Thursday, July 10, 2008


I thought I would be able to get away without seeing Petunia for at least a few days but this morning she was doing yardwork outside my door. I opened the door and almost passed out in fright when I saw Petunia bent over some purple cone flower completely swathed in black veils. She looked like a Sicilian widow. Her outfit was like a beekeeper's outfit, except it was all black. Black netting covered her face, swooped down over her caftan and obscured her arms. It almost looked like an odd semblance of a Halloween costume.

"There's too many bugs," she explained.

It's true. There are a lot of bugs around here. I figure that's the trade off for the lush greenery. We have to share the trees and shrubs and flower beds with the insects. Last night my nose felt dry, so of course I picked it (oh shut up you know you pick your nose too and I was alone at least) and I kid you not I pulled out a dead bug. I had a dead gnat living all up inside my nostril for God knows how long.

"I have to wear this to keep the bugs off," Petunia said.

Ok. Whatever. I think she's just crazy. I've decided to ignore her. I don't have a real lease so I don't think all those landlord laws apply. I set some traps and I can tell that she has not been in here and I refuse to tie the scarf on the damned door so she'll never know if I'm really here or not and it might deter her from coming in. I'm not really worried about her. I'm here to write, not deal with batty old ladies who want to get all in my business.

But she has a point about those bugs. Last night we had a sunset so magnificent it rivaled those in the tropics. I stood outside mesmerized by the streaks of coral and violet and smiled breathlessly at the shadows of flowers in the twilight lit by the tiny lanterns of fireflies and it was all so beautiful that I opened my mouth to breathe in this clean, prairie air and I ended up with a mouthful of mosquitoes. Mosquitoes invaded my ears, flew up my nose and crowded for a space in my ears. I started jumping and spitting and swatting, coughing, and sputtering until it got so bad I said "Oh to hell with this sunset" and went inside.

In Millpond, which is built over a swamp, locals have a saying that the mosquitoes there are so bad they'll carry you off.

The mosquitoes in Iowa could, 100%, with little effort carry me off. I don't know where they'd take me but a swarm of them could easily transport me. This gave me a brilliant idea. What if I could train a group of these things to pick me and carry me where I need to go. Instead of walking six miles a day the mosquitoes could just lift me up and fly me to class. Later they could pick me up and fly me to dinner. Afterwards they could carry me back up the hill to Petunia's house. How great would that be to have domesticated mosquitoes? It's not so far fetched. We ride horses and get them to pull things around for us, don't we? The way I look at it mosquitoes serve no purpose except to feed spiders who serve no purpose except to eat mosquitoes, so what sense does all that make? These mosquitoes need a job.


Emily said...

I never knew that the mequitos up north were so aggressive.

Anonymous said...

> Mosquitoes invaded my ears, flew up my nose and crowded for a space in my ears.

And here I thought you were a Florida girl. At least our skeeters have tail numbers.

Maybe you bathe too much.


Beverly said...

oh believe me - i've always said except for the fact that they feed dragonflies i can think of no good purpose for a mosquito! the mosquitos in louisiana and southern mississippi are large too. a friend moved to southern alabama recently (near the coast) and said they have mosquitos that must be related to pteradactyls. lol

netting and bugs or not - your landlady is crazy. whether the rules of leasing/renting apply or not, the rules of common courtesy and decency should apply and apparently they don't. some old women are just plain nosy and love to snoop. but i have to agree w/ someone else about leaving sex toys out. that's hilarious. my boyfriend said tie the scarf around your doorknob and then let her catch you masterbating. i said i don't think that would work - plus i doubt i could do it. but i do think that if i weren't so cheap i could leave a sex doll out with some toys all over the place. and do weird stuff too - like put a rubber chicken on the table with them. or a giant jar of vasoline and a baseball bat. heh - i would pay money to see her face...

Anonymous said...

I had a landlady like yours too. I'm still telling stories about is all fodder for the literary life.

Milpond...was there a mill?

Sounds like you're having fun. Citronella candles can help repel mosquitoes if you are outside in the evening.

Airedale Lover

Wide Lawns said...

These mosquitoes are way worse than the ones in Florida!! I don't have a problem at home. Maybe it's because I live by the beach.

the Bag Lady said...

Honey, I've been trying to train the little bastards for years, and they just will not listen. All they want to do is drink blood. Freakin' little vampires!
(oh, and thanks for this post - I almost choked on my breakfast cereal when I read the "Sicilian Widow" line, and things went downhill from there - now I have to scrape half-chewed granola off my screen..._

Anonymous said...

I'm pretty sure that if you looked at the tourist shops you could find a shirt with a drawing of a mosquito and the text "Iowa State Bird".

I think every "midwestern" state has those.

Missicat said...

"Mosquitos need a job", huh? Can't say I have ever heard that sentiment! But I must say I agree - they are pretty useless otherwise.

sadi said...

I live in the Midwest, and they are bad, but I've never worn netting outside!

They are worse this year though. I'm sure all the rains and flooding helped contribute.

As a fomer Iowa girl, I just want to say that we aren't all nuts. ;) I hope you get a lot of writing done.

Enjoy your visit, and keep your mouth closed when you're watching sunsets!

Fae said...

I agree, we need to put insects to work, lazy bastards! I heard that they are attracted to perfume, so it's best to use soap/shampoo/lotion that is unscented. This is weird and I haven't tried it, but my friend said that she uses nose spray on the bites so that they don't itch. I know it's not preventive, but it sounds like you are past that stage anyway. I hope you are having fun writing.

Reb said...

They probably are not usually that bad - the mosquitoes that is. It's all the flooding that has let them hatch. The ones we get up here can stand flat foot and suck a cow moose they are so big.

Even if you don't have a lease, the law still applies. Was she recommended by the place giving the writing class? Maybe they need to take her off their list.

Poky said...

Aaah, welcome to Iowa. The Bug Capital of the USA >.<

I do think the floods have promoted mosquitoes, but this actually isn't an especially bad year for them -_- This spring there were hardly any, probably died when there was too much rain and swift running water rather than the stagnant the larvae prefer. But now we're dealing with the second hatching.

You may be here late enough to enjoy the Invasion of the Bean Beetles, which look like orangey yellow lady bugs and STINK. Do not squish them if you value your sanity, they leave stains and your landlady will have a conniption.

You fortunately missed the June bugs.

The box-elder bugs ought to be hanging out on your walls and windowsills quite soon.

Enjoy! =D

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