Posted in Room and Board

Wasp Warrior Princess of the North

One fresh August morning, I thought I’d get some air and sunshine into the place.  I raised shades and opened windows in every room.  In the bedroom, there is one we rarely open.  The shade stays down and if we want a breeze, we use the adjacent window.

But as this was a day for sunshine, I yanked on the shade to retract it on its roller.  And was immediately taken aback in horror.  Attached between the inner window pane and the outer storm window was a wasp nest the size of a tangerine.  Not quite an orange, not a clementine, but — you know — a tangerine . . . but not quite as sweet.

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Once I realized they had no access to the inside of the house, I stood perplexed.  It was like one of those bee hives you can watch from the safety of a glass pane.  Except I don’t want one of those in my house, and these things weren’t making honey.  They were making a home and they intended to stay.

I walked outside to view it from another perspective.  I posted it on Facebook, hoping for sage advice.  I texted friends.  I called my brother, who was on his way out of town.  Unfortunately, he said, he was not close enough to help.  I talked him through it, but he had little to offer.

My Facebook friends replied with everything from, “Walk back and forth muttering, ‘Tut, tut, it looks like rain’,” adding “It worked for Winnie the Pooh” to “Run!”  My text query produced the response, “Call an exterminator.”

There are a few things you should know about me if you don’t already.  I’m frugal.  I’m not going to pay someone to do something I can do myself.  I’m independent.  I’m not going to rely on a man for something that doesn’t involve brawn or . . . well . . . anything else I don’t have.  I’m resourceful.  If there’s a will, there’s a way, and I definitely had a will to get rid of this thing and all its little inhabitants.

My new outdoor perspective unveiled no answers.  I couldn’t see how they got in, nor could I see a way to launch an anti-wasp assault weapon at the nest.  As far as I could tell, the only access to the nest was from the inside.  I walked back inside and strategized.

The only safe way I knew to kill a nest was to shoot it with wasp and hornet spray.  The only access to the nest was to open the window.  In order to keep them out of the room when I opened the window, I was going to have to seal it off.

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Step 1:
I sealed the window with painter’s tape and lightweight plastic.

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Step 2:
Releasing a couple of inches of tape at the bottom, I used a pole to push the window up, pulled the pole out, and quickly resealed the tape.

Now, did I mention it was a very windy day?  No sooner did I raise the window, but a gust of wind came and puffed my plastic like a balloon!  I could hear the tape straining, then the wind sucked the plastic out as if taking a bigger breath, and blew against the plastic again.  I’d like to say I watched confidently chanting, “Not by the hair of my chinny-chin-chin.”  But it was more like “Oh my God . . . oh my God . . . oh my God!”

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Because all the movement had agitated my little stinger-friends, they took to head-banging themselves against the plastic with fury.

Plan B was forming in my head, and it went like this:

  1. Run.
  2. Close the bedroom door.
  3. Call the exterminator.

But the tape held, and the wasps calmed.

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Step 3:
I released the corner of the sealed plastic, as far from the nest as possible (we’re talking maybe 18 inches, tops).  Aiming as carefully as I could through the semi-opaque plastic, I deployed my weapon of mass destruction.  Once.  Twice.  Then quickly pushed the tape back down against the frame.

Part of being strategic is being able to add tactics as they become necessary.

Step 3a:
When pushing the tape to the window frame proved unproductive, I realized the wet spray toxin had rendered it un-sticky.  Hastily, I dispatched more tape to the corner, while wasps buzzed, drunkenly defending what they mistakenly assumed was their turf.

It’s a cruel death, really.  As pollinators, I appreciate them.  As tenants, I do not, and alas they had to go.

Step 4:
After a reassuring period of time passed, the plastic, tape, and finally wasps were removed.  I found their access, and closed the gap.

Only one live wasp returned, probably coming back to his rampaged home to discover his loved ones had perished in a savage attack.  Yes, I imagine bugs think like this, and it makes my life traumatic sometimes —  when I do these little things one must do to secure one’s home from pests.

Anyway, it was a mercy killing.  One swift and final blow with a fly swatter brought the last one to his fate.

