Welcome to the Misadventures of Widowhood blog!

In January of 2012 my soul mate of 42 years passed away after nearly 12 years of living with severe disabilities due to a stroke. I survived the first year after Don’s death doing what most widows do---trying to make sense of my world turned upside down. The pain and heartache of loss, my dark humor, my sweetest memories and, yes, even my pity parties are well documented in this blog.

Now that I’m a "seasoned widow" the focus of my writing has changed. I’m still a widow looking through that lens but I’m also a woman searching for contentment, friends and a voice in my restless world. Some people say I have a quirky sense of humor that shows up from time to time in this blog. Others say I make some keen observations about life and growing older. I say I just write about whatever passes through my days---the good, bad and the ugly. Comments welcome and encouraged. Let's get a dialogue going! Jean

Saturday, September 5, 2020

Books and my Killing Spree

Some people bungee jump or go sky diving or do other dangerous things to get an adrenaline rush. I kill wasps while being allergic to bees. They’ve taken up residence under my siding near my front door and close to the ground where I can’t spray up under the aluminum to get at them properly. I put on a long sleeve jacket with a high collar, a hat, gloves and safety goggles (mainly to keep from accidentally spraying Raid in my eyes) and I keep Benadryl on the countertop just in case I get stung. I’ve only managed to kill seven wasps and I leave their tiny bodies stacked up where they fell out of the nest hoping it will act as an eviction notice to the others flying in and out above their dead comrades.  So far, it’s not working as a psychological deterrent.

Why didn’t I think of this before but---duh!---I just researched the nasty beasts on the internet and I found a couple things to try before I give up and call an exterminator or end up killing myself via wasp venom. I’ve got to buy a 2 liter bottle to make a homemade bait trap and hang it near-by with something sweet inside like honey, wine or pop. Evidentially this time of the year they are always looking for sugar to bring back to the nest. And if that doesn’t work I can get a can of DW-40 that has a little plastic attachment that can shoot the oil up under the shingles where they go in. Supposedly you do it at night when they’re all back in the nest doing whatever they do in the dark and I hope that’s not making whoopee leading to more flying death machines. I’m starting to hate home-ownership and if anyone had told me I’d get to this point I would have poo-pooed them. I’ve been a homeowner since I was twenty-seven. But this year I’ve finally had enough of dealing with maintenance woes, and that’s in no small part due to the pandemic when we went months without being able to hire help.

Okay, I promised myself I would write a post without mentioning the unmentionables hanging over everyone’s heads---the pandemic, politics and---well, the pandemic and politics. Blah, blah, blah and you all know how to translate that so enough said on those topics. But first let me add that unmentionable number one is keeping me at home and without outside stimulation to think or write about it's making Jean a boring writer, and unmentionable number two is making Jean a grumpy writer. So my advice is to turn off your computer and go outside and read. That’s what I’ve been doing non-stop which, of course, I shouldn’t be doing when I have so many other things lined up on my Downsizing and Moving Job List.

My reading is out of control. I figured that out when I realized that I’ve got three books going all at once and am lusting after a new book by one of my favorite authors that's due out tomorrow. With Book One, Steve King’s The Stand, I’m reading a chapter or two every late afternoon while sitting on the deck. It’s the unabridged addition at 1,436 pages. If I ever finish it, it will be the longest book I’ve ever read knocking The Goldfinch (771 pages) from that claim-to-fame in the life of this suburbanite. The Stand is about a pandemic that wipes out 99% of the world’s population. Yup, I know…you don’t have to say it.

Book Two I’ve been reading at bedtime and it's Jill Biden’s Where the Light Enters. I’ve read every book by every First Lady in modern history and while Jill isn’t a First Lady---yet, fingers crossed---she was and still is officially called a Second Lady of the United States. Being a long-standing college professor of English Composition at least we can be pretty sure she didn’t use a ghost writer. The Third Book I’m reading is what I call a popcorn/smut book. It’s official genre is called a Special Forces/Military Romance which means they're fill with action/adventure and violence mixed with raw and very detailed sex and sometimes I skip those pages if they drone on too long and I want to get back to the plot, which leads me to believe that the guys who claim they only read Playboy for the articles could be telling the truth. (I should have used the past tense in that sentence since Playboy quit publishing in March.)

