Friday, August 25, 2006

Wasp Watch - "You can check in any time you want..."

With Jamie's help, I put up a Wasp Trap in the back, tied to the gutter and near the original Wasp Nest he found for me. Then, we put up a Wasp Trap in the front, off to the side of the house, also tied to the gutter.

This was all due to Dawn's suggestion when I said to her, I still see them out there.... They're massing...

Also at her suggestion, I put a ball of raw hamburger in each trap. This was in addition to the scented cotton ball we prepared for each.

The next day I ran out to get the paper, and was drawn to the trap. Five wasps were in there! Most were already dead, but one soul couldn't get out and was circling near the air holes at the top.

The back trap had nearly as much activity. However, in the four days they've been up, there's not nearly the activity in the back as in the front. As of this morning (August 25th), I counted at least 15 wasp bodies in the front! I think there're only 6 or 7 in the back. Wow!!

I will wait until winter is assuredly here, and throw the traps and their prey in the trash. Then, come spring, I will follow Val's advice and put the traps a bit farther away from the entrances to the house. That'll work for the back, but I'm not sure about the front, as I think they're attracted to the scents of the garbage cans. The cans are rather near the trap as it is now, making it perhaps even more effective.

But for now, until winter....Wasp Watch continues!!

Wednesday, August 16, 2006


There have been signs, rising up into my consciousness, telling me that I'm old. They're hard, getting harder, to ignore.

-- Whenever I shop at Safeway these days, and I finish payment, the helpful cashier always asks me, "Do you need help out?" The last time this happened, I looked balefully at the two plums and small carton of milk I had purchased, and said, almost spat, "No." I thought to myself, Do I look like I need help out?? "Thank you," I meekly said out loud to the cashier.

-- Two weeks ago, I noticed that my local Sizzler in San Leandro changed their age limit from 55 to 62 for their Senior meals. That means I can no longer order any of the Senior meals, which are really a good deal. Not only do you get the little steak with rice for less money than the regulars, you also get a free salad bar added on. But I'm not yet 62, so I stopped ordering it. (I think I slipped once, before I noticed the change, and ordered it by mistake; the difference was about 2 minutes. I left the difference in tip.) However, the cashiers are STILL giving me the senior meal! Without my asking for it! The mere mention of the words "Hibachi chicken" seems to get me the chicken, the rice, AND the salad bar plate! Not every time, but often.

-- Nobody questions me or sneers at me when I sit on the BART benches for seniors/disabled.

-- I still like Star Trek.

-- I went to a Temescal cafe the other day. Aaron and his new company's members were having a meeting. I stayed out of the meeting, waiting for it to be over, and sat comfortably at a table, reading my two newspapers. (Sports sections first, of course.) After about 15 minutes of reading about Chavez and company, and sipping my Earl Grey, I looked up and glanced around at the crowd. All were youngish, most 25 and younger. Three had computers, as the cafe advertised "Free Wi-Fi!" The cafe even boasts two stand-alone, humongous computers with internet connection, for a price. In fact, those godzillas nearly took up a quarter of the cafe. But I was the only one with a newspaper. The only one! Nobody in their twenties seems to read newspapers. While I get a lot of my news from the internet (mostly yahoo!), I still get a real external physical feeling of comfort from holding the pages of a full, long page filled with inky revelations.

Yes, there are some signs, staring me in the face. I try to counter such signs. I try to keep up my walking. I figure nobody can be old if they can walk 3 miles in one hour. I also try to keep up with the latest trends. I may not understand what they really are and what their real impact is, but at least I'll know about them.

I take comfort in all of that, but I'm still watching for signs.

A Stinging Revelation

Jamie came in one day from a moment on the deck to tell me that he had found a wasp's nest.

"No!!!" was my instinctive reaction.

I am not afraid of bugs. Cockroaches, ants, spiders. I don't care that much for them, mind you, but their mere presence doesn't elicit fear. Wasps, bees (and flying ants, truth be told) are different. Those little devils have given me some miserable days, dating back to my childhood years in Hayward and Coronado.

So, when Jamie told me about the hanging nest, right above the deck and next to my bedroom, I went through 30 seconds of panic. And then he said: "Oh, I can get a broom and a can of Raid and take care of it..."

"No!!!" was my instinctive reaction. Again.

I called an exterminator. For $180 for about 5 minutes work, the man on the other end of the phone told me apologetically, they'll take care of the problem. And avoid a trip to the hospital for helpful James.

The guy agreed with me when he showed up the next day. "Spray some Raid on that nest, and they'd go right for him," he said, shaking his head dolefully. Instead, he brought in a few simple tools and went at the nest. Standing on the raised platform leading from my bedroom to the deck, he sprayed the nest briefly with Wasp Freeze, a can, he said, that was available at Home Depot.

Then he poked the nest with a stick, it fell down onto the deck, and, with large, long rubber gloves, he loaded the nest and its remains into a box, a little cardboard coffin.

The nest was about 6 inches long, I'd say. You actually couldn't see it from the deck unless you got almost right up under it, as it was under the overhang. Oh, I took all the photos from inside the house. I did get close enough to see it all, standing on the deck looking up, but every time I did, I got the heebiejeebies. (Is that one word?)

The exterminator said it was a pretty big one. Oh?? I said, holding my panic down forcefully. He replied, "Well, yeah, except if you compare it to the one I found in some family's attic that one time. It was about 6-feet long. It had been growing there for years. They never went up there..." he reported, as his eyes glazed over, no doubt reliving those heroic days. "It took me a couple of days, but I got 'em," he said proudly.

He took the remains of the nest out to his truck, but on the way, he spotted more nests. Three of them. They were smaller, but they were there under the eves of the front of the house. He sprayed them, too, and dragged them down. Then, with his rubber gloves, he picked up the nests as well as the lifeless wasps that had fallen from the nest. "If I'm charging you this much for so little work, at least I can pick them up."

Gee, what a lucrative business. Five minutes or so, most of it spent on paperwork. Maybe I could....No!!! Geez. There's that panic rising up in me again. Especially with the image of a six-foot tall nest. Ouch!