5.31.2005

Funny Ha Ha
Alms, Ants, and Amusements

In case you thought, because I hadn’t been writing much about bugs, that there had been some appreciable decrease in the verminous population of my everyday life, you were wrong. Ever since the move to the new place (three months already; hardly new any more) there’s been a change in the regularly appearing cast, but no apparent trimming of the budget for extras in the obviously in-progress movie of my life.

Inventory: could do this as an In/Out table, a la fashion glossies, but I can’t figure out how to put a table in Blogger and the formatting of a properly aligned pair of lists makes my eyeballs hurt just thinking about it. Simple comma-offset elements will have to do.
Old house: punctual slugs, tiny black ants, one-time-only praying mantis, nasty biting no-see-ums, swarms of bumbling buzzing winged termites.
New house: punctual mosquitoes, tiny brown ants, one-time-only mouse, giant spider (since deceased) and her somewhat less giant but still menacing babies.

Good thing I’m not scared of bugs!
Lately, though, the large red ants that live outside in the compost bin have begun exploring the whole drain/sink area, using the windowsill as a staging ground. I wouldn’t mind so much except that they don’t follow proper ant protocols, so the usual dissuasion/elimination tactics are useless:

1. They don’t eat sugar or little specks of food. They don’t care how diligently I wipe up the counters. Corollary: the super ant killer, imported from Florida USA (reputable sources report: ants git on ya), and formulated for sugarlovin’ arthropods, is not interesting to these buggers.
2. They are big, about ¾cm long, and bitey-grabby. Thus they are not easily sponge-away-able, because they’re not tiny and they just stick to the sponge and can’t be rinsed away. Corollary: they bite me.
3. They don’t travel in lines or clumps. They’re sort of lazy ant tourists—ooh, look Marge, there’s plates drying over here!—and thus can’t be traced to food sources, perplexing the anti-ant-antagonist (that’s me) as to what the bloody hell they’re looking for. They seem to spend a lot of time waving their butt segments around and twiddling their antennae together. Corollary: they have no strategy, thus there is no logical counterstrategy.

In sum, what to do? They’re not really hurting me but I did have a dream two nights ago that I opened the faucet and forth flowed not water but red ants. I also dreamed that I was shopping for a suitable (modest, light-coloured) outfit for Kamini’s one-month almsgiving and all they had in the shop was stretch lace undergarments. Remember, this is my teacher who told me to button my shirt all the way to the neck. The saleslady suggested I go for red hotpants under a black slip/teddy thing—the layering, she said, made it “elegant and classy” and certainly enough covered-up for visiting monks. Ha. I woke up quite nervous that I had in actuality already gone to the almsgiving thusly attired.

The almsgiving itself, though not exactly jolly, was rather ungrim. The ISLE staff (Rosemary, Sumanasena, Herath, Violet, Maya, Rupa) and the available former students went to a little monastery above Trinity College. Someone said this monastery was affected by the Maligawa bomb blast of some years back, but I can hardly imagine how, it being so far from the temple. We gave a nice batch of lunch to the monks—the active part of course was giving a tray of curries to the little Buddha shrine there. (While we were doing that, the other monks put their lunch into their dishes so that we could take our Tupperware off with us: how considerate!) A smiley cheerful monk chanted some Pali and some Sinhala; we kneeled, listened, and sadhu’d appropriately. Then we went back to the ISLE center for our own lunch, the same as the monks’ minus fruit plus ice cream.

The weather has been lovely, cool to cold and windy-rainy. Like spring in Swarthmore! It was hot for about three hours today. Nice for sunset jogging. Very pleasant for sleeping though it verges on being cold enough for socks or, heavens, a blanket. Yesterday Jill and I went (bravely it must be said) to town to get fruits for the almsgiving: one pineapple, two papayas, six mangoes. Rosemary was precise! We did take the bus, so the bravery was more in the intention to do anything while it was raining.

Fruits procured, we went to tour Haakon’s new house and to plan for the ball which must obviously be thrown there—they’ve got patios and verandahs and balconies and turrets and a formal-ish garden. I finally met the minorly legendary Stuart, Virginian student of Tamil popular religion. He plans to conduct a “cock sacrifice” for Haakon’s birthday, which is even funnier if you say it out loud. Among sundry treats we had perfect rainy-day Ghirardelli hot chocolate: chalk another one up in the chocolate supply department for Jill’s mother. (Not that mine is behind on this count, I’ve got Scharffen-Berger.) I spent quite a while poring over a giant fakey new-agey book of horoscopes and relationship analyses based on same, getting nervous as I always do over the dire predictions of interpersonal aggression they’re always lobbing at Leos. Apparently my birth week is the “Week of Leadership,” the Leo-est of the Leos, the flamingest of the fire signs. Watch out!

Didn’t have time to look up all the fascinating relationships I wanted to (you know who you all are) because the other people there wanted to read about themselves too. Tough cookies, plebes, says this lioness. I dragged the book out. Interpersonal aggression be damned, I want to read about me. (Kidding: I know how to share, sort of.) I did learn that had I been born on my due date, I’d be in the “Week of Theatre.” How gratifying.

Bed! But first: minor ha-has:
“Think not, is my eleventh commandment; and sleep when you can, is my twelfth.”
—Stubb, Moby-Dick, which is so good and you should read it

“standing next 2 rotting fish head that droppd out of sky jst now. also jst got shit upon. on my way if ever get 2 front of this line”
—Jill, waiting for Colombo bus; text message of supreme pathos

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