Saturday, June 19, 2010

Meanderings: The Battle of the Wasps

My early years were spent in a Brooklyn tenement, insulated from the natural world. Wildlife to me consisted of flies, roaches, and the neighbor's dog. To see flowers, I had to sneak into the old campus of St. Francis College and risk being apprehended by the guard. Course, I did manage to grow a Morning Glory or two- spindly, short-lived things- in the window box on the fire escape. Later when I moved to suburbia, I was introduced to grass, yellow jackets, and the like. Nothing in my life up North, however, prepared me for the up close personal experience that is living with Nature in Florida.

No, I'm not going to go off on a paean to the beauty of the beaches, the seas of skies, or even a lament over the torrential rains every afternoon in summer or the brooding possibility of a hurricane. No, my scope is a bit smaller. Start with the ubiquitous lizards that wind up in washing machines or the palmetto bugs, or roaches the size of hamsters. Speaking of size, there are also spiders, all kinds of spiders, including big ones that look like pom poms and carry their young. Squish them at your own peril, as thousand of one day full-sized babies scatter in every direction. I know. There are frogs, mole crickets (scary) and phalanxes of mosquitoes. And snakes, lots of snakes, the National Geographic kind. You know, red and yellow kill a fellow kinda snakes. And did I mention the flies? Never mind, the no-see-ums are the worst, defying any and all insect repellents.

The one nice thing is the absence of the dread yellow jacket. There are few bees, only the fat, good-tempered true (to my mind) bumble bee. At least that was until my neighbor down the block put in a bee hive. I suspect it didn't work out for him, because I haven't seen one around lately, thereby putting the kibosh on my pipe dreams of suing him when the hubster keeled over from being stung. Alas. Back to the issue at hand. Wasps are everywhere: little wasps who tend to leave you alone and large, foul-tempered African-looking creatures who build tiny little nests, packed like Tokyo subway cars, in your mailbox. The former urbanite learns to combat these with a can of foam with a 25 foot reach followed by a quick flight to safety.

So this year, I spotted a wasp by the back door, not an unusual phenomenon. The next day, there were two buzzing around; the following, three. I began recon. They seemed to be coming from under the mouldering box truck by the back porch. Aha. Problem was they seemed to have built a nest on the underside of said truck. The prospect of infiltrating their camp on my back without easy egress was a weighty one. Still, sticking my courage to the sticking place, I went for my weapon of choice. Agh. Godamn, he did it again. He used up the 5 dollar can of Raid and didn't tell me. I run out to the store. All the while, He, the hubster, is insistent that they don't have a hive, that they are coming from foxholes in the ground. I don't believe him.

Armed with my newly purchased and pricey can, I'm still hesitant. I really don't want to suffer the death of a thousand stings. Something seems wrong anyway. A little research, and the dawning realization that hubby was right. Who ever heard of a wasp that doesn't build a nest? Now, how to neutralize what have now become dozens of wasps at the same time when they're not in the same place? The internet yields advice: they don't like wet soil, use soap and water, etc. The paramount consideration for me, however, is not to get stung. I wait for ideal weather conditions. Where is the daily rainstorm when you need it? Finally one afternoon, there is a break. Under cover of a shower, I grab the hose, snaking it ever so cautiously toward the truck. Drat! It falls just a tad short. I take my chances. Turn on the water and pray.

The next morning, I'm greeted once again by the invaders. Frustrated, I decide to consult my expert on all things Southern. Let's call him Buddy. I mean, they must have these things in Mississippi, right? Buddy is a font of quaint and sometimes questionable down home remedies, often involving petrochemicals. Got arthritis in your knee? Spray it with WD-40. Want to keep bugs away from the house? Create a motor oil barrier. Get my drift? But I'm desperate.

"What you got there is them old hornets," he informs me with a sympathetic shake of the head. " just take an old golf club and swing it, and you'll see them come after your ass." Huh? That's helpful. I shouda known better.

" One day, Jim Bob was playin' golf, took a swing, and that boy wound up with 15 stings. Only thing you can do... is use some of the dishwashing liquid, you know, Downy. Just pour it on down there and run. Don't dilute it, though, 'cause that syrupy thing gets on their wings and they can't fly."

That actually jibed with some of the internet stuff I'd read. But I'm still left with a problem: the reason the truck is behind that back porch is that like many of my husband's possessions, it died there and thus can't be moved. What now? Stay tuned. Same wasp channel. Same wasp time.

Remembering Dad

Go this one from friend Yonosenada.

Father's Day is approaching. Purple roses grow in heaven, Lord pick a bunch for me. Place them in my daddy's arms and tell him they're from me. Tell him that I love and miss him. When he turns to smile place a kiss upon his cheek & hold him for a while, because remembering him is easy, I do it every day. But there's an ...ache in my heart... that will never go away.....If your Dad is in Heaven, copy & paste this.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Just Blame it on BP

The President's response to the oil spill in the Gulf has demonstrated clearly how removed he is from the mass of his constituents. Criticised for his odd detachment early on, he responds with choreographed visits notable for their awkwardness. His response to calls for Presidential leadership is to adopt a truculent stance toward BP, thereby antagonizing the already touchy Brits and sending the stock price of same tumbling further. And while he may congratulate himself for holding BP "accountable," including the extralegal demand for the company to set up a fund for claims to include those created by the President's moratorium on drilling and whats left of the Gulf economy; he fails to see that when BP is forced to declare bankruptcy, it is the taxpayer who will foot the bill.

Pending "plugging the hole," what is missing is a no holds barred approach to the effects of the spill. Tonight in his speech, he trots out the notorious berms in Louisiana. Very nice. Of course, Gov. Jindal had to plead on every news outlet for weeks and threaten civil disobedience to get permission from the Army Corps of Engineers. Assistance from countries conversant with deep sea drilling has been turned down. Apparently, no one asked for a waiver of the Jones Act. Booms and other equipment to ameliorate the effects on the coastline sit in warehouses thousands of miles away. Where have processes been streamlined to allow communities to defend their beaches? Is this all BP's fault? Who is the kick ass Honore here?

Alas, our President lives in his head and lacks the "common touch" of his predecessors. His is a lawyerly bent. It doesn't necessarily make him a bad person, but it does not make him a particularly good leader in a crisis.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Feeling Bookish

Finally got a chance to do some reading... specifically The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, followed up by The Girl Who Played With Fire, the first two in the Millenium Trilogy by Steig Larsson who died shortly after delivering the manuscripts. I had to see what the buzz was about, there being great excitement about it all. An avid reader of mysteries, I have to confess to being a tad disappointed. They were good-I'll read the last one- but I've read others just as good if not better. Best thing about the books is obviously Lisabeth Solander, probably one of the most intriguing characters I've come across in a long time. In the realm of Scandinavian writers, I'd prefer the Harry Hole novels by Norwegian writer Jo Nesbo. Still to be read- Henning Mankell. Just my two cents.

Also picked up a copy of The Holy Thief by William Ryan, a police procedural set in Stalinist Russia, one of a number of similar novels. I am reminded of Child 44 by Tom Rob Smith. This one I enjoyed.

Oh, and if you can bear to read a screenplay, pick up your free copy of the first episode of The Glades at your local Barnes & Noble. I've got mine. Have to read it. The A & E series is set in a small Florida town on the edge of the Everglades. Murder and mayhem among the mangroves. Already have a question, though, how is the retired Chicago cop played by an Australian actor? Look for it in July.