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From grimace to grin, from pain to peace and from earth to Eden . . .


Janie,
my wife and the mother of our three daughters, for eleven years was a long-time ovarian cancer survivor dating from 1999. In recent months the cancer had metastasized to her lungs and other organs, a spread so severe that surgery and chemotherapy were no longer options. She was also a long-time dialysis patient with a schedule of two days each week, Monday and Thursday, for two hours each day. She had dialysis on Monday, 8 November but because Thursday was November 11, Veteran’s Day, her dialysis appointment was shifted to Friday. We did not take her to dialysis on the following Monday, and she died just three days later on Thursday, November 18 at 9:15 in the evening.

Early in the morning on the Saturday after her last dialysis I was at her bedside and we were talking about going to dialysis on the following Monday. She was very quiet and I was doing most of the talking, and at one point when I paused she said, softly but very clearly, It’s time. When I asked time for what, she again said softly but clearly, It’s time to go. I broke into tears, just as I am now doing while writing this. Choking back my sobs I said that it was not up to her, that God would decide when it was time, not her, and that she should keep fighting until He made that decision. She smiled slightly and sweetly and made no response.

I stumbled on blindly, sobbing and speaking in broken tones and told her that I didn’t want her to leave me, that she couldn’t leave, that I wouldn’t let her leave, that I needed her and our girls needed her, that we would complete almost six decades of marriage on December 13, and that her birthday would be the day after Christmas. I told her that we had 58 years together, all beautiful except for one, and for that year I desperately needed her forgiveness, and I begged her to forgive me—I begged her for forgiveness that I had not earned and did not deserve.

She looked into my eyes for a long moment, then speaking slowly and softly she said, I forgive you, and then she said, You’re a good man. I told her that if she left me I would follow her and be with her, not knowing when but that I would definitely follow her, and I promised her that from that moment on I would make every effort to live my life towards that goal. Her eyes were closed when I told her that and I wasn’t sure whether she had heard me, but then she said, I’ll wait for you, and a few seconds later she said, I’ll tell Jesus you’re coming. I don’t remember any conversation after that. She lapsed into sleep and except for a few precious times that she acknowledged me and others when we spoke to her, she was silent up to the moment she left us.

I had asked her earlier if she wanted a chaplain to come in and she shook her head, but early in the evening on Thursday, November 18, I asked for a chaplain to visit us. Hector Villarreal, a Protestant chaplain, arrived at six o’clock and prayed with her and for her, and for me and our three daughters. He told her that God loved her and wanted her to be with Him, and that He was waiting for her.

The chaplain said that she would draw her last breath on earth, but that she would draw her next breath in heaven. We were at her side when she took her last breath on earth, and we truly believe, then and now, that she took her next breath in the presence of God, and that her spirit, her marvelous soul, never judgmental and so perfect in every other respect, is now complete and happy and whole again, untarnished by toil, trial and tribulations encountered during almost 79 years of life, years that she lived and loved to the fullest—born in 1931, she died just 38 days short of her 79th birthday, December 26. We would have celebrated our 58th wedding anniversary on the 13th of December.

The hospice nurse noted the time of her last breath as 9: 15 PM on Thursday, November 18, 2010. She had lapsed into a coma the day before, and her breathing had become labored, with her mouth sagging open and each breath an audible gasp for air. She was on oxygen, with the maximum allowable flow of oxygen to her nostrils from a bedside tank.

From time to time, depending on whether she seemed to show pain either by sound or movement, the hospice nurse administered liquid pain medication, placing it under the tongue with a syringe. The nurse assured us that the hearing is the final sense to go, and that Janie could hear every word we spoke, so we talked to her right up to that final breath with our hands on her, on her face and smoothing her hair and softly stroking her arms and hands and feet and adjusting the bed covers, each of us in turn professing our love, recalling our favorite times of our lives with her, with all our words interspersed and muffled by sniffs and sobs.

When our daughters left the room, I asked the nurse if she could do anything about the way Janie’s mouth drooped open, twisted and misshapen, drawn down and to the left from the way her head was turned to the side for so many hours. The nurse said that nothing could be done, that it had to be done at the funeral home.

