Thursday, May 24, 2007

Country Living

Living in the country requires a certain acceptance of things:

  • It will take you longer to go places, because the drive is now 45 minutes instead of a quick 5 mile run.

  • It is wise to stock up on pantry items in case you get snowed in, because country roads are the last to be plowed.

  • Making friends will be harder because 1, they are harder to find and 2, you have a limited selection.

  • Bugs, bugs, bugs!

This last one is something I am not too crazy about. In this, I am afraid I have the mentality of a city girl and I hate bugs! I can handle the gnats (they are ferocious up here and fly about your head bonking you over and over until you give up and go in the house) and the flies. I can even handle the daddy-long-legs (literally, I have to pick them up by the legs to rescue screaming girlies), and the occasional beetle (john, paul, ringo and george they're not!). But the 2 bugs I despise the most, are spiders and ticks! As long as the spiders are outside, we are not going to have a problem. I like to watch them spin their webs and have even watched them catch prey and then proceed to suck them dry (c'mere girlies-- look!). But if there is a trespassing spider in my house-- it dies! No questions asked, no interrogations under bright lights-- It. Is. Dead.

Ticks. I can't express enough how much I hate ticks. They attach themselves to the cats we have outside where no amount of tick repellent seems to work. I'll be petting the cats and feel a bump and my fingers automatically go back to that bump, trying to figure out what it is. A scab? A piece of twig? A tick!!! My hand recoils in horror and I am wiping my hand on my pants trying to erase all trace of touching a tick! **shudder!!** I'll call Hubby and tell him there is a tick on the cat and he'll tell me to go get the tweezers. "You do it!" I'll tell him. "No! You do it!" He'll tell me. I have discovered that when it comes to ticks, Hubby is a yellow-bellied chicken! So now I've got to sit the cat down, clear away the fur, hold the cat with one hand and with my other, tweeze the tick off. But Hubby is perfectly willing to take said tick (wrapped in a tissue and held by forefinger and thumb) and burn it! (What is it about men and fire??)

We were outside playing yesterday, after dinner, having a grand old time in perfect Spring weather, not too hot, not too cold. We looked for worms in the dirt, searched for Mr. Toad, looked at azaleas in the front yard, while I inspected the flowers on my raspberry bushes. I saw a tick climbing baby girl's shirt and swooped down like an assassin and promptly pulled it off her shirt and smashed it to oblivion between 2 rocks. I immediately went into strip search mode and marched all the girls into the bath and inspected every nook and cranny for enemy infiltration. None were found, mission accomplished.

At lunch today, while eating pizza and chattering away, middle girlie brushed her hair away from her face and I caught a glimpse of something dark-- A speck of dirt? A bit of mushroom from the pizza? A dab of pizza sauce? *GASP* A tick!!! I grabbed her and rushed into the bathroom and of course I scared middle girlie into tears and she ducked her head and tried to fight me off. I had to tell her there was a bug on her ear (Bug? BUG! AHHHH BUG!!! she starts to scream and bat her ears trying to get the bug off her) and mommy needed her to sit still so I could get it off. And then, of course, she sees an evil, shiny metal pincher coming at her and she falls all to pieces again. I finally grab that tick and pull and it has only just attached itself to the inside of her ear and was easy to pull off. I washed her ear with alcohol and praised her bravery and told her if she got a little zippy bag, we could put the tick in the freezer (in case any symptoms of Lyme disease show up and we can test the tick) and turn it into bug ice.

I don't know where that tick came from. Did we bring it in on our clothes last night and it fell off, wandering the house, looking for a victim? Did it sneak in on the cat, the one that escaped to freedom and came back in, tail tucked under, a prisoner captured and returning to finish his sentence? Or is there a crack in my house and it followed a spider? I'll have to be more vigilant with my strip searches now; check the beds, wash the clothes as soon as I have enough for a load, get Hubby to strip search me (of which he will gladly do!). Lyme disease is a very serious illness and it's amazing a little bug like that can cause such harm to people and other animals.

