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Great Balls of Fire Ants

If you live in the muggy buggy South, you soon learn that insect repellant is as vital to survival as holy water is to Catholics. But, I have yet to find anything that repels wasps, hornets, bumblebees, and Satan’s Spawn…the mighty fire ant (Solenopsis xyloni).fireants These demons are native to South America, and they can have them back. This is another reason we need immigration laws, but that is a topic for those who like to write political rants.

For the uneducated, mainly those lucky enough to live in Northern stars, fire ants build huge dinner plate sized, 10-inch high mounds over night. These mounds house at a minimum, 8 zillion biting, stinging demons who hate everybody and everything. If it moves, they sting it.

Having co-existed with these demons for 17 years, I know that  woringk in my yard in anything less than a suit of armor is asking for trouble, but, but this week I ventured  into the broiling 90 plus degree heat to pull weeds and trim back dying plants in my swimsuit and sandals.  My reasoning was: This skimpy garb will allow me to take frequent dips in our pool which might spare me heat exhaustion, which by the way I have had twice this summer.

I was focused on cutting back dead plants, not where I was walking and my nearly bare foot stomped on a fire ant hill.  In a flash hundreds of ants were on my feet and legs. These ants can’t be brushed off your body because they have pinchers in the front that hold on to your skin while their business end, the back end, injects a powerful venom into your body.ant bites They also can’t be drowned.  When they attack, your skin feels as if it has been burned. Within seconds your skin is  red, inflamed and covered with pus filled pockets of venom. Yes, I know this is too much information, but I want you to feel my pain.

For minutes I was a screaming whirling dervish, swatting my legs, diving into the pool, and cursing all insects.

Solutions for the pain: benedryl, vinegar, and strong adult beverages. None work for very long.

Solutions for the ants: Flame throwers, napalm, agent Orange, DDT, and better insect immigration laws.

 

If you have had an encounter with Fire ants, post your experience. Share the pain.

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Famous Last Words

When I was young,(shortly after the dinosaurs became extinct), the only witnesses to  your stupid actions were right there with you, egging you on. Now, with the advent of a cell phone in every hand, your stupid behavior can be posted world wide within seconds on Facebook, U tube, Twitter, Snapchat, Instangram or the nightly national news.

Below are a list of a few words that have been uttered shortly before the shit hits the fan and the incident goes viral.

  • Hold my beer and watch this.watch me
  • weird machineStand back, I don’t know how this thing works.
  • This isn’t going to hurt.
  • Doctor to patient: There might be a little discomfort
  • Don’t worry, I know what I’m doing.
  • Any idiot can do this.plumbing problem
  • Who told you that this was impossible to do. Watch me!
  • Nothing to it. You just connect these two wires and …
  • I can fix it. I read how to do it on the internet.
  • Come on try it.
  • screw driverGive me a screw driver. I can fix that in a jiffy.
  • What could possibly go wrong?
  • I refuse to pay good money to have it fixed when I can do this myself.
  • Just add a little more air. I don’t think it will explode.kaboom
  • That’s never happened before.
  • Who cares? Just do it.

arrested

  • Maybe we ought to ask permission first.
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Back Then and Now…a journey to old age

bugs bunnyI had always imagined I would  slide from sexy, young thing (yes, I was that once) into middle-aged maturity, and then coast into becoming an elegant dowager, but as Bugs Bunny often said, “I think I made a wrong turn at Albuquerque.” I just realized I missed elegant dowager and zoomed right into crabby old lady. Currently, almost everyone under the age of 70 drives me nuts.

I can handle the rapping, thumping, tuneless music of the younger generation easily, rapperbecause I don’t listen to it.  And as for the abundance of pointless, vulgar movies, I don’t go to them.
But, I suggest the entertainment industry should wise up. Baby Boomers, all of whom have passed 65, make up the largest group in our population and we were savers. Have plenty of money to spend.. If you want to make money, you better start catering to us old geezers. And I don’t mean more early bird specials. Some of us prefer to eat after 4:30 in the afternoon.

Here is a list of recent things that make me question the intelligence of younger people:

gluten free1. A label on powdered sugar that stated “Gluten Free.” Only wheat and a couple of other grains have gluten, so this is like putting on a label on bananas that says “meat free.”