I insisted that we try, and I began trying to place her head differently in an effort to restore her features to a more natural position. The nurse assisted by folding a hand towel and placing it under Janie’s chin, and that helped slightly. Her mouth, however, still sagged to the left and her lips were open and peeled back with her teeth showing. The nurse said that was all we could do, that the rest was up to the funeral home staff.

Everyone except the nurse left the room, but I stayed seated beside the bed with her while the nurse was completing her report, and several minutes later I spoke aloud, saying that my eyes must be playing tricks on me. I thought I had seen a fold in the blanket high on her left chest rise slowly but perceptibly, as if she had slowly inhaled. I watched it intently and after a brief period it appeared to lower.

The nurse either did not hear me or perhaps simply ignored me, and continued with her work. I felt that the blanket fold had moved, but I knew that I could have imagined it, that I was perhaps trying to will my wife to take another breath. The air in the room was very still. The overhead ceiling fan was not on because she never wanted it on.

A few seconds later I again spoke aloud and said that my eyes were still playing tricks on me. I saw the same fold that had moved a few seconds earlier move again, rising ever so slowly but perceptibly and after a brief period I saw it lower. Again there was no response from the nurse. She may have felt that I was so stricken with grief that my imagination was running wild, and that perhaps I was trying to will my wife to breathe, to return to me, to return to life from the other side.

Our daughters had been out of the room since their mother took her last breath, but Kelley, the youngest of the three, asked them if they wanted to come in to see her again. They declined and Kelley came in alone, and as she entered I glanced at her mother’s face and my heart began to pound wildly.

I told Kelley to look at her mouth—it was no longer contorted and sagging. Her lips were closed and her mouth showed a hint of a smile, an uplift at the corners—just a hint of a smile but enough for any observer to see that she looked calm and peaceful and perhaps a bit amused. Kelly told the others that they needed to come in, that there was something they needed to see, and we all marveled at the transformation of Janie’s face—from a grimace to a grin, from a sagging mouth to a smile, and from pain to peace.

When I felt that my eyes were playing tricks on me I was wrong. They were not playing tricks. I believe—no, I know—that I saw the blanket fold move up and then drop back down after a few seconds, and I saw it repeat the movement a bit later.

She did indeed draw her last breath on earth, and it is my honest belief that she then drew her next breath in heaven. I believe that our Creator allowed her to return and draw another last breath on earth, a breath that enabled her to live again, albeit just long enough to correct the awkward position of her lips and her mouth and begin that beautiful smile that she shared with me and with our daughters and with others throughout her 78 years of life on earth. I truly believe that she heard me ask the nurse if anything could be done with her mouth, and I believe—no, I know—that after she took her next breath in heaven, she asked God for a favor and He granted it.

I believe that through the power and grace of God my wife was allowed to return to this life just long enough to slough off all the pain and misery of years of surgeries and chemotherapy and dialysis and several days gasping for breath while under medication for the pain caused by ovarian tumors that almost filled both lungs. I believe the Master sent her back to earth to occupy her body for the brief time she needed to complete the metamorphasis from a chrysalis to a beautiful butterfly, to return that smile to her lips for us before returning to Him. He knew that I needed that, that we needed that, and He gave her the power to do it for me and for our daughters.

Her return to the world of the living, though only for a very brief period, is a miracle because of the miracle it wrought in her appearance. It is for me the epiphany I have longed for and sought for many years. I have always wished for a sign, an unworldly experience I could view as an indication that life does exist after death, that there is a divine presence, that God exists and is responsible for all the good in mankind. That smile on Janie’s face on her last night on earth has given me that sign, and for that I thank God and I thank her.

Sleep well in heaven, my darling.


Postscript: Janie is buried in Fort Sam Houston’s National Cemetery. She lies among military veterans of our wars, many of whom are cited by our nation for bravery and duty performance. Janie is just one of many there, but she is one that deserves every commendation and medal that may exist to commemorate her exemplary life as a wife and mother. Her obituary appeared in the San Antonio, Texas Express-News on Monday, November 22, 2010—click here for the full publication.

