Browsing Archives for June 2010

Kid Farm

June 30th, 2010

Thanks for the link Emily.

Squash Bug Menace!

June 30th, 2010

They’re heeeeeeeerrrrrrrreeeeee!


I have squash bugs.

Everywhere.

Ev.

Ree.

Where.

I figured I would get them as last year’s cucumbers suffered a late season attack that obliterated the entire crop in a matter of days. I didn’t really mind though, because by then, I was sick of cucumbers. But I knew that the bugs would overwinter, so I moved my cucumber patch to the other side of the garden and began to regularly dose my garden with some preventative homemade garlic spray.  Unfortunately, I made the mistake of planting some pumpkins very near to last year’s cucumber spot, not realizing  that squash bugs like pumpkins EVEN MORE than cucumbers.  It’s their favorite!  So this Spring, they crawled out of the ground and found a lovely condo with a gorgeous view and a loaded fridge next door!

I could have done more to limit the overwintering impact of these horrible bugs.  I should have removed the old vines from my garden last Fall, instead of waiting until this Spring.  Ultimately, I think I might skip cucurbit type crops next year (pumpkins, squash, cucumbers) and see if I can get the squash bugs to pack up and go in search of someone else’s pumpkin patch.  In the meantime, here are a few of the methods that I have employed to get rid of them.

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Melt Them and Vigilance…

I got down on my hands and knees and looked for the bugs. I got familiar with my garden on a new level. Instead of just looking at it from above, I looked at it from below and behind, beside and underneath.  I parted vines and moved leaves.  I searched and scanned the nooks and crannies. During my searches, I noted a few cucumber beetles, their yellow and black ‘plumage’ undeniable.  When I found them, I went out and bought some neem oil as cucumber beetles laugh in the face of my homemade garlic spray.  The neem oil is also supposedly a deterrent for squash bugs too as they don’t like the taste and it also breaks down their exoskeleton.  Basically, it melts them.

Soak Your Elbow in Windex…

I have been spraying the neem oil once a week in a concoction of my own design which is basically a tablespoon of neem, a tablespoon of garlic oil and a few squirts of dish-soap. I mix this all in a ‘Glass Plus” container hoping for whatever residual effects might be in the infamous window cleaner bottle as I distinctly remember the scene in My Greek Wedding where the protagonist’s father is soaking his elbow in a bowl of Windex while insisting that the magic blue liquid is a cure-all for everything.  (I do realize that Glass Plus is no Windex, but surely there is some overlap in the miracle producing qualities of the two cleaners.)

Handpick, Shudder, Handpick, Shudder…

I’ve also been ‘handpicking’ the bugs. A disgusting part of my job as a gardener whereby I hunt around for these wretched grayish bugs and pick them off (using a leaf as a sort of glove) and then I squish them inside the leaf, shudder violently and fling the flattened bug and leaf away in a sort of panicked induced delirium. Then I shudder again (violently), grimace and wonder how the hell I ever got myself into this horrifying predicament.  Then I find another bug and squish, fling, find, squish, fling, find.  It is an endless cycle of horror, recovery and horror again, further proving my theory that gardening is only for the mentally unstable.

Room and BOARD!

I put some old boards down in the pumpkin and squash patch as squash bugs like to congregate underneath things.  It makes the find part of the whole ‘find, squish, fling’ thing a little easier.

Go for the Twofer…

They mate back to back… or rather… end to end. One bug has to walk backwards while the other walks forwards with their two ‘tails’ attached. I don’t know which bug is which…who gets to move forward while the other gets dragged behind and I honestly don’t care. I only know that killing two squash bugs at the same time due to the fact that they are connected by their butts is a total bonus. Evidently, squash bugs like to mate around 3:00 in the afternoon (Is that when all the kids are down for naps?) so if I venture out to the garden at that time, I will probably be more likely to get more ‘twofers’ for my efforts.

Flood Their Homes…

I lay a garden hose at the base of my squash plants and the pooling water causes the squash bugs to climb to higher ground.  This allows me to find, squish and shudder a bit easier.

Blow the little suckers up!

I also have been removing any leaves that have eggs on them. Sometimes I remove the entire leaf, and sometimes I tear off the segment with the eggs on it. I give the leaves to the boys and tell them to destroy them. They happily take the leaves over to the driveway and find new and inventive ways to blow the eggs up with their fireworks stash. I also smash the leaves into oblivion with my feet, drown them in cups of water and hurl them into the pond.

Occasionally at the end of a squash bug patrol, I am so sick of it all, that I just start smashing the eggs with my bare thumb.  Then I wonder what I am turning into?  Some sort of callous, indelicate human that can smash insect eggs with her bare skin and not even flinch?  What is happening to me?  What if there comes a point where I can pick up a squash bug without a leaf?  What if I start smashing squash bugs with my bare fingers?  What happens next?  Do I cease to use a napkin at dinner?  Do I start drinking milk straight from the jug placing the empty container back in the fridge?  Do I pile old magazines in the bathroom in place of toilet paper?  What kind of madness is this?  Then I start flinching and stammering and my eyelid starts to spasm and my teeth start to ache and I rush into the house and take a scalding shower and rinse myself off in industrial bleach and suddenly I feel much better.

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I am far from winning the war on these bugs.  But I am determined to give it my best shot.

Squash bugs are stealthy, impervious, they multiply like rabbits and are hard to kill with anything other than squashing them.

And they stink when you squash them.

On the other hand, I am stubborn, angry, bitter, and generally hacked off.

And I smell like industrial bleach.

I think these bugs have met a worthy adversary.

We’ll see who wins.

Some kind of spider sucks the head off of a squash bug.

Yay some kind of spider!

