Category Archives: Miscellaneous

The Earth, Will and I (Day 22 of NaPoWriMo)

The Earth, Will and I

The noise of birds so loud—
orioles, grackles, seedeaters
and my neighbor’s fighting cock.
You would think they know
it is Earth Day.

In writing about them,
I have not forgotten
that tomorrow
is the anniversary
of Shakespeare’s
birth and death.

I am having my book launch tomorrow.
No competition for Will,
but I am alive,
and I have completed this book
after 12 long years.
I sing to celebrate
both of these miracles,
my backup chorus
fading out behind me
as I warble
my extreme pleasure
in being chosen
to participate
in this wonderful world
and in having the luxury
to write

Wasp Removal Tale

Well, the story of the wasps continues.  After considering all angles, I decided that since the wasp nest was getting big enough to interfere with the barred gate outside the kitchen door, that it would have to come down eventually and better to do it now so they could get started on their next home.


I wanted, however, a method of removal that would harm neither wasp nor Pasiano, who had volunteered to do the chore.  Through research, I learned that the best time to do it was early morning or evening.  Pasiano said he would be here today to do the job.  Of course, I forgot, so he surprised me in my nightgown, feeding the dogs right outside the kitchen door.  I went to get a robe and returned not only more clothed, but also with some vital coverup gear to protect him.  Bob’s old welder’s mask and a jacket with elastic at the wrists were musts.  We completed his ensemble with rubber gloves and one of my favorite scarves.


He was a good sport and donned them all, but had a bit of a laughing fit and had to remove the helmet/mask until he could catch his breath.


He showed me his solution to wasp removal–a hard plastic icecream container in a plastic bag.  He would put the container over the nest, scrape the nest off the wall and quickly close the plastic bag over it and carry the entire nest, wasps intact, down to the spare lot below me.


The nest was quiet, with wasps clustered around on its surface.  None had yet stirred.  He climbed up on the ladder.  I watched from behind the glass door. The maneuver easily executed, he held the bag closed in one hand as he stripped off his battle gear. Not one fatality.  Not one sting.


When he returned from the spare lot, he took the side of the ice cream container and scraped the residue of the nest off the wall.  Three tenacious black wasps remained–two still clinging to the residue from the nest, the other buzzing through the air a short distance away.


Before I knew what he was about to do, Pasiano squashed the two remaining wasps with his fingers.  The other flew away.  So, our maneuver was blemished, as oftentimes happens in warfare.

Two minutes later, Pasiano was again pursuing his usual peaceful task of watering the plants.


And I was left to put away the battle gear


and to tell the tale.



The Power of Grief

Grief has such enormous power that it is a shame to waste its energy.  If that energy can be channeled into a positive result, we finally have some victory over death. ––Judy Dykstra-Brown

This quote (I am quoting myself, what ego!) is opposite the title page of the book I wrote with Tony.  This is the book I celebrated having finished a week or so ago; but alas, I find the editing job goes on and on.  Just to be anal, we again had the printer print up a book and gave it to our most perfectionist friend, Sheila, who agreed to read it one last time.  She had done so before and found so many errors that we’d had to redo the pdf.  This time, we were sure, it would be perfect; but we had to check.  Well, we were wrong about the perfect part but right to check.  She still found 50 errors–mainly in the references and in the use of hyphens.  Who cares about such things?  We do.  And Sheila does.  So––most of yesterday and the day before, I rechecked the errors, made lists, shared them with Tony and Allenda, his wife, and we all checked and rechecked.  The result, somewhere around midnight last night, we had a perfect, we hope, 117th version of the book. It went off to the printer today.  if he again does a trial copy (it will be the ninth if he does) we will page through it quickly, looking for obvious flaws, and say “push the button” and this breech birth will finally be consummated. Then we get to celebrate again.  I’m afraid the earlier celebrations were all false labor.  Please put positive energy out into the air, willing this one to actually produce a child.

Why I was Late to Swim Aerobics.

I’d unlocked the car, hit the control for the garage door opener, started the car and was backing up when I noticed a large black irregular circle high on the wall to the right of my kitchen door.  I scrunched my eyes and looked hard—willing my eyesight to improve enough to make out just what it was.  In past years I’d had clumps of thousands of Daddy Long Legs—perhaps a foot wide and two feet long solid pile of DLL’s that extended two or three inches out from the wall.  Seen from a distance, they looked like huge moles; but if you touched them, the solid mass would shatter immediately into thousands of DLL’s scurrying off in every direction possible.  Yet the DLL’s had never clustered in this spot and it looked like a much smaller clump. Late as I was, I couldn’t stand it.  I had to go look.  This is what I found:


Tiny black wasps building their nest.

Recent high winds had blown down the lamp in my gazebo and I’d noticed the wasp nest high up in the pointed top of the ceiling had been knocked down also.  Obviously, this is where they’d decided to relocate.  Most of the crew was just hanging out in a clump while a few dozen hard workers were constructing the incredible paper hive out of their own bodily juices.


As a reformed papermaker, I’m intrigued by the process.  I love having them so close, yet fear if I let them build it so near the main door I use to enter the house, that it will create problems later.  I’ve had hives around the property the entire 12 years I’ve been here and they’ve never created a problem.  They stay high up and near their hive and I’ve never been stung or even buzzed by the black wasps.  One year they built their nest on the outside of my hall window, so I could see into it!!!   It was near a door I never used and between the window bars and the glass, so it was very protected. I absolutely loved it, as every time I walked down the hall to and from my bedroom, I could look in and see them cuddled into the internal chambers.  Unfortunately, I came home from a 2 month vacation at the beach to discover my vacation renters had had Pasiano remove the nest!  I was heartbroken.

Now the dilemma is:  should I have Pasiano smoke them out and knock down the nest tomorrow before they invest any more time in building it, or do I let it remain, knowing I’ll have to have it removed when a friend deathly afraid of wasps visits me in a few months?  I love the feeling of sharing this property with so many different types of wildlife: squirrels, snakes, possums, skunks, lizards, toads, dragonflies, moths, katydids, rhinoceros beetles, leaf-eater ants, rainbirds, praying mantises, walking sticks, butterflies, dragonflies, grackles, orioles, thrushes, seedeaters, bats, an owl, huge solitary red wasps and the fiercely social small black wasps.  The problems only come when their needs conflict with mine.  The squirrels ate every papaya on my tree this year. The possums stealing catfood leftovers often occasion loud midnight fits of barking by the dogs. Coming out to find my entire plumeria tree stripped of leaves and flowers overnight and my studio with 6 inch high piles of soil and stones they had carried up and deposited there to clear their tunnels meant waging a war on the leafcutters—something necessary; but yet I hated to do it.  I love watching them—the cutter ants high in the bush or tree sawing the leaves off and letting them fall to the ground, where other workers saw off smaller pieces and load up for the trip back to the nest.  If the smaller ants confront a problem on the rocky road to home, huge general ants come out to advise and help. Chains of busy ants form a freeway from the harvesting site to the nest.

But scorpions?  Sorry.  My curiosity only goes so far. Black widows and scorpions can expect the death penalty in my house.

Nearly 3 AM and I still don’t know what my decision will be concerning the wasps.  I welcome your advice.

Sweet dreams.—Judy