Friday, October 21, 2016

Costumes, Canines and Culture

Well it's almost Halloween and here at the Yates Estates, that means one thing: Time to Horrify Opie with Costumes for the Animals.

It is interesting to note that Opie isn't the only one horrified by animal attire. My own mother has been known to label these outfits as "cruelty" and "abuse" but I'm pretty sure she's kidding.  I mean, if you take one look at Princeton P Kitty, you know this cat is having the time of his life:

And  Sassy, ever a team player, cheerfully prances about in a variety of outfits and helps me decide on an appropriate theme.

In fact, she was having so much fun that I almost decided the three fur babies should be the three witches from Macbeth...which would not only have been incredibly cute but also given me a chance to randomly scream quotes from the play, which is entertaining and educational for everyone involved.

Double, double toil and trouble
Fire burn and cauldron bubble.

By the pricking of my thumbs
Something wicked this way comes!

But even though Bubba looked adorable in his witch's hat

He flat out refused to keep it on long enough for a group picture.  Even when I tried to assure him that Halloween was nothing more than a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing, he flung himself around like the over-dramatic dog he is, throwing the hat halfway across the room.

To be fair, Bubba has always claimed that Shakespeare is too bombastic and inaccessible for the average dog.

Opie thought this meant Bubba would spend this Halloween sans costume...until we had the following text exchange:

Me:  Bubba wants to be a tiger for Halloween.

Opie: You're not dressing him up anymore, he hates it..

Me:  I don't know what you're talking about. It's all fun and  games here at home today.

And I added the following picture:

Opie's response was immediate and oddly unenthusiastic: NOOOOOOO!!!!!!

But the thing is, I feel like it's my responsibility to help these animals reach their full artistic potential. So, I quickly sent back I'm not going to squelch Bubba's creativity just because you have some obscure anti-tiger prejudice. Especially when he's really been working on his snarl.

Besides, I continued when he didn't answer for a few minutes, Sassy can't wear the tiger ears.  They look ridiculous on her.

Why does ANYONE have to wear the tiger ears?  Opie demanded.

At which point I knew some stranger had stolen his phone and was just messing with me,  Because anyone who knows me knows that SOMEONE has to wear the tiger ears.

So, in summary, Birnam Wood has come to Dunsinane (man, I miss teaching Shakespeare!), I have the Halloween costumes under control,  and I'm already plotting bigger and better things for family Christmas outfits...stay tuned!

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Pokemon Go - It's Not Just a Game

The thing is, I work in social media.

I work in social media, monitoring children's websites, therefore it is vitally important for me to keep my finger on the pulse of online trends.

This is why I am forced to send my friends inappropriate emojis, 💩, text versions of breasts (•) (•) and inundate them with the latest internet slang (smh at your salt!)

Not because I want to, but because that's my job.

This is also why I was forced, completely against my will, to download Pokemon Go.

"I need to know what it's about," I told Opie. "Kids are talking about it online and I can't figure out if they're talking about the game, trying to plan a real life meet up or what."

"Really?" He asked skeptically. "And that's why you wander around the neighborhood muttering to yourself about Pokestops and Pokeballs and pidgeys? Because it's your job? It has nothing to do with the fact that you're obsessed with a game for nine-year olds?"

"It's my job!" I insisted.

Swayed by the brilliance of my argument and in the spirit of worker solidarity, he downloaded the game too.

And I am sad to report that Opie is currently obsessed with a game for nine year olds.

But we are not like the players who are out there giving everyone else a bad rep. We aren't so engrossed in our phones that we wander into traffic, we haven't Pokemoned our way through a mine field, and if it's raining, we don't wrap our phones in plastic bags and brave the elements just to catch a few more.

Wait, we did do that last one...but only bc we were on the trail of a particularly elusive Pokemon.

So now the question is, which of us is the biggest nerd?  Opie insists that his study of strategy  is not nerd like but merely a sign of how much he's willing to sacrifice his time and energy to help me.

I maintain that my ability to surreptitiously check the app beneath the table or while it's in my purse --reminiscent of texting teenagers everywhere-- shows both creative thinking and manual dexterity.

Hmmmm, on second thought, maybe it's a tie.

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Faith in our Future

Opie and I bought our nephew a refrigerator for his college dorm room.

As I'm not generally in the habit of starting a blog (especially after such a long hiatus!) with such a mundane matter, you have probably inferred that this did not occur without incident.

On the bright side, however, I've had my faith in the younger generation somewhat restored.

Here's what happened:

I went to Target and walked up to the customer service counter. There was a young girl behind the counter and I said "Hi, I'm here to pick up the refrigerator I ordered online."

