Ugh. Starting late last Thursday afternoon, just before the icecalypse hit, I noticed flies in the house. Big ones. Like the house variety on steroids. Unlike the house variety, these guys are slow and dozy, so they are easy to suck into the bowels of the vacuum cleaner with the vacuum hose. They are called blowflies.
Owing to the sheets of ice and below freezing temps, Richard and I didn't go anywhere for two solid days. Reading books. Watching DVD's. Playing Scrabble. Finishing the Christmas decorating. Doing laundry. Watching football. Killing flies. Lots and lots of flies.
By Sunday morning, cabin fever had set in. We skidded out to breakfast, then slid to Target to pick up a few items. Here's a photo Richard took of the cold foods section. It was completely cleaned out due to a power outage. It was the same with the freezers. Fortunately, we weren't at Target for food as I had had the foresight to stock up on Thursday afternoon.
Sunday night, the flies were really bad. Richard was already in bed. I was trying to follow him there, but the little buggers kept materializing out of thin air, and I couldn't go to sleep knowing they were zooming around. They considerately kept themselves to the "public" areas: the den, living and dining rooms, and the kitchen. The cats had a great time helping me catch them. Just by watching the cats' body language, I could tell when a fly was near. And I saw several that turned out to be floaters; you know, those bitty specks that you see swooping around in your vision. I'd think, Whoa! That one was close! and then realize it was a floater. Anyways, as each little winged beast was sucked into the vacuum nozzle, it would hit the side once --- kind of a SCHWIZIP! --- that is immensely gratifying, so help me. Like popping a pimple --- SPLOOSH! (Not that I do that.) Richard, always helpful, pointed out that perhaps I was catching the same fly over and over, that as soon as I sucked it in (SCHWIZIP!), it escaped, only to get sucked in again. I immediately pooh-poohed this (THBBBPPT!), but later secretly tested his theory by putting duct tape over the nozzle end when the vacuum wasn't in use. It didn't stop the winged onslaught, unfortunately.
Monday morning, Richard called our exterminator and that's when we were told that most likely, something had crawled into the attic and died. Hopefully, not Santa. It made perfect sense, but at the same time, URGH-BLECH! Of course, they couldn't send anyone out that day, so we --- what am I saying? Richard was at work --- I spent another fine day in combat mode.
On Tuesday (yesterday), what I had come to think of as V-F Day (Victory Over Flies), and despite sucking another couple dozen into the black hole of the vacuum cleaner nozzle, the exterminator couldn't find any sign of something rotting in our attic; no smell, either. And dang it, he couldn't treat for the flies if he couldn't get to the source. He hung a strip-looking thing that releases a vapor into the attic, which was better than nothing, but it appears we are going to have to sit this one out, and let nature take its course with whatever is festering (Blurgle-gloop-gloop-gloop) up there.
Naturally, I had to Google 'blowflies'. I'm glad I did, because the articles I read reinforced our exterminator's claim that he couldn't do anything without removing the source. At the same time, I was kind of nauseated; no one likes to think there is something foul and squishy (SQUOOSH!) up in their attic.
If you were a Mad Magazine fan back in the day, you'll understand the reference to Don Martin.
Not in a holiday mood,
I got invited to a baby shower. When I saw who the mother-to-be is, my first thought was: Hell no, I won't go. You see, I'm still waiting on a thank you note for the wedding gift we sent four years ago. And yes, I can carry a grudge.
When six months went by and no acknowledgement, I asked the bride's mother-in-law to ask Miss No Manners if our gift was received. It was. I thought that might embarrass the bride into a writing a thank-you note. It didn't.
So now I am faced with purchasing another gift that will probably never be formally acknowledged. A part of me is a little ashamed that I would "punish" the baby; it's not the kid's fault his mother is uncultured. The other sticking point is that I really like the grandparents-to-be (the mama's in-laws), who are two of the most generous and classy people I know.
I told Richard that I might slip in a box of thank-you notes with the baby gift. Shoot, I'll even write the note to myself, and address and stamp the envelope, but Richard said to let it go. He is such a killjoy.
