Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Life in the South- Taking a Break


This termite thing has been a wild wild ride and it's not over.  My emotions are gone.  I'm pretty much numb from it all. I encourage you all, if you own a home to have it inspected for termites on a regular basis, or learn how to do it yourself.  If you have a giving heart, please click the GOFUNDME link at the top right and give a little to help.  Every dollar will get my own personal Southern Thank you in reply!

I love the south. I love blogging and I like writing for those few who stop by regularly and read.   Please don't let my emotional setbacks deter you from reading some (or all) of my other posts on life in the south. If you scroll down on the right, you'll find the archive, and down further, some of the more popular posts this month.

I will return, but I'm just not sure how soon.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

The Termite War - News From the Front

The Termite War has escalated. When the first signs of war were found, I crawled into enemy territory and engaged in hand to hand combat while at the same time spreading chemical deterrents in the form of Boric Acid.  A week later I found that the boric acid is doing well, but the termites are fighting back. They had built free standing tunnels (known as 'castles' in the trade)  in an effort to get to the wood in the floor of my living room.

Undaunted, I again attacked. This time I flooded them with wet boric acid, along with much slashing and mashing with my big metal putty knife.  (Yes, it sounds cute, but it's deadly to termites!  They run screaming from it like extras in a Godzilla movie!)

In addition, my arsenal has grown with the addition of POISON STAKES! (Insert loud evil laugh here.) I have implanted several 'bait and wait' stations around the house to draw in any termites and which will also kill entire colonies.  

Termites are not special in the South.  Termites can be found in every state in the union, except for Alaska.  I have to admit, that regardless, finding termites in your home can be a daunting and disheartening discovery.  As a Southerner, I've taken this on as another DIY project - mainly because I can't afford to pay anyone to do it.  

This blog may be late for the next few weeks as I tear out the floor in my living room and replace the termite eaten joists.  

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Under the House and Other Frightening Thoughts.


It's no secret, I hate going under my house and in the last couple of weeks, I've gone under there more times than I want to admit.  It's dark and dank and has all manner of man-sized eight-legged-creatures waiting for me to happen by so that they can do their worst.  I've made no bones about the fact that I really hate going under the house.  Why?  Ok, let's examine the factors. 

It's dark. In the movies there's always light from somewhere when someone is crawling under a house or in a dark cave, but under my house it's like crawling around the inside of a black box with a black sack on my head.  In recent years my wife has given me a couple of really good high intensity lights and they really do dispense with the dark when I'm down there so the dark isn't so bad. 

And then there's the smell.  It's a sort of deep double strong rich loamy smell added with overtones of heavy mold.  Even that is not as bad as it used to be since I found a really good respirator that filters out the mold and smells.  I used to spend the night after a trip under the house battling a fever or cough from breathing so much of the mold. Now, things are pretty good on that front. 

And, of course, the spiders.  The spiders are the worst!  Anything with more legs than a cat has no business living under my house!  I always take bug spray under the house with me to deal with the spiders along with a baseball bat, a hockey stick and a sawed-off shotgun! (Ok, I joke. I don't own a hockey stick.)

The real problem (other than the aforementioned spiders) is getting ready to go under the house.  It's not a walk in the park.  I have to start with special clothes.  The clothes I wear have to be old clothes because if they cannot come clean, they have to be burned.  Yes, burned. It's the only way to get rid of that smell. (Sometimes my wife has to wash them 3 times before they are good enough to just sit on the porch between subterranean expeditions.) I choose old blue jeans loose enough for crawling and getting into strange positions and a sweatshirt with a hood to protect my ears and head. So after I put on the pants and sweatshirt that have been hanging out on the patio, I carry my socks to the carport where I've kept my boots from the last trip under the house and finish getting dressed.

Then comes the 'gathering of the tools.'  I have to get together all the tools that I need to complete whatever job I'm going to be doing. I don't want to have to come out from under the house just to get that one thing I need to finish that one job. So, I think through the job and gather everything.  Screwdrivers, spray foam, paper towels, and of course the two new lights. This can take an hour or  more as I track down those little special tools that I need - where did I leave that putty knife? What about that hand auger?  Oh wait, I'm going to need my duck tape..where is it?  It can take a while to find them all. 