A few strange thoughts that have been clinking around in my mind lately.  Things that I have heard or read recently that have become lodged in my nebulous nebulum.  So with the aid of good old Google, I looked them up to find out more about them…

STRANGE STICKING THOUGHT #1

The androgynous mind is the most brilliant mind.

I read this somewhere… in a book I think… and it just got stuck in my head.  I can’t remember what I was reading or where I was or what I was wearing or if I had a snack or beverage at the time.  I just remember this particular phrase.  I don’t know why exactly it stood out to me.  But I looked it up and here is what I found…

1.  Samuel Taylor Coleridge is the first writer to state that the great mind is androgynous.

2.  Virginia Woolf took this idea and ran with it applying this idea to her own writing and to other great writers.  Woolf believed that Jane Austen and Shakespeare had the rare and wonderful, perfectly androgynous mind, while Charlotte Bronte, declared the better writer by Woolf, did not climb to the lofty heights of attaining an androgynous mind.  To read a brief and interesting essay on this topic – click here.

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A few Virginia Woolf Quotes…

For most of history, Anonymous was a woman.

If you do not tell the truth about yourself you cannot tell it about other people.

Literature is strewn with the wreckage of men who have minded beyond reason the opinions of others.

Women have served all these centuries as looking-glasses possessing the magic and delicious power of reflecting the figure of a man at twice its natural size.

I meant to write about death, only life came breaking in as usual.

I have lost friends, some by death… others through sheer inability to cross the street.

To read more about this author with whom I am almost entirely unfamiliar - click here.
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I think I can grasp the idea of an androgynous mind and I would guess that in this contemporary era, where the lines between masculine and feminine grow more and more smudged, that the androgynous mind is not quite as rare as it may have been in the days of Coleridge and Woolf.  And yet, has anyone attained the brilliance of Jane Austen?

Hmmmmmmm.

I think not.

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STRANGE STICKING THOUGHT #2

When the population of boys in a given country reaches a certain level, countries tend to go to war.

Again, I don’t remember what I was reading when I came across this idea, but as the mother of four sons I tend towards paranoia whenever the idea of war comes up.  I have four sons on the cusp of draft-ability (need I say more?). It turns out that there isn’t much of a historical precedent for  a link between large male populations and war, but here is a fascinating article on the problems of countries (like China) with a preference for male children who have self selected a population with too few girls that may result in violence in the near future.

STRANGE STICKING THOUGHT #3

Testosterone is the chemical that allows us to be skeptical.

I read an article like the one linked above a while back and it made me wonder if my ability to finally reject the faith of my childhood has anything to do with an increase in testosterone in my brain. I found this article which seems to lead to that very conclusion.  As women age they have more testosterone.  Testosterone makes a person more skeptical.  Therefore testosterone may have played a vital role in causing me to become an atheist!  What is going to happen to Michelle Duggar if on or around her fortieth fifth birthday, she receives a mighty surge of testosterone to her brain? I doubt that she would become an atheist as her brain is far too addled to think that clearly, but she might go as far to participate in the apostasy of PUTTING ON A PAIR OF PANTS!

STRANGE STICKING THOUGHT #4

Red heads feel less pain.

I don’t know where I heard this one, but I had to find out if there was anything to it.  According to this article, it is actually red headed women who feel less pain.  I know, I know, it’s one of those things you think is a myth, but it turns out, it’s true.  Also red heads are about to become extinct. Well… in a manner of speaking they are…

STRANGE STICKING THOUGHT #5

Richard Dawkins invented a word – ‘meme’.  Did you know that?  Did you know that it rhymes with ‘cream’ and not ‘Fifi’?  Because I thought it rhymed with ‘Fifi’.  Here’s a weird story for you…

The CD and I were sitting around. I had the laptop as usual.  He had the paper as usual.  When we were both reading.  We frequently end up discussing words that appear in whatever it is we are reading.  The CD looked up and said, “Do you know what a meme is?

“Not really.” I said, “Why don’t I look it up?”

So I googled it and discovered that the word was coined by Dawkins, which is bizarre because Richard Dawkins is kind of a central part of my life right now.  You know the God shaped hole that formed when I became an atheist?  Yeah.  Well Dawkins kind of sits in that spot now.   Along with a lot of other people and resources and books and YouTube videos…but for a new atheist, Dawkins is kind of a central figure.  He’s kind of like the Jesus figure… or maybe he’s more like the apostle Paul, except Paul was an asshole, so Dawkins can’t be like him.  But he is sort of like an evangelist, except no one goes to hell in his version of reality.  So I was like – omg!  Dawkins invented this word!  It’s like a sign or something!  But then I remembered that atheists don’t believe in signs, but still… it seemed like maybe it was one.

So the CD and I read the definition of meme and we discussed it at length and I still don’t really understand what a meme is.  I mean, I grasp it on a certain level and it really just seems like a fancy word for trend or fad.  But I guess it is far more reaching than that.  And somehow it replicates like a gene?  So it is comparable to blah, blah, blah… yeah – I don’t really get it.  Here is a spot to start if you want to really understand what a meme is.  And here is a list of examples. If you are truly able to comprehend exactly what this word means, you must have a brilliant androgynous mind.

Here’s the quote from Dawkin’s book The Selfish Gene that birthed the term – meme.

“We need a name for the new replicator, a noun that conveys the idea of a unit of cultural transmission, or a unit of imitation. ‘Mimeme’ comes from a suitable Greek root, but I want a monosyllable that sounds a bit like ‘gene’. I hope my classicist friends will forgive me if I abbreviate mimeme to meme. If it is any consolation, it could alternatively be thought of as being related to ‘memory’, or to the French word même. It should be pronounced to rhyme with ‘cream’.”

Tuna Fish Sandwiches,

Rechelle