The world has gone gluten free nuts….gluten is not the devil…it is pain and sickness to those with Celiac disease, but that is a small percentage of the population and most people with Celiac disease know what to avoid.

2. Chips and crackers that have labels saying “Cholesterol free.” Again any person with ano cholesterol half of brain know cholesterol is found in animal fats, so the chance of hamburger being shoved inside Cheetos is slim.

flourToday I bought a12-pound bag of flour…the printing at the top of the bag said. “Flour is raw. Cook before enjoying.” I wonder, how many people eat sacks of raw flour?

“Don’t eat raw cookies dough!” I’ve been doing this for years and look, I am still alive. I let my granddaughter eat raw dough too, and yes I know the dough includes raw eggs, and now god-forbid raw flour. I told her, “When I read in the paper that people are dropping dead daily from eating raw cookie dough, I’ll stop. Until then, no way.”

If you lived through road trips with no seat belts, bike riding and sidewalk roller skating with no helmet or knee pads, mecurochromehaving Mercurochrome and Merthiolate (both of which are laced with mercury) slathered on your scratches, then like me, you are a fossil, a living dinosaur and you have earned the right to be a crabby old man or lady.

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Customer Service and Robo Calls

corsetLike buggy whips, land lines, and whale-bone corsets, customer service is a thing of the past. The long past. Only we old fogies remember when real people answered the phone after 3 to 4 rings, and actually listened and answered questions. I long for the good old days.

Here is what customer service offers today.
1. Being on hold 28 minutes before your call is answered. (Assuming it is.) . clock tickingAnd during this unreasonable lengthy of time, you hear a recording every 15 seconds that says, “Your call is important to us.  Our customer service representatives are busy helping other customers now. Please remain on the line and your call will be answered in the order in which it was received.”

2. so sorryFinally reaching a real person and being told at least 10 times with in a minute, “I’m sorry” or ” I apologize.”
These people who could care less are not sorry or apologetic. Just annoying. More than once I’ve said, “Stopped telling me you are sorry and do something!”

3. While on hold. Hearing a recording which encourages you to check their website. Great advice! But if your complaint is with your cable provider, who supplies your internet access, and the internet is down, which is why you are calling, this advice is worthless.

cable serviceBundle they say, fancy words for let us rip you off 3 ways.

4. Being told, “We are expecting higher call volumes than normal. Please call back.” Click.

 

5. Calling at 9 a.m. CSDT, and hearing a recording say, “Our office hours are between 6 a.m. and 6 p.m. ESDT. Please call back during those hours.” Click

6. Being on hold for 56 minutes. Hoping to wait them out and finally giving up because you need to take more aspirin, fix a stronger drink, go to the bathroom, or GET A LIFE.

robo callsAnd then….there are the robo calls. If you have missed receiving some of these you must live on Neptune, have no phone, are in a coma, or refuse to answer calls if you do not recognize the number. (The fault with this last plan is, caller ID is far from accurate. My calls have been identified as coming from Los Angeles and I live in Louisiana.))

Robo calls offer: free braces, free hearing aids, a chance to lower your credit card interest rates or win an all expense paid vacation, some restrictions apply. (Like how much money you have to invest in time shares.). What’s nice about robo calls is that no one ever comes onto the line, so feel free to vent all your frustrations to this inhuman voice. (A robo call has saved my sanity and marriage on more than one occasion.)

My best solicitation call ever.  Several weeks ago a REAL, LIVE person called our house. She began her spiel about preparing for death, saving my loved ones the effort, and offered a great prepaid funeral.

When she paused for breath, I said. “Thank you for calling, but we have no need of your services, we are vampires.” I hung up and let her ponder that. vampires

Old Sicilian Proverbs

italian vs sicilianMy husband, who I fondly called the Sicilian, is not referred to as having an Italian heritage, because his grandmother would rise from the grave and curse me.  Technically Sicilians are Italians, but don’t try to tell them that. They are a people and culture unto themselves.  And per my Sicilian, his family was steeped with myths, adages, and possibly even a curse or two.

