Wish I'd Said It

Weeds are flowers too - once you get to know them.

- A. A. Milne

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Little Buzztards (#173)

For the most part, I’m a nice guy. Ask anybody.

I remove suicidal worms from rainy-day sidewalks and place them on the safety of lawns or dirt. I invite Jehovah’s Witnesses in for a shot of Scotch and am coming around to the idea that Yankee fans might have a right to exist.

See? I’m tolerant as heck. But for the last couple of weeks, on a daily basis, I’ve wantonly ended the life of several critters.

I don’t like mosquitos. At all.

June has been a very rainy month here in southern Ontario. Rain means humidity. Mosquitos love humidity. It energizes them as it enervates us. It seems to give these piranhas of the sky super powers. They can fly faster, farther, with even more malevolent intent.

And they’ve been eating me on my morning and evening walks with Benny. The woodland paths and cedar groves - my favourite areas for walking and loitering - are now no-go zones unless I want to douse myself in repellant.

Now, back in the day, when I used to fish a LOT in mosquito-infested areas, I practically bathed in repellant. This was when you were allowed to buy it in nearly pure, concentrated form - 95% DEET (N,N-Diethyl-meta-toluamide). Then, a few years ago, some lab-coat-wearing non-fisherman decided anything over 25% was hazardous to your health so the government outlawed the strong stuff. (Some of us hoarded a few bottles but don’t tell anyone.)

But back then, I was spending the better part of weeks in bug country. I don’t want to douse myself just for a couple of 30-40-minute walks.

(Oh, and puh-leeze don’t tell me about the repellant properties of a certain skin-care product. Doesn’t work. At least on Canadian skitters. They take one sniff, chortle, tie their bibs around their scrawny little necks and dive in.)

So, I’ve been avoiding the most heavily-infested areas and walking briskly through the so-so ones. But every day I get bitten. Every day I manage to swat a few against some part of my anatomy. Usually after they’ve done the deed of course, so my satisfaction is dimmed somewhat by the fact that the blood I’m splattering is my own.

I’m lucky in a way though. The thousands of bites over five decades have resulted in something of an immunity. I itch for 5-10 minutes after being bitten but that’s usually it. Some folks I know have nasty reactions, a couple even require antihistamines to reduce the swelling.

But just because they now only cause momentary discomfort doesn’t mean I don’t hate the wee beasties.

I remember dozens and dozens of nights when I used to hitchhike all over hell’s half-acre; trying to sleep at the side of some road, scrunched deeply down into my sleeping bag and breathing through a pin-sized hole while voracious skitters circled patiently. They knew I’d fall asleep eventually and loosen my death grip on my breathing hole.

And there were all those nights in cottages, sleep being kept at bay because of the intermittent whine of the tiny vampires as they zoomed past my ears.

I’m pretty sure all Canadians in cottage or camping country have, at one time or another (and in my case, several times) given themselves a concussion by whacking the side of their own head while skitter-swatting in the dark. None of us mind the pain and the stars in our eyes if we obliterate the beast as well. (And sometimes, as a bonus, around the 20th concussion, one can knock oneself right to sleep.)

Oh well. Canadian summers are relatively short. By September Ben and I will be able to reclaim our turf.

By the way, he appears to be supremely untroubled by the little buzztards. Maybe I need to roll in a dead fish now and again.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

This & That & Pictures Too (#172)

A couple of short updates and then some photos:

I’m still getting mail from the Pillow Talk column of several weeks ago and thought I’d update all you folks who took the time to send me your suggestions.

My aged, decrepit pillow still lies, unused, on my bedroom floor next to my dresser. If it had eyes, it would be staring reproachfully. I’ve been trying to adjust to one of those living-foam jobbies. I find it pretty comfy when I sleep on my left side but not so great when on my right. Beats me why that is. Pillows are weird. Can't be me.

Most likely, I’ll eventually get around to getting my old one cleaned and stuffed into some new ticking. I’m stalling though, because I fear it will be Too Different and the magic will be gone forever.


Hilary and I revisited the Fishy Feline (#169) and she was still pregnant and still hungry. This time, she didn’t make an appearance until after we’d put away the fishing gear and were about to leave. She was still very, very shy but came out of hiding to gobble down bits of cheese.

Unbeknownst to me, brother Karl went fishing there a couple of weeks ago and made sure she had a feed of fish.

I hope to take a drive down that way again sometime this summer and will check on her.

I will NOT come back with a kitten.

I will NOT come back with a kitten.

I will NOT come back with a kitten.

I hope.


This is Benny.

Many of you enjoy reading about his antics. Hilary recently posted an amusing story about his most recent stinky adventure. If you missed it, it includes some pictures and a short, entertaining video. Her site can take a little while to load because she posts a lot of pictures. Be patient. It’s worth it. You can check it out by clicking here or visiting: http://thesmittenimage.blogspot.com/ and scrolling down to the post called “The Scent of a Puppy.”


Now for some recent photos:

I have a fairly large magnolia tree in my front yard and this spring was blessed with a bountiful crop of blossoms. I've taken dozens of photos of them over the years and decided to try a different perspective one rainy day. I like how this one turned out. (You can click all these photos to see a somewhat larger version - then click your browser's back button to return to the post.)

The path goes ever on....

As does the creek....

This small pond is home to ducks, frogs and minnows and is a hunting ground for herons, kingfishers and raccoons.

"What the heck is this next one?" you may well ask. I may well tell below it.

It's one in a series of "proof positive of life after death" pics. The dead tree stump is hosting a riot a new life - all of which, at some molecular level, harbour traces of tree DNA. Or something. Dammit Jim! I'm a writer not a scientist! I just think it's nifty.

I'm a fan of trees, of wood in general. And I love how moisture can add richness and texture to wood as evidenced in the next shot, taken shortly after a rainfall.

Back home again to wrap up with a couple of photos from the garden. First, one of an explosion of poppies. Somewhat like the magnolia, these blossoms are spectacular but fragile and short-lived. One day earlier this week there were over 50 blossoms like this one. It rained hard the next day and there were none.

And finally, three tulips. I just like the colours.