That afternoon — I’m sure it was karma — three wasps came in through the back door.  After my earlier adventure, I felt all-powerful.  Fearless, even.  Swat! . . . Swat!  Kill, kill . . . KILL!

I tweeted, “Call me Jean, Wasp Warrior Princess of the North.”

Peace . . .

wasp
wasp (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

 

 

 

Posted in Room and Board

How I Lost Over 150 Ugly Pounds in One Week

Five days off work, plus two weekends equals 9 days in a row of over-indulgent ME-time!  Some people travel.  Others reconnect with nature or family.  I like to choose a theme.  This week the theme was Decluttering.  If you know me at all, you will know that anything worth doing is worth making a list:

Items that need decluttering include:

  • Coats
  • Table Linens
  • Entertainment center
  • Clothing
  • Undergarments and socks
  • Pajamas
  • Cleaning closet
  • Pet supplies
  • Cookware
  • Beauty and health products
  • Crafts
  • Books

Half Price Books

As you can see, I have my work cut out for me.  I decided to start with the books.  Three boxes have been patiently waiting for their trip to the Half-Price Bookstore for several years, so this was an easy beginning.  I dusted them off, trying hard not to fall back in love with any of them in the process.  I only rescued two.  One was a trail-guide to trees, which I’ve actually searched for twice this year.

“Oh, hey . . . HERE you are!”

The other was my How to Talk So Kids Will Listen & Listen So Kids Will Talk book.  I can’t believe I was going to give away the all-time best book on communication EVER.  What was I thinking?

Because today is a beautiful sunny day, I dressed in a lightweight t-shirt.  I checked twice to make sure you couldn’t see the dark-colored bra underneath, finally deciding it was only visible if you were staring at my chest.  At my age, I can only hope for so much!  My brushed hair fell in soft waves along my shoulders.  With my cheeks blushed, eyelashes curled, I looked in the mirror.

“Hello, beautiful!  Looking good!”

On the way out, I grabbed another stack of recyclables harvested from craft supplies and patterns, and a sack of trashed junk from the basement.  Both the trash bin and the recycle bin are nearly full, and the garbage pick-up was yesterday!  My step lightened as I went back in to grab the latest box of culled books.

“Wow!  How much does this bad boy weigh?”

I stepped on the scale with and without the box.  It weighed in at around 38 pounds.  No wonder I was looking so great this morning.  I’ve lost a lot of weight!

Balancing the box against the store window while pulling the door open, I looked down.  The weighty box stretched my shirt, revealing not only my plentiful cleavage, but the black brassiere I had carefully checked for show-through.  I released the door and hauled up on the neckline of my t-shirt.  A chivalrous employee ran from inside to hold the door.  Hiding behind my sunglasses, I accepted their offer and retreated to my car.

George Washington smiled smugly from the ten-spot.  He knew I was taking him to coffee.  There I ran into a friend from work.  She asked how my week of decluttering was going.  After I shared with her the fruits of my labor, she said, “Well, you look . . ”

“I know.  I look great, right?”

We shared a nod and a broad grin before I went on my way.

Clearly the weight loss was showing.  As with any plan, you need to stay motivated, or you’ll be right back where you started — or worse.  The problem with taking nine consecutive days from work, is that nine days is exactly how long it takes to forget how energy-depleting work life is.  Today, on day eight, I’m all like,

“I can keep up this momentum!  All I have to do is to come home from work and spend a half hour each day organizing and decluttering!”

I seem to have forgotten that feeling of wanting nothing more than to put on my p.j.s and melt into the couch.  Not to mention getting ready for the next day,  bedtime rituals, possibly mustering up enough energy to eat a healthy dinner.  And how, by Thursday, I usually just say,

“F*** it, give me a peanut butter sandwich.”

English: A peanut butter and jelly sandwich, m...

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Don’t get me wrong, I love my time off, but she’s a tease.  Everything seems attainable from this side of the time-clock.

So what’s my plan?  How do I keep moving forward after the success of a 150-pound week?  Maybe these inspirational quotes will be more effective for decluttering than they have been for weight loss.

“This is a journey, not a destination.”

