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.