Making my way through Asia (and grad school) one adventurous step at a time.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Adventures in Ants In My Pants...

When I was a little girl, I wanted to be a thesaurus when I grew up. That dream never came to pass, but today I did get to be an idiom for a little while instead.

The day began like many others. The morning sun peeked through the lingering night-time rain clouds, the birds began choir practice in my trees, a gentle breeze lifted my curtains and brought the scent of mangoes across my typing desk, the cat puked up a wad of half-chewed bamboo leaves on my front stoop... Yes, a day like many others.

I didn't rush to clean up the cat's mess. I was still in my PJs, and enjoying my coffee. The cat had wandered off to new adventures; besides, the mess was outside and organic. It could wait.

Eventually, I went out to grab the hose, figuring I might as well wash the whole porch while I was at it. However, instead of a dusty porch and a sad little pile of mushy green bamboo-barf, I saw an over-excited swarm of giant red ants. Apparently, in some ant dialects, "cat vomit" and "buffet" are synonyms. The cat had produced a puddle about 2 inches in diameter, which in less than 20 minutes had become the epicenter of a swarm of ants almost 2 feet across.

These aren't your everyday "Let's ruin your picnic" ants. These are the ants that audition for roles in Indiana Jones or National Geographic movies. These are the very ants that got angry with me last winter for trimming their branch bridge - and then tried to re-build it themselves with nothing but sheer determination and acrobatic acumen!

"Bridge? We don't need no stinkin' bridge."

I'm happy to say, I've never seen these ants inside my house, but I still wasn't thrilled about having them turn my porch into an insect party-palace. So, I turned the hose on, and washed them all back onto the lawn. I don't think any of them were even injured. Sometime in September, aging ants will be telling their grandchildren about how they survived the Great Hosedown of May 30th.

As anyone in a flood would do, some of the ants headed for higher ground. Some of them headed up the hose and onto my arm. Some of them headed up the broom and onto my arm. Some of them took advantage of my distracted arm-slapping and headed up my legs. The leg-climbers were sneaky though. They kept a low profile until the deck was washed, and I was back at my computer. You know how after one bug crawls on you, you imagine all sorts of bugs crawling on you? But then you tell yourself, "Don't be silly. It's just a loose thread, hair, crumb or popcorn kernel"? That's what I was telling myself as I felt little tickles and itches on my legs - until eventually I realized that loose threads, hairs, crumbs and popcorn kernels don't continue to crawl after you've scratched them.

I won't tell you what happened next, because who knows what ads Google will come up with next to this post if I describe the hasty removal of my attire, or the frenetic dance that accompanied it. In the end, there were really only a couple of ants in my pants...but they were enough to have me twitchily slapping myself for the rest of the day when any loose thread, hair or popcorn kernel accosted me.

All in all, given the choice between pursuing my dream of being a thesaurus, or settling for living the idiomatic dream, I'm gonna keep reaching for those stars/celestial orbs/celebrities/luminaries/headliners.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Adventures in Learning...

I like learning new things. When I learn something new, it's like a little drop of water sprinkles itself on a formerly dry part of my brain. In the spirit of learning something new today, (and having something to write about tonight), I googled "famous quotes about learning new things." Unfortunately, I had to stop reading when I got to the following Persian proverb, and realized I was in trouble: One pound of learning requires ten pounds of common sense to apply it. I can assure you that my extra 10 pounds have not been applied to my common sense.

The problem is, I don't usually keep track of things I learn from day to day. Never mind applying the things I've learned, I'm hard pressed to even remember them by the time I'm finished lunch. To give myself a helping hand, I decided to write down the things I learned this week...

1. Spiders are not reliable body guards.

I have a rather large daddy longlegs spider on my bedroom ceiling.  In Canada, I would have vanquished him ages ago. In my little Thai cottage, I don't mind him. I know where he lives, so I can keep an eye on him. He chills out up on the ceiling, and eats all kinds of weird and wonderful things that I'd rather land in his web than on my head. So, we're cool. I kind of see him as my buggy little bodyguard superhero. However, this past week, he fought 3 consecutive battles with a large, villainous Winged Thing, and lost every time. The Winged Thing would escape, plummet, recover, and head right back into the web. My 8-legged superhero would pounce, and start wrapping up the delectable treat, only to have the thing escape, plummet, recover... On the 3rd escape of the Winged Thing, it flew straight at my head. I ran and hid in the living room, my bodyguard went to bed without supper, and the Winged Thing lived to fly another day.

