Yellow Jackets: A Guide on How (NOT) To Dispose of Them Pt. 2

Febreze. Yellow Jackets. Attitude Problem.

There I was, bottle of Febreze in hand, wearing tight jeans and 3-inch-heeled boots.  (I’d decided to dress up, makeup and everything, with a plan of trying my hand at the casino. Needless to say that never happened.)

It was around 11am at this point, I still hadn’t had tea, the ice in the cooler had melted, our food was likely to spoil, I had no extra money for chow, and Ducky hadn’t done his homework.

I was at my breaking point.

A paramedic truck pulled up a few spaces over in the Safeway parking lot and I thought, “Great! If I get stung to death, they can revive me.” I had a vague idea that the DYJs might not like strong odors. After all, the incense had been such a success at chasing one away, all I needed was a strong smell, right? I hopped up on my step stool, (immediately realizing that I was not wearing the appropriate footwear for this venture,) and wobbled about aiming the ‘Gain Fresh Scent Fabric Refresher’ at the top of the door crevices while thinking, “This is a TERRIBLE idea.” (Please note: Procter & Gamble would likely appreciate me mentioning that at no point in time did they recommend this as an approve usage for their product.)

After the first few sprays, I noticed that yes, indeed the yellow jackets were reacting to the stuff, they clearly had an opinion on it and that opinion was “Hey, this stuff smells GREAT, bring it on!”

No, no, no, no, no, no, this was not part of the plan.

If I were religious I’d have been praying at this point.

Since I’m not I just got down to business.

The bugs that liked the perfume weren’t actually coming close to the spray, just around the air where I’d been aiming. So, I turned up the level to “douse” and really started to drown the top of the rig.

Now that garnered the reaction I was looking for. The DYJs were on the run! They were leaving! They were… Heading right for the one window that was somehow inadvertently left open!

NO, NO, NO, NO, NO.

Much Rage, much Nope, much ‘eff it’.

Once again I threw open all the doors. This time with additional yelling! “This is my van, get out! GET OUT!” Ducky was wisely across the parking lot refilling the cooler at this point, which seemed to take much longer than normal. Go, him.

I lunged into the van like a Space Marine in Aliens. I used nearly A THIRD of the bottle of yellow jacket death.

Finally they were all out. The van smelled like a laundromat at the end-of-day but by golly, I had gotten them all. I was certain. Just in case, we drove away with all the windows down creating a wind-vortex in the back that was rather colorful considering all our scarves, bandanas, towels, and mexican blankets were whipping around like flags during a hurricane.

We arrived back and I felt so much relief! We walked down to the bathrooms, chatting happily about dead bugs, Pokemon, and redwood trees. Then I saw a woman getting out of her car. She was dancing. No, she was hopping. Wait she was… I knew those moves.

She was being chased and was essentially freaking out with style.

There were at least six of the little bastards after all.

Turns out they weren’t in the van at all. After talking with a local security guard, we discovered that the construction team up the hill had “riled some groups up fierce” and “we’re doing everything we can, call us if you’re stuck and we’ll send maintenance to shoo them away.”

Call someone for help. What a concept.

Woke up this morning and remembered that I had seen one of the DYJs sneak into my tea drawer during the deathmatch the day before. I slowly thought I’d forgotten to check in there. I realized this right about the time the buzzing I’d half registered made it quite apparent that the little bastard had made it back out and was right over my head.

“Ducky!” I hissed, “There’s one in the van!” Ducky didn’t even need to ask ‘one what,’ he merely rolled over, pulled the sleeping bag over his head and announced, “I’ll sleep ’till it leaves.”

I gathered up what I could, said goodbye forever to the boondocking site and pulled out at a nice fast clip. Goodbye and good riddance!

It’s important to note that the only casualties of this event were our doormat, trash stuff sack, and about 25 yellow jackets. The foremost two were abandoned during the “we are leaving moment!” and the latter all Murdered By Febreze.

Always keep some Febreze handy. Also remember to ask for help when needed. And don’t try to tackle yellow jackets with just Febreze unless you’ve had your tea first. You might come up with a better idea, after.

 

 

 

 

 

Yellow Jackets: A Guide on How (NOT) To Dispose of Them Pt. 1

Sometimes all you need to get rid of yellow jackets is a bottle of Febreze and an attitude problem.

This wasn’t one of those times.

Last night we pulled in and tried to make dinner. A group of yellow jackets seemed to be intent on making us miserable. I wish this was something out of the ordinary, but after this week it seems pretty much par for the course.

