Tuesday, October 04, 2011

The miniature updates. That is: updates on adventures that are boiled down to mere paragraphs.


At the end of last summer, I was nearly eaten alive by bees. Yellow Jackets. Well, that might be the slightest exaggeration. (A necessary one, though, so you can best understand the peril I was potentially facing.) I woke one afternoon from a nap, which was an unusual circumstance in and of itself. (not the fact that I awoke—I generally try to awaken after sleeping—but the fact that I took a nap in the first place. However, since that has no bearing on the present story, it may be forgotten) The strange part was a funky little noise (a bit like crinkling paper) coming from the vicinity of my outer wall, right where the two meet, since my room is on the corner of the house. After coming fully awake and out of my befuddled state, I stuck my ear firmly against said wall, and heard buzzing. That’s right. BUZZING. Buzzing and hundreds of crawling little feet, the memory of which still causes shivers to run down my spine. Giving a preliminary shriek, I jumped away from the wall and looked fearfully around, expecting the drywall or ceiling to come down at any moment, swarming with Angry Bees. Further investigation revealed that They were coming dangerously close to my abode by entering through a tiny hole outside where the roof eaves met. Well might you imagine the horror that assailed me upon ascertaining this. Without further ado, we purchased several cans of unhealthy chemicals that supposedly prove fatal to the little beasts. As it turns out, the most effective way to use the stuff was to shoot them directly. Thankfully, this provided plenty of entertainment for some in our household… At my top level of skill, I was able to shoot them right out of the air, a satisfying accomplishment to say the least.

It was bees then. Now, it’s spiders. I have sometimes wondered if all the spiders in our yard will someday come against me in an act of vengeance for the dozens I have slaughtered. Some strange insect-ish act of justice? Envision this: I am sitting peacefully, enjoying writing on my compter, and occasionally arranging playlists for music. The only light shining into the room is from the computer screen. I glance over, and what do my tired eyes behold? An arachnid leg creeping over the belt on one of my dresses. It was followed by the biggest spider I have ever seen inside. Horrid. Gargantuan. Awful. It was practically Shelob. Spiders do not bring out my courageous moments. In fact, they may put me in the most cowardly light of any situation. If I hear a disturbance out back, or a scratching at my window, my reaction is not to scream or pass out or anything like that. Typically I would probably turn out the lights, arm myself, and investigate. If I get exceedingly nervous, I’ll get someone else to check it out. My reaction to oversized spiders is nothing like this.  While suppressing the urge to shriek and scream bloody murder, I stumble away from it, trying not to startle it. After all, if I do that, it might very well run away to where I couldn’t see it. Or worse, run toward me. If that happens, I do shriek. And jump higher than you would believe possible. As soon as I can reach a door or window, I holler loudly for rescue. Any brother in the vicinity, or papa, will hopefully come to my aid. (although if it’s papa, much less sarcasm accompanies the slaying of the spider.) The last time I saw a large spider in my room before I was about to go to bed, my hands were shaking for half an hour afterward.

This spider, though, was on top of my hanger by the time my heroic father appeared. A first attempt merely frightened him out of sight—and that fact alone nearly sent me into cardiac arrest. (Okay, that might be slightly dramatic. But it definitely did get me to glance around nervously and begin startling at shadows on the wall) Enter: Em, the exterminator extraordinaire. Perhaps that’s an overstatement. For when the little beast reappeared, it was the Papa who came and squashed him with his bare hands. The exterminator extraordinaire made her contribution by bombing the room. Bug bombing, that is. That very night, I slept in the guest room while a magical tiny can killed (what I presume to be dozens) of spiders, insects, and who knows what else. The next day I vaccuumed everything, courtesy of my overreaction. The sense of satisfaction was overwhelming.

Thus ends this insect portion of my adventures.

And if you are brave enough to continue to the rest, let me assure you that there is nothing left to creep you out and cause you to jump at shadows in your peripheral vision.

