Lost Arts studio

A lot of the fiber arts I enjoy are things like tatting, netmaking, chair caning, and even weaving, where people will come up to me when I demonstrate and solemnly tell me, "That's a lost art."

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Location: SW Outer Nowhere, Michigan, United States

On the Internet, nobody knows you're a chicken. (With apologies to Peter Steiner.)

17 October 2006

The Three Plagues of Fall

The first plague of fall is imported ladybugs. When I was a kid, I remember one type of ladybug: it was small, it was red, and it had black dots on its wingcases. I don't mind those little guys at all.

The plague-y ladybugs are these big imported ones. They were brought in to eat aphids, and they like it fine here. The plague-y part of them is that in the fall, they fly around by the hundreds and thousands, looking for a place to hibernate through the winter. Their favored place is under loose tree bark, but they will take vinyl house siding if no tree prevents itself.

Nothing messes up a last batch of clothesline-dried sheets like a hundred little dots of brown "lady bug juice"! Or makes me flinch like the scratchy little feet of one landing on my neck!

The second plague of fall is also a bug: the the Western conifer seed bug, Leptoglossus occidentalis.

These stinky bugs fly with a loud buzzing noise that makes me think there is a wasp or hornet in the house. They congregate around the edge of the door, and when they get squished as the door is closed, they emit a weird bitter-apple smell. They can also emit this nasty-smelling chemical stuff if you handle them, or if a dog bites them. (Our dogs have each only done this once. Now they won't touch them.) They are hard to shoo out of the house, because if you touch one, they "stink" you, and the bitter-apple smell doesn't wash off the hands easily.

The third plague is not a bug, but a grass. I've been searching on the web and through my Manual of the Grasses of the United States, and I think it's in the Agrostideae. We call it hair grass or tickle grass, because the seed-bearing part of the grass comes loose from the plant, blows around in the wind, accumulates in the corners of porches and fences, and creeps up your leg between your skin and your pants!

There is nothing quite like the feeling of a piece of hair grass working its way above your socks, so that it is just around your knee. You can't really reach it from the ankle, and it's too far down to reach from the waist band. So there you are, with this itchy thing against your leg.

I usually go indoors, go in the bathroom, and take it out of my pants. If I'm lucky, we have a fire in the woodstove to throw it in. I don't want to put it in the compost and find it growing out of the garden!



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