The book I’m acquiring tomorrow is one by Pippa Grant. She specializes in silly romantic comedies and I say ‘acquire’ because while I’ve read twelve of her books, most of which are all structured around a hockey team, a baseball team and a shared hometown, I got them free on Amazon Unlimited. I enjoy Amazon Unlimited so much it makes me feel guilty, worrying about whether or not the authors get any money out of the deal. Back to Pippa: it fascinates me how an author goes about writing so many books with interrelated characters occupying the same turf. Can you picture the charts with crisscrossed strings on the wall in her writing nest? Talk about contact tracing! Character A in book three has a walk-on part in book five and Character B goes to the same fundraiser as Characters D, F and P in book seven. As much as her process fascinates me, Pippa's books have no literary value other than to distract me with quick, easy and forgettable reads. I’d drink to that if I drank and that circles me back to my War on the Wasps. A popular movie quote says, “If you build it they will come,” so wish me luck that wasps like Ernest & Juli Gallo’s Cabernet Sauvgnon because that's the only wine I have in the house and it's what I'll use as bait in my bottle trap. ©  

42 comments:

  1. Those wasp traps are a great idea. Please be careful! I've lived in apartments most of my adult life and have been lucky. We've been in this one 46 years now...it's not fancy but it's so carefree. I'm too lazy to live in a house that needs maintenance.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I made two traps and put wine in one and banana and apple slices in the other. They haven't been out a full 24 hours yet but none of the wasps have gone down inside. They fly within inches of the top thought. From what I read they like different stuff in different seasons so either that's the problem or the fruit has to ferment more or I don't have the traps in a good location. Ideally they're supposed to be six feet off the ground close by but that's impossible since they all fly in from up my driveway where there is nothing to hang a trap on.

      I will like not being responsible for maintenance, a good trade-off to an noise I might hear.

      Delete
  2. I don't mind bees and I mostly don't mind wasps, but when the paper wasps set up shop in the corners of my patio, they've made the same sort of bad decision yours did. I suppose that from the wasps point of view they made a good decision (protected space, and all that) but their world isn't our world, and I prefer they move on. I do leave some alone, like the cicada killers. They're huge and fearsome, but they're only cruising around looking for cicadas to feed their brood, so I wish them luck and go on. Let us know how the traps work. I've never heard that wasps like sugar, too. That's interesting.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Depends on the season according to what I read, in the spring you bait with rotting meat. Got two traps up yesterday and so far no luck but the fruit might not be fermented enough yet. So I decided not to mess around anymore and I called an exterminator before the wasps get the mail lady, the dog, me or the guy who will be trimming my shrubs soon. The exterminator is coming out next Friday the 11th. I can't get in and out of the house without walking in the path of very busy wasps.

      Delete
  3. The Stand is my favorite Stephen King book of all time! I had just started reading it again, mainly for something to read, when the pandemic was just starting. I decided that March wasn't the time to be reading it! I hope your wasp traps work. I've got some that were purchased at Lowe's a few years ago, but didn't hang. Maybe next year!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I made the mistake of getting the paperback edition, never looked at how many pages it was. It's 2 1/2 inches thick for the unabridged edition! All I was thinking about is how everyone says it's his best book and I might want to do some underlining in it.

      Delete
  4. I love Stephen King's The Stand. I've read it several times. For me, the best part is Part One. I stop feeling as involved once the story becomes more Good Vs Evil and supernatural. But, it's Stephen King, so...!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. For some reason I didn't know this book goes to the supernatural. Darn! I thought it was more like 'Misery' creepy but within the realm of possibility. Oh well, now I know I'll probably be reading this book for the rest of my life. LOL

      Delete
  5. Wasps and carpenter bees were always a challenge at our house. We did Hardie plank (cement) siding and that solved the carpenter bee issues, but the wasps were an ongoing dance. We sprayed them annually, but if they're under your siding, you were smart to call someone. My brother (2 miles from us) heard buzzing in one of their upstairs bedrooms one year and it turned out to be a huge nest inside the wall. So nothing to fool around with.

    My stepson asked me if I missed our previous house the other day, and I had to say I don't. The maintenance was just getting to be too much. I predict you will LOVE having someone else take it on. :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The wasps only moved in two weeks ago and it will be another week before the exterminator comes out so I'm hoping they haven't had a chance to get a huge colony started like your brother had. They'll spray twice this fall for $189 and tried to talk me into a yearly plan that costs $30 a month but I'm taking my chances I won't need them next spring. Guy told me the dead bodies inside give out a scent that will draw more wasps in the spring. But near spring I plan to shoot the DW-40 up there which smells bad and makes any wasp that gets into it oily enough it dies. Ticked me off how much pressure he used to try to sell me a yearly plan. Time will tell if I am sorry I didn't take it.

