Monday, January 31, 2011

Survival of the biggest

I am amazed. My little, tiny, eensy, weensy back yard is a microcosm teeming with life. We are hard-pressed on the farm to find enough insects to keep a 1 inch frog alive at work, but here in my back yard I can't even step outside in the evening without bugs flying down my shirt and tangling in my hair. With a headlamp strapped to my noggin, insects of every kind swarm around my face, some even venturing down my windpipe as I tell the dogs to do their business.

This phenomenon got me thinking; then it distracted me from thinking by flying up my nose, causing me to stumble forward after tripping over the dog leash, catching myself before squashing a cane toad. I could see the headlines, "GNAT PUSHES WOMAN TO THE GROUND, CAUSING SERIOUS INJURY". What I thought about then was: 1) how long it would take someone to find me, 2) maybe I should get one of those "help I've fallen and I can't get up" monitors to wear around my neck, and 3) why aren't these mutts of mine bothered by all of these miniature flying pests? Can they not see them (or should I say, no seeum)? Or, perhaps, since I have poisoned their circulatory systems with flea-be-gone, maybe it also repels insects of all kinds. Interesting speculation, but I think I'll hold off rubbing that tiny vial of liquid on the nape of my neck until I study this further.

Meanwhile, I've figured out that by allowing all kinds of weedy gems to grow to about knee high, they attract all kinds of flying insects. By neglect, my landlord has inadvertently created a refuge for every nocturnal invertebrate in the neighborhood, converging in a compact, 200 square-foot area. This, then, creates a Garden of Eden for cane toads; making it an amphibian mecca. They pilgrimage from far and wide to feast on the delicacies offered conveniently within tongue-shot.

These my dogs can see. Well, they don't really notice them until the toads hop. If taken by surprise, it causes either dog to jump straight into the air, tail between the legs. They know, from experience, not to tangle with even the smallest of these poison-laden chew-toy look-alikes.

I figure that I have a few options regarding this miniature science experiment in my yard: enjoy this lesson in biology and leave it be, venture outside with a bug light strapped to my head and a zapper wand in my hand, or, not wait for my landlord to conduct his "yard maintenance" and whack it all down myself. I'm leaning toward the latter option because I know that for every flying insect that I see, there are dozens of little beady eyes watching me from deep within the jungly grass.  If Darwin's truth is going to prevail, I better damned well be the fittest one to survive out there, lord knows I'm the biggest.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Balance restored

Something very disturbing happened to me today. No, it wasn't the fact that when I got home I discovered that I had left my bedroom light on all day (see "senectus" in previous blog).  It was much more upsetting and uncomfortable. If you are squeamish, perhaps you shouldn't read any further.

Okay, now that I've weeded out the innocents, I can tell my horrifying story. I arrived, as usual, to work this morning, but this time I had a cooler bag with me. Inside the cooler bag was my lunch for the day. I went to the kitchen, where I placed the meatloaf and spinach into the fridge, leaving my unzipped bag on the counter.

Several hours later, as I was heating up the spinach and warming the meatloaf in the mircowave, I reached over to grab an apple out of my bag. EEK! A quick flash of black rat fur lunged toward me, gaining momentum as it sprung from my flailing arm. It jumped from me to the floor and scooted underneath the ice box. In that split second, my lungs came to life way before my brain, screaming like a banshee. I actually remember that I took three breaths to let out that scream and when my brain finally did catch up it was yelling to my lungs, "Stop that terrible screaming, woman!"

First to reach me, naturally, was my coworker that has a two-year-old. She quickly assessed the situation and turned away grinning. Another coworker, upon hearing what had happened, felt great relief. He had heard the screams and he was dreading coming into the kitchen imaging copious amounts of blood everywhere and envisioning that he would have to be the one to grab my bloody stump to staunch the flow. Another work mate had thought that I had possibly spilled hot oil all over myself and was screaming in agony.

I'm not sure what is more upsetting to me: the fact that a giant rodent invaded my lunch bag and danced the hokey pokey on my head, or all of my coworkers jumping to the conclusion that I was capable of causing grievous bodily harm while fixing myself lunch.

The culprit was later apprehended and did not live out the day to tell his plague-infested little brood that he made a grown woman scream. Balance has been restored.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Suffering from senectus

Click here for the song
Yesterday it was task-interruptus (not completing a task because I was distracted by another). Last week I got out of my car and walked over to my garbage can to throw away some trash.  In went my car keys along with the rubbish.  It took me over half an hour to even think of looking for them there.

You guessed it; senectus is Latin for Old Age. What is disturbing is that the symptoms are coming now at an alarming pace. The inability to remember someone's name, trying to remember the words to a song, forgotten appointments. It is starting to disturb and worry me.

My daughter suggested that every once in a while I should brush my teeth with my non-dominant hand. Apparently it is recommended to break your routine in a challenging way to improve memory function. This will use brain pathways you weren't using before. Perhaps I could also get out of bed on the opposite side. That sounds challenging.

"Neurobic" exercise is also suggested. This would be like an aerobic exercise for your brain, forcing you to use your faculties in unusual ways, like showering and getting dressed with your eyes closed.  Actually, at 5:30 am, my eyes ARE usually closed while doing these tasks (thus the toothpaste still on the corners of my mouth); maybe I should try doing these tasks with my eyes OPEN.

Learning new skills can be the most effective way to improve memory. So, I've decided to teach myself how to play the ukulele. My fingertips are not thanking me at the moment, but I peacefully drift off to sleep at night humming "my dog has fleas", and chanting my new mantra "G C E A, great cooks eat alot" (apparently musicians can take liberties with common spelling errors).  My dogs don't seem to mind my new hobby; they don't howl, cover their heads, or run for the hills. Perhaps I can even teach them to sing and dance along with my playing someday.

In any case, hopefully, my memory will be preserved, old age will be staved off for awhile, and I'll be an accomplished musician. But first, I need to remember where I put the tuner.