Archive for February 13th, 2017

Gansta Wasps, Undead Squirrels, and Immortal Fleas

amywink February 13th, 2017

I originally wrote this piece as part of an email to my dear friend Stacey, who died last summer. While she was dealing with her cancer, one of the most important things I could do was make her laugh. More than once I virtually sat with her, on the stoop of her home in the dangerous neighborhood of her mind, writing to walk her out of danger, to be a light before the dark overcame her.

She laughed and laughed at this piece and wanted me to read it at The Moth but I gently reminded her that meant standing up in public and I am an introverted writer who lets her words go public but likes to sit at home while they gad about. Mom didn’t live long enough to find this funny but I think she would have eventually. I do miss making both of them laugh.

Now I am posting this in honor of Galentine’s Day.

Gangsta Wasps, Undead Squirrels, and Immortal Fleas

Dear Stacey:

So this is the title of my morning thus far, but the prelude could be titled, Night of the Twitching Insomniac (feel free to read to Todd…and whoever else needs entertaining).

I slept very, very, very little last night. I went to bed at the normal time and was sleepy but could not get comfortable (too much caffeine after 2pm??). Calliope kept bugging Lily, Lily kept scratching, I kept worrying about all the things I had to do. . . wasps, squirrels, fleas. . . .twitch, twitch, twitch. I would sleep a little, then BING be wide awake. . .twitch, twitch, twitch.

I was awake sometime in the wee hours before the power went out, making the carbon monoxide alarm beep VERY LOUDLY. . . at 4am. . .and I had to get up and see if it was us that blew a breaker. . .or the entire neighborhood. . .which it turned out to be because the street light was pitch black.

Luckily, it didn’t last long and the power came back on in a few minutes, making the carbon monoxide alarm beep again…but then Mom burst out of her room saying she couldn’t get the tv to come back on. . .because it was rebooting and did just as that question left her mouth. I looked at my iPad before actually going back to sleep and I was SOUND asleep. . .when Mom opened her door around 6 to loudly take Sunshine outside and to begin giving me instructions . . . as I was stumbling towards coffee. So….as if that was foreshadowing, let me begin:

The Tale of with the Gansta Wasp

As you know, we have had several wasp nests (yellow jackets…the hard core biker gang of insects) built right outside the backdoor, in the corner of the eve, one far back, one a little further out, and one forming on the gutter. Last week, I bought some new wasp spray at the grocery store to begin the assault on them. I was totally environmental with my first choice of Ecosmart Wasp Killer made of Peppermint Oil and some kind of
Peanut-derived Death Agent but, of course, I backed it up with some kind of chemical Wasp Terminator Spray with all kinds of dangerous environmental warnings. . . .because. . .well. . . wasps.


I sprayed the nest that had begun construction without permits on the gutter in the corner…mostly the workers were just milling about anyway by the first little cup of nest and it did kill them. . . but not fast enough for my tastes. . . I want Instant Death with NO Loitering. Some flew off, some dropped and crawled around. . . and the porch smelled weirdly of peppermint and something not unlike burnt peanuts. It was also coated in oily residue and so were Lily’s feet when she returned from inside after I used the leaf blower to remove the bodies–safely from inside the door with only the nozzle end sticking out.


And started squatting in the same location….and also crowding into the 2nd
nearest nest… I sprayed that one too…..and made everyone smell
Pepperminty Fresh!!

And still they returned!!!!!!! So, I got the Black Flag Wasp and Hornet Certain Death Spray that was my back up. And in one spray….THE CAN WAS NEARLY EMPTY!!!!!!!! AND NOT ALL THE WASPS WERE DEAD!!!

But clearly, I had pumped that nest full of unsavory odors so they did abandon it….and started hanging out near the largest next in the very corner of the roof joists that I could barely see….but for the crowd of wasps hanging out…..with their leather jackets and hand-rolled cigs dangling from their mouths spoiling for a fight. . .

And me without any wasp spray of consequence. . . .

So, this week, I went to Lowe’s and bought Commercial Strength Spectracide Fires of Mordor Spray (2 cans!!!!!) but I hadn’t had the opportunity to spray them yet. Yesterday, they seemed pretty brazen and were dropping down low off the nest when I let Lily out, so it began to really worry me because wasps don’t die when they sting, they just keep stinging. Clearly they were
all hopped up on Peppermint Oil, Peanut Derivative, and Black Flag Nietzsche Spray (What does not kill us makes us stronger).