      I will love not having to do an maintenance. It's been 20 years of me being solely responsible because my husband couldn't do anything after his stroke in 2000.

      Delete
  6. Sure hope you can solve the wasp problem what with your allergies. Scary. I know they like sugar for they haunt my hummingbird feeders.
    Steven King usually gives you your money's worth with his long books. Haven't read the Stand yet. Let us know how you like it.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I have an exterminator coming on Friday. The traps don't seem to be working and I decided it's too big of a game for me, the dog and the mail lady.

      I may be reading The Stand for years. LOL

      Delete
  7. Well, I was going to say it, "The Stand"... right now?! *LMAO* Lord GF perhaps that's not the wisest choice unless realistic Nightmares will pass for some entertainment? *Smiles* I don't like complex books, or reading really, so most of my Library has fabulous Pictures in place of Words. *LOL* I used to Love Agatha Christie as a Kid tho' and got The Son's Name out of one of her Books, Liam. As for Wasps, our Pool attracts them, or perhaps it's the Murder Hornets, I am not sure I can tell a Wasp from a Hornet? I too am allergic to stings so the little flying Death Machines concern me. Here in Arizona we also have mostly all Killer Bees of the cranky violently reactive African variety so if a Bee Hive sets up too near populated areas, they have to kill or remove them for Safety reasons. Every year some people Die from being attacked by these aggressive little Beasts that damned Scientists in South American had to hybrid into Mutated Monster Bees in the greedy quest for better Honey production! Human Beings messing with Nature always pisses me off, we cock it up every single time... assuming we know better than the Creator how it all should Work!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Those killer hornets mutated monster are supposed to be bigger than ordinary hornets but, thankfully, they haven't traveled this far north. Ticks me off, too, that they were engineered by man.

      The end of the world books kind of comfort me in a weird way right now because the characters go through so much more than we are facing and they still want to survive. Books don't give me nightmares but images have been known to.

      Delete
  8. Had to just add that now I'm envisioning Drunken Wasps flying around your Home! LMAO

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. If only they would drink my wine, I'd be so happy but they are ignoring it.

      Delete
    2. Perhaps they are very Bourgeoisie Wasps? *Smiles*

      Delete
    3. Me: Bummed out that I opened the only bottle of wine I had, the one I keep on hand in case company comes over.

      Delete
  9. I had to take my hummingbird feeder down because it was attracting so many wasps and bees and they were chasing the hummingbirds away. I don't see so many wasps and bees now but there is one sweet hummingbird that comes to drink out of my hanging plant. Makes me smile!

    ReplyDelete
  10. At one point I lived in a city where a group of citizens objected to the library's Playboy subscription. They lost; the Board upheld the subscription. One of the arguments was that the magazine's articles were indexed in all of the official periodical indexes.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Interesting! I had some 1970s Playboys sealed in their original plastic, never opened and the local auction house wouldn't allow them to be in their auction because, they said, they would get too many complains. Ended up selling them on eBay. They wouldn't even allow Playboy beer mugs with a their classic bunny head logo on the front.

      Delete
  11. I hate stinging or biting bugs with a passion!! Kate and Jesse have figured out the bee and wasp cycle. They put out a "sex" scent at mating time, then a food bag with simple syrup. This year we have discovered so many different kinds of bees, some are very beneficial. So the killing bags are just out during the bad bee season.

    I do like the no maintenance part of condo living!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I guess there is quite the science for behind what you use to bait in which season to get what flying insect. From what I've read honey bees don't like the smell of vinegar so you can add that to wasp traps to keep the honey bees safe. I'm not using the right bait, I don't think.

      Delete
  12. Your wasp trap should work great, Jean...if wasps are anything like fruit flies. They luuuurve the wine leftovers in my glass, to their death. Which I assume is a happy, sleepy and relatively painless one 😁.
    Hilarious post, thanks!

    Deb

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Maybe I just such have put out a glass of wine instead of a trap with a sign about a free happy hour.

      Delete
  13. Youknow what big old heavy books are good for, bashing the stuffing out of insects..............just saying

    ReplyDelete
  14. I am such a bookworm that I change my hold list activation list at the library at least once a week...moving books I want to read sooner or later based on when I think I might be done with two or three others somewhere in mid-read.

    Today was especially active..I changed the pickup date on three books already on the hold list and added two from my murder mystery list. I live in absolute fear of being without at least two books sitting on the coffee table at all times.

