Friday, 29 June 2007

It’s Crispy Critter Time in Lanark County

It seems you can’t drive for more than ten minutes without running in to a body of water here in Lanark County. And since I just went outside and saw my cat panting in the shade, all this water around us is a really great thing.

Because I am so freaked out from seeing a panting cat, I thought it might be a good idea to discuss heat and sun survival in our part of the world.

First, we know you must drink copious amounts of water. Yes w-a-t-e-r. I know that there is water content in beer, wine, coolers or cocktails. However, ice does not count as your daily water consumption. Your water should be cool, clear, refreshing, and free of any alcoholic content, no matter how much the rising blood alcohol level might make you forget how sweaty you are.

Next, make sure you’re well covered with sun-screen. Self-tanner does not count, nor does anything with less than an SPF 15. And if you do think self-tanner counts as protection from the sun, I dare you to slather yourself with tan in a bottle and see how many pretty shades of red you turn at the end of the day. Oh, and water that rests in the burn blisters doesn’t count as hydration either, just in case you were wondering.

The easiest and most environmentally friendly way to enjoy the summer sun is to make friends with people that own water-front abodes. Bring cookies, offer to clean, barbecue up a side of beef, do anything you can to get them ingratiated to you. So much so that they have no choice but to let you become another child, an in-law or a homeless relative that has plopped themselves on their cool sofa to enjoy the cool breeze off the lake. And because of the side of beef, they won’t be able to ask you to leave. That would just be rude.

Now, if your unsuspecting hosts have a boat, well then you’ve just hit the jackpot. Take it out for a spin, pretending that you hear some funky noise that you just know you can fix. Even if the owner doesn’t hear the noise, keep driving the boat and cocking your head just so. If you have to stop the boat at some sandy shore to ‘let her cool down’, well, nobody can blame you for erring on the side of caution, can they?

Of course, not knowing anyone with these fabulous toys could pose a problem. But then again, go back to your childhood. Staying cool meant a hose, some water balloons, a sprinkler in the yard and maybe a Slip-n-Slide.

But let’s not embarrass ourselves, okay? Nobody wants to see you in your bathing suit from grade 4. Be respectable, and maybe some poor fool driving by will take pity on you and invite you to their lake house.

In any case, stay cool, stay hydrated and stay protected from the evil rays of the sun. This heat just isn’t worth dying for.

Monday, 25 June 2007

Enrique Eight-Legs-He-Is

We’ve had to give up one of the guest bedrooms to a new house guest. Folks, meet Enrique Eight-Legs-He-Is, the biggest wolf spider I have ever seen, and our newest house-guest.

I’m sure many of you are ‘eeeking’ your way through that first sentence. A wolf spider does not belong in the house; in fact, a wolf spider belongs anywhere BUT in the house. And generally, I agree.

The day Enrique moved in, he showed up with a loud knock at the front door. When we didn’t answer fast enough, the door flew open and banged against the wall. Enrique took the Cuban cigar out of his mouth and told us he was moving in. Since six out of eight of his hairy legs were carrying designer luggage, we believed him. And guess what? When a spider shows up with luggage, the shock alone will stupefy you enough to let him in.

After looking around our humble home, Enrique first chose Peter’s office trash can as his home. He moved out on garbage day, with much grumbling as he jumped three feet from the rim of the can to the floor below. Enrique demanded that his luggage be moved to the laundry room and the wood pile, where he might be able to eat and sleep in peace. Enrique also informed us that he was telling his travel agent that we’d cleaned up his first room without his permission.

So we let Enrique have the laundry room and small wood pile. We left chocolate on a log every night for him, hoping he wouldn’t report to his travel agent and ruin our reputation for spider vacation accommodations.

Enrique forgot his place in our home. He stayed in the laundry room for a while, but I guess his room service wasn’t up to snuff, because he decided to move back in to Peter’s office garbage can. The problem was, this time, his luggage, cigar and legs were holding on for dear life. And I don’t know what Enrique was eating in the laundry room, but he was fat, hairy, happy, and strong. And he looked like he wanted this arrangement to be permanent, if the sneer on his fangy face was telling the truth. Enrique winked at me with a couple of dozen eyes as if daring me to make him move.

That kind of insolence just doesn’t work with me. So I told him it was time to go. He ran under a book shelf. I’m not positive, but I think one of his legs flipped me off in the process.
But the next morning, when I got up and found him making a fly omelette in my good pan, I’d had enough. I tried to reason with Enrique, even gave him a high eight to show him our appreciation for eating so many house insects. As I ushered Enrique out the front door. He moseyed to the forest and disappeared, but his luggage is still here, so he’ll probably be back when we least expect him.

And he’ll probably be right between us on our bed, smoking one of his Cubans.