She took my ID pressed a few buttons, bada bing bada boom, she said the guy would be up with the refrigerator momentarily.

And sure enough a few minutes later this guy in his 50s or so pushed up one of those flatbed dolly things with the refrigerator on it.

He took it off the dolly, set it on the floor and said "Here you go," and turned to walk away.

"Excuse me," I said politely. "But I assumed you'd help me get it out to the car."

"I can't go push a dolly all the way through the parking lot," he said like I was some sort of crazy person.

At this point I gave him my best "look." You know the one, the one that says "The only reason I haven't already killed you is because I'm so afraid of prison."

"I could put it in a cart for you," he offered then.

Like I was going to schlep the refrigerator all the way across the parking lot and throw it in the car in the manner of some freakishly strong mutant.

So I turned back to the young girl behind the customer service counter, smiled, and said "Hi, I'm here to return a refrigerator I bought online."

She glared at the older guy, smiled at me, and said "You can just pull your car around, and we can load it up."

I pulled the car around, turned on the hazards, got out and my feet had barely hit the curb when the older guy said "it's not gonna fit."

Since prison was already on my mind, I stood there a few minutes silently contemplating whether or not I would get actual time for punching him in the throat or if I'd get off with a fine and probation.

Just as I was about to throw caution to the wind and descend upon this idiot in a whirlwind of fists and fury, these two teenage boys walked up. Apparently they work at Target but weren't working that day, they were actually just coming to pick something up for themselves.

"Need help getting that in the car?" They asked.

And in seconds had it off the dolly, in the car, and I was good to go.

If I ever carried cash, I would have given them a tip on the spot. As it was I didn't want to insult them by offering the 32 cents I could scrounge from the bottom of my purse and a stick of gum.

So I thanked them profusely, gave the older guy one final glare and drove home happy to have my faith in the young once again restored.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016


I have long believed that setting goals and careful planning are the keys to success.

Since I can practically hear my family and friends snickering in a disbelieving manner, I should point out that I said I believe this is true, I didn't say I always do it.

However, this idea was firmly in my mind last week as Opie was driving me to the doctor. I was focused, determined and planning toward 1 specific goal:

To get a prescription for antibiotics WITHOUT having to endure the horrible "gag me with a ginormous Q-tip while I try not to puke" test they do to diagnose strep throat.

Opie was oddly unenthusiastic about the entire plan. "This," he predicted darkly, "is going to be like that time I took you to the ER with stomach pains and you started demanding the good drugs and they thought you were some sort of addict."

Like it's my fault the ER employees had no sense of humor.

"This is different," I croaked. "This isn't some sort of medical mystery. I have strep throat. I know it, you know it, the doctor should take our word for it."

Which may sound conceited but the thing is, I read a lot of WebMD.

Plus, I get strep throat with alarming frequency. Which made sense when I taught high school and basically spent my days wading through a foul wonderland of germs. But, strange as it may seem, working at home has been even worse. It's like the isolation has turned me into some ultra-sensitive bubble girl. I'm actually pretty convinced that if someone with strep drives down the street in front of my house, the germ will zero in on me like a throat-seeking missile and attack.

So there was no test necessary: I knew I had strep throat. And step one of the "no ginormous Q-tip" plan was to convey this thought often and with confidence.

"I have strep throat," I told the receptionist when she asked why I was there.

"It's definitely strep," I assured the nurse as she took my blood pressure.

"At first I thought the sore throat was from seasonal allergies," I told the doctor. "But then I realized it's strep."

"She gets strep a lot," Opie said helpfully.

"I'm going to need to check it out." The doctor said, doing that annoying thing where she acts like she knows sooooo much more about medicine than I do just because she's had 2 decades of school and experience.

Seriously, some people are so arrogant.

Anyway, she got out her flashlight and I braced myself for the Q-tip. But then she looked at my throat, "Yah," she said thoughtfully. "That's a lot of pus."

"That's my least favorite word," I told her sweetly.

And, for a moment, I was pretty sure I had just ruined everything, but a miracle occurred.

Instead of thinking I was crazy (like most doctors do) she thought I was funny!

"It's not pus," she said struggling for the right words. "It's fluffy white....white....bunnies!"  

"Cotton candy?" I suggested. "Or clouds?"

"Clouds!" She agreed. "You have fluffy white clouds in your throat."

And then she said, "Let me get you a prescription!" Without a Q-tip in sight!


Though I must say, Opie was oddly unimpressed. "You understand that your throat looked SO BAD that she just gave you TEN DAYS of antibiotics, right? That's not exactly winning."