    Oh, and I quickly read The One and Only Ivan over a two day period because my granddaughter asked me to, and i want to read the book before watching the move on Disney +.

    It is an obsession, but a good one!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Such a great grandfather you are. I know what you mean about being in fear of not having any books to read. I panic if I forget to bring a book with me where ever I go, that I keep a couple of emergency books in the car just in case I need one for a waiting room.

      Delete
  15. Mine look like Wasps, but they are Yellow Jackets and their sting is awful!!! I got some Hornet and Wasp spray--the kind that shots like 15 feet, so I stand back and aim where they hide, behind my shutters, and cut loose with the flame thrower--well it doesn't throw flames, but the thick wipe foam. They drop dead onto the ground. Always makes me smile.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm beginning to think I've misidentified yellow jackets as wasp. I've had traps out for 3 days now without a single insect going inside so I've obviously got the wrong bait for what I have living in my shingles. The ones I've killed I did it the same way you are. But I finally decided to quit agitating them since the exterminator will be here next week. One sting from a yellow jacket and I'd be dead in 7 minutes.

      Delete
  16. I got stung last year and went out and bought wasp traps from Ace Hardware or somewhere. I never thought to make my own, but the ones I bought worked great! No wasps this year, so I think they learned their lesson.

    I started reading the Stand once....never finished it. I don't think I could read it now. My neighbor told me he and his wife watch Contagion the other night. I guess I'm not looking for more pandemic fear! LOL

    Who author's your popcorn/smut books? I keep reading political stuff, which is about as bad as reading pandemic tomes. :(

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I've graduated from Susan Stoker to Anna Blakely and Riley Edwards for military romances but my favorite popcorn books currently are Pippa Grants romantic comedies---any of her hockey or baseball players or former boy band books. Earlier titles written under another name and republished aren't as good/fun. Try America's Geek Heart to sample her style/humor. It's free on Amazon. It's two in a series but all her books are standalone. Rockaway Bride is fun too---both from her former Boy Band series. These are not like the romance books are mothers read. Fair warning.

      Delete
  17. You murderer on a grand scale. Or maybe attempted murderer. Wasps are a nuisance, I know they are meant to perform a useful service but I am quite scared of them and always shoo them out at the very least. Wasps nests are a menace, maybe you had better get the exterminator.

    Like you I am absolutely obsessed with reading at the moment. When I’m not gardening I’m reading. Haven’t horizons shrunk? I don’t think there’s anything wrong in having 2 or 3 books on the go at any one time, after all, we may change our mind half way through and fancy a different style for a bit.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Exterminator is coming next week. If the wasps were not right in the path where I have to walk daily to get my mail and take the dog outside and if I wasn't allergic I would have let nature do it's thing but just can't. Not sure if the pandemic will stop trick-or-treating this year but if the kids come I don't want to chance them getting stung.

      I've never been one to have several books going at once but I can see the advantages of doing so when one of the books is as heavy-themed as The Stand.

      Delete
  18. Be careful with those wasps -- especially knowing your allergy. I know -- I don't have to tell you. But I will. I just read a boatload of tweets about Michael Cohen's new book. Hell hath no fury like a Cooley Law School graduate scorned! It's not just meaty -- it's raw and bloody. Well, it will give DT something new to talk about instead of Joe. I just finished a book on mudlarking and another Donna Leon mystery and nearly done with a courtroom mystery set post WWII England. I have Edward Rutherfurd's New York, weighing in at 1000 pages, plus, and trying to decide if I want to go for a deep historical stretching novel or another Leon... decisions!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Exterminator has been called.

      He went to Cooley Law School? Interesting and you know why I say that or you wouldn't have brought it up. LOL So far I've passed on all the kiss-and-tell books but I don't think I will pass on Cohen's. I usually don't read books more than 500 pages so the King book is a huge undertaking for me.

      Delete
  19. We had yellow hornets a few years ago. I couldn't believe the tiny hole they were going in the side of house near door. We had a bug man get rid of them finally. Hope you are able to get rid of yours and don't get stung first.

    ReplyDelete
  20. I think getting lost in a book in a good think and sitting outside is a good thing and relaxing your body and mind from all the organizing for the sale/move is a good thing. So basically, you're doing good and don't let the devil over your shoulder tell you otherwise.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I wish I could shake the guilt of reading too much. I comes, I think, because I'm using it to avoid doing things I don't want to do, decisions I don't want to make. I can't wait until that's all behind me and I can use all my time to play guilt free.

      Delete