In other news, I spent this past weekend in Lubbock for my daughter's sorority's moms' weekend. The weather was gorgeous --- a bit windy, a tad chilly --- but sunny and cloudless. Two other moms and I hit town Friday afternoon, and left just before noon on Sunday. By the time we got home to Dallas around 6:00 PM, Lubbock was bracing itself for a blizzard. Another example of the old Texas saying if you don't like the weather, wait five minutes. I can't believe I missed all the fun and games. The airport shut down, the interstates were closed, and the cattle that we'd seen peacefully grazing in the sunshine as we headed east were now miserable huddles of frozen, snowblinded beef on the hoof. Tech threw in the towel and cancelled classes --- a fact we were informed of via a 4:45 AM phone call from the university, which initially scared the crap out of Richard. (In my case, I have never had the pleasure of that particular heart-stuttering experience. Sometimes being deaf ain't all bad.)
While Paige and her roommates made the weather an excuse to celebrate a long weekend, Mitch was snowed in in Denver, forcing him to miss work on Monday. He didn't land in Dallas until midnight Tuesday morning. I asked my other kiddo, Brent, if Lawton, OK had any snow and he said no --- which I find hard to believe when the Texas panhandle, which is due west of Lawton, was under 4 - 6' drifts in some parts. I was hoping, as the storm system moved towards Big D, that it would dump some of that pretty white stuff on us, but it veered north instead. I swear Dallas has some kind of force field that repels snowstorms.
Anyway, during my visit to Lubbock, Paige and one of her roommates, Chelsea, invited me and Chelsea's mom, Mendy, to their apartment for 'ritas and appetizers. Mendy and I thought this was a lovely gesture on our girls' part until we found out that they were merely providing the space; WE were expected to purchase the food and prepare it. Chelsea, as it turned out, is pretty handy in the kitchen, and she made the jalapeno poppers in the picture below. Paige, however, had a tough go of it trying to mash the ranch dressing mix into the cream cheese and text at the same time. She is studying to become a registered dietician and already I am worried that she is not up to the task.
Zeta Tau Alpha Moms' Weekend Afternoon "Tea"
Looks pretty good, doesn't it? And it was so easy to prepare. The menu included: artichokes with Italian dressing, Parmesan Frenchies (the moldy looking stuff on the colorful plate), smoked salmon crudites, cream cheese topped with Pickapeppa Sauce (not shown) and served with crackers, chips and salsa (not shown) and homemade jalapeno poppers. I couldn't believe it when I saw Chelsea preparing the peppers --- cutting, seeding and removing the ribs --- with her bare hands. The recklessness of youth! I learned a painful lesson years ago to wear gloves when I accidentally rubbed my eye after handling the little suckers.
Well, I need to get some beauty sleep as I am heading to Lawton, OK in a few hours to help Brent move back to Dallas. He's bunking with us temporarily before he is due to report to Ft. Polk, Louisiana. I know he is going to be very glad to see Oklahoma receding in his rear view mirror.
Baby feet: http://www.sxc.hu/profile/Tasa_
We are just fine, thanks for asking.
The wave of thunderstorms, or "supercells" as the weather people like to call them, made for a pretty intense afternoon in the DFW area yesterday. Usually, tornado watches and warnings are short and sweet; by the time I chase down the cats, it's over, and I'm left with a lot of wasted effort and two very pissed off felines. This time, Mother Nature decided to stay and visit awhile.
I had lunch with a friend and got home about 2:30. The sirens had been going off and it was looking menacing. This is a common enough event in our neck of the woods and nothing ever comes of the theatrics, but my neighbor, having recently moved to Texas from Utah, didn't know this. She came flying out of her house when she saw me pull in the driveway, baby in one hand, dragging her toddler with the other. She asked if she should go pick up her other kids at school. I said no, they were safer there. Then she wanted to know where was the best place to take cover. Ironically, the best place to take cover in a tornado is in a basement, but they don't build basements around here, so unless you are willing to shell out a lot of money for an in-ground storm shelter, an interior bathroom is the best place to be. Unfortunately, she had neither. So I told her I would leave the garage door open and if she got nervous, she was welcome to bring the kids and we'd all hunker down in my bathroom. It would be a tight fit, but back in college, I survived an eight hour car ride from College Station to Lubbock in an old VW bug with two male friends who farted the entire time. Riding out a storm in a bathroom with six other people and two cats would be a piece of cake by comparison.