After Katrina destroyed the home of his elderly Aunt Anna, his mother’s only sister as cry and laughshe was usually described, this little old Sicilian lady came to live with us.  When the devastation of Katrina, which submerged her home in 9 feet of toxic water was mentioned, she would say:  You have to laugh to keep from crying.  Wise words. Words that apply to many situations.

crows on houseGod forbid Aunt Anna  saw a crow. A crow  sitting on your house meant death would visit soon. If this adage were true, I should already be dead. Perhaps I am and I don’t know it.

Once a baby, twice a child was her excuse for spilling food at the table or her need for help taking a shower, and getting in and out of the car. This does not make sense at first, but contemplate for a few minutes how as adults we become child-like as we age. Can’t imagine anything? Perhaps the mention of adult diapers will help.

She burned black candles. black candlesDoing this was tantamount to calling down the wrath of God on someone. A curse would be put on you and your family should you ever burn a black candle against someone.  Doing this would result in being shunned. I don’t understand how this works, but these first generation Sicilians in America did so you better not burn any black candles.

birds in rainThe birds are crying for rain.  Of course these squawking birds better not be crows. (See crow comments above.) I still don’t understand  how birds making noise meant rain was coming. I heard birds making noise after a storm passed and asked if these birds were crying for rain? I was told, “None essere in asino intelligente.”   Aunt Anna said that meant, “Don’t be smart,” but I think a  better translation might be, “Don’t be a smart ass!”

Next is  a handy phrase that Aunt Anna’s Grandfather, who was a Big Boy by anyone standards, often said. When when asked if he wanted a second helping, his response would always be, “Si, dopotutto siamo in America.”  Yes, after all we are in America. 
cannoli
America was the epitome of wealth, success, and the good life to these first Sicilian immigrants to New Orleans. So, when in doubt, have another cannoli, after all you are in America.

 

 

 

One Less Rodent

Perhaps because the Sicilian dislikes/fears snakes, spiders, rats, and other vermin as much as I do he has developed selective hearing and vision. While I can see evidence of these little pests inside and outside our house, he seems oblivious to them. (Correction, he did say he saw a rat at the bird feeder. I think this was said so I would remove the feeder since he is not fond of birds. )

I never saw any rats at the feeder, but did discover a fat black rat dead in our swimming pool one morning. Perhaps Spot chased it there and it died of exhaustion trying to get out, or maybe it was on a suicide mission. Either way  I was not happy about a rat that close to our home.

rat gnawingSeveral days later when I went into the garage to fetch my plastic container of bird seed, I  saw that the hinge had been gnawed off by some rodent.  I declared war.

My solution was traps, baits, or even grenades. The Sicilian opted to go pacifist and put a heavy wrench on the top of the bird seed container. So much for passivism. The varmint knocked the wrench off the container and gnawed off the other side of the lid.  I brought the container into the house and put my finger on the Nuclear War button.

The Sicilian moved to terror threat red at my urging. We set a T-rex trap, baited with peanut butter in the garage for a week. Nada, zip, zilch. Nothing took the bait.He moved his terror threat back to green. Mine remained on orange.

T-rex

The next week as the Sicilian slept, I heard faint tap dancing in the attic above our bed. The dancing never started until Spot the Wonder Dog had given up barking for the night. By then, the Sicilian had been in dreamland for more than an hour. Several nights I woke him to listen, but the attic varmint always became quiet. Finally, one night when the varmint was performing an Irish Step Dance the Sicilian heard the noise.

“I’ll set a trap there tomorrow,” he said.

“Tomorrow? Are you nuts. I don’t want to sleep with vermin in the house another night?”

“I’m tired. I’ll do it tomorrow.”  He returned to his soft snoring while I lay awake listening, fearing that at any minute a Godzilla-like rodent would fall through the ceiling and kill me.

The next night he set the trap. Bedtime bought a short attic tap dance followed by two loud noises. “I got it. Now go to sleep,” the Sicilian said.

“No, I want to know what we caught. Go up and see what it is,” I said.

“I’m asleep. I’ll get it tomorrow,” he replied.

Go get it please,” I begged.

“No. If you want to see what it is, you go up there.”

“I’m afraid. What if it is not dead. It might leap up and bite me. We don’t even know what’s up there. It could be a monster.”

“Go to sleep.”

End of discussion. I read into the wee hours. No blood dripped through the ceiling. I’d been spared.