Now, add in the Dead Squirrel or rather the Undead Squirrel that had to be removed from the back yard before we let the dogs back out.

So all last night, twitch, twitch, twitch…must kill wasps to get to dead squirrel……twitch, twitch, twitch. Must kill wasps to get to dead
squirrel…..Then power outage……BEEEEEEPPPP…..twitch, twitch, twitch.

As coffee was brewing, I got the new Spectracide spray ready after taking Lily out front on a leash and after Mom took Sunshine out under the evil eye of the Gansta Wasps.

And I cracked open the back door……and set to spraying…….then slammed the door as THEY FLEW OFF THE NEST AND STARTED SWARMING THE DOOR AND STINGING THE GLASS…….


So I went to the garage back door, further away, and sprayed from there, getting more of the lingering wasps. And I sprayed more times to make sure the nest was saturated…about 4 times…….until no one seemed to be returning with any kind of vigor……

And I sat down to have a cup of coffee. . . .


“Must kill wasps to get to dead squirrel……….must kill wasps to get to
dead squirrel….” is not at all the Loving Kindness meditation I usually repeat but I had to steal myself for the next battle somehow.

Part 2: The Undead Squirrel, or Squirrel Interrupted….

While the wasps were dying, I decided I needed to shower to face the rest of the morning chores–plus I was kind of sweaty and itchy–and THEN I would be ready to face the Dead Squirrel Removal. . . .which Mom kept worrying about. . .and reminding me of. . . and bugging me about. . . and ya know, that squirrel is not going to get any deader….but the wasps might actually really hurt!!

I emerged from the shower less itchy (and dressed my flea bites with benadryl). I had flipped Lily over for flea inspection and sure enough. . .she had fleas. . . only 5 days after Advantage II application. . . .they did not appear diminished in capacity so I must find a way to spray the backyard.

But I digress, back to the Dead Squirrel Removal:

Mom said The Body was at the base of the mountain laurel tree and I looked out the windows of her room to try and see The Body.


She kept saying “It’s on the other side of the trunk….well, really, more like between the trunks…..I think you can see the little legs……”

I see nothing.


Nothing but leaf litter and limestone rocks. . .grey limestone rocks. . . (that’s foreshadowing). But she says she saw it yesterday and the dogs sniffed it and so I just assume there’s a squirrel body that I don’t see in the leaf litter and rocks. My vision is kind of limited in dim light anyway.

Since the Wasps have been defeated, I can start the process of. . .clearing a path to the Dead Squirrel. I have to load up the weed-whacker and whack my way through the weeds to make a path. . . .also looking for auxiliary wasp nests along the way. And I finally get there after some time whacking two different paths. . . one of which was not going to work because of the amazing growth of the rosemary plant but the burrs are really bad and my cotton pants are getting covered and I don’t have any of the Carcass Removal
items (shovel) yet.

Mom is watching from the window and giving useless and annoying commands about where I need to get too that mostly the sound of the weed-whacker covers except when it doesn’t.

So I finally get around to the back of her bedroom, near the base of the mountain laurel tree, and she keeps saying “it’s right over there. It’s right over there”….I’m loooking and loooooooooking and loooooooooooooooking and she keeps saying “it’s right there, see, right there!!!!!”

And I see nothing.

Nothing that looks like a dead squirrel.


Maybe. The grey limestone rock at the base of the mountain laurel tree.

Which I poke with the weed-whacker and say “This?? Is this what you see?”

“YES, that’s it!! That’s the dead squirrel.”

Except…it isn’t.

It’s a rock.

A grey rock.

A grey limestone rock. . .

Which I guess *technically* is a dead something. . .dead sediment. . . from
ages past. . . but not a dead squirrel, though also, it was a curved dead squirrel shape.

Sort of.

So, because I say “It’s a rock”, she says “no, it was a squirrel!! The dogs sniffed a squirrel!! I saw its little head!!”

And I say, “well, maybe someone came and got the body in the night. . .like a cat or a raccoon. . . .but what’s here now is a rock, not a squirrel.”

. . . .A rock. . .must kill wasps to get to. . . a rock. The battle won, the crisis over, I shoulder my weed-whacker and return inside, leaving the Undead Squirrel to walk the night alone.

But at least the wasps are diminished, I have weed-whacked some of the weeds. I can start cutting up the fallen tree branches, hopefully spray the yard with some kind of flea killing spray later in the week. . .and I can tease my mother with the best line ever: “I see dead squirrels.”

And when I eventually did, it was delicious.