Open Season for Wasps

When the weather turns warm here in the South the wasps come out.  Here in East Texas we have black wasps, black-winged red wasps, all-red red wasps, yellow and black guinea wasps (we call them yellow jackets), dirt daubers, cicada killers (hornets), bumblebees, wood borers, and honeybees.  We’ve been blessed with quite a variety of stinging, flying insects, and I bet there are a few I haven’t even mentioned. 

You’re mostly safe if you just leave them alone but sometimes paths cross and it can lead to a painful encounter.  Such was the case when I was about six years old.  It was a windy day at the Moseley house and Mama and us four kids were outside by the back door step.  A red wasp landed in Mama’s hair and she shook her head to make it go away.  She was holding my baby sister so that’s about all she could do.  The wasp, angry as red wasps tend to be, saw me and decided–if a bug with only a wad of nerves for a brain can decide–to come after me. 

“Run!” Mama cried, and I ran.  I ran the length of the back of the house and turned the corner.  That’s when I made the fateful decision to stop and turn around.  That evil wasp popped me on the forehead and again on the thumb.  I guess I tried to brush it off my forehead.  I still have the scar where it punctured my forehead.  

You see, the wind carries these insects where they don’t intend to fly, and I believe it makes them madder than usual.  How would you feel if you were headed to Colorado on vacation and a big gust of wind carried you to New York instead?  If there’s a reason to feel sorry for a wasp, then the fact that they have very little control over their destination in windy weather could be it.

I didn’t just get one wasp sting during my childhood.  Oh no.  I could count on getting at least one per summer.  There’s the time I was riding my bicycle uphill on the blacktop road and my foot slipped off the pedal.  As I dragged my leg, skinning my knee all the way down to the tops of my toes, my bike and I landed on the side of the road in a blackberry vine patch.  If losing my top layer of skin wasn’t enough, I disturbed a wasp nest and suffered the consequences.  I don’t know how I did it, but I managed to limp the 40 yards (which seemed like a million) back to the house where I thought I would surely die before Mama applied her baking soda paste on the stings and merthiolate on my wounds.  I managed to survive.

Around here you have to check under porch swings, deck chairs, ride-on toys, kids’ swings, tractor fenders and seats, house eaves, propane tank lids, wheelbarrows, and outdoor grills before using them from spring through fall.  I got popped a couple of years ago by an angry wasp because I dared reach over its hidden nest to turn the outdoor faucet off after watering plants.  

Did I mention grabbing a loaf of bread in the grocery store and being rewarded by a honeybee sting in that tender skin between my thumb and forefinger?  It hurt for literally HOURS.  I was wearing a skirt and the silly thing tried to fly under it as well!  

I will do everything in my power to keep from being stung, and when the grandkids are here, I will do even more.  I don’t want to pass on to them my legacy of getting stung every summer.  After all, for wasps and bees, this time of year is open season on humans.  I won’t even mention the new scourge on mankind. . .murder hornets?  Really?  

What about you?  Got a bee or wasp sting story?

Stay safe!



When I Was Two (The House That Built Me)

