Oakridge Death Squad

This one’s from a while ago, but soon the battle will begin anew:

Until today, our battle for survival had been fought without the use of much in the way of deadly force. The ants would force their way into the house by whatever means they could; through gaps between window screens, through badly closed doors, and God only knows how many other ways. They would form a line of battle down the wall, across the table or floor, and overrun everything in their path. Until today, they were the locusts of San Carlos. They were the aliens from Independence Day, simply devouring everything in sight and retiring fat and happy to their ant living rooms and easy chairs, secure in the knowledge that all we had to combat them was Windex. That’s right, Windex.

At a glance, it appeared to work. It seemed to kill the 6 legged menace. We’d spray them and they’d lie there, seemingly dead. But if not disposed of immediately, the dead would arise and begin their scourging anew (well, either that or the ants were the insectile version of Army Rangers–“no one gets left behind”).

Why Windex? I’ll tell you why. Deanna, it seems, has a profound sensitivity to chemical odors of any sort, and a pronounced horror of anything other than a sponge and tepid water coming into contact with the blessed sanctity of the house’s “cooking surfaces” and countertops (sometimes hard going when they are littered with pine nuts and little bits of Martian lettuce). So we spray Windex on the ants and they laugh at us.

Today, however, was different. Today I vowed to purchase a non-chemical based weapon of mass destruction–the new, plant-based Raid. No way could she deny us this, I thought. As I stood in line at Wal-Mart to pay for our wonderful deliverance, I heard the middle-aged woman at the register to my right cry out at something skittering by on the ground near a cooler full of soda. “Oh, look,” she said. “He a alligator! He a baby alligator!”

I looked and saw a gray-green streak about 5 or 6 inches long run past me into the garden center like Quasimodo running for the Notre Dame cathedral. No, I thought. He a garden variety lizard.

“Baby got no tail,” she said to the lizard’s retreating, tail-less back. “He need one o’ them handicap signs. Little man in the wheelchair?  Mmm Hm.”

I was tempted to try out my Raid on the lizard, but he reached the refuge of a large BBQ and disappeared. I put the escaped alligator out of my mind and paid for the Raid, ecstatic at the thought of our soon to be ant-free existance.

I arrived home with trembling hands, barely able to take the beautiful can from the bag. “Hey, Deanna,” I said. “Plant based Raid. Now we can kill the ants without fear of reprisal, after they retreat to the sanctuary of our cooking surfaces and countertops.”

“Plant based?” she asked. “Must be from blahdeblahblah.”

She picked up the can and examined it carefully. “No,” she said. “It’s from flahdeflahflah. I wouldn’t have thought that.”

Apparently not. Deanna, it seems, in addition to a degrees in plant husbandry and the equine arts, has also studied extensively in plant-based insect killing. Regardless, she pointed the can at a single ant and pressed the button. A small jet of blessed death reduced the ant to a withered, 6-legged corpse, but before she could move on to the next, a problem arose. “I just know this is going to give me a headache,” she said.

Don’t spray it then, I thought. Silly woman. Go look at horsies on the internet and leave the killing to me. “I’ll do it,” I said, and took the can.

I lifted my weapon and began to rain death on those little bastards. I was the Grim Reaper of the insect world, harvesting with my plant-based scythe and all fell before me. When the blood lust abated a bit, I saw there hadn’t really been that many ants in the kitchen and dining area. I had come upon a small expeditionary force. My cat sat in the den and looked at me with a stoned look on her face and began to eat Bella’s food. After polishing off much of that, she moved on to the cupboards and began looking for potato chips. I decided to open a few doors.

The ants in the kitchen and dining area that survived will not forget me. And I’d like to think their fallen brothers, when they reach their little ant Valhalla, will hoist a mug in my honor for defeating them honorably on the field of battle. And when their kinsmen arrive seeking vengeance, my plant-based sword and I will be ready.

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Calcutta or Something

From 2005, but  Deanna hasn’t changed any–neither has the pantry

I saw this really horrible movie with Patrick Swayze once, and it was completely unbelievable. He was this doctor in India, in the really tore up part. It was Bombay, or Calcutta, or some f****ing place where they have tons of lepers and houses made out of aluminum siding and cardboard and crap like that. I think it was called City of Joy. Those wacky Indians.