The request below appears at the end of the obituary. Perhaps some of the readers of this posting will find it in their hearts to support these or similar organizations with donations, and join in the search for prevention and cures for ovarian cancer and kidney disease, two of the deadliest and most debilitating afflictions known to mankind.

From Janie’s obituary: In lieu of flowers, please consider a contribution in her memory to the National Ovarian Cancer Coalition, P.O. Box 7086, Dallas Texas 75209, http://www.ovarian.org or the American Kidney Fund, 6110 Executive Blvd., Ste. 1010, Rockville MD 20852, http://www.kidneyfund.org

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5 Comments

Posted by on December 4, 2010 in death, Family, friends, funeral, health, marriage, Military

 

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Re: 60 miles on one gallon of diesel . . .

Earlier this month I posted a story about a rabbit that thrived on diesel fuel—not a real rabbit, of course—this was a Volkswagen Rabbit that performed heroically for our family in the years between 1978 and 1984. I would like to believe that it is still performing, some 26 years after I donated it to the Salvation Army in McAllen, Texas—could be—who knows?

Click here to read about the Rabbit’s ability to travel 60 miles on one gallon of diesel fuel.

For a related story about the car, A Rabbit with an attitude, click here.

What follows is a comment from one of my three daughters, the princess that lives in a Dallas suburb with her husband, her son, her daughter and a Blue-heeled Australian Shepherd named Wrigley, along with various insects and other creepy-crawly specimens collected by her daughter. I felt that my daughter’s comment, combined with my response, qualified for a separate posting. My daughter also has a WordPress blog. She started off at top speed then came to an abrupt stop, but the initial posting is well worth the read. Click here for her posting about the Easter bunny.

This is my daughter’s comment:

What I remember most about this car was driving to San Antonio to buy the car. You and mom dumped—okay, dropped—us off at the movies to see “Jaws.” Cindy and I sat through one showing and you didn’t show up—we sat through another showing and you still hadn’t come back to pick us up. Halfway through the third showing you proudly came into the theater with the great news that you had bought the car. I am sure that seeing Jaws two and one-half times has something to do with my fear of being ripped to shreds by a shark—that and my overactive imagination.

This is my response to her comment:

Sorry about that, but thanks for your comment. It taught me a new word—galeophobia. Had I been asked the meaning of that word before now, I would have guessed that it meant a fear of strong winds—tornados, hurricanes, summer breezes wafting o’er the meadows, etc. For your edification—if needed—and that of the hordes of viewers stampeding and elbowing one another in their efforts to gain access to my blog, I am including Wikipedia’s take on fear of sharks—click here for the Wikipedia web site.

From Wikipedia:

Fear of sharks: Excessive and persistent fear of sharks is termed galeophobia. Sufferers from this phobia experience anxiety even though they may be safe on a boat or in an aquarium or on a beach. Hollywood films depicting sharks as calculating, vengeful diabolical monsters have no doubt enkindled the fear of sharks in many persons. So have validated reports of sharks venturing into rivers and lakes.

Most of the more than 300 species of sharks rarely attack swimmers and scuba divers. However, great white sharks, hammerhead sharks and tiger sharks will attack on occasion, especially if they detect blood in the water. More than 60 percent of the victims of shark attacks survive. Oddly, the largest of all sharks, the whale shark, feeds on plankton and has no appetite for human flesh.

The term “galeophobia” is derived from the Greek words “galeos” (shark with markings resembling those on a weasel) and “phobos” (fear). “Galeophobia” is also sometimes used as alternate term for ailurophobia, fear of cats, because the Greek word “galeos” is derived from “galee,” a Greek meaning “polecat” and “weasel.”

That’s my story and I’m sticking to it!

Postscript: I stumbled upon a website that featured a Panama-brown Rabbit owned by a lover of Panama-brown Rabbits. Click here to view multiple photos—this car differs from my rabbit only in the number of doors—mine had four—and its fuel requirements. The owner doesn’t say, but I believe this is a gasoline model. My Rabbit was configured for diesel fuel.

 
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Posted by on September 24, 2010 in cars, drivers, Family

 

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60 miles to the gallon on diesel . . .

