Half-Naked Ant-ics

Well, Mom’s admonition to ‘always wear nice underwear, just in case’ has proved (once again) to be good advice.

I used to think it was just silly. Seriously, Mom: What could possibly make me strip off my clothes in public?

(The Fates let out an evil chuckle.)

So.

There I was, out in our front yard on a sunny day, minding my own business. As usual, I was togged out in more clothes than most people wear on an Arctic expedition: Jeans, T-shirt with a long-sleeved shirt open over it, steel-toed work boots, knee pads, work gloves, sunglasses, a broad-brimmed hat, and enough sunscreen to kill a dozen coral reefs. (Note: We don’t have coral reefs in our front yard. No coral reefs were harmed in the making of this blog post.)

I was working on a rotten log, tearing handfuls of squishy wood into the rich mulch that our rhododendrons love. Trying to appease my cranky lumbar vertebrae, I sat on another fallen log.

Anybody who’s spent time around rotten logs can probably see what’s coming; but in my defense, I’ve done this loads of times all over our property and I’ve never had a problem before. But this time, I felt a painful little pinch. In… my armpit?!?

“Okay,” thought I. “Maybe it’s a bit of heat rash, or an errant hair follicle.” I scratched the spot and carried on.

But then there were more pinches. Armpit, shoulder. What the…?

You guessed it: There was an ant colony in my log seat. And a bunch of big black-and-red ants had climbed up the back of my jeans, under the loose long-sleeved shirt, and chowed down on the tender armpit exposed by my short-sleeved T-shirt.

Let’s just say I moved, um… briskly. I yanked off my overshirt, but by then the ants had found their way through my T-shirt arms and down inside my jeans.

So, yeah. I did an extremely graceless striptease in our front yard. The exhibition was made even more alluring by the fact that I couldn’t take off my jeans without first removing my bulky boots, which have long laces that require some effort to pull loose.

So there I was: Head down, ass up, hopping around and whacking at random parts of my half-naked body. The sun’s reflection off all that pasty skin could probably be seen from outer space. (And if that didn’t warn any passing aliens to avoid Earth, nothing will.)

But I guess it could have been worse. At least the neighbours can’t see into our yard, and no cars drove by. (As far as I know.) And I was actually wearing nice underwear, Mom.

Please tell me I’m not the only one who’s flung off my clothes in public…

Book 17 update: My optimistic plan to finish the draft last week was scuttled when I had a reaction to a prescription painkiller and ended up in Urgent Care for a day, then spent the week stoned brainless on heavy-duty antihistamines. Fingers crossed for this week…

Mom Was Right Again

So, you know how Mom used to tell us to wear nice underwear “just in case”?  Well, this week I found out she was right.

It’s a long story.

You may recall that last week I whined about our drought.  Since June we’ve been doing the summer equivalent of Rick Mercer’s “Seven Day Forecast”.

The forecast has been promising cooler weather in the mid 20s (Celsius) and a chance of showers… but always five to seven days in the future.  So on Friday I was shocked to discover that there was a 40% chance of showers predicted on Saturday!  Mere hours away!

I dragged out our giant tarp and wrestled it across the bottom and up the sides of our 10′ deep, 60′ long (dry) dugout.  All our downspouts are routed to the dugout and we have a lot of roof area, so I hoped that even a little sprinkle might yield a few gallons of captured water.

Imagine my delight when it POURED for half an hour on Saturday and I got three feet of water in my tarp – about 5,000 gallons, enough to water the garden for the rest of the summer!  Hooray!

Except…

The tarp leaked.  And we don’t have any 5,000-gallon storage vessels.

Soon there were only a few sad inches of unsalvageable muddy water lying in the folds of the tarp.  Mosquito eggs hatch fast, so I needed to drain my failed experiment and get it out of the dugout.

But a few inches of water in a 60′ long tarp still amounts to a couple of hundred pounds of water.  Add the couple of hundred pounds of silty gravel that had washed down into the tarp along with with the deluge.  Then add me, trying to shovel/scrape/drain all that so I could drag the filthy (and therefore extra-heavy) tarp up a wet, unstable, 10 foot high, 45 degree gravel slope.

After about an hour of hard labour, I clawed my way to the top looking like some primeval swamp creature:  caked with gritty mud, abraded by gravel, soaked to the skin, and so malodorous that even the mosquitoes lost interest and fled.

So your mother was right:  Always wear nice underwear.  Because you never know when you might end up doing a striptease1 in the back yard so your husband can hose you off2.

* * *

1 At least none of the neighbours live close enough to see my performance (I hope).  I’m going to consider that a qualified ‘win’.  The ‘mud, sweat, and mosquito bites’ theme probably won’t catch on at any strip clubs; but after 19 years of marriage I like to think Hubby’s expectations are realistic.

2 Just thought you’d want to know that ‘hose you off’ is not a kinky euphemism – Hubby was wielding the garden hose.  Honest.