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Archive for August, 2009

Infestation

One of the most terrifying scenes in the movie Aliens is the one where the few remaining survivors of the Sulaco are huddled in a small room.  Their monitoring equipment is  beeping over and over in an ominous rhythmic tone as the aliens approach.

The gap between life and death rapidly closes as Private Hudson announces the aliens’ distance away from the group.  At 12 meters Ripley believes the aliens to be right outside the door, but when their instruments indicate the aliens have approached within 6 meters, the group sees no evidence of the lethal creatures that have all but decimated the entire colony on LV-426.

Then, one by one, they all look up.  Corporal Hicks pops open a ceiling grate and shines a flashlight into the darkness.  There he sees dozens of sleek-domed predators heading their way.

Yes, completely terrifying cinematic moment, and if you’ve seen it, you know how creepy it is and you may begin to understand how freaked out Nathan and I were when he pulled a shirt out of his closet and finally found out how the bees were getting in through a hole in the drywall.

So yeah, the good news is we finally found out how the bees were getting in.

The bad news is the bees are still getting in.

The good news is that they are still dying.

The bad news is that they are still dying IN OUR BEDROOM.

I’ve Googled several variations of “bees burrowing through drywall” only to become disheartened by responses that mention bee keepers, photos of huge paper nests and hippie-type bee lovers who lament the declining bee population and urge everyone to consider “non-lethal” means of extraction

Sometimes I do hate the internet.

We killed about seven bees today.  Sure, they were bees that were on their way out already, but they truly made afternoon nap time a horror.  Autumn woke up screaming after a large fly landed on her arm as she slept in her own bed.  So what did I do?  I picked her up and deposited her in the “bug room.”  We thought the bees were all gone, but Autumn again woke up screaming when a bee entered her airspace.  You should have heard her.  It was terrible.

After that we were done.   We started moving things around in the closet to see if we could figure out where they were coming in.  And we did. And it was creepy.  An entire shirt covered in crumbled drywall and dead bee larvae.

Ew.

Oh, and did I mention I lost my shit when I discovered a bee crawling up my ankle?

Oh yeah, I lost my shit big time and I lost it in front of my kid, who will forever be traumatized by the Great Infestation of ’09.

Nathan will be calling the exterminators tomorrow to see what we can do about getting rid of the bees for good.  Right now he has a plastic container shoved up against the hole to keep any buzzing interlopers at bay.

If I hadn’t taken some NyQuil for the flu that has plagued me all weekend, I probably would not be getting any sleep tonight.

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New tricks

Yesterday Nathan picked Autumn up early from school and brought her by the office. At one point she had to go to the bathroom so I tried to usher her out the door as quickly as possible.  As we passed the front desk, we spotted a woman in a wheelchair with a service dog sitting beside her.

Autumn reached out to touch the dog.  “You can’t pet that dog, honey,” I said and pulled her away.  The dog was still sitting with her owner by the desk when we returned, and when we opened the door to the office the dog issued a brief salutation with a wag of her tail.

“I want to pet that dog, mama,” said Autumn.

I know service dogs aren’t supposed to receive attention from strangers, though I have known at least one who abandoned protocol and solicited both attention and food when she should have been working. She belonged to the HR manager at Target, a blind man who had the misfortune of having his office placed right next to the break room.  His dog, a Golden Retriever named Dusty, would frequently sneak into the break room, place her muzzle right on the table and look up at us with pleading doe eyes that begged us to share whatever we were eating.

I’m pretty sure Dusty was the exception rather than the rule, so I told Autumn she’d have to ask the lady first before attempting to pet the dog.

“Can I pet your dog?” she asked.

The lady shook her head. “I’m sorry, she’s a working dog and she’s on the job. Petting will distract her.”

This lady was cool, though.  She could have just let it go at that and left the job of explaining the difference between working dogs and pets to me, the mom, but she went above and beyond by offering to demonstrate exactly what this dog, a Golden Retriver named Maui, does for her.

“Let’s say I drop my cell phone on the floor and can’t reach it.”

The woman dangled her cell above the floor and let it drop.  She then issued a command to the dog.

“Maui, phone.”