In 1977 I began the year as a journeyman Customs inspector at the port of Progreso, Texas at the international border with Mexico, just as I had done for the past six years since beginning my employment with the U.S. Customs Service in December of 1971, just six months after my retirement from the U.S. Air Force in July of that year.

In the summer of 1977 I applied for a supervisory position at the port of Roma, some 75 miles farther upstream on the Rio Grande River, and I was selected in the competition for the position of a first-level supervisor at that location. I went to Roma in October of 1977 and remained there two and one-half years until 1980. Early in 1980 I was promoted to a second-level supervisory position at the port of Brownsville, Texas and I relocated there in April of that year.

My home was in Donna, Texas, a small town in the lower Rio Grande Valley some 60 miles distant from my duties at the port of Roma. At the time I was driving a 1972 Ford LTD that used a considerable amount of gas per mile, so I searched for a more economical vehicle. I sold the Ford and bought a 1978 Chevrolet that turned out to be a gas hog, so I traveled to San Antonio is search of a vehicle a bit easier on fuel.

I returned to the Valley with a Panama Brown 1978 Volkswagen Rabbit equipped with the original Rabbit gasoline engine that had been modified to run on diesel fuel. Diesel in Mexico was selling for a whopping 12 cents a gallon at that time, and the station was a mere one-eighth of a mile from the Customhouse, across the river in Miguel Aleman, Mexico. I gave the Chevrolet to one of my daughters in Donna, Texas.

The Rabbit had four doors and seated four passengers in relative comfort considering its diminutive size, with front bucket seats and a floor-mounted manual gear shift. It had the basic required dashboard instruments, but the only extras were a radio and air conditioning. Its color was called Panama Brown, but it could only be considered a rather bright shade of orange.

I started making the 120 mile round trip between home and work and soon realized that I was getting excellent mileage, but I wanted to know exactly how far the little car would run on a full tank of diesel. The tank held 10 gallons—I told the station attendant in Mexico to pack it in, and filled a one gallon can with diesel to carry in the car. I intended to run until the tank was empty—I couldn’t think of a better way to get an accurate picture of the performance of a gasoline engine configured to run on diesel.

I decided to run without air conditioning for the test because I knew that the compressor took a toll on the engine’s power. I zeroed out the mile indicator and maintained a steady maximum speed of 60-65 miles per hours for the duration of the test. I drove until the engine stopped running and then let the car coast to a stop. The coasting didn’t gain much, because the terrain between home and work was flat, with no hills and no curves.

Including the one hundred feet or so covered in the coasting when the tank ran dry, I recorded exactly 600 miles. With a ten-gallon tank that means the little orange Rabbit averaged 60 miles for each gallon of diesel—I sure wish I had it now!

I drove the Rabbit for the two and one-half years I  worked at Roma, then for another three and one-half years that I worked at the port of Brownsville, a round-trip distance of 100 miles between my home in Donna and my work site in Brownsville. In October of 1983 I passed the Rabbit to my daughter that at the time was living in Donna and making the same 100-mile round trip in the gas-guzzling 1978 Chevrolet. She parked the Chevrolet and I donated it to the Salvation Army in McAllen, Texas and took a decent tax write-off for the donation.

Now for the kicker: My daughter drove the Rabbit for another two years, then she parked it and came to live with us in Washington, D.C. I donated the little car to the same charity and took another decent write-off for the donation.

Its speedometer showed an honest 186, 000 miles, and here is the clincher—I never changed the glow plugs nor ever replaced a tire—never even had a flat. The only maintenance performed on that magnificent automobile during that 186,000 miles was the replacement of the fan belt—it broke at exactly 100,000 miles while I was on the way to work, still with about 30 miles to go. I lost all electrical power, but a diesel doesn’t need electricity—the heat of the glow plugs keeps it running. I drove directly to the Volkswagen dealer in Brownsville and had the belt replaced.

That’s my story of my 1978 Panama Brown diesel Rabbit, and I’m sticking to it!

 
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Posted by on September 11, 2010 in bridge, cars, taxes, Travel

 

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More on wasp spray . . .