After leaving Samuel P. Taylor State Park on Tuesday, spending one night in an RV park we won’t name (but will write about in great depth later,) that evening, we arrived at our current boondocking site Thursday afternoon. We had noticed at our first campsite that yellow jackets were quite the issue. Many a meal was interrupted while we attempted to remain cool, calm and collected.  We usually took advantage of our mutual decision to eat with one leg swung over the bench of the picnic table. This aided in an easier getaways. It worked as long as one was careful to not spill any food while half-gracefully lunging up and over.

After leaving the S.P. Taylor campsite we really didn’t give the Damn Yellow Jackets, or “DYJs,” another thought.  We were too busy raving about the wonders and beauty we had seen.  

Upon arriving at the RV campsite (still to be unnamed, but yes, written about later,) we settled in for dinner and discovered that this site also seemed to be overrun with the little buggers. “It’s the DYJs!” We lamented, “must be a local thing.” We were completely resigned to our lot. After all, it was clearly a regional issue.

It didn’t occur to us to wonder why no one else in the area seemed to be similarly plagued.

Thursday evening we lit all the incense we had and had only one problem guest show up, quickly dispersed with a stick of “Chillin’ Cool Booty Call.” (Ducky calls it “Inappropriately Named Incense.”)

Yesterday morning we awoke and headed down for a semi-hidden local beach day. We headed out first thing, not bothering to open up the van or do anything in the space where we’d parked. I had decided the night previous we would do everything down at the beach, including tea, & bathroom stuff.  (This process would have been much easier had the beach we chose had had the picnic tables and bathrooms I had envisioned.) Our relocation however garnered us no relief. As soon as we opened the doors of the van the DYJs showed up and they were starting to have some serious attitude. Like, landing on my hat, going for my hair, and dive bombing us attitude. But no matter, it was a lovely day, we spend most of it outside and we were excited to be doing some further stealth camping that evening. We again failed to notice no one else seemed to have so many DYJs attempting to drive them mad. That realization came this morning.

Upon waking up today, we were both jazzed to be heading over to collect some books we had placed on hold. We followed our tradition of hitting the “Friends of the Library” bookshop. And selected books to further Ducky’s studies in biology, physics, and history.

My parking lot plans of making tea, having a snack, and heating the dogs food however all were quickly squashed by the sudden assault of numerous DYJs who were done mucking about- they had decided to evict us.

I have now decided that I have a clear line of escalation when it comes to dealing with incessant insects with stingers:

One DYJ: “Ducky honey? Remain calm & it won’t bother you. You can gently wave your hand and shoo it away.” (Thinking, Good job self, remember how this would have freaked us out as a kid? Go me!)

Two DYJs: “Okay, sweetie, stay calm, perhaps no waving this time. It’s okay.” (Still doing great there, momma, keep it up!)

Three DYJs: “Right. There do seem to be a more of them now. Definitely no hand waving, ‘kay?” (Ugh, I am glad I’m staying calm. I am staying calm… Right?)

Four DYJs: “Hon? Okay, let’s try walking away calmly, don’t run or they will chase us.” (It’s becoming rather hard to stay calm, my heart is pounding and my palms are sweaty- am I breathing funny?)

Five DYJs: “Omg. That’s my hair, is it still there? Oh. It’s on my hat? Okay. It’s okay honey, it’s okay, it’s okay…” (OMG, my hair, OMG, my hat, OMG, did he say it’s on my shoulder? This is NOT okay, THIS IS NOT OKAY!!!)

And at Six DYJs: “FTS!!! DUCKY THROW THE DOG IN THE VAN- WE ARE LEAVING!!!!” Mind you this last bit accompanied the last of any dignity I had left due to my running around the van in circles, screaming and waving my hat around like a clown at a rodeo.

The other folk in the lot sure did look at us funny. Especially since we squealed out, slammed to a stop, hopped out to throw open all the doors and then repeated the process. Twice. At one point we had to sit in the van with a DYJ buzzing in between us and do nothing since there were three or four sentries waiting for us outside the windows.

Exiting the parking lot at a clip slightly over the posted speed limit of 7MPH, I headed south on the highway. I did this without any particular destination in mind, I was more interested in gaining as much speed as possible. In my caffeine-deprived, adrenaline fueled state I believed that outrunning them was the best plan of action.  In fact it was the only plan I could come up with and I went for it with the enthusiasm of someone who needs to find Jesus and thinks he’s just up the road a ways.

Ducky kept his head, remembered we needed ice, and  navigated us to a local market. We got out, headed to the bathrooms, got the ice and started to organize the chaos that our sudden departure had created. (Note to self, when pulling out while being chased by angry Vespidae, make sure not to have any open containers or loose items on the counter.)  I was ready, so ready, to make a cup of damn tea. We were replacing the ice in the cooler and three showed up.

It finally hit me: They were IN the damn van.

In, as in “building a nest in.”

