Monday, October 31, 2011

Halloween Funny

I have been really lax lately on posting, as both of my readers can tell...but here is something I just saw from StumbleUpon that cracked me up.

Enjoy the little animation.


Friday, October 21, 2011

Mosquitoes: The Return

This summer was a relatively “mosquito-free” one for us here on the Gulf Coast. By that I mean that they were not thick in your face from June through September. The drought has taken its toll on the population of mosquitoes for the year. This season has been pretty good for humans who wanted to go outside and still keep all of their blood inside their skin. Of course, the lack of rain has pummeled the lawns and trees and foundations mercilessly.

But now, since we had four-and-a-half inches of rain a couple of weeks ago, the evil bloodsuckers have returned with a vengeance. They have a collective ingrained hatred for the mammals that mill aimlessly in the cities and towns here beside the Gulf of Mexico. They have no love for us but for the hemoglobin that flows through our veins and capillaries that come so close to the surface of our skin. And them with their evil little snoots that so easily pierce our thin skin and their toxic saliva that keeps our blood from clotting up in their straws and foiling their feeding time. The saliva that makes us itch so badly.

There are several varieties of the little devils; some so small that they can weasel themselves through the screens that cover the windows. They can get in like smoke, any opening, any crevice, any thin spot in the solid brick. Some are big as mockingbirds, with a nasty streak a mile wide. The tiny ones, ironically, are the ones that produce the most itchy bites, and the big, hefty, muscular marsh ‘skeeters, while you can feel them light upon a parka with the daintiness of a mule deer, leave you itching for a much shorter time. Except for the two stitches or perhaps just a steri-strip to close the wound, you are usually not much the worse for wear.

Today I stopped by the Soderberg Farm and Chicken Resort for a visit and to snitch a load of satsuma tangerines. There is a good crop of them this year, burdening the poor trees. Preparing for the harvest, I sprayed my arms, neck and face down with mosquito repellent. Just the exposed skin, no need to shower in the stuff.

I rounded the green house, armed with the snippers and double HEB bags to take this weekend’s citrus, and as I neared the trees, I became aware of a hum rising from the grass and low-hanging limbs that sounded like an aircraft carrier full of idling P-40’s ready for an assault in the Battle for the Pacific. “I’m ‘skeeter-doped up and they won’t bite me through it...” I smugly thought. But as i edged in to grab some of the fruits, the demons rose to meet me in great black, buzzing clouds, and I felt their collective weight descend on my clothes as they tried to stake a claim on the acres of blood-rich real estate.

They flew up, some lit on my hands, arms and neck, and as I was certain that it would only be momentary, and when they get a taste of the DEET, they’d fly away. Wrong. These beasts were hungry and not easily deterred. They bit through the DEET, spit, made a face and then went back to their meal. They flew to my hairline, behind my ears, up my nose, even my eyebrows. And had I known that they were going to try to suck blood out of my corneas, I would have sprayed the Deep Woods Off directly into my eyes!

I picked as many tangerines as I could, braving the waves of biting and humming and jostling insects, trying to brush away several intrepid fliers that sneaked behind my glasses with my eyelashes. Every now and again I backed off to find another branch of likely candidates, and as I walked the ravenous hordes followed me; in my face on my shirt on the legs of my Wranglers and even my boots. They were not to be deterred. When the bag was full, or at least appeared full by weight, my vision obscured by flying vipers as it was, I made my way to where I thought I had parked my car. The door was locked. I fumbled my keys out of my pocket to unlock and stow my produce inside, but I instead plopped the fruit on top of the car, to return later when I was ready to blast off.

When the time came to make a hasty exit after going back inside to retrieve some other items, I asked my Dad where the pump .22 was. He asked why and I told him to cover me as I ran to the car! I dashed out there, found the keys where I left them in the door, unlocked as quickly as I could and flopped in the driver’s seat, slamming the hatch behind me. I noticed that the cockpit was filled with mosquitoes, and they all had evil on their minds. As I drove down the road at a speed unbecoming an adult, I had the back windows open to blow out the invaders.

Upon arriving home, I found the fresh propane bottle and applied it to my intrepid fogger. I went to the business of smoking out the crop of them that resides around my house, whirling around the front door in a hungry cyclone of wings and snouts. I walked around the house a couple of times with my smoke machine of death. I didn’t spend the same amount of time that I usually like to, since I’m low on poison. But the satisfaction was there, a hark back to the days of daily rain and standing water.

The never-ending battle of Man vs. Mosquito, after a summer off, has returned for a (hopefully) final battle before the winter hiatus (such that it is around here) and maybe, just maybe, I’ll survive until I get more spray, granules and smoke juice for a renewed attack on the sly mosquito in the spring.

Saturday, October 08, 2011

Hummingbirds Revealed

It's hummingbird season, the time of year when a large segment of the population of hummin'birds migrate to Mexico or other points South. I put a feeder up when I saw one in the backyard searching for fuel. Several days of a sugarwater way station has made my yard a destination for the tiny terrors.

My middle daughter can attest to the astonishment of having a feathered projectile zip seven inches past your head.

Since I have been lax in the GeezerChron department, but I did write one way back in '08, and that's what I'll post now! Reruns, awesome; now I'm like cable tv!

Everyone is charmed and delighted by the delicate form, acrobatic flight and soft trilling song of the hummingbird. They are so tiny and cute, their wings beat so fast, they like pretty flowers…ad infinitum.

I must admit, I too was always partial to hummingbirds as a child and yes, as an adult. When we went camping, my Dad always put up a hummingbird feeder so we could watch them drink the pretty red sugar-water. As they would wheel and spin, dive and dart, the hum generated by their wings was surprising as they would buzz past your head to wait their turn in line for the nectar provided. At times it looked like the Moscow Ballet with all the tiny forms whizzing around the stage, hovering, pirouetting, following each other in strings of three or four off stage right or stage left, with a few prima donnas seeming to get all the open space and sweet stuff. I guess I never paid that much attention to the real action.

My folks have a hummingbird feeder at their house just outside the back window that overlooks the garden. When I go for a visit in the afternoons on Saturday or Sunday, we sit and talk, look at the garden, and watch the hummers.

From my observation, these are the most self-centered, belligerent, pushy, greedy and ill-tempered birds that ever took wing. Ounce for ounce (I’d venture to say that it usually takes two to make a full ounce) they are the most aggressive bird out there. If they were fish, I would give a great white shark a two-to-one weight advantage over the hummingbird/fish and still put my money on the hummer.

If they were as big as even a mockingbird, they would no doubt be deadly, and the government would likely put a bounty on them. Mean little things.

I have watched a single bird expend the energy equivalent to a gallon of gasoline guarding a free source of food. He will sit on a branch six feet from the feeder, and dare any other creature, be it fowl or insect, to sip even a molecule of the nectar. He buzzes down on them like he was shot from a gun, diving and chasing like his tail is on fire. He even bullied a bumblebee away from the sacred feeder one day. When another hummingbird even flies by, he launches from his perch like a Sidewinder missile. Once the interloper has been dispensed with, the foul little fowl has to come check the level in the glass vial containing the precious red sugar water, flying all the way around, eyeballing the quantity. He then takes a long drink, occasionally pulling back to scan the area for bogeys. Another sip, then back to his perch to continue his bitter little vigil.

When my oldest daughter was two or three, she would correct anyone using the proper terminology, “hummingbird”, by saying sternly, “HONEYbird”…
She was wrong on a couple of different levels. DEVILbird would be more accurate.