I first posted this item in July, 2009. I reposted it in March, 2010 because I felt that it had failed to connect with very many readers. The reposting brought a comment that should be of interest to others. It reproduces the original posting in its entirety, and I must say with all humility that it’s well worth the read. I welcome comments on the original posting, on the reposting, and on this addendum—nay, I urge viewers to make comments, whether positive or negative. Time is a precious and finite resource—time spent on a posting is wasted if a reader neglects to comment on items that consumed some of their time, however brief. A comment should be forthcoming, if for no other reason than to justify spending time on the posting.

This is the viewer’s comment, exactly as received:

My family owns and operates Security Equipment Corporation which manufacturers SABRE pepper sprays. I appreciate that web-sites like this one are sharing proactive safety ideas. That’s very good. However, there is an issue with WASP spray. WASP sprays’ labels state, “It’s a violation of federal law to use in any manner inconsistent with this label. Never Use Indoors!” Police departments worldwide use pepper spray because the inflammatory effects of this agent work on those which cannot feel pain (very important). The inflammatory effects of pepper spray cause eyes to close involuntarily and produce a loss of breath sensation. Pepper spray has been proven effective on deterring and incapacitating aggressive, combative, intoxicated and drug induced individuals for over 20 years.

To date, no human testing has been conducted on WASP spray and it’s a violation of federal law to use in self defense. There are pepper spray options which will deploy up to 25 feet and unlike WASP sprays, these pepper sprays require the user to be less accurate because they will cover an entire doorway. It’s probably not a good idea to use WASP spray for home protection since it is against the law and WASP spray labels themselves state “NEVER USE INDOORS”. Pepper spray is a safe, proven option which is trusted and relied upon by police officers worldwide.

Thanks for reading this.

This is my reply:

Thanks for visiting and thanks for the comment. I’ll pass this information on to my daughter and to my readers. As for wasp spray used for self-defense being a violation of federal law, I opine that one should use anything and everything available to defend one’s self. The use of knives, guns, hammers and baseball bats for self-defense may also be violations of federal law, but they can be highly effective in such instances. And I must add that when one is under attack, it could be quite difficult to determine whether the need for self-defense is lethal or non-lethal—in such instances the doubt must be resolved in favor of the defender—not in favor of the attacker.

An addition to my reply:

In any situation in which my well-being and/or that of my family is threatened, I will depend on something that has a much higher deterrent factor than wasp spray or pepper spray and is effective at a range greater than 25 feet.

That’s my story and that’s my opinion, and I’m sticking to both!

 
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Posted by on June 6, 2010 in Uncategorized

 

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Web worms?—A return to wasp spray and self-defense . . .

This is a repost of my July 30, 2009 posting entitled On wasp spray and self-defense. That posting has languished in total darkness for some nine months, as evidenced by only two votes, although votes of excellence, and zero comments, and in the interests of full disclosure I must admit that I made the two votes of excellence. I am dragging the posting out into the bright glare of today’s Word Press readers in the hope that some will lower their expectations of finding high-brow literature and lower themselves to perusing my puny efforts to educate, advise and entertain.

On self-defense and wasp spray will follow immediately after this timely hint concerning web worms in arboreal gatherings in people’s yards.

Do you have web worms?

Not you, your trees. Do they have web worms?

If so, listen up!

Item #1: Web worms begin life as larvae and from there progress to building their very own webs with the intent of propagating their species.

Item #2: Adult wasps eat web worm larvae.

Those two items combined should not require any additional instructions on how to control web worms. Any reasonably educated and discerning reader would, on reading the two items, know how to eliminate web worms on their property, but just in case one or more are unable to figure it out, I will shout it out:

STOP KILLING WASPS!

You have my guarantee, hereby and herein written, that the web worms will disappear.

Now for the repost of my original treatise on wasps, dated 30 July, 2009:

On self-defense and wasp spray . . .