Anyway, there’s this one scene where Dr Patrick is standing in the street and it’s raining (it rains more in India than Seattle, apparently. They get monsoons like a motherf***** in Calcutta). The camera pulls back and you get this wide shot of this Calcutta hillside and it looks like an Oklahoma trailer park that a tornado just ripped through.

Until last night, that was the messiest, most chaotic thing I’d ever seen. Well, Kris and I were putting away all the bagged crap from the fumigation last night (no one else was, and we had been back since TUESDAY), and we got down to Deanna’s stuff. Zeus’s BEARD, was it ever the mother of all CRAPHEAPS. Try to imagine, if you will, that a trailer park, a 99c store, Trader Joe’s, and the Nestle Quik bunny all got together and had a foursome. Then, the Nestle Quik bunny got knocked up and exploded from the shame and horror of mating with an overrated store and a double-wide. What would be left after the conflagration is what Deanna’s pantry shelf looked like. Little bags of dried up, unidentifiable things. BIG bags of IDENTIFIABLE things (somehow worse). And literally ALL THE TEA IN F****ING CHINA!!!! Why, in the name of all that’s holy, does a person need 5,000 bags of freaking tea? And weird ass tea, too. The kind of tea that people drink when they want to lose 50 pounds overnight–the stuff that makes your ass explode. And really, really old stuff, too. A jar of preserves from 2001, for instance. But GOD FORBID it should be thrown away!!! Hold on, I think I just had an aneurysm…..crap, I think my brain just came out of my eye socket….

What Can I Believe?

O God, I am so fragile:

         my dreams get broken,

         my relationships get broken,

         my heart gets broken,

         My body gets broken.

What can I believe,

          except that you will not despise a broken heart,

          that old and broken people shall yet dream dreams,

          and that the lame shall leap for joy,

                 the blind see,

                       the deaf hear.

What can I believe,

         except what Jesus taught:

         that only what is first broken, like bread,

                 can be shared;

          that only what is broken

                  is open to your entry;

          that old wineskins must be ripped open and replaced

                  if the wine of new life is to expand.

So I believe, Lord;

           help my unbelief

                   that I may have courage to keep trying

                           when I am tired,

                   and to keep wanting passionately

                            when I am found wanting.

O God, I am so frail:

       my life spins like a top,

             bounced about by the clumsy hands

                     of demands beyond my doing,

       fanned by furies

              at a pace but half a step from hysteria,

                     so much to do,

                            my days so few and fast-spent,

                                   and I mostly unable to recall

                                          what I am rushing after.

What can I believe,

       except that beyond the limits

               of my little prayers and careful creeds,

        I am not meant for dust and darkness,

                but for dancing life and silver starlight.

Help my unbelief

        that I may have courage

                to dare to love the enemies

                       I have the integrity to make;

                to care for little else

                       save my brothers and sisters of the human family;

                to take time to truly be with them,

                       take time to see,

                                take time to speak,

                                         take time to learn with them

                                                  before time takes us;

                and to fear failure and death less

                       than the faithlesness

                               of not embracing love’s risks.

God, I am so frantic:

       somehow I’ve lost my gentleness

                in a flood of ambition,

       lost my sense of wonder

                in a maze of videos and computers,

       lost my integrity

                in a shuffle of commercial disguises,

       lost my gratitude

                in a swarm of criticisms and complaints,

        lost my innocence

                in a sea of betrayals and compromises.

What can I believe,

       except that the touch of your mercy

               will ease the anguish of my memory;

       that the tug of your spirit

                will empower me to help carry now the burdens

                        I have loaded on the lives of others;

        that the example of Jesus

                will inspire me to find again my humanity.

So, I believe, Lord;

help my unbelief

        that I may have courage

               to cut free from what I have been

         and gamble on what I can be,

               and on what you

                     might laughingly do

                             with trembling me

                                     for your incredible world.

                                                                                       –Ted Loder