“One pound at a time.”

“When I feel like quitting, I ask myself why I started.”

“Good things come to those who work their asses off.”

“Keep calm and carry a gun.”

Wait . . . that last one I read on a t-shirt at the gas station.

Never mind.

Peace . . .

Posted in Room and Board

What Happened to Dens?

The Brady Bunch opening grid, season one
The Brady Bunch opening grid, season one (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Do real people have dens anymore?  The Brady Bunch had a den.  We had a den, but not until both my brothers stopped using that room as a bedroom.  We set up two chairs facing a t.v. placed in the corner.  Behind one of the chairs sat a desk which also faced the t.v.  Behind the desk was a clothes-closet-turned-storage.  I don’t remember what was in there.  Probably papers.  Back then people used to save a lot of papers and canceled checks.

The Brady’s den belonged to Mike, the man of the house.  I think our den belonged to my mother, who paid the bills at the desk and watched t.v. until way past my bedtime.  But my father also fell asleep watching baseball in there and after school it was my favorite place to sit and watch television while eating a snack of kippers and diet soda.  No . . . that’s not a typo.

There are lion’s dens and dens of iniquity.  Basically, I guess, dens are a place to find trouble.  Mike Brady was always scheming up something in his den, and Marcia once got in trouble for using Mike’s den without permission.  That begs the obvious question, what was Mike hiding in there that the kids couldn’t be in there unsupervised?  I always knew there was more to those Brady’s than reading magazines in bed.  By the way, Marcia was forgiven once Mike realized she was secreting away to write a nomination for Father of the Year.  Man, I’ll bet he felt like a cad.

What happened to the dens?  Did they turn into family rooms?  Home offices?  What rooms will we have in our homes of the future?  How does a room just disappear like we never really had a use for it?  Are rich people the only ones with dens and formal dining rooms anymore?

We have a room in the basement that we sort of re-modeled.  We put in new tile flooring, restored the baseboards, eliminated moisture, and painted.  Bubba has a really cool desk space with all his favorite things crowded around his computer.  I put some scrapbooking things in there and packed it so full I can’t even use it.  Some decisions need to be made . . . and I’m talking dumpster duty here.  But Bubba knows better than to touch my stuff, and I wouldn’t think of rearranging any of his shit.  Because as George Carlin taught us, all his stuff is shit and all my shit is stuff.

Now all this room needs is a name.  It’s not really a home office.  It isn’t a craft room.  Bubba sometimes calls it the Bat Cave.  I called it the Situation Room for a while.  I’m thinking it might qualify as a den.  After all, I’d be pretty pissed if Marcia messed around in there . . . even if she were crafting a letter of nomination for Mother of the Year.

On Friday morning, March 21, 2003, President G...
The White House Situation Room  (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Our Situation Room

Clearly, Bubba has the cooler space here.  At least he can get to his.

Peace . . .

Posted in Furry Friends

Remember When I Found a Home?

You looked at me through the metal linked fence.  I looked back, head cocked to one side.  My ear hurt.

The woman came with the key and the leash.  She gave you instructions.  “Hold the leash around your wrist and through your hand.  This one’s a runner,” she said.

We all walked outside.  Sweet fresh smells!  Let’s go, go, GO!  I peed on the first upright thing.  The ground, in contrast to the cold hard inside, was soft and bumpy.  The grass tickled my nose.  My paws dampened from the dew.  The sun heated my black coat.

The advice the woman gave you was sound.  I pulled hard, wagging my tail all the while.  The kids squealed and called, “Barney!”  The people inside called that word too.  Good things happened when I heard that word.  Food.  Outside.  Touches.

8629699224_82fd2c9990_cSomeone from inside watched.  You sat down on a picnic bench.  You looked at me.  The woman said, “He knows some tricks.”  Then you said words I understood.  “Sit.”  I sat.  “Shake.”  I offered my paw.  It was the right thing to do.  I received more petting, and this time there was something more.  Hugs and something I would later comprehend as love.

I waited patiently while papers shuffled.  The excited children patted my head and back, smiling.  You asked about my ear.  They hadn’t noticed, but you had.  A slobbering one-eyed dog looked approvingly at me from the other side of the counter.  Barking echoed from inside.