I recently received an e-mail from one of my princess daughters, the one that lives, loves and works in Virginia. The e-mail included a link to an on-line movie that extolled the value of using wasp spray as a defensive weapon, a weapon that used properly might save one’s life. The movie suggests that the attackee spray the solution into the face and eyes of the attacker. Click on the following link to view the movie: movie clip

This is my response to my daughter’s e-mail:

Nice tip, thanks.

I’m going out to buy some wasp spray today. Fan #2 on the patio (counting from the east side of the patio) has (had) a wasp colony inside the motor housing. Brantley turned it on yesterday (the fan) and they swarmed out. A few got clipped with the fan blades while exiting, and to those I administered the coup de grace, which, as you know of course, is a French term meaning “a death blow intended to end the suffering of a wounded creature.” Several more got clipped by the fan blades when, after successfully exiting the fan housing, they attempted to reenter—most met the same fate, but they kept trying—this particular species of wasp seems to be comprised of slow learners.

I dispatched others to wherever dead wasps go by swatting them with a rolled-up copy of the San Antonio Express-News, our one daily source of “news.” The publication has undergone so many changes in size, style and content that I have been forced to find some use for it other than keeping abreast of local, national and worldwide news—the only thing that seems to have remain untouched is its commercial advertising. The publication has a pronounced tilt to the left, similar to the Leaning Tower of Pisa, and may eventually topple unless drastic measures are taken (similar to those measures taken to shore-up the Pisa tower).

In days of long ago—in the days now shrouded in the dim mists of history, in the days when outdoor privies ruled—the paper would have taken its rightful place alongside corncobs—yes, corncobs, either red or white or both—and outdated mail-order publications such as Sears, Montgomery-Ward and J.C. Penney catalogs.

Ah, those were the days, my friends.

I believe the survivors (wasps, not newspapers) have migrated to greener pastures, but they may have taken up residence in one of the other fans—we’ll just have to wait and see. These are Itsy Bitsy Teenie Weenie Yellow Polka Dot Bikini wasps and may have just hatched out—or they could be part of a pygmy species of wasps. Could be. Maybe.

That’s pure speculation on my part—I didn’t see the Mamas and the Papas anywhere.

Oh, by the way, although the video didn’t cover this part it could be that, in addition to possibly saving one’s life some day, a handy can of wasp spray might some day save one’s birdhouse—it could happen.

No, one’s birdhouse does not refer to any particular body part, or parts, of any bipedal primate in the homo sapien family, neither male nor female. It refers to a type of housing comprised of various materials assembled in various architectural styles, having been constructed with the intention of attracting and sheltering various species of avian creatures whilst they (the birds) go about the important business of procreating their particular species. However, as an afterthought I must confess that if the phrase one’s birdhouse were used to refer to any particular body part, it would probably refer to the female of the species rather than the male.

Note: The word whilst is not misspelled—its spelling is accurate but archaic and is usually restricted to poems. The whilst spelling (and pronunciation) of the word prevails in England, but has pretty well died out in the United States. In my opinion, humble though it may be, whilst is used in the U.S. by persons who also say amongst, unbeknownst and dreampt, all archaic and poetical, and all of which are used purposefully to attract attention—much in the manner of birdhouses.

A prologue to my e-mail:

A colony of yellow jackets (insects, not cheerleaders) established residence in my daughter’s garden birdhouse and one of them, for whatever reason, saw fit to sting her on her aft side, somewhere below the waist and between the hips. The unprovoked attack sent her scrambling into the safety of the house. Because she felt that another attack was highly predictable, she arranged to have the birdhouse consigned, with the yellow jackets extant, to the nearest dumpster. They are probably now feeding voraciously in a local landfill, and may morph into giant yellow jackets and instinctively home-in and return to their previous location.

Bummer.

So, as can readily be seen, had a can of wasp spray been available it might have saved that birdhouse.

And one final thought concerning the possible effectiveness of wasp spray when used as a defense mechanism—if it works on wasps it should be just as effective when used on any attacker, whether the attacker is a a yellow jacket, a wasp, a WASP or any other person, regardless of color, national heritage or religious preference.

That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

 
4 Comments

Posted by on March 29, 2010 in education, Humor, Writing

 

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On self-defense and wasp spray . . .