The next morning the Sicilian announced,”The trap was sprung, but there was nothing in it. The varmint knocked the trap off the ledge and it hit the floor. That’s what made all the noise. Don’t worry, I’ll catch the bastard tonight.” He shifted into his High Red alert. Determined not to be outwitted.

rat in trapThat night when the trap snapped, he went into the attic without my asking.  I followed closely behind him. A large rat was trying to free itself from the jaws of the T-Rex. “I’ll toss it out tomorrow,” he said .”It’s not dead yet.”

I suffered another night of terror. Rat Ghosts haunted my dreams.

A dull THUD in the garbage can the next morning ended the tragic life of Mr. or Mrs. rat.

Days later the Roach man (our bug exterminator not the seller of funny cigarettes) came to our house. A Roof Rat he announced. Good grief what next?

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Traveling in Style, If Only Once

Sardine manIf you have every flown more than 4 consecutive hours in the main cabin of an airplane, which I refer to as a cattle car, you can sympathize with the lowly sardine  mashed into a can.

In their quest to increase profits, airlines have narrowed the distance between your seat and the one in front of you to the point that only a person who has had both legs amputated can ride with any degree of comfort.

For a higher-priced ticket, you can move from the Sardine can to the Pork and BeansPork and beans in bowl area where you have an extra 6-8 inches of leg room. This high-priced real estate usually has a swanky name like Comfort or Premium Seats, which make you think you have space and can relax. You can’t. And, if the cost per inch of this room was used to determine the value of your home, we’d al be living in multi-million dollar mansions.

Pork and Beans is better than the Sardine section, but unless you reserve a seat in an exit row or bulkhead row you don’t get that much room. An aisle seats ensures a bit of leg room, but these seats come with hazards. First the flight attendants airplane seats, man tipping chairmight ram your shins with that metal cart delivering drinks and snacks.  A “snack” in airplane language means pretzels or peanuts. Second, others on your row may crawl over you numerous times to go to the bathroom or walk the aisles to prevent their legs from becoming paralyzed. And third, (the Sicilian’s personal gripe) the person in front of you may recline their seat which leaves you feeling like a mouse in a trap.

Ever since I saw how the fat cats in the Business/First Class section lounge in Barcaloungers sipping champagne, my dream has been to fly in that section. Not because I am snooty; I’m not. Or because a better class of people are in that section, (there isn’t from what I can tell) or because the food is better (which it actually is), but because I want some room. I’m a mere  5’2″, and  I’m cramped in the Sardine Can or Pork and Beans area. I pity the super-sized people.

With due diligence, and months of checking on line, the tickets the Sicilian and I needed to fly to Spain went on sale. I pounced on two First-Class tickets. Let me tell you, there are light years between the Sardine Can/ Pork and Beans area and First Class.

drinksWe boarded the plane before the Sardine and Pork and Beans passengers and were given drinks of our choice in real glasses.  We were not told, no beverages during take off or landing.  This bonus allowed the Sicilian to be totally relaxed during take off.

Our seats were wide enough for a 300 pound person to sit in comfort. Each person had their own 12 inches wide table which separated  your seat from other person on your row. A bottle of water, a fresh, full-sized pillow, and a wonderful comforter were waiting for us at our seat. We had real headsets, not those plastic things don’t work and gouge the skin in your ears raw.  USB and power plugs, a personal reading spotlight, and a wonderful Tumi box added to our comfort. (I realized I’d lived a sheltered life, one with few luxuries. I’d never heard of a Tumi Box until this flight.)

The food and beverage service was great: real china and silver, and  miniaturefirst class salt and pepper shakers which the Sicilian placed in his carry on. This was nice, but I’ve had nice in many restaurants. What was really grand was. . . the seats lay completely flat. Yes, flat, like a bed. The Sicilian, who hates to fly took a long winter’s nap.

I’ve always contended there is no such thing as jet lag, and this flight proved it. I watched as those in the Sardine Can walked off like crippled gnomes. The Pork and Beans passengers didn’t look much better. But, after our seven-hour flight, much of which was spent napping, we walked off the plane looking and feeling like humans. We were able to enjoy a full day of activities in Spain without exhaustion.

Will I ever be able to fly First Class again? I don’t know, but I do know I like being in that galaxy far, far away. (And so did the Sicilian.)