2. There are some really bad reasons to consider matrimony.
Many of my friends have gotten married, and I'm sure they must have had good reasons for doing so. (Perhaps to have someone more reliable than a spider around to vanquish Winged Things?) As I was driving along this week, even I thought to myself, "Hmmm, maybe I should get married... ... someone else can drive, while I sit on the back of the bike and take pictures of weird things on trucks." I saw so many crazy things on trucks this week, that if I could have taken pictures of them, I would have started a new blog called Stuff on Trucks that I could neglect as conscientiously as I neglect this one! Wouldn't you be excited to see pictures of a regular pick-up truck with 21 fridges and 3 washing machines stacked and strapped on the back? Or a truck bed full of pineapples, piled 3x as high as the truck itself? Or a motorcycle tied down in the flatbed, with a person sitting on the bike wearing a helmet? Wouldn't that be awesome!!?? Well, it's not going to happen, because it's a lousy reason to get married.

3. Aliens smell bad.
I didn't actually learn this for real and for certain, but I did make an educated guess. You see, one of the nice things about being illiterate in your country of residence, is that you rely 100% on packaging to sway your decisions. "These cookies have a picture of a squid and some pickles on the package? Put 'em back." or "I think this picture means you need to give it lots of water, and only feed it after midnight..." So, when picking out laundry detergent from a row of brightly coloured mystery packages, I naturally opted for the one with a large UFO hovering in a pink sky, with a sparkling white shirt in it's tractor beam. How could I go wrong? Just like misreading Gremlin instructions, things can go very wrong indeed. The detergent smells awful. Rest assured, dear friends, if I small bad for the next month, it's because I'm wearing clean clothes, washed in detergent recommended by aliens.

Veteran journalist Bill Moyers says, "When I learn something new - and it happens every day - I feel a little more at home in this universe, a little more comfortable in the nest." After re-reading my list, I think Bill Moyers and I must be learning very different things.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Adventures in Rainy Season

4 Reasons Why Rainy Season Makes Me Feel Like a Kindergartener Again:

1 - Some puddles are just too big to go around, I just have to roll up the pant legs and splash on through.
2 - All outdoor fun might be cancelled because it's wet outside, but school never is.
3 - Cookies and milk taste better when eaten in a cozy house while listening to the sound of pouring rain.
4 - I have to carry a change of dry clothes in my backpack...just in case my pants get wet (for a different reason of course, but it's still uncomfortable to be stuck in soggy drawers all day!)

Saturday, May 05, 2012

Adventures in Regrets...

I've been thinking about regrets this week.  Not big life-changing things. Not even smaller live 'n' learn things.  I'm talking about "Oooooh, drat. I knew better than that" things. On most days, if you asked me if I have any regrets in life, I'd say  'no'... I'd also probably be lying, since I might regret having posted this photo online, and telling you how it came to pass. 

I'm sure I won't regret this...

But, for the most part, I've (eventually) learned from my mistakes, and am pretty regret free...or at least I was until this week.  This week, I found myself adding 2 new regrets to my list.  Two regrets in one week?  How could that be?

#2 - Burpees.

At some point in the distant past, I agreed to join the 100-day burpee challenge.  That's 1 burpee on the 1st day, 2 burpees on the 2nd day, etc. until the 100th miserable day.  On day 8, as I waddled, jumped and flopped through my 8th burpee, and my indolent body was still complaining about the previous 7, burpees had made it onto my regret list.  However, since my sister's also doing the challenge, it gives us a reason to send each other messages every day.  Since I like my sister, and since burpees are good for me, and since #1 on the list is way worse, burpees will eventually be relieved of their regretful status.

#1 -Bugs.

I check everything  for bugs here.  I shake out my shoes before I put my feet in them, I peek in the kettle every morning before I plug it in, I check my helmet every time I put it on...but I didn't check my mango bag. A few weeks ago, I wrapped some of the mangoes on my tree in little paper bags, to keep the bugs, birds and squirrels off them as they ripened.  On Monday, I picked a bagged mango and brought it inside. When I opened the bag, I was left standing with a beautiful mango in one hand, an empty bag in the other ... and 2 dozen little baby cockroaches scattering across my counter.  Since then, I've been finding a disturbing number of adolescent cockroaches partying it up in my pantry.   

That is the kind of regret I'm talking about this week!