Monday, September 21, 2015

The Sting!

No, I’m not talking about the delightful 1973 movie with the complicated plot in which Robert Redford and Paul Newman set out to con (sting) Robert Shaw (the bad guy). No indeed

In this feature, The Crazy Dog Lady (me) and the Mollywog (the dog)

 go out walking on a Saturday afternoon and blunder into a swarm of yellow jackets (the bad guys).

About halfway through the mile walk, there is an abandoned house. The house has sort of a converted carport at the side, with a ceiling fan and a wooden porch swing on two chains anchored to the beams. The old woman who lived in the house before she died sat out under the fan in the afternoons and watched the world go by while she crocheted – she made afghans and those very handy towels with the crochet tops that you can attach to a stove or refrigerator handle, and all sorts of other things. I exchanged “waves” with her many times as I walked by. As the holidays approached she would have a yard sale and I usually bought some of her crocheted items for presents. I know there is an extended family with adult children, and one of them lived in the house briefly, but it has sat empty for several years now.

Often when I am walking the dog, I will stop and sit on the swing for a few minutes to rest if my back has started to hurt and to catch my breath – there is a very steep hill just before the house. I sit and swing for a bit, and the dog sniffs around the stuff that has been left there. I realize I have no business going onto the property and sitting on the swing, and I was punished for my indiscretion.

This time there was swarm of yellow jackets near the swing, low to the ground, that I did not see. Molly walked right in the middle of them. She got stung at least once on the leg—probably twice—and shot off like a rocket, and I, not able to move quite as fast, got stung 3 times: once on each hand, and then, thrill of thrills, one of them flew down the sleeve of my t-shirt and got me near the armpit.

I tried putting meat tenderizer on the stings when I got back to the house, but I guess my meat tenderizer is too old or is missing ingredient that is supposed to help neutralize the toxin in the sting. It stopped hurting after a while. I felt very sorry for poor Molly. She curled up in her bed and acted very depressed, and didn’t move – not even to eat – until I took her out at 9:30 for her evening squirt.

Within a day or so after that, I discovered we have two nests of a nest of these unpleasant insects on either side of the front door – one nest is in a gap between the old foundation of the house and the concrete blocks of the new addition Richard built, and the other is about 5 feet from our front door, in between the wood border of a flower bed. A steady stream of them go in and out of this small hole all day long.

I understand that yellow jackets here do not survive the winter because it is too cold, but I am not sure I want to wait around for the cold to kill them. We are investigating how to get rid of them safely. Once upon a time we found a nest of them farther away from the house in an abandoned chipmunk burrow, and we poured kerosene down the hole at night and lit it on fire. We can’t do that with either of these nests.

With two nests this close to the house, it seems inevitable that we will get stung again.

And I am not interested in a sequel of this adventure.

Monday, September 07, 2015

Fitting in

I saw a gaggle of 16 girls at the park training for softball the other day. It brought back memories of the women’s softball team in Orange, where we lived in the mid-70s. They were called the Lionettes, and they were very exciting to watch, and they were very good – they were the runner-up team in several world championship games.

But back to here and now, the young women jogged around the baseline. They lined up opposite each other and tossed grapefruit-sized fluorescent green balls back and forth. One girl was pitching to another girl, underhand. She was very fast. The ball zipped along only a few feet from the ground, smacking hard in the glove of the catcher. They were lovely to watch.

They were dressed in different sorts of athletic clothes, but they all had hair long enough to wear in a ponytail. Not one girl had short hair. Brought back memories of how important it was during the years I was high school, in the mid-1960s, to fit in.

There were about 556 graduating seniors in the summer class of 1967, so there was quite a bit more variety in the different types of hairstyles that the girls wore than

there is in the small high school here, which has a total student body of 363 students.

Much has changed and much has stayed exactly the same.