Sitting high on the back seat, as if I had always sat there, the wind whistled through the windows.  Someday I would learn how to put my nose out there and snort, but today I sat high and proud and looked out the front.  I was on a new adventure, like so many trips in cars had been.

When we arrived, they told me it was home.  “What is home?” I wondered.  Still on a leash, I was led from room to room.  There were oh-so-good smells.  Things to eat.  Things to chew.  Things I tried to remember for later investigation.  All at once, there was only you.  And me.  And this new place.

I was nervous and curious.  Where was my cold, hard fence?  Where was the rough cement slab?  Let’s go, go, GO!

You led me to a bag, rustled with your hand and pulled something out.  We went together to sit on the soft warm carpet.  You handed me a bone.  All at once I understood.  “This is home.”

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Weekly Writing Challenge: Leave Your Shoes at the Door

Posted in Family

Dear Child of Mine,

sc000b0423One day, many years ago, I gave to you a baby.  A howling, trembling, helpless newborn, moist and warm from my womb.  You didn’t know how to care for it, so I did that for you.  I diapered it when it was wet.  I bathed it when it was dirty.  When it needed vaccinations, I took it to the doctor.  The nurse stuck your perfect baby with a needle and made it cry.  You didn’t know how to comfort it, or why the nurse had stuck it, so I cuddled the baby and I cried too.

Pretty soon your baby learned how to walk and even run.  You didn’t know that much about the world, so I watched the baby for you to make sure it didn’t run into the street or get lost.  Gradually, you learned how to feed and dress it.  Sometimes you would put its shirt on backward, and I would straighten it out for you.  Your baby did so many funny things, I took pictures so that we would both remember. sc0001a55803

When the child grew bigger, you took it to school all by yourself.  I was sad to see you were able to do that without me, but so proud of how responsible you were.  You taught the youngster how to sit politely, raise its hand, and stand in the lunch line.  You dressed your child all by yourself, and even got the shirt on front-wise most of the time.  As you got older, I let you make decisions like how you wanted your child’s hair cut, and what activities you thought the child might enjoy.   One day at a time, you were learning how to care for this little person I had given you. DSCN0336

Then the child grew to be a teenager and you had your hands full.  You wanted to make all the decisions for this kid, but I knew you weren’t ready.  Sometimes the child seemed like a baby again — wearing its clothes funny and running wildly into the street!  Sometimes your child made very good decisions and I thought you might actually be able to control it.  But I kept close just in case.  Sometimes I shook my head.  Sometimes I laughed.  I took more pictures.

When your child was old enough, you taught it how to drive a car.  Behind the wheel, all I could see was that newborn I had given you so long ago.  And sometimes you put your baby into cars driven by other people’s babies.  I didn’t understand how babies could drive, and it made me wait wide awake until you were home!  I gave you a lot of guidelines for letting your youngster drive, but it was you who made sure your child was safe.

At times it seemed like you would never need me to help you with your baby ever again, and it hurt. But then the kid would do something really dumb and you would reach out to me for help. It felt good to be needed, but  the problems were getting more complex.  I hoped the things I had taught you were enough to help you guide this child through life.

Now look at you.  Our baby is full-grown and you can take care of it all by yourself.  I must admit you have done a wonderful job.  I have only a few last requests.

  • Please try to keep it safe and healthy.
  • Avoid letting anyone hurt it, but never . . . NEVER let anyone hurt it twice.
  • Speak kindly to it, because it has a good, tender heart.
  • Make sure it is kind to the planet, animals, and all the humans who live here.
  • Your baby may have grown into an adult on the outside, but it should never stop growing on the inside. It contains more potential than it will ever know.

Above all, please remember this is the most precious gift I have ever given anyone.  All the riches in the world could not replace it.  I grew this baby inside me so that one day you could take it out into world and make it your own.  Please treat it with all the love and respect that I gave it when it was newly born.  It may seem big, but it is still fragile and tiny in a very large world.

Sincerely,
Mother

Peace . . .

 

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