Saturday, September 27, 2003

Grantham v. Hornet

Christina recently got a fan to put in the kitchen window to clear out the "kitchen smells". When we deployed it, however, some hornets found their way in, attracted either by the sound of the fan or the aromas of Christina's cooking. That wasn't fun. I suspected that there was a nest around somewhere, but I couldn't locate it.

Today, I was out mowing the lawn, when I saw hornets buzzing around a bush. (Pictured below.)

I looked around, and eventually spotted the hornets congregating around a hole where the eaves met the wall of the house. So when Christina came home, we propped up a ladder to allow me access.

I wanted to spray the hornets with Raid, but Christina insisted that I cover up to protect myself. I ended up cloaked in a hooded windbreaker, jeans, gloves, ski goggles and a mask -- I felt like an extra from "Outbreak". But no wasp was going to get through to sting me.

So I climbed up the ladder and let loose with the Raid. I soaked the opening fairly well before the wind changed direction and prevented me from doing further damage. A couple of hours later, no wasps could be seen near the opening, though several survivors wandered around the yard. Below is a picture of the opening (green arrow) and and one of the victims (red circle).

So, next up is to look at the problem from the inside. It seems like the hornet nest was probably on the far side of the upstairs attic. Opening the attic door didn't produce a torrent of wasps (or any, for that matter), but I should go up there with a flashlight and explore further. And we're going to plug that hole soon.

Tuesday, September 23, 2003

Arizona Diamondbacks

My father writes...

I was hiking in the early morning when this rattled at me. I hadn't seen it lying in the shade along the trail. I have heard rattlers before but this one was sooo loud that, at first, I didn't realize what it was. It sounded like a locust right in my ear. I backed away from the sound until I spotted the snake. I suppose I was a couple of feet away from it when it began to warn me. In this picture, the snake is looking down the trail in the direction of my approach. I try and be watchful but the rattlers really blend into the desert landscape. That is my second close encounter within two weeks. This one is a big (old) snake, probably 4-5 feet long.

Monday, September 22, 2003

Surviving Isabel

Christina and I returned home from the Redskins' loss to find our 3-day ordeal without power to be over. As of this morning, we even have Internet access back. So what was it like to face the fury of the storm?

Well, I wasn't too impressed during the storm. I took this picture to show what the storm itself was like. Doesn't look like much, does it?

Somewhat more impressive was the scene at the end of our block the next morning...

Including the snapped-off top of the utility pole...