Don’t Worry, Bee Happy

Lately I’ve been learning everything there is to know about replacing a roof and all the things to look for when hiring a roofer.  It’s been a month-long journey of meeting with various contractors and navigating the professional jargon:  drip edges, soffit ventilation, felt paper, fascias, flashing, sheathing, architectural shingles, ridge vents, etc.  But the one thing I never expected to learn about with this whole project is that our home has been under attack by Carpenter Bees.

The fascia board, which is the wooden boards nailed to the end of our roof all around our house, was riddled with all these dime-sized holes which I just attributed to the work of our neighborhood woodpecker. It was unsightly, but I never gave it much more thought other than someday thinking I’d have a carpenter replace the wood because it looked ugly.

I had this really over-priced roofer quote our roof and he happened to notice the fascia boards.  He told me I had a Carpenter Bee problem.  I was really surprised because we don’t have any issues with bees in the house, but he told me that these Carpenter Bees are pretty notorious for boring holes in wood and laying their eggs.  I told him I’ve seen these big, fat bumble-bees buzzing around up there, but I never saw them go into the attic.  Well, it turns out they were Carpenter Bees which resemble Bumble Bees.

The female Carpenter Bee lays her eggs in the holes and the male sort of flies around the holes protecting it. These bees are harmless except that they ruin wood because of their nesting habits and like any number of pests – you don’t want them in or around your house.  Mi casa is not their casa.
I ended up calling Colonial Pest Control of Worcester to come out today to get rid of our bees. The exterminator who took care of me walked around the house and confirmed that I had a whole lot of bees. His reaction was priceless when he looked up on the left side of the house and simply declared, “Holy Shit!” Apparently the Carpenter Bees have been silent tenants at Miami Street for years and it was time to evict them.
But here’s the cool thing – I started asking the exterminator how he ever got into the profession in the first place because I’m fascinated that someone makes their living working in the insect industry.  He started talking about his past and mentioned how he ran a couple Abdow’s Big Boys restaurants – namely the one at Lincoln Plaza.  Now it was my turn to exclaim, “Holy Shit!”  I loved that place as a kid and just couldn’t believe I was talking to this guy who actually worked there back in the day.
It turned out that he actually grew up on Wayside Avenue back in the early 70’s.  He was 4 years younger than me, but was an old neighborhood kid.  I threw out a couple of names and it was so amazing that he recognized every one of them.  We ended up standing there reminiscing about the infamous Great Brook Valley riot and sledding down White Ave in the Winter.  He fondly remembered our neighborhood before the new construction in the back of my house and all the unpaved roads.
I could have talked to him all day, but there were bees to murder and I was mindful that I wasn’t his only customer that day.
He ended up spraying around the house and promised me that neither our Beagle Minnie nor the little birds nest up near the corner of the house would be affected by the chemicals.  
I got a six month guarantee on the bees and now I’m ready to have our roof ripped off and replaced.


I’ve Got Me The Winter Blues

Like everyone else, I’m entirely sick of Winter.

I’m tired of dressing in layers. I’m tired of not having any control over my day when the weatherman tells everyone to expect more snow.  Sometimes their predictions hit the snow fall totals pretty accurately and other times it feels like I should just buy me a copy of the Old Farmer’s Almanac to see what’s in store for us.

The threat of the roof collapsing over my head is what’s really bothersome right now.  It could all just be the hype, but I tried getting a quote to have the snow removed from our roof.  The man said between $600-$700 and I decided I’d rather take my chances with Mother Nature.  So far no leaks or creaks on Miami Street and I’m keeping my fingers crossed that the snow is going to melt off the roof without incident or drama.

I was thinking the other day that I miss hearing the birds chirping outside when I leave for work in the morning.  Being able to see the occasional beautiful red cardinal outside snacking at the bird feeder just doesn’t do it for me anymore. I’m done with the cuteness of scampering squirrels, frozen dog poo and tracking sand into our kitchen.  Enough already.

I’m supposed to go tubing at Ward Hill in Shrewsbury this upcoming Thursday afternoon as part of a group post-holiday work celebration.  I was looking forward to it before because I have never gone tubing, but now it just feels like I’m consorting with the enemy.  I don’t want to have fun slipping and sliding in the snow. Snow is evil and meant to be despised.  I don’t want to feel the rush of wind against my ears as I go plummeting down a slick hill only to climb back up and do it again.

But like everyone else living in New England, I’ve got to get through this and take comfort in knowing that every day passed is a day closer to Spring.  But what troubles me is that all this snow is like the manifestation of a savings bank.  Sooner than later the snow is going to melt and my basement will be in danger of becoming a wading pool.

I guess how you survive Winter is all just a matter of perspective.  For now I’ll take solace in knowing that someday soon all this snow will be gone.  But what really troubles me is where it’s going to go.

Be Nice Monster

Spencer bought this garden sculpture from Design Toscano for his mom’s backyard.  (It came in two pieces and hooked easily to the tree)

Apparently this BigFoot is so life-like that a little visitor named Olivia quickly ran inside the house after seeing the monster hiding behind the tree in my mother-in-law’s backyard.  She even tried to lock the kitchen door because she was afraid the monster was going to get her. How cute is that?

Her brother was wondering why there weren’t any foxes in the woods behind the house?  Spencer remedied the situation by promptly buying a nice resin fox from Design Toscano.

Can’t wait to see their reaction the next time they visit The Perry’s.

Black Flag Home Invading Scorpions

Spencer happened to see this can of Black Flag sitting on a shelf in the pesticide section at the new Super Wal-Mart in Worcester.

(Note the single can featuring a big and scary scorpion. )

This must be a misplaced can because I’ve never heard of  scorpions being indigenous to Massachusetts.