I groaned a long sad desperate sounding, “Oh Shiiiiiiiiiiiiiiittt.”

“What’s wrong?” Ducky asked looking at me in the way you look at the person in the library who suddenly shouts profanities and then asks for money. Perhaps if I had had a cuppa and some food, (not to mention a calmer morning,) I could have been a thoughtful, protective mommy and lied to him. Instead I said, “They’re in the van! They’re IN the VAN!” Pretty sure I was half wailing at this point.

It took a moment but Ducky’s eyes indicated he had grasped the gist as did his body language. And by language I mean the fact that his body was moving away from the van, shuddering and giving the interpretive-dance version of NOPE.

I did what every sane, rational person does when faced with situations such as this. I Googled the hell out of “yellow jacket nest in van.”

I learned a lot.
Most of which didn’t help me in the moment.

I told Ducky that this evening we will be putting on our hoodies gloves bandanas and long sleeved shirts, jeans and boots and emptying the van to find point of entries.

I told him that while pulling out my step-stool and grabbing the Febreze while thinking, “This is MY van. My van.”

End pt. 1






 

 

Tidepool day

I am watching Ducky hurl himself across rocks. He is trying to beat an incoming tide while on a quest to identify the large mass of scurrying creatures that are fleeing in his wake. I’m not sure if this behavior would be approved by naturalists of old, and I’m enjoying the mental image of men in full Victorian garb trying to keep up with my jeans-clad son.

There are sea stars the size of dinner plates in rich hues of maroon and orange. The former ones are hard to see nestled beneath their brightly colored siblings. The anemones here are also larger than life: touch-tank specimens have nothing on them. Their long stalks jut out from the rocks like tree trunks with leaves made of sticky, fern green tentacles. Sinuous strands cling gently to our explorative fingers when we reach into the cool saltwater. We are seeking connection amongst these elegant ambassadors of the sea.

I hear a yell and suddenly my boy is off like a shot, carrying our large hiking pole above his head like a spear. He is running to impale whatever beast has been sent from the depths of his extensive imagination. I wonder if other kids his age still play these kinds of games.

Times like these I have none of the doubts that often assail me about what we are doing. Homeschooling is so clearly the answer for a kid like this. How could I ever think otherwise?

I can no longer picture him sitting in a classroom, being beat down for his enthusiasm, told to “sit down, keep quiet, and learn.” I know that’s no good for him and am no longer sure that’s good for most children. This feels odd to admit because I used to be anti-homeschooling.

Ask the me of last year and I would have said it was completely ineffective way to educate. That it was populated by a community made of the privileged. I pictured nothing but anti-vaxxers, born again Christians, and confused hippies.

I loved being involved in our school. While not a full-on PTA, fundraising, show-up-to-every-event-volunteering parent, I did do my fair share and loved the community I had sort of found. It was a tenebrous experience for me due to the fact that many of the more involved parents were SAHM’s and I was a very busy single mother with then as yet undiagnosed disabilities.

Those disabilities affected my son from both directions. Affecting my ability to parent along with my genetics which handed him a stew-pot of mental health challenges.

The sky is turning coral with streaks of gold and dolphins play in the surf while Ducky tackles seaweed underfoot wearing slippery shoes. My alphabet-soup-of-labels child is safe within his “nature cocoon”- a space that nurtures him as well as I do. Perhaps better.

I am getting cold but don’t want to pull him back to camp, where the dog, campfire and dinner await. I want to watch him bounce about, his arms waving frantically when he calls me over to see the next great discovery.

This is homeschooling. The thought comes from nowhere, ephemeral and strange. Up until now I have only been identifying the classic work as school. English and math, grammar and Spanish. These are “school” in my mind.  Moments of running and playing on the beach might stretch into the area of “field trips” to me, but somehow not School. This, in spite of my constant complaint about how kids his age need to move more. That sitting in a classroom lined up like assembly line wasn’t going to teach them anything but how to conform. That they need to go outdoors, run, navigate pocket knives and trees, and bugs.

How did I let myself remain so divergent? I have no idea how I wasn’t able to see both side and suspect it has something to do with my overwhelming literalism. I am often hamstrung by that.

It’s time to go back to camp. I need to stoke the fire, wrestle the huge iron grate over it, go fetch water from the pipe, and attempt to make Mac’n’cheese. It’s pretty much all Ducky will eat these days which suits me fine. Our footprints in the sand are the only ones present and we comment on that while we make our way back. We hear a sound and freeze watching a rabbit hop into view, the brave little bunny refusing to move until the last of a fresh green snack is done.

The campsite is deserted. After cooking we settle in with nature books identifying birds, shells, and plants found during the day. The full moon rises over us, waves crash nearby, our fire is crackling and popping.

I take a deep breath and look around.

This is our school.