4 AM is a miserable time to get up. I can’t believe it at the moment, but the other morning that’s what I did. Out of bed at 4, and picked up at 5. The reason for this madness? A strange thing called the REI garage sale. As of this moment, I take back (or rescind, or retract: whichever you prefer) my little stab in one of my previous blogs at people who buy tennishoes there. I’ve done it now. Merrell Gortex hiking shoes, marked originally at $110.00. Got them for $30.00!!!! I think it was worth the aching exhaustion that permeated the rest of my day.

That place (which I had never been in before) maintains a culture of it’s own. Arriving at around 6 put us at the end of the line of tents and sleeping bags. After one member of our brave party busted out a Coleman stove, those of us huddled under blankets and jackets got cocoa and scones. Spoiled? Absolutely. The longer we sat, the more fascinating became the observation of other fearless patrons. One was SO fearless that he wore no shoes, no shampoo, and certainly no qualms about wearing shorts despite the cold. What he WAS wearing included dreadlocks, a tattooed shin, a columbia sportswear shirt, and probably a pocket full of all natural organic granola. Man, I wish I was that cool.. . . . .

I’m always surprised at how outgoing people are in public places. When I see a stranger, in general, I must admit that I am not the friendly “come say hello to me and we will become friends because I am just SO happy to meet new people” sort. I am more the “If you MUST make eye contact, I will give you a slight smile, or a nice nod” kind of girl. And most certainly, I am NOT the “Let’s strike up a conversation outside REI at 6 am” character. However, there are apparently many people like that. Dauntlessly arising at that hour turns me into an anti-social, grimacing, frowning, squinting, frazzle-haired, glassy eyed girl who needs nothing more than a hot drink and a blanket. If I’m among friends, chances are I’m enjoying myself (because there’s no way I would risk getting up at 4 a.m. for the possibility of NOT having fun), and I might be able to hold a barely normal conversation. With them. Not with strangers. Do I object to strangers talking to me? No, not really. Do I moderately enjoy a vague camaraderie with strangers? Sometimes, if I can set my suspicious serial-killer-behind-every-door mentality aside. Will I respond coherently at that hour? Absolutely not. That being the case, when a friendly, if slightly brusque, gentleman began randomly interjecting into conversations (or updating us on his latest text message), the most I could mangle out was a smile, and a “Oh yeah! Mm hmm. Yup! For sure.” I tried hard to make the smile extra friendly to make up for the lack of cognizant speech. We ran into one or two people like this. The others, though, were much more bent on elbowing me out of the way so they could get to their eco-friendly biking waterbottle, their Patagonian socks, instant hot water boilers, Katadyn portable purifiers, Vibrams, Bivy sacks, solar powered chargers, Clif Bars, and of course, their North Face jackets. Yes, I had a woman push me, then turn to ask if I’d seen any on sale North Face jackets. To be honest, I had no clue what I was getting into at the start. Nonetheless, I enjoyed it, and I loved that I got a good deal out of it, and had a good time with friends simultaneously. Triple score!

After REI, Cabelas required a visit. Another amazing place. I believe it was my uncle who first said that “It’s like the zoo, but the animals aren’t moving much!” At REI, there is a large clientele who wants to be one with nature, blend in with it, and enjoy it. At Cabela’s, the clientele are more the sort to be out in nature in camouflage, and shoot anything that moves in the landscape before them. “Rocky, I think I saw something move. Shoot it!”

While I was standing in the gun library at Cabela’s, the differences in clientele were driven home. Envision this: A portly, elderly gentleman standing near me motioned towards a gun and looked to his friend, to say “Huh, yeah, that 1861 Colt Navy revolver? I got one at home.” This was followed by a large, loud sniff, and the noisy chewing of something unidentifiable. A few minutes later, a loud HONK comes through the air. Lo and behold, they were having a duck calling contest there that day. That’s what it was like; a short, vivid cultural experience that I would gladly repeat.

Yes, just a bit different from REI.

There were one or two other things I thought to mention, but the lateness of the hour prevents my brain from remembering them. Hopefully the next post will be an excerpt from someone, so I can even out these strange, poorly narrated adventures, with some good edifying material. Spurgeon, perhaps?

A couple more shots…. (the picture kind, not the coffee kind.)

These aren’t artsy—they’re simply a depiction of the weekend. The fabulous weekend. And none of them are edited, for which I apologize.