Which just goes to show you that, although he's a smart guy, Opie doesn't really understand the competitive nature of doctor visits.

So, in summary, I'm the clear champion of the medical tournament, I've been swilling down antibiotics like there's no tomorrow and am on the mend, and Opie is obviously jealous of the way I stay focused on my goals.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Ladybugs - The Aftermath

You know what else happens when you release 500 ladybugs on your yard?

Amazing pictures, that's what! Though I must say, the ladybugs got a little surly about the whole thing.

This one kind of posed.
But this guy tried to hide
And this one is clearly giving me high school girl eye-rolling.

And this one is obviously running away
And I'm fairly sure this one is mooning me.

It's insulting but no one said the road to National Geographic was going to be easy!

Thursday, June 2, 2016

Like A Plague of Locusts

The ladybugs are here!!

How, you might be wondering, are 500 ladybugs transported to the wilds of Oklahoma?

In a surprisingly small package that was shipped overnight and filled with helpful instructions like "release over several days” and “store in the refrigerator until released.” They also suggested that, to keep the ladybugs from immediately flying away, one should spray them with a mixture of white soda and water. Apparently, this temporarily “glues” their wings shut.

Which just seems cruel.

Of course, in retrospect, stuffing 500 ladybugs in a little sack inside a box and shipping them across the country seems a little cruel too but that’s a whole other discussion.

In any case, the instructions also suggested that releasing them at night would help keep them in the yard and that seemed like the best plan, except for one slight problem: Round Three of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

A fact that game up when, just before dusk, I got out the bag o' bugs and shook them enticingly in Opie’s face. “You’re going to help me, aren't you?” I asked.

Opie hemmed and hawed and finally hinted that ladybug disbursement seemed like a 1 person job. 
"The Blues are playing to tonight." He added.

“But I need you! One person has to stick a hand down and separate the lily stalks as close to the ground as possible while the other person dumps the ladybugs out. And," I went on before he could protest, "no, I can't push the lilies with one hand and dump the ladybugs with the other. Because this has been a very snaky spring and what if there's a snake in there and I TOUCH IT? We'd have to move."

And then we started playing this really fun game in which we both just keep repeating the same sentence, stressing a different word each time, like the only reason we can't come to a consensus is poor emphasis.

"The BLUES are playing tonight."

"We'd have to MOVE."

"The Blues are playing TONIGHT."

"We'd HAVE to move."

Eventually, though, we ran out of words and I quickly said "And it's not going to take that long."

I might also have mentioned that the Blues’ playoff performance has been a little frustrating and when Opie starts yelling at the television, our slightly neurotic Bubba decides it's the scariest thing that has ever happened. At which point, he feels the only reasonable course of action is flinging his big old self onto my lap to comfort me.

It, oddly, isn’t at all comforting. But that didn't stop me from speculating about how he would react if I were outside scattering ladybugs and he had to face the peril alone.

Clearly, logic is my strong suit.

In any case, a few minutes later my trusty assistant and I headed out to teach those aphids a little something about messing with the lilies of a crazy woman.

And I learned a little something about how difficult it is to bend 500 ladybugs to your will. I shook them, I poured them, I held the bag of them open and encouraged them to saunter out onto the plants…and some of them did.  But some of them seemed really determined to scamper out of the bag and climb up my sleeve.

“They’re all over me! I can feel them all over me!” I shouted and immediately began flinging myself about in the world famous “I Think I Have A Bug On Me" dance.

Someday, the neighbors are going to film the insane antics in our backyard and I’m either going to become an instant YouTube star or I’m going to be involuntarily committed to a mental institution.

Or both.

It is in these moments that Opie proves himself a true hero. Instead of shouting things like "All I want to do is watch the stupid hockey game, is that too much to ask?" he muttered calming words, inspected my back and assured me that I was not, in fact, a wriggling tower of bugs

And if you're feeling sorry for him right now, you should think about poor Bubba who was snuggled up on the couch next to me while I started typing the beginning of this blog and a ladybug crawled across the computer screen. 

If you think he gets upset at a man screaming at the hockey game, you should see his reaction when a woman (sure an entire swarm of bugs had somehow hitched a ride into the house) runs upstairs screaming and rips off all her clothes.

It's not pretty for a lot of reasons.

But the long and the short of it is this: ladybugs are brutal! In the next few days, they swarmed those nasty aphids like one of the plagues of Egypt while I ran around encouraging them like a slightly hysterical cheerleader.

I especially loved this guy who ate his way up the stalk of the lily then settled his fat little self down into the bud.
I know you probably shouldn't pick favorites but I did.

