Saturday, August 27, 2011

Queen of the Ants

Yesterday a new swarm of carpenter ants considered taking over the old nest in the closet or starting a new one. It could be there were a few survivors from the recent Great Carpenter Ant Destruction. So I got the spray out and sprayed the nest entrance.  The spray works by getting tracked into the nest and killing the ants later.  I sprayed the foundation of the house right outside.  And I vacuumed.  And vacuumed some more.  

All of this is in Cal's "cave", the little closet. Cal is my big, shy Maine Coon type kitty who needs his special retreat. Now his retreat is off-limits again, which is the cause for much sad meeping.

But back to the ants.  The poison works only on certain kinds of ants and some other insects. It does not work on mammals, birds, or even spiders. Humans are not supposed to be able to detect it, but I have a funny taste in my mouth and my throat is sore.  Ants keep finding me, running up to me, running up me, madly waving their antennae. They are trying to communicate; I know it.  Some of them bring me gifts of, well, I'm not sure I want to know what, held in their little ant jaws. Am I the new carpenter ant queen? <cue creepy music>

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

I've done it again: a new book

Yes, I have a new book out.  It's called "February's Country" and it's poetry, not fiction.  It's available only as a kindle book right now.  It's not a large book but I'm pleased with it.  Years ago I had poetry published here and there in little magazines and journals.  I gave up sending poetry out about the time I started having novels published.  I never stopped writing poetry, you understand; I just didn't write it as much and I stopped sending it out.  I wondered if anybody even read poetry any more.  So to have the opportunity to publish a whole (albeit small) book of my poetry was astonishing.  I jumped at it.  I don't know if it's good, but it's there.  Go have a look:

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

The Squirrel Who Hates Me

I am under attack.

A couple of days ago I heard something odd.  It sounded as though it was raining small objects outside, and only against one part of the house, the back part that's under a big pine tree.  I went to the glass door and looked out.  Some small pebbles fell into the bird bath.  I stepped outside. 

A pine cone whizzed by my right ear.  I ducked.  A small pebble skimmed my cheek, followed by another pine cone.  And then came the yelling, the swearing.  I don't know what was being said, exactly, since it was being said in Squirrelese, but the tone was unmistakeable.   I was being shrieked at by the Squirrel Who Hates Me.

There is a history here, of course.  This squirrel used to live in my attic, where she raised a succession of litters.  All of them played loud pine cone hockey at night.  I could only hope they did not also play a silent game of chew-the-wires.  This went on all spring.  With a pair of binoculars I could see the outside entrance to the attic through my roof.  We hired a contractor who promised, among other things, to fix the roof.

He would have fixed the squirrel access immediately, but I had a concern.  I did not want any squirrels left inside.  I read up on squirrel nesting habits and realized that there might be babies who were almost grown.  I wanted all the squirrels out and the hole closed, with no squirrels left inside.

Then one day I saw them: mom squirrel and two juveniles on a tree.   Mom was teaching them squirrel things, Climbing 101, perhaps.  I pointed them out to the contractor.  Now was the time, he agreed, and he repaired the roof. 

Well.  The squirrel was furious.  She moved her little family somewhere else but she did not stay away from the house.  She had a grudge.  She began swearing and complaining.  Loudly.  She knew who was responsible for her eviction.  She follows me around, screaming at me.  In the mornings she will sit on a branch outside the bedroom window and scream at me.  

Her babies are fine; I've seen them.  They are growing into fine young squirrels, but I am not forgiven.  This squirrel has become the Mouth of the neighborhood. She yells at everyone: at my catbird friend, at the crows (who seem amazed and comment amongst themselves), at the chipmunk, who runs, at everyone and everything.  Mostly, though, she yells at me.

I have tried apologizing.  I have tried explaining.  The contractor suggested killing her and her babies but I wouldn't do that.  None of this matters.  This squirrel hates me.  And she throws things.