Saturday, 16 June 2007

Well Light My Bum and Call me a Firefly!

Most of you here in Lanark County are used to the cool night critters in and around your lives, whether it’s your cat bringing back a mouse at midnight, or your neighbourhood racoons singing love songs to each other, hoping for a hot date.

But when is the last time you were able to just stand outside, ignore everything else and be delightfully surprised when you see one firefly?

The first time I saw one was when I noticed something blinking neon green in a corner of our bedroom one night. Peter is a fanatic about total blackness when he sleeps, so whatever that alien light revealed itself to be was about to be no more. Peter grabbed a tissue and went towards the light (and survived!). He grabbed the light smooshed it and brought it over to my curious eyes. I really wanted to know what that was.

“Oh, it’s a firefly.” Peter said

“A what!? How cool!” I was immediately a four year old, so excited to see my very first firefly that wasn’t engineered by Disney and The Pirates of the Caribbean ride. My excitement was short-lived as I watched the little glowing critter’s bootie fade and bleed onto the tissue. “Nice.” I muttered. Peter felt bad. I think it’s safe to say that another firefly will not meet its demise by Peter’s hands.

And now here we are in Lanark, and every night at this time of year is a blinking light show.
When you walk outside from the lights of the house into a moonless night that is as black as bottom of a deep, wet well, it takes your eyes a moment to adjust. The porch light isn’t on because it draws too many bugs.

Suddenly, a neon green glow sparkles in front of your face, maybe making you jump back just a bit before you realize it’s one of those fireflies. As your eyes slowly adjust to the inky darkness around you, you notice another glow to the right, followed by a spot on the left, and another. You smile when your eyes have completely adjusted and you see the light show surrounding you.

All you can see in the darkness are the sporadic blinks of the dancing lights, and it’s pretty cool.
Pretending it’s a mosquito-free world, what will your imagination allow you think as you watch their neon booties disappear and reappear in a teasing blink? Do you want to chase after them with a jar, trying to bottle your own lightning, like my mom did when she was a child?

Do you watch your cat jumping like a freak as she desperately tries to capture one for herself?
It doesn’t matter what a neon green light symphony does for you, as long as it makes you stop, appreciate, and be incredibly thankful for these cool critter gifts we have on Earth. Fireflies almost make up for the alien mosquito race. Almost.

Tuesday, 5 June 2007

Swarm of Blood Thirsty Beasts Attacks Lanark County

No matter how much I swat, run, cover, spray, duck, close or scream, those blood-sucking freaks won’t go away. Dang mosquitoes.

I know we all deal with these pests every day, no matter where we live in Lanark County. Maybe that could be our county slogan,”Lanark County, There’s No Place Better to Lose Your Blood and Itch.”

Okay, maybe not.

If every window and door is closed, every screen sealed, every hole taped, how do those vampires get in? And do they wear watches? Because they certainly know that a sneak attack at three in the morning is much more effective than bombing during daylight hours when we can actually see them.

I think that we don’t give mosquitoes enough credit. I think that they may be an alien race sent here to destroy us. Granted, they aren’t an incredibly advanced alien species, but still. You can’t tell me the Lord had any purpose for them when He created them, can you? And if God didn’t create them, they must be here for other reasons.

Picture this: Pre dawn hours. Squadrons of mosquitoes meet over pools of water, dropping their eggs, making plans for a day of blood sucking. The mosquito general’s orders are simple for his troops: Keep sucking until all the blood is gone. Until they’ve dehydrated the lot of us on earth and can have it for themselves. So battle plans are drawn up as follows:

Wait by the front door for humans to exit. Fly inside the house as fast as possible and lay low until dark. Hover by the car doors so you can buzz them as they buckle themselves in. Being trapped in small spaces greatly increases your chance of bloody success. Keep at it, never give up. You are all martyrs for the kingdom of Mosquito, and it is an honour to be smashed with a curse by human hands. Confuse them as they go on walks. Keep circling their heads and landing on their arms until they give up on their walk and return to the sanctuary of their homes.

Don’t worry, my mosquito brothers. That’s where the humans have false hope. When we get inside their domiciles, we will wait in quiet starvation until we hear the gentle sounds of human slumber. Then our secret forces will buzz their ears, wake them up, and giggle as they swat at nothing, turn on the lights and yell at each other because we can’t be found. Soldiers, keep at it! When the lights are off again, keep biting, sucking and drinking until there is nothing left but a sleepless, itching blob of human flesh!

Soldiers, be glad when their blood splats on the wall with your death. That’s one for us mosquitoes. Be brave, brothers, and never give up the battle!

Mosquitoes may never give up the battle, but neither will we. Just know that whenever we smack, spray or citronella one of those blood sucking aliens, we’re giving the human race one more chance.