In less than a week,  they have eaten their way through thousands of aphids and the garden has been saved so  I can start stuffing the house full of flower arrangements with reckless abandon.

So, to recap in a slightly shorter fashion, the ladybugs are amazing, I feel vindicated about saving the garden and the environment in one fell swoop but the Blues are not in the Stanley Cup finals and we may need years of therapy for Bubba.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Aphid Armageddon

We have aphids.


This is a tragedy and a travesty and an emergency of epic proportions!

Which, again, might seem a little over the top but the thing is I’ve pretty obsessed with my garden.  I spend hours out there with the dogs every day in the spring and summer, fussing over the plants, weeding, mulching, composting, and satisfying my inner need to nurture. In winter months, when gardening is on hiatus, that need manifests itself in insane hours perusing Petfinder and sending Opie emails about getting more dogs.

If we didn’t have the garden, there’s a pretty good chance we would end up about 1 dog away from a really frightening episode of animal hoarders.

I have long suspected that this, more than anything, is the reason Opie got me a green house.

But I digress…

I was talking about aphids.

I discovered them the other day when I went out to the garden and realized that the lilies (which I have planted all around the vegetable garden as companion plants to draw bees and butterflies) were looking a little brown and saggy--unusual for spring. I took a closer look and saw this:

And then I took a closer look and saw this:

 And then, driven by some sick sense of horrid fascination, I got even closer and saw this:

Disgusting, right? I’m not too proud to say I jumped back and shrieked like the aphids were going to fling themselves off the lilies and attach themselves to my helpless body, sucking the lifeblood from me like evil insect vampires.

At this point, Sassy and Bubba came running over to see what all the ruckus was about and, of course, to add to the ruckus by jumping and barking at the top of their ridiculous lungs.  I suggested that they could be more useful if they would grub down and EAT the aphids but they were completely uncooperative.

Seriously, these dogs are so selfish.

In any case, I’m sure there are a ton of different things I could spray to get rid of aphids but I’m kind of a tree-hugging hippie so I immediately began researching the best NATURAL way to get rid of aphids.

A surprising number of sources assured me that all I really needed to do was spray the infected plants with a good burst of water.  The aphids would be knocked senseless, flung from the plants in an epic flood, and peace would be restored.

So I tried that...but the aphids were relatively unimpressed. In fact, I’m pretty sure I saw them laughing and splashing in the spray like it was a day at the beach.


And then I read about ladybugs.  I mean, I already KNEW about ladybugs—they’re little, they’re cute, they’re good luck—and I knew they were good for the garden but I didn’t realize that, to aphids, they are like some horror movie killing machines. A developing ladybug larvae can eat something like 400 aphids and an adult ladybug can eat 5000 aphids in its lifetime.

Doesn't look at all like a horror movie monster, does it?

 “Etymological warfare!" I shouted to the dogs.  "That's what this situation calls for!"

The dogs were, of course, very confused by this pronouncement...possibly because I had said etymological instead of entomological. And they just couldn't see how studying words was going to affect the aphids' enjoyment of the lilies.

"Bugs!" I clarified. "We need bugs to fight bugs!"

It is interesting to note that all the guides I found said that the best way to draw ladybugs to the yard is to provide them a food source (the disgusting aphids) and plenty of pollen producing plants.

Which, based on the infestation level, means that we should have literal clouds of ladybugs hovering around the lilies like one of the plagues of Egypt.

But we don’t.  I mean, we have a few, maybe 10 or 15, but nowhere near enough to get the aphids under control.

"You know, that field by the park always has a lot of ladybugs in it," I told Opie later that night.

"Are you telling me you want to STEAL ladybugs from the park?" He countered.

"I really consider it relocating more than stealing," I assured him. "Besides, we pay taxes and that's a community park so they're community ladybugs. I'm a part of this community so essentially those are MY ladybugs too."

Believe it or not, he was unswayed by this argument.

"I guess you just don't care if the lilies DIE," I said. "And don't think they'll stop there! They're going to trash our tomatoes! Pulverize our peppers! Brutalize our beans!  It’ll be Armageddon!"

Opie's ability to stay calm in the face of drama is one of the cornerstones of our relationship.

"You know you can order them online, right!" he asked. "I just texted my friend Tom and he got a bunch from some place called High Sierra Ladybugs."

Which is way less exciting than a covert ladybug relocation mission. So, the long and the short of it is, 500 ladybugs are being delivered to the house this week and I am already dreaming of a horrible aphid massacre…and if you think releasing 500 ladybugs is going to occur in this house without drama, then you don't know me at all.

Stay tuned.