When I was about two years old we lived in an upstairs apartment in Tyler.  I can remember wood floors and watching the TV game show “Concentration” with Mama while she folded clothes.  I remember my brother Allen being a baby, and I also remember looking out of our second story window to see the neighbors’ children playing in the yard.
I also remember that we shared a bathroom in the hallway with another family or couple who was living in another apartment.  I guess that was a shared duplex.  These memories are sketchy at best.
After that we moved to Willow Branch Road near Van.  We always called it the “big house” because it was a large farmhouse with a long central hallway.  During the winter, which was really cold the year I turned three, Daddy and Mama moved all of us into the kitchen and living room in an attempt to stay warmer.
My brother and I had some good times in that house.  The bedroom at the back of the house became our playroom with nothing in it but our toys.  It seemed huge to us.  There was a large cardboard box that we were supposed to keep our toys in, but we had to be careful digging into it or we would fall in!  Usually it tipped over so we could access our toys.
My brother Allen and me.  People thought we were twins.
The old house had hardwood floors and a long hallway perfect for riding tricycles or pulling our wagon.  One year I received a tiny china tea set from a great aunt and I would arrange the pieces on the tiny tray and carry them down the hall.  One by one those pieces fell off the tray and broke.  No matter how careful I tried to be, my three-year-old hands couldn’t hold it steady enough.  it made me sad.
My brother and I shared the middle bedroom which had walls covered with peeling old wallpaper.  We peeled that paper off slowly when we were supposed to be sleeping or napping.  We would get in so much trouble, especially when Allen would snicker into his hands cupped over his mouth and nose.  His hands would get dripping wet, and then Mama would come in and turn him over her knees for a good spanking.  I guess I got spanked, too, but I really don’t remember.  I didn’t get near as many spankings as my brother did.
My grandmother on the porch of the big house with Sandy.
We also had a dog named Sandy, and another one we named Tarzan-Pinochio.  I guess we couldn’t agree on the name.  Mama read books to us all the time.  One of my favorites was one which was so politically incorrect that they stopped printing it.  Little Black Sambo was the story of a little black boy who receives new clothes and trades each piece to a different tiger in exchange for not being eaten.  At the end of the book the tigers chase each other around a tree until they turn into melted butter.  I recently found a copy of the book in a Louisiana plantation gift shop.  It is being printed again!
Such memories.  Stay tuned for more from “the big house.”

FOLK Magazine 2013 Journal Challenge: The Meaning of Time

Today’s journal prompt from Folk Magazine challenges us to reflect on the meaning of time by thinking about these questions:  What do you spend your time doing?  Is there something you wish you had more time to do?
Those are loaded questions, aren’t they?  Time is something we seem to take for granted until we realize that we don’t have much left.  The Bible says in Hebrews 9:27 that “it is appointed unto man once to die.”  In other words, there is a time and day for each one of us to die.  Whether or not you believe that, you must agree that we will not, cannot live forever.  As time passes, we age.
There was a time (pardon the play on words) when I thought I had an infinite amount of it to spend.  As a child, adulthood seemed too far away to imagine.  There were pie-in-the-sky dreams of having a husband, two kids, and a two-story house with a picket fence, but the reality seemed eons away.  I could hardly wait to be a teenager, but that, too, seemed years and years away.  
Of course, you know the rest of the story.  Thirteen finally arrived, and before long I was bidding goodbye to my high school friends.  College is another example of a period of time that seemed to be frozen.  Would I ever be done with my studies and start “real life?”
How can that be?  How is it that some periods of your life seem to literally drag by while others seem to fly?  For those of you who have raised children, did you notice that the days sometimes seemed neverending, but now that the kids are grown and gone, the years themselves seemed to fly by?  What is that?
For almost 25 years I spent my time caring for my children as they grew from babies to young adults.  For 30 years I spent my days teaching school and my nights cooking and helping with homework.  The weekends were devoted to the kids’ activities, church, and chores.
Then. . .
…and now
And now all that has passed and I find myself in the years of the “empty nest.”  My husband and I juggle his night work schedule with my daytime schedule.  No longer teaching, I fill my days writing, crafting, junking, and catching up on chores and projects I never seemed to have time for when I worked full time.
For all this, I look back on my life as time well spent.  I look forward to more years, hopefully filled with good health, family, and even more fulfillment.
I can’t really say at this point in my life that I wish I had more time to do anything except maybe see my children more often, but I hope to enjoy grandchildren someday!
I have made the commitment to use my time wisely, not to waste it, and certainly not take it for granted.  With middle age has come an appreciation for the brevity of life.  Several years ago we lost my sister’s husband and children in a tragic truck crash.  My mother is recovering from breast cancer.  A friend’s son just died of cancer.  Another friend’s son was killed last year after stopping to help a stranded motorist on the highway. We are not guaranteed more time than we have right now. You never know when your time may run out.
Carpe diem!  Seize the day!