The dog bent it’s head down and gingerly picked the phone up in it’s mouth.

“Now if I want her to give me the phone all I have to say is ‘Maui, bring.’”

And the phone was returned to its owner.

Autumn thought that was the coolest thing she’d ever seen and looked up at me with a huge smile on her face.  “I wish my dog could do that!” she exclaimed.

I sighed.  “Sorry honey. Molly is a lost cause. She’s only good at grabbing things off the kitchen counter.”

Maui’s owner smiled.  “It took Maui two whole years to learn to do that.  It takes a really long time to train these dogs.”

It wasn’t until later that I flashed on an image of my kid tossing cell phones on the floor and barking out orders to fetch.

Oh yeah.  I can see it now.

“Molly, phone!”

Waaa?

“Molly, phone!

Did you say “Molly” or “Mommy?” Because I’m pretty sure I just saw your mom walk by.

“Molly, PHONE!”

Dude, that’s not even edible.

“MOLLY, PHONE!”

Right. Talk to me when you’ve got a bowl of Goldfish crackers in your lap.

Fin.

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Hive got a story for you

A week ago we saw the first bee.

I discovered it as I was getting dressed Tuesday morning.  It was making love to the glow of my bedside lamp, and as it circled around and dipped in and out of the shade, I became increasingly anxious.  I hate bees.  Bees have anger management issues and any creature that will purposely disembowel itself when it’s pissed at you is one I give a very wide berth.

The bee eventually found it’s way to the screen of our bedroom window and I quickly shut the window to trap it.  Being the humane bee-hater that I am, I then pulled down the top pane to allow the bee to escape back outside.  Only when I pushed the top pane back up did I discover the second bee that I effectively decapitated in the process of freeing the first.  His antennae were still twitching in spite of being cut in two and I ran away shrieking from his postmortem seizures.

I didn’t give a second thought as to how the bee got in the house.  I have a three year-old who likes to linger in open doorways like Blanche Dubois and we’re always shooing away some flying, buzzing something or other she inadvertently let in.  The next morning, however, we were visited by three more bees.  Our random bee visitation was turning into something more serious and a quick look outside told us all we needed to know.  There, on the roof above our bedroom, was a swarm of bees hovering over an unseen hive.  It looked like air traffic over O’Hare and they were somehow getting into our house.

I called an exterminator as soon as I got to work.  They were the same people who took care of our carpenter ant problem three years ago and they quoted a hefty $186 to kill the hive.  I was all, whatever you have to do, man. Just get rid of the damn things.  My humane spirit can only go so far.

Nathan was equally freaked because he thinks he’s allergic to bees.  He said he once was stung over 300 times so I think he’s mistaking an allergy with a phobia, but the bottom line was that neither of us were willing to sleep in the bedroom until the bees were gone.  The exterminators told us nighttime was the only time all the bees are in the hive so we let them have the room for a night and pulled our mattress into the living room.

Thursday the exterminator came out to dust the hive.  After he was done, he told Nathan the bees should be gone by the next morning so we returned the mattress to our bedroom. That night, at 3:30 in the morning,  we were awakened by buzzing.  Several bees, drunk and dying from the exterminator’s chemicals, had found their way into our room.  One was still able to fly but the others were just barely clinging to life.  One crawled over a shirt in Nathan’s closet while another convulsed on the floor, angrily thrusting out his abdomen in search of something to plunge his stinger into.

Over the next two days I discovered that’s how bees die.  They’re angry right up to the very end and our bedroom served as their burial ground.  Friday I came home from work to find no less than a dozen dead and dying bees in our windowsill and on our bedroom floor.  We pulled the mattress back out of the room and slept in the living room yet again.

Throughout the weekend Autumn would only approach our room while holding a fly swatter.  She dubbed our bedroom “the bug room” and a couple of times broke down into hysterics when a seemingly dead bee started twitching again.  Yeah, honey, that skeeved me out, too.

We never did nail down their exact point of entry, but we have not had any unwelcome guests since Sunday.  The last two or three bees found their way inside only to become balled-up husks as the chemicals did their work.

Still, it will be awhile before I dare walk around the bedroom in my bare feet.

