One woman, lots of paint and hundreds of tiles. If you're here because you found a painted tile, it's yours to keep.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

The other war

Suzanne loves those days when she can truly become one with her work, when she's right there in the zone, whether it's cleaning out her closet, waxing her car or making a little dent in the jungle outside her door. