Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Covered in Glory

As an addendum to our little talk about ants yesterday: you know, the thing I had forgotten is that fire ant-bites turn into little pustules for some reason. I wonder if "necrotic tissue" is the right term to use here? Regardless, I'm currently the proud owner of small areas of necrosis all over my lower legs.

At one point during the hunt I was standing in the field, gun laying in the dirt, doves circling my head like a Hitchcock thriller, furiously slapping my legs, arms, and chest, until finally; I sighed, my shoulders slumped, and I started taking it right on the chin like a man.

Blam! BLAM! Bird goes down.
Wince! WINCE! Two ants bite me.
And so on.

I just let them do their work. That appears to have been the right move because I eventually got used to it. My experience with ant-bites developed my sensitivity to the process to such a degree that I could sense when an ant was going to light into me. My vision is slightly blurry from the venom, but I have evolved a powerful kinship with my enemy.

He'd be moving along, moving along, down, down, down, down, my leg - toodley doo, toodley doo. "Don't mind me Mr. Man, I'm just tiptoeing along minding my own business. Yep, I'm just shuffling along down this-here pants leg looking for something to drag back home."

Then, all of a sudden, he'd do a little pause, shuffle, ant-dance, right, left, two-step, approach, waggle, address, and tear into my leg like a 6-legged soldier demon with a glandular problem and abusive parents. When I got home there were dead ants all in the tops of my socks and the cuffs of my pants.

Several brave ants appeared to have died attempting to erect a tiny ant-flag on the crest of my left boot.

They died covering themselves in insect glory.


Sunday, September 10, 2006

Taking it All Off

Some of you have been taught (in error) that there are four seasons to every trip around the sun. That’s simply inaccurate.

There are actually two seasons each year: summer, and hunting season. Hunting season is my favorite of the two, by far. So, it is with great pleasure that I report to you the official start of my favorite season of the year: HUNTING SEASON. Yeah, its on.

This weekend my travels led me to Griffin, followed by Columbus, Cusseta, Sylvester, Macon, Bolingbroke, and Smarr; none of which you're likely to find on a map with great ease (except Griffin - that one's pretty easy).

Saturday marked the start of archery season which I've been looking forward to with great alacrity for approximately 12 months. However, due to a scheduling conflict I ended up shooting dove all weekend instead of deer.

You'll not hear me complain.

The field we shot was a recently-cutover cornfield that was absolutely full of birds. I knew about that part ahead of time. It was also absolutely full of ants. I found out about the ants a great while after finding out about the birds - much to my dismay.

At some point during the furious melee of hot lead and feathers I managed to gently lay my body down and roll myself in a red-hot ant village; teeming with furious ant citizens.

Like many other of life's little mistakes; I didn't realize it at the time.

The interesting thing about ants is that they are quite small; whereas I am quite large. Another interesting thing about ants is that they seem to maintain a deep attachment to their dirt villages. From what I can tell they greatly resent any sort of booted intrusion; but they go about retribution with a certain amount of conniving coordination and delay that’s quite admirable. As a testament to their stealth and ingenuity; I had ants (literally) in my pants for a solid hour or so before realizing something was amiss.

So, approximately one hour after my unwitting intrusion; after I had tromped a half mile out across the open field to pick up a downed bird, some ant Chairman of Homeland Offense gave the order and the troops lit into me as if my freckled skin were an insect Western Front. The infantry threw all it had at me in the initial salvo; then called in reinforcements hidden in my boot socks. The attack mounted in ferocity starting with the lower thigh and running all the way down into my boots. With a secondary attack underway on the delicate skin of my underarm and snipers beginning to colonize my right cheeck, I surrendered the beach and attempted to retreat. A brief moment of clarity seared its way through the pain and, in flash of total calm, I realized: "I am about to be naked."

You might think the sight of a screaming naked person writhing across an open cornfield with a loaded shotgun would draw a crowd, but it doesn't.

I know.


Thursday, September 07, 2006

Counting to 20

Sometimes in life one comes across individuals in the course of business that just ain't right...in the head. I've had the good fortune to cross paths with more than my fair share of such individuals, and the following is an email from one of my favorites. I think it might also serve as a solid portrait of the automotive experiences one might encounter while living as a young, blonde, 20something in Atlanta.

I would love to be sitting at home watching one of the numerous Judge shows, but instead its Monday, my head hurts, and I'm at work. Plus, I had a flat tire this morning. Well, really the alarm on my Beamer went off last night on the way home from training. To be honest - I couldn't tell which tire it was that was flat according to the alarm.

They all look so small to me.

So anyhow, I went to the gas station this morning; (yes, I drove my car with a flat tire) and proceeded to fill all of the tires with air. No, I didn't use a gauge - I counted to 20 for each and figured that was enough air to get me to work and not enough to cause the tire to pop.

Anyways, I get to the front tire on the passenger side - and at this point some guy drives up to use the air. I am thinking, "great, just my luck." I feel intimidated when a boy catches me trying to perform boy activities, like filling up a tire.

So anyways, he offered me the use of the gauge and checked the front tire pressure for me. I thought I spotted what might be the culprit causing the loss of air pressure, so I asked his opinion; "does this look like a screw in my tire to you?" And he agreed. It was a screw.

Ding! 1 point for me - I located the problem.

So anyhow, he helped me fill up the tire to get to work and even gave me some anti-bacterial lotion to put on my hands. Unfortunately, anti-bac does not get rid of the nasty, dirty, crud that moved from my tire and rim to into my newly painted nails ("Sweetheart" was the color Kelly picked out on Saturday).

Anyhow, my thumb still has black crud on it and I see a speck on my thumbnail. Guess I won't be giving the thumbs-up sign today.

Update: I just counted. I see dirt on two other fingers and my other thumb. For sure - no thumbs up today.


Part II - The Tire

Here is the much-anticipated ending to my dear friend's tire problems discussed in an earlier post - as told to me.

Friday morning I woke up with every intention of heading over to Firestone first-thing to have that pesky screw removed from my tire. The idea was that I would repair the tire early so Kelly and I could get on the road to Charleston at a decent time. Unfortunately, I was 3/4 of the way through The Devil Wears Prada and didn't feel like getting off the couch to have a stupid tire repaired. Priorities.

I guess it was a little after noon when I finally headed over to Firestone to put in my tire repair request. The hairy little guy immediately asked if I had "run-flat" tires and honestly, I really thought I did. I mean, one of them is flat, but its still running, right?

I maintained that line of reasoning until he explained (in not the nicest voice) that I most definitely did not have run-flat tires.

In an attempt to make him laugh I said, "Hey what do I know? I'm a girl!" He didn't appreciate my attempt at humor and I actually think I might have offended him on some level; whatever level you can offend a man named "Claude" on. We then had a brief exchange regarding my options at which point I asked, "how long I would have to wait for the tire to be repaired?" To which he replied, "over an hour." I thought to myself, "over an hour! Are you kidding me? I have a five-hour drive in front of me!"

Unfortunately, "thinking to myself" and "talking through my mouth" are quite often one and the same.

Mr. Harry Neckline did his best to mimic me and informed me that he was quite serious and that there were "lots of people with nails in their tires before me." I said "thanks!" and started to get in the car. He looked at me shocked and asked, "where I thought I was going?" I told him that there HAD to be another shop that could repair my tire in under an hour.

I wished him a fabulous weekend as I brushed him back with the mirror on my way out.

I called my step-dad and told him that I had a feeling, deep in my gut, that the tire would be okay for the five-hour drive to Charleston. I also called Kelly to tell her I was on my way to get her, and we were going to be driving on the tire with a screw in it. She seemed to have no problem with that proposition which, in retrospect, concerns me for her.

I guess it was about 2:30 pm when we got on the interstate. I would estimate that we made it approximately 43 minutes down the road before that stupid tire alarm went off again.

Are you kidding me?!?!? What about my gut feeling?!?!

We decide to grab a bite to eat and I filled the tire while Kelly sat in the car (complaining). The wall of the tire said something about 51, so I figured that meant I was supposed to fill it to 51, right?

I reset the alarm and we got going again. We were making much better time, so I decided to call my parents. I explained to Mom that I filled the tire to 51 since the wall said 51. Her high pitched "Are you kidding Paula?!!" caused me to wonder if I had, indeed, put too much air in the tire.

"Pull off immediately and let 15 lbs of air out of that tire. Are you crazy? If you hit a bump that tire is going to pop!"

No, I am not crazy, but I do have a schedule to keep and the stupid tire was not helping matters.

Kelly and I pulled off at the next exit whereupon Kelly produced a tire gauge that had apparently been hidden somewhere on her person. I know I certainly don't have one. The air pressure readings in each tire were 50, 30, 40, and 40, respectively. Averaging that out equates to about 40 so I figured we were okay. Kelly briefly perused the owners manual and stated that we "might have overfilled 3 of the 4 tires and OH MAN TURN IT UP PAULA!! TURN IT UP PAULA!! THAT’S THE NEW KEEN SONG!!"

I quickly moved from tire to tire and let the air back out.

While I was in the midst of that delicate manouver a huge 4X4 work truck with a bunch of guys in it pulled over onto the shoulder. Since I was busy working on the tires; I told Kelly that she had to tell the guys we were okay.

When the guys rolled up and asked what was going on, Kelly told them that we "have too much air."

I was about to fall on the ground laughing so I kept my face hidden behind one of the rims and pretended to be studying something complicated in the undercarriage. They really couldn't understand what Kelly was saying through the 110-decibel Keen song and her simultaneous tears and laughter.

She finally mumbled something to the effect that we "really were okay" and they headed on down the road in a cloud of testosterone and illegal emissions.

I am happy to report that we finally made it to Charleston a few hours later with no additional alarms, bells, or whistles of any kind.

My lessons learned during this trip:

1. I really shouldn't have a drivers license.
2. I shouldn't own a motorized conveyance of any kind.
3. My friends trust my judgment way more than they should.
4. My reasoning ability is somewhat more limited than I had anticipated.

Hope to see you on I-85 or 400 soon!


Wednesday, September 06, 2006

A Blue Kayak of Average Quality

Nearly everyone has had a roomate at one point or another. I have too. In fact, I like roomates so much - I have 4 of them. Roomates are great. Anyway, it gets lonely in a house by yourself!! For that reason, if none other, a roomate is a very handy item to keep with you.

Inevitably one's path in life tends to diverge from the paths of those with whom one cohabitates. It is an inescapable truth that I have (unfortunately) been party to on numerous occasions. In fact Alvin, King of the Terrace Level, recently left us for greener pastures.

His blue kayak and antique bedstead stayed.

It didn't take us long to realize that various of Alvin's personal effects were in no immediate danger of moving towards Alvin's new pasture under their own power; and friends: Alvin was nowhere to be found.

It is true that we heard tell of him in the Himalayas. Matt saw his likeness carved into a roadstone in Southern Mozambique. Seth saw him whirling with the dervishes in India. Danny was briefly abducted by pirates in the Tortugas who claimed to have known Alvin passably well, but we knew better. No pirate sallies forth without his trusty, blue kayak!

In order to jog Alvin's memory we sent him the following liquidation announcement:


1 "antique" bed of dubious heritage and quality

1 blue kayak of average quality (without paddle)

8 pounds of manure (horse) inside a blue kayak of average quality

6 spent cigarette butts inside a blue kayak of average quality

19 honeybaked hams of (previously) excellent quality inside a blue kayak of average quality

1 toilet seat gently stapled to a blue kayak of average quality

197 beer cans inside a blue kayak of average quality

If you act now; the dudes of the dude ranch will throw in the manure, cigarette butts, and honeybaked hams totally free of charge with the purchase of your first blue kayak of average quality.

Better hurry - Matt has been wanting to do something to that kayak for weeks and I don’t think I can restrain him much longer. He's just too hairy.

P.S. He just got a new drill.