Phoebe, who is dumb as soup, is easy to pick off and she was the first to be confined. Penny knew something was up and, being the more skittish of the two, it took a good five minutes of feinting and wheedling before I was able to grab her by the scruff. The poor cats remained confined for the better part of two hours until I deemed a personal "all clear" and let them out. I enclosed them in the shower, having learned from past experience that just shutting them up in the bathroom doesn't work; they will turn into hairy Houdinis if you open the door so much as a crack. When I finally let them out, I noticed that one of them, probably Penny, had managed to lift the small metal grate over the shower drain and push it aside. I have a feeling if I had been a few minutes later, one of them, again probably Penny, would have been tunneling her way to China through that drain opening.
I turned the news on in time to see footage of 18-wheelers flying through the air, hail as big as baseballs, whole neighborhoods shredded. All this hell breaking loose around me, and it was just as calm as it could be where I was. And I do mean CALM. Not even a breeze to stir the leaves on the trees. Even when it started raining buckets, it stayed calm. If it wasn't for the news, I would have thought it was just a spring shower, the kind that April is so famous for.
My husband texted to say he and his co-workers were huddled in the stairwell; three times they were evac'ed to the stairs. My older son, bless his heart, was in the middle of a job interview, which is nerve-wracking enough, when he had to take refuge in a stairwell. Of all of us, he was the closest to an actual tornado. He said he thought his interview went well despite the interruption, and joked that maybe they will give him points for showing grace under pressure. (Update: he got the job!)
Other than a thorough soaking, something we needed anyway, we were spared that other stuff. Phoebe has forgiven me, probably because she's forgotten all about it, poor simple-minded cat. But Penny...well...just take a gander at the photo below. I am obviously numero uno on her enemies list. Believe me, it is not easy typing this while she perches just above my head staring at me with those laser eyes and plotting my messy demise.
There's a saying in Texas that if you don't like the weather, wait five minutes. This is very true in the spring. Spring weather in north Texas is manic. Mild blue skies can give way to thunderstorms, hail and tornado warnings within an hour. Ironically, basements, the safest place to be during a tornado, are practically non-existent here. So your next best bet is an interior room with no windows, preferably a bathroom because the surrounding pipes give the walls additional stability. Luckily, we have such a bathroom and that is our designated tornado shelter. Thankfully, we have never had to use it for real, but there have been a handful of times over the years when I have tossed blankets and beach towels and the family pets into the bathroom "just in case" we had to take cover. The pets go first because the last thing I want to be doing is dragging a snarling cat out from under the bed when all hell is breaking loose. Interestingly, when the sirens go off, the noise brings people OUT of their homes to stare up at the sky. "Look, Doris! Does that look like a twister forming over there to you?" I admit I have been guilty of doing just that.
But that saying about Texas weather holds ---literally --- no water in the summer. It hit the triple digits on July 3 in the DFW area, and the highs for each day since have been 100 or above. It's expected to continue in the triple digits through next week with no chance of rain. Looks like it's going to be a long wait before we will see some relief, like maybe a balmy 97 or 98. My husband keeps pointing out that at least it's a dry heat. The next time he says that, I'm going to smack him.
Our next door neighbors moved here from Utah a few months back. They weathered (ha!) their first Texas spring and asked, "Is it always like that?" And I said, "Yep." Now they are less than a month into their first Texas summer and they asked again, "Is is always like this?" And I said, "Yep." It'll be interesting to see their reaction when winter gets here and we get a sprinkling of snow or an eighth-inch skim of ice and the entire DFW metroplex comes to a screeching halt. Yep, they will think we are crazy!
Hot and bothered,
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