Once the tools are gathered, It's time finalize my outfit. I wear a pair of gel filled knee pads (thank you to the wife, once again, who got them for me.) The knee pads need special care.  They need to be duck-taped into place so that they will stay in place while I crawl around on all fours and sometimes on my stomach while I'm 'down under.' Lastly, the respirator, which must be strapped into place and tested.  Then the light which straps onto my forehead and I'm ready for the dungeon.  Oh wait, where are my gloves? 

By this point, I'm totally worn out from getting ready.
Maybe a nap before I head under the house.  ...

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Tunneler II - The Evil Spawn in the Lawn


Not long ago I wrote about these little critters who live under my lawn. No, not leprechauns, these are destructive little vermin known as moles. They've all but ruined my nice neat lawn! They tunnel around under the lawn eating worms and even as cool as a bunch of subterranean tunnels sounds, they must go.  The tunnels and the moles.  Hey, the tunnels are too small for me, anyway. 

In addition to writing about them, I also explained a tried and true southern solution to the problem, namely Juicy Fruit Gum.  Last week, in the early evening, sun still streaming down in the hours after work, I had plenty of time to go out and carefully put Juicy Fruit gum into 6 or 7 areas of the tunnels. It is important to not get your smelly human scent on the gum, so I carefully broke it up using the paper it was wrapped in and placed them into several  of the open holes and a few I even cut into the tunnels.  I then let them sit for 3 days.

Bright at early Saturday morning I went to complete the 2nd part of my Lawn Wars Attack: Shock and Awe! Dressed in my pajama pants, a tee shirt and a long sleeved light jacket, I donned my hard garden shoes and went out to smash down the tunnels. Using a short, but heavy, step and jamming my heels into the soft dirt I went over as much area as I could smashing down the soft tunnels and returning the lawn to some semblance of flat.  I knew that if you don't get the lawn as flat as possible, the little hillocks will get hard as a rock and pushing a mower over it will be like 4 wheeling with no suspension.

I'm sure I looked the foole (with the requisite extra 'e') as I stomped up and down the yard, taking ultra small steps to be sure I got as much coverage as possible. I probably looked like I was doing some strange and ancient "Lawn Dance" as I moved up and down, stomping and stomping. Then I found something surprising. The tunnels covered more than half my yard!  It was a veritable mole-a-lapalooza! 

I finally wore myself out and went in. Now, comes the waiting game. Waiting to see if the moles come back or if the Juicy Fruit did the trick. In the meantime, the photo above shows what they do to a lawn. The smashed tunnels leave big brown spots rife for weeds to take over before the grass fills in. What am I saying...my lawn is mostly weeds anyway.

It's still going to be a bumpy mow, but at least I feel like I've made a good southern attempt at it.  Time will tell.  

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Fear and Loathing in Nashville

It is with much sadness, trepidation, fear, anger and a slew of other emotions that cannot be dictated here that I enter a new project here at the homestead.  Homestead? Sounds like I have acres of lush farmland and a few dozen head of cattle.  No, I have a house on a standard lot and a few hundred head of termites.  

Termites are found in every region of the US, not just the South, so I can't really say this is a Southern problem. It's a problem, but just not something you find only in the South.  Problem might be too light of a word, too.  I mean, I cannot begin to tell you the emotions that come up while you are eating dinner and suddenly you're watching a swarm of termites head across your living room carpet.  Two hours later, you've vacuumed up all the little *&^%*! and now it's time to get to the truth. Just how long have these little *&^%*! been munching on the underside of my house?  

This explains the Walter White-ish get up you see me wearing above.  As much as I hate going under the house, I must go spelunking in search of bugs.  And while I'm at it, I'll be spreading the good cheer that is Boric Acid and termite bug killer.

In a couple of weeks, I'll be tearing apart my house to take out the termite hollowed wood.   You can just read how excited I am to be doing that!  In fact, you'll probably see it posted here...

So, keep coming back. Cry along with Marv and follow my fun adventures.  

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

The Swamp - It's A Southern Thing

There is one place in the south I've never been. Not in the 20 some years I've lived here, and it's not hard (if you know me) to understand that I may never visit there, and I'm ok with that. 

