My D. with Andrei

Even via e-mail, I could hear that voice—that gravelly, smoky, sinus-sexy, Transylvania-tinged voice you hear in all the essays he deadpans for National Public Radio.” Just posted online at The Baltimore Review: My D.iscussion with Andrei Codrescu, the Romanian-born, New Orleans-influenced poet, novelist, and essayist.


Things I Hate #1

A Tribute to 10th Century Author Sei Shonagon, who wrote “Hateful Things”

I hate it when parents loudly provide their children with private Montessori-style lessons in the grocery store, up and down each aisle. (Emphasize: LOUDLY). “Did you find the gluten-free bread? GOOD! Let’s put it in your mini shopping cart . . .”

So self-important, self-indulgent, and simply annoying.

Methane Rain

Another cool phrase I like: Methane Rain.

That’s the sort of precipitation that falls on Saturn’s moon, Titan—a place where daytime temps hover around -179°C, and “torrential rains of liquid methane fall from the skies,” creating vast, shallow lakes on the surface, notes Discover Magazine.

If there’s life there, we can bet it’ll be pretty weird.

The Plagues

I never thought I’d look forward to a cold snap.

But global warming seems to be making its mark these past few weeks in Baltimore.

Like algae (blooms) and jellyfish (booms), insect populations procreate rapidly in warmer temps. That seems to have translated to a number of plagues at our house:
1) Mosquitos, which by Halloween still left angry welts on my kids when they played outside;
2) Wasps, which have built a nest somewhere in the eaves of our house; wayward fellows end up in unexpected places and window spaces (which is why there are two protagonists in the “Death of the Wasp” photo previously posted);
3) Ants. Actually, leftover battalions of ant invaders keeping up the crusade after the wet, wet summer;
4) Deer ticks, one of which we found imbedded in my daughter;
5) A-so-far-avoided infestation of Head Lice (!), which is apparently going around the elementary school. (Not likely global warming, I know, but yuck, yuck, yuck.);
6) The always-alien jumping bugs that venture out of the crawl space under the house, spindly creatures not as cool as crickets and almost as scary as locusts.

I know this all doesn’t quite rise to the level of the Biblical Plagues visited upon Egypt.

And I know we won’t pesticide-tent our house (Do they still do that in Florida: sealing houses with giant rubber/plastic tents and pumping poison inside to kill all the mice and roaches? It was a pretty common sight when I lived there in the 1990s. My husband, who is in Public Health, was appalled at this tidbit.)

Our arsenal has included Deet (just a tad); and Windex (inside the house)/Shoo-fly Hornet Wasp Jet Bomb II (outside the house); and flimsy black ant traps the ants just march over; and Amoxicillin (400 mgs, 3 x a day); and Selsun blue (I have no idea if this works to prevent lice, but there was a run on it at the grocery store, so I thought, maybe); and LiceGuard repellant spray; and Pronto Plus lice-killing shampoo with extracts; and hairspray; and the soles of shoes—lots and lots of shoes.

I’m all for nature in its place, which is not the same as my personal space.

Our defenses are of course flawed and mostly ineffective. At this point, I guess we’ll hold out for freezing temperatures to stem the waves of intruders.

So, welcome Old Man Winter and whatever you might bring.

Oh, yeah, 7) the mice.

Exodus 10:15 — The locusts “covered the surface of the whole land, so that the land was black; and they ate all the plants in the land and all the fruit of the trees that the hail had left; nothing green was left, no tree, no plant in the field, in all the land of Egypt.”

The Death of the Wasp

Death by Windex

With apologies to Virginia Woolf and her seminal essay, “The Death of the Moth.”**

I noticed a wasp banging its head against the window. I sprayed it with Windex and smashed it to death with a big, yellow, plastic cup that read Dickey’s Barbeque Pit. To put it out of its misery, and mine.

**Footnote 1: In the original, the hopeful-yet-fatalistic Woolf ruminates on the vagaries of life and death while witnessing the plight of a “moth fluttering from side to side of his square of the window-pane . . . Watching him, it seemed as if a fiber, very thin but pure, of the enormous energy of the world had been thrust into his frail and diminutive body.”