I recently received an e-mail from one of my princess daughters, the one that lives, loves and works in Virginia. The e-mail included a link to an on-line movie that extolled the value of using wasp spray as a defensive weapon, a weapon that used properly might save one’s life. The movie suggests that the attackee spray the solution into the face and eyes of the attacker. Click on the following link to view the movie: movie clip

This is my response to my daughter’s e-mail:

Nice tip, thanks.

I’m going out to buy some wasp spray today. Fan #2 on the patio (counting from the east side of the patio) has (had) a wasp colony inside the motor housing. Brantley turned it on yesterday (the fan) and they swarmed out. A few got clipped with the fan blades while exiting, and to those I administered the coup de grace, which, as you know of course, is a French term meaning “a death blow intended to end the suffering of a wounded creature.” Several more got clipped by the fan blades when, after successfully exiting the fan housing, they attempted to reenter—most met the same fate, but they kept trying—this particular species of wasp seems to be comprised of slow learners.

I dispatched others to wherever dead wasps go by swatting them with a rolled-up copy of the San Antonio Express-News, our one daily source of “news.” The publication has undergone so many changes in size, style and content that I have been forced to find some use for it other than keeping abreast of local, national and worldwide news—the only thing that seems to have remain untouched is its commercial advertising. The publication has a pronounced tilt to the left, similar to the Leaning Tower of Pisa, and may eventually topple unless drastic measures are taken (similar to those measures taken to shore-up the Pisa tower).

In days of long ago—in the days now shrouded in the dim mists of history, in the days when outdoor privies ruled—the paper would have taken its rightful place alongside corncobs—yes, corncobs, either red or white or both—and outdated mail-order publications such as Sears, Montgomery-Ward and J.C. Penney catalogs.

Ah, those were the days, my friends.

I believe the survivors (wasps, not newspapers) have migrated to greener pastures, but they may have taken up residence in one of the other fans—we’ll just have to wait and see. These are Itsy Bitsy Teenie Weenie Yellow Polka Dot Bikini wasps and may have just hatched out—or they could be part of a pygmy species of wasps. Could be. Maybe.

That’s pure speculation on my part—I didn’t see the Mamas and the Papas anywhere.

Oh, by the way, although the video didn’t cover this part it could be that, in addition to possibly saving one’s life some day, a handy can of wasp spray might some day save one’s birdhouse—it could happen.

No, one’s birdhouse does not refer to any particular body part, or parts, of any bipedal primate in the homo sapien family, neither male nor female. It refers to a type of housing comprised of various materials assembled in various architectural styles, having been constructed with the intention of attracting and sheltering various species of avian creatures whilst they (the birds) go about the important business of procreating their particular species. However, as an afterthought I must confess that if the phrase one’s birdhouse were used to refer to any particular body part, it would probably refer to the female of the species rather than the male.

Note: The word whilst is not misspelled—its spelling is accurate but archaic and is usually restricted to poems. The whilst spelling (and pronunciation) of the word prevails in England, but has pretty well died out in the United States. In my opinion, humble though it may be, whilst is used in the U.S. by persons who also say amongst, unbeknownst and dreampt, all archaic and poetical, and all of which are used purposefully to attract attention—much in the manner of birdhouses.

A prologue to my e-mail:

A colony of yellow jackets (insects, not cheerleaders) established residence in my daughter’s garden birdhouse and one of them, for whatever reason, saw fit to sting her on her aft side, somewhere below the waist and between the hips. The unprovoked attack sent her scrambling into the safety of the house. Because she felt that another attack was highly predictable, she arranged to have the birdhouse consigned, with the yellow jackets extant, to the nearest dumpster. They are probably now feeding voraciously in a local landfill, and may morph into giant yellow jackets and instinctively home-in and return to their previous location.

Bummer.

So, as can readily be seen, had a can of wasp spray been available it might have saved that birdhouse.

And one final thought concerning the possible effectiveness of wasp spray when used as a defense mechanism—if it works on wasps it should be just as effective when used on any attacker, whether the attacker is a a yellow jacket, a wasp, a WASP or any other person, regardless of color, national heritage or religious preference.

That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

 

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