The girls have no interest in going outside, even though it is another beautiful day. I know the tick is still on their minds and they run to the freezer every now and then to inspect his frozen carcass. I took out the medical book and showed them a picture of a tick, and they compared pictures with our frozen tick. I explained what a tick does and where they come from and to call me if they see a tick anywhere. I think tomorrow, I shall ask them if they want to play at the park, where there are slides and swings and a rocky creek to play in. That should get their minds off ticks for awhile.

I DO love the country, even if I have to put up with the bugs.


The Good Woman said...

Can't say i like ticks either. The Good Man has had Tick Bite Fever twice and billary is a constant concern for African pets.

But my worst bug in Africa is the Putse fly which lays its eggs in mangoes and any other damp surface it can find including damp towels or clothes. The larvae can get onto your skin from these surfaces and burrows in. You then get to squeeze it out - much like popping a giant pimple, except that (and this is the really, really disgusting part) it's still alive!!!

And to think I still want to get back to Africa...

Dennis said...

Ticks are particularly nasty buggers, but I think fleas are worse. They come in a spread everywhere. A nightmare to be rid of.

lady macleod said...

The ticks are indeed frightening. Q's grandparents live in MA and I am always after her to check herself when we are there. I went to a lecture on Lyme's disease and it scared me quite to death.

I think you need to go online, there is a site most likely more than one, with a blown up photograph of the wicked tick that causes the disease. Then compare your frozen corpse. If you get her on antibiotics in the first 48 (I think) hours there are no lasting symptoms. I am sure you have done all this already but you know me, I feel obliged to say it:-) I am telling you that lecture left a lasting impression!

Drunk Mummy said...

All those bugs make it sound like the Amazon rainforest!
I think you need to up your intake of gin and tonic, so that the quinine will help to prevent you catching malaria!

sufferingsummer said...

Spiders and me, we have a very volatile relationship. I can't even look at them outside, I can't look at them period. But this post made me realize that as much as I hate spiders (i just got chills even typing the word) ticks sound even worse.
I don't love living in the city but I'm thankful for that one tiny little aspect that we get to avoid for the most part.
good luck, and i commend you on being such a patient calm mama in the face of such annoyance.

jenny said...

G.W.-- I have heard of the Putse fly. We are big fans of nature shows and I must admit, I'll take tweezing a tick over popping a 'putse pimple'!! Home Sweet Home!!

Any word yet on your "good news"??

Dennis-- Fleas are a close second in my book! thanks for stopping by!

Lady M.-- A friend of mine has Lyme disease and then her daughter contracted it last year, so she is a walking medical encyclopedia on ticks. She goes through a lot of doctor visits and multiple symptoms and that is all I need to be vigilant with my strip searches! I will check out info online, though, as it seems there is always something new to be discovered about ticks and Lyme disease.

D.M.-- Now a gin and tonic is right up my alley!! I know nothing about wines, but give me a little gin and I can knock 'em back! Thanks for thinking of me!

S.S.-- I only LOOK calm on the outside. On the inside I am squeamish and just want to run in the opposite direction! Amazing what a parent will do when their child is in danger!

As for spiders, we have a returning spider that spins his (her?) web in the same spot every night and in the morning, the web is gone, put away for the day. He is quite a big spider, about an inch and a half, but I leave it alone because it is OUTSIDE and helps to decimate the bug population around here. I think I lost you... where didja go? Yoo-hoo!!

Omega Mum said...

I feel very suburban and very impressed, Mountain Mama. And they say the world is getting smaller. I'm terrified. Ticks are also, I believe, related to the spider family. I had no idea you were supposed to freeze them. Is there any way of making them edible, too - as quite likely to assume they're some sort of snack.

jenny said...

Hmm.. chocolate covered ticks; egged, floured and fried in oil; or perhaps tossed on a salad for crunchy bits? Sounds like a winner to me!!

Actually, I used to take the ticks and let Hubby burn them, but my friend tells me to freeze 'em so they can be tested rather than having a big needle poking the little one. So this is my first frozen tick, which is working out quite well, I open the freezer looing for munchies and lose my appetite at the sight of said tick!