, and glass pieces like shutters which opened and closed with levers. I measured the length and height of the windows using a piece of cloth I already had as the measuring piece then went to the market and bought a cloth which was sort of a rusty-brown. The cloth had a pattern at the top and the bottom. I cut the cloth into three window pieces, hemmed the bottom of each so the pattern was still there then used string under a top seam so I could attach the curtains to the windows as I had no rods. The curtains looked great and gave me a sense of privacy, a rare commodity those days in Bolga where a white person was a curiosity.

I also made a lamp shade. I used a beautifully colored basket I had bought in the market. Since those days, Bolga baskets can be bought here and are really expensive. They are distinctive with their vibrant colors and handles with red leather. I probably paid a cedi or two and was definitely paying too much as bargaining still meant I’d over-pay. I cut out the bottom of the basket and fashioned a holder for the lightbulb from a hanger to replace the bottom. In my living room I had one light bulb on a long cord hanging from the really high ceiling, and the shade was for that bulb. Once it was attached to the bulb, it looked great though the room was far less bright than it had been. The top rim of the basket made a circle of light on the floor beneath the shade. In the rainy season, the buggy season, that circle light would be black by the end of the night, black with dead bugs.

I didn’t make anything else for my house. Those two, the curtains and the shade, were my only attempts at domesticity.

“I’ve just been bitten on the neck by a vampire… mosquito. Does that mean that when the night comes I will rise and be annoying?”

January 18, 2013

Today is winter. Though the sky is steely blue and the sun is shiny, it’s cold, and we have snow. I’m guessing about 2 inches fell during the night, not enough for plows or even shovels but any snow is enough. From here inside my warm house, the snow is pretty and it glistens in the sun, but even Gracie was reluctant to go out when we first woke up. I had to trudge across the snowy lawn to get the newspapers, and when I did, I saw paw prints in the snow. I’m guessing Cody came to visit hoping Gracie was awake. She wasn’t and neither was I.

The mice count is now 15. Only a single tiny beast found its way into a trap yesterday. Either peanut butter is less desirable than it had been or the number of mice has dwindled. I know there are some on this floor so they are also my targets. I’ve already put down a couple of my trusty traps but no takers as yet. Only three more mice are needed to break my decades old record.

I have never been the type afraid of bugs or snakes or mice. Garter snakes were common when I was a kid. One of us would see a snake, announce its presence and all of us would run to watch. The bravest among us would pick it up and hold it for a while. In the field below our house, we used to run through the tall grass and spook the grasshoppers so they’d hop into the air and then we’d catch them with our bare hands. We caught fireflies in jars but we always released them. Fireflies were special. In the swamp, we’d use jars to scoop up tadpoles and our hands to grab the frogs. Dirt and grime were never a problem.

In Ghana I saw poisonous snakes: one was in the bushes outside my classroom block. My students killed it by pelting rocks at it. Lizards were everywhere, including my house. In training, on our first day, I saw lizards scurrying across the concrete walks as I went to breakfast. I’ll never forget that morning. It was my first I’m really in Africa moment.

I have no plans for today, no errands and no chores. It’s a perfect sloth day. It’s a stay in my cozies, read a bit and take a nap day.

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