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Thursday I called Comcast to cancel our cable subscription.  We just don’t watch enough live TV anymore to justify the cost, so as I’m explaining this to the customer service rep, she starts grilling me further on our viewing habits.

Comcast: So you don’t watch any network shows at all?

Me: We do. We watch them all online now. Or through Netflix.

Comcast: But what about your local channels? How do you get your local news?

Me: We visit the local news sites online.

Comcast: So you’re not worried about losing touch with the outside world?

Me: Seriously? You think cable TV is what keeps us in touch with the outside world?

WTF? It’s not like we’re  agoraphobics. We do, on occasion, mingle with real live flesh and blood humans.  We’ve also been known to purchase a newspaper now and again, especially if it contains a lot of good coupons.

You gotta give the woman props for trying to convince us we need cable, though.

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I haven’t been very productive lately. I have plenty to write about, but I haven’t been posting because I’ve gotten caught up in this show:

lost-logo

Four years ago ABC re-ran the entire first season of “Lost” over the summer. It was the year I was pregnant and I started watching because it aired the nights Nathan had golf league and I had nothing better to do.

About eight or nine episodes in, right about the time Sayid got captured and tortured by the crazy French woman, I stopped watching because things were getting a little too complicated. Polar bears, unseen monsters and the multitude of interweaving flashbacks became too much for my pregnancy-addled brain and I gave up. There was no way I was going to get caught up in this crazy-ass version of Gilligan’s Island when I was going to give birth smack dab in the middle of season two.

Recently Netflix added seasons 1-4 of “Lost” to their on demand lineup and Nathan added them to our growing list of shows in our instant queue. He had been saying for some time he wanted to start watching the show, but with five seasons behind us already I thought it best to put off getting involved until we retired. Travel, gardening, volunteering and “Lost.” Sounds like a perfect way to spend our golden years.

Well, last week we settled in with season one and all I can say is shit, I’m hooked. We’ve watched two or three episodes every night so far. We’ve formed theories, looked for symbolism and continuity and are going crazy trying to figure out what’s going on with the numbers, that damn hatch and “The Others.” And we have four more seasons to catch up with before the sixth and final season begins in January.

Why do I let my husband talk me into these things? Let’s buy a house with a pool, he says. The coastline of Mackinac Island is an easy three-mile bike ride, he says. Let’s get involved in a show with such a complicated mythology that colleges have created courses to analyze it, he says.

The pool is now gone, the coastline of Mackinac Island is eight miles and I’m pretty sure I’m going to start hating J.J. Abrams before the series draws to a close next year. Hopefully the ride will be worth it.

At the very least I’ll be able to take with me the image of a bare-chested Sawyer chopping down that bamboo.

*Sigh*

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The other f-bomb

I want to thank the folks who commented on my last post.  I heard from some new voices, which tells me there are a lot of people out there who have also been burned and who are continually trying to figure out exactly what friendship means to them.

I’ve been trying to figure out my definition of friendship, but I’ve been having a hard time of it because I’ve been trying to nail down a “one size fits all” definition for everyone.  I’m admittedly closer to some people than others, and they are closer to others than they are to me, so how can I label them all the same?

For several months now I’ve been having regularly scheduled discussions with someone paid to pick my brain and we’ve talked a lot about friendships.  I’ve had some bad luck with friends, especially the past couple of years, and one of the things we’ve tried to figure out is if I’m really good at finding people who continually invest less of themselves than I do or if my expectations for these relationships are just too high to begin with.

I think I’m a ways away from that grand epiphany, but one thing I’ve learned is that it’s okay to allow some people more access to my life than others.  I’m under no obligation to share more of myself than I want to and if that means keeping some people at arm’s length while drawing others nearer so be it.  And I guess I have to respect that others will do the same.  Not everyone thinks I’m as fabulous as I think I am.

The Facebook friend request from my maid of honor still sits unanswered, partly because I like to hold a grudge and mostly because she has yet to reply to a message I sent her last week.  You see, before she issued the friend request she sent me a very short message via Facebook asking how I was.  I replied that I was fine and asked how things were with her.

It’s been a week and I haven’t heard back from her.

I hope things are going well because I’m not going to ask again.

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