Saturday, July 14, 2018

Older and tougher

I guess that's what's happening to me. I'm getting a little tougher in specific ways as I get older.

Anyway: I decided early afternoon to (a) take a quick run to Lulu and Hazel's for fun and (b) get a couple more hanging baskets for the bees and butterflies.

(I did buy a *little* fabric. And a cute pattern. Anyway, it's nice to support small local businesses).

And then to the garden center. I got a callibrancha basket, but then looking at the other ones - Why not Lantana? Butterflies like it and it's so darn invasive you don't want to plant it in the GROUND, but a basket is probably OK. And why not a red petunia in hopes of getting hummingbirds to stop at it?

And I thought - well, you have that second shepherd's crook in the backyard, you could hang two of the baskets there.

And then I thought - why not MOVE the crook so they're all in the front of the house, so you can see them and enjoy them?

But to get to the crook, I had to move the metal yard chair (I have one of those old style tube-framed metal chairs - kind of that 1950s style with the solid metal seat and back).

Picked it up, and moved it.

There were hornets.

Oh crap, there were hornets.

I dropped the chair and backed off. I felt one land on my arm - felt its scratchy legs - and was like NOT TODAY MONKEYFIGHTER - and batted at my arm and managed to get it off before it stung, and backed away fast enough to avoid the others (which was a trick - I was in fairly open sandals, capris, and a short sleeved shirt.

This is actually huge for me because when I was a kid I was TERRIFIED of stinging insects. Even bumblebees and honeybees, which are comparatively mellow. I remember crying and refusing to follow when I was maybe about seven and my class was going on a short hike, and we had to walk past sweet-clover that was full of honeybees. And of screaming, running, and flapping my arms (that last probably not a wise move) whenever I saw a wasp.

But, one thing I'm learning about adulthood: there's rarely someone there to comfort you or to sigh and find another way around the bees, so you just have to be tough and deal with it. And bumblebees are now my friends (I like watching them visit the flowers in my front garden) and honeybees and all the odd little native bees.

I haven't been stung in a long time (and that's a bit of a concern: I have no idea if in my new, more-allergic state, if I'd react badly. I got stung multiple times 20 years ago when I blundered into a hornet's nest while doing field work - I remember one of the people helping me actually pulling the hornets off my arms because they were multiply stinging me - and except for my left arm (where I got the most stings) swelling a little and hurting the next day, I was OK. The most recent sting I had was from a halictid bee ("sweat bee") and while those hurt, they're much smaller than a typical sting).

I'm glad I managed to avoid it here, though, mainly for the "what if I reacted badly"

(Oh, wait - a couple years ago I brushed against a wasp and got stung on the hand, and except for the normal swelling a person gets with that kind of a sting, had no reaction, so I'm *probably* safe)

But yeah. The hornets kind of foiled my plans there.

And then stood back and was like "well, crud." I knew I couldn't hang the baskets up then - I had dragged them all out back to water them well before hanging them. So I just hung the lantana and the callibrancha in my redbud, and thought.

And I thought - maybe I have hornet killer? Maybe I can get rid of them? I found an old can but of course it was empty or clogged.

So I thought - do I go back out now? I have to get rid of the hornets if they're in the ground, they're really close to my garage and wow was I lucky I didn't encounter them before.

So I did run BACK out. Found a can of foaming spray that DID NOT also boast it killed carpenter bees (this one probably does, but....I want to avoid as much collateral damage as I can and I don't mind carpenter bees).

I also decided - heck, the shepherd's crooks were $15, just get another one while I'm out, so I can leave the one in place (it's where I hang the birdfeeders in the winter).

Found my stuff, got in line. There were two lines (side by side) open. I stood BETWEEN the two with the plan of just hopping over to the next cashier who got free. A guy got behind me.

"Which line are you even IN" he snarled at me.

I looked at him. Decided "oh no, not today, I am not being Fluttershy and I have done too many 'I pick this line' only to have the person ahead of me have a MAJOR problem that results in me waiting 10 extra minutes while everyone who picked a DIFFERENT line gets served first" and I said, calmly "I am in the line for the next cashier that becomes available."

Now, I suppose in rare instances that would have been a risky response (after all, a guy got knifed at the movie theater in Sherman last week for asserting that a seat a guy was in was actually reserved for him) but in this case the guy seemed to tolerate it.

And really, that's what stores should do: have one line, in a funnel set up, where the NEXT person in line goes to the NEXT cashier free, regardless of where they are - like I said, I've had too many times when someone tried to line-jump me, or too many times where I got to the head of the line to hear "Honey, I have to close this register," or too many times where I picked the line where the person either has a major malfunction or starts an argument with the cashier, and I'm getting too old to spend my weekends standing in lines.

But yeah. I did find out - after I sprayed the ground where I thought the nest was - that it was actually underneath the chair (but I managed to tip the chair over and hit the nest, and do that all without being stung.

So now I'm going to install my new shepherd's crook, hang up my new plants, and hope the bumblebees and other fun to watch critters find them fairly soon.

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