The Swamp.

Just saying the words will conjure up images of green sludgy monsters or alligator hunters with accents so heavy you can barely understand them. The swamps of the southern US are as vast as they are amazing. Yes, amazing.  Think of this for a minute.  Let's start with the Okefenokee Swamp. Covering 700 square miles of South Georgia and North Florida, lies a huge bowl-shaped depression in which the Okefenokee Swamp developed. About 25 miles across and 40 miles long, this is a unique 1,000 sq mile area of primitive wetland, hosting hundreds of species of wildlife. 

But, even bigger is the Atchafalaya Basin.  Only about 20 miles wide but over 150 miles in length, the swamp covers a mind boggling 2200 square miles.  The Atchafalaya Basin, or Atchafalaya Swamp, is the largest wetland and swamp in the United States. Located in south central Louisiana, it is a combination of wetlands and river delta area where the Atchafalaya River and the Gulf of Mexico converge.  

Perhaps the part that amazes me about these wet areas is that people actually live in the swamp. Yep, and it takes a special breed.  They erect houses on the water and, travel up and down the water-ways the way we traverse asphalt and of course, make a living on (and maybe even IN) the swamp.  

Being a good southerner, you'd think I'd be anxious to head on into the swamp and get me some of them 'gatuz' during 'gatuh seezun.'  The problem is the media. No, wait, the problem is that the media has educated us properly and shown us all the dangerous snakes, poisonous spiders and aggressive aforementioned 'gatuz' that prowl the waters of the swamp looking for innocent Nashville Blog Writers to eat.  The Atchafalaya  is even home to the Lousiana Black Bear which, although on the United States Fish and Wildlife Service threatened list, can still eat a Good-Ol-Boy Wanna be like me without a second thought. 

No, you will not find me in the swamp.  I am amazed at the people who live there, and even more amazed to watch them catch fish and 'gatuz' but I will not be traveling there for a visit.  No post cards, no selfies, no way Jose Billy Bob!  I have enough trouble with the arachnids in my crawl space without traveling there just to tangle with some over-sized swamp spider bent on my destruction. 

Perhaps that's why those shows on cable are so popular.  We all are amazed at these incredible people who live in the swamp, but the closest we want to get is punching the button on the remote control.  It's probably what's going on in my house. And, again, I'm ok with that.  

Suddenly, I'm in the mood to spray for spiders...and maybe snakes and gaters too...

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Nashville - The Athens of the South

Every good Southerner, nay every good citizen knows a bit about their city that sets it apart from the rest of the world. Everyone knows that Nashville has a rich history of Country Music (yes, with the requisite capital letters!)  Perhaps it would be a bit of a shock to learn that sitting in the middle of a large park in the southern part of Nashville sits the only full sized replica of the Parthenon built anywhere in the world.  Now, for the uninformed, the Parthenon is a temple built in honor of the god Athena and sits at the top of the Athenian Acropolis (naturaly) in Greece.

Originally built for Tennessee's 1897 Centennial Exposition, this replica of the original Parthenon in Athens serves as a monument to what is considered the pinnacle of classical architecture. The plaster replicas of the Parthenon Marbles found in the Naos are direct casts of the original sculptures which adorned the pediments of the Athenian Parthenon, dating back to 438 B.C. The originals of these powerful fragments are housed in the British Museum in London. 

Oh geez, did that put anyone to sleep?  Let's try to stay awake here.  

Your next question may be why?  Why put this big, full sized replica in the middle of a park in the middle of a city in the middle of the US? Quite simply, Nashville has always been called the "Athens of the South" and the directors of the 1897 exposition wished to expand on this and so it was decided that the Parthenon would center the exposition perfectly. 

It was originally slated to be torn down after the exposition (as most all of the other buildings were,) but locals loved it so that they left it.  Weather defaced it to such a degree that it was completely rebuilt in 1920 and refaced in the early 1990's.  It houses an art collection and is big enough for public and private parties. It has even been used in movies as backdrop to such action films as Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief. 

So if you're planning a trip to Nashville, be sure to add this to your itinerary alongside the music studios, live music venues and gift shops.