She’s Not Surprised At All

My co-worker Michelle sent me an email a while back depicting a toilet all decked out to look like a scarecrow.  She said she saw it and immediately thought of me.  Her exact words were:  I saw this and thought of you…this is “too much time on your hands” in my book…. Her email sparked a quick response from another co-worker Jillian: 
I think they took this picture at Kim’s house!

I quickly responded as follows: C’Mon!  That is way too creepy.  Do you think I’d want a creepy scarecrow smiling at me while I went Potty?  I don’t think so.  But I do appreciate the use of the tissue dispenser in the top of the hat.  Her reply came just as quickly back: You’re right!  What was I thinking?? – its not like it was something cool like a demon coming out of your wall or anything.  To which I replied,  Ahem, it was a grey ALIEN.  Completely different.

Here’s the photo of the grey Alien that Spencer bought me as a gift from Design Toscano 

I had posted a link on my Facebook wall saying how much I loved this Alien and how I wanted to own it for our house.  He surprised me later with this little guy and suggested that we repaint our bedroom so that we could put the alien over our bed.  I immediately thought this was a fabulous idea!  Right now our bedroom is painted bright Big Bird yellow because that’s my favorite color, but what I didn’t realize when I painted the room was pretty much nothing goes well with bright yellow. So now you know about one of my upcoming house projects.  

The next step is trying to convince Jillian to sew me some nice bedroom curtains with spaceships on them.

Life Is Wood

Lunch conversation today involved my co-worker Rick sharing his entomological horror stories while on past tropical vacations. Our discussion was a result of Marco asking me if my neighborhood in Worcester has been affected by the Asian Long Horned Beetle infestation.

Luckily our property appears to be beetle free because I haven’t received a certified letter from the City of Worcester requesting permission to fell any of my forestry. And really, who am I kidding? I only have a few infertile berry trees and my beloved Golden Chain Tree that my dad planted years and years ago.

Actually, I wish this whole bug infestation bubbled up three or four years ago because it would have saved me lots of money that we paid to a tree removal service cut down various backyard trees and grinding of the stumps. It gets better!

We had a Kwanza Cherry Tree in our front yard that continued to flower beautifully in the Spring, but otherwise looked dangerously weak in the remaining three Seasons. My dad planted this tree back in the late 70’s and I’ve always loved it’s Carnation-like pink blooms. (Making the decision to cut it down was really difficult for me because I felt like I was just letting another part of my Dad disappear from my life after his death.) Wouldn’t you know that months after we spent $600 to remove the tree, the City of Worcester announced our private street was about to become a public street! This involved a thorough survey of all the frontage to the homes on Miami Street and removal of any trees that stood in the way of the paving project. If only I had waited just a little bit longer.

I mention this arborist history to demonstrate that since I eliminated so many trees in our yard, I’m pretty comfortable in saying that I don’t think me and the Asian Long Horned Beetle will be crossing paths anytime in the near future. But knowing that these little pests are out there terrorizing my neighbor’s trees doesn’t make me sleep easy at night. This is one Beetle Invasion that I can do without.

[Can’t get enough about the Asian Long Horned Beetle then click here]

Crappy Halloween

I’m hiding in my house with all the lights off tomorrow night. The neighborhood kids can go door-to-door begging for sweets, but they’re not getting anything from me-especially after the way they treated my kindness and good will last Halloween.

I don’t particularly care for strangers showing up on my doorstep-especially neighbors of mine that are none too neighborly until they want something…like my sweet sweet candy.

Also, the notion of toddlers going Trick or Treating who can’t even say “Trick or Treat” while being held by their doting parents just seems wrong to me. Kids should only be allowed on my door step if they can walk on their own, be tall enough to reach my doorbell and speak in clear sentences.

Why am I so bitter towards Halloween? Well, let me tell you about last year’s experience on October 31st:  For some reason last year Spencer and I weren’t going to be home to give out candy, but I didn’t want to stiff the kids out of candy so I decided to create a self-serve-help-yourself Halloween display on the front porch of my house. I went to Target and bought several super-sized bags of candy. I got a big ‘ole bowl and filled it with my candy and placed it on the table outside for the neighborhood kids.  I have to admit that I felt pretty good about myself for not stiffing the kids just because I had other plans that evening. In fact, I imagined how a younger me in the ‘70s might feel if I came across a porch step with help-yourself candy on the honor system. Two words: appreciation and delight!
Of course my faith in thankful, well-behaved neighborhood kiddies didn’t live up to my imagination of how the evening would turn out. Rather I experienced the sharp pang of my naiveté as I turned into the driveway  to see all the empty Tootsie-Roll wrappers thrown all over my front lawn and more shockingly-my table tossed across the street into my neighbors yard. I simply couldn’t believe it. “Animals!” I thought to my self-righteous self as I walked across the street to reclaim my table and stooped to pick up as many loose candy wrappers that I could find. I don’t know what stunned me more: that the kids were ungrateful little bastards or the fact that my neighbors didn’t lift a finger to remove my table from their front lawn. Did they think a strong gust of wind delivered the table so unkindly onto their lawn?

I swore off Halloween from that day forward and that is why you won’t find my entryway lit in any sort of invitational manner tomorrow night. Instead, my doorstep will be dark as the night and inside you’ll find me re-watching an episode of Dexter in the comfort of my bedroom.

I’m hoping my very public shunning Halloween won’t in the end come back to haunt me. I don’t want eggs thrown at my house nor do I want to see toilet paper rolls in my trees. Instead I hope the little hoodlums from last year will walk by my house and recall that this was the lady who put such faith in their goodness.