Wednesday, July 24, 2013


I was just outside doing a little gardening.

Ah, spending a little time in the garden, pottering around in shorts and a t-shirt in a digger's hat, pulling the occasional weed from a well-arranged bed of flowering perennials; maybe picking some mini tomatoes and cukes for dinner.

Sounds bucolic, right?

Phhppppttttt!  Not in MY garden.  I've got a real man's garden.  You want to work in my garden, you need a long-sleeved shirt to ward off the poisonous-haired caterpillars (my arm is still not fully healed from last week's episode).  You need long pants to protect your legs from the stinging weeds and ants which seemingly attack from every bush or shadow you brush against like chitinous little ninjas.  You need boots or solid shoes to protect you from (and squish!) centipedes with bites that hurt like nothing you've ever felt (another reason for the pants, too).  A hat to keep the spiders and ants out of your hair, not to mention the 3-inch cicadas which piss on you as you pass underneath.

And the weeds!  I've got a kudzu vine that I've been battling ever since we moved into this place 19 years ago, and the sucker's winning.  It's in every tree and bush and trying to climb the drains as well.  I didn't garden for 2 months, and I'm paying for it now.  Just cut a weed that was 1.5 inches in diameter and about 8 feet tall.  In the last 2 weeks I've filled 16 garbage bags, and figure there will be at least another 10, probably more.

Now I know why Japanese shrines always have rock gardens.  They say it's for contemplation.  I say it's to contemplate the fact that they're too smart to weed every damn day!

Friday, July 19, 2013


Ahhh, the joys of summer.  I'm sitting here on a Saturday morning, enjoying an unusually cool interlude before the heat of the day sets in, listening to the cicadas buzzing their little buggy butts off on the trees in my yard.  And I keep chuckling about something that happened in class yesterday afternoon.

Now, summer in central Japan is bug heaven.  There are cicadas on the trees, flying beetles of all kinds, butterflies everywhere.  There are thousands of roly-poly pill bugs in my yard.  There are also poisonous caterpillars, nasty paper wasps and painfully aggressive centipedes (but, interestingly enough, there are virtually no house flies at all - and no miller moths!).  Go into any home center or supermarket and see the nets and bug cases for kids to catch and collect cicada or other critters like praying mantises.

My favorite goodie is this:

 The bug racket

Just think, you can practice your tennis game as you get rid of pesky mosquitos!  Forehand?  SNAP!  Backhand?  CRACKLE!!  The smash?  POP!!!
(You'll never look at Rice Krispies the same way again...)

Yesterday (see, I got there in the end) I chased down another mosquito in one of my kids' classes, and deleted it.  Kept the button down and fried that puppy, made him crispy.  This 9-yr-old boy leaned over to get a better look at the pretty sparks when it popped.  He jumped, turned like a flash and bolted out into the hall.  I was trying very hard not to laugh at his surprise, not wanting to embarrass him.  But then he came back in the room, and told me that a hot piece of the blood sucker flew up his nose...

Watching this kid rubbing his snozz and snorting while telling me that, I just died!  I laughed until tears rolled down my cheeks (no, not those cheeks, potty mind!) and the boy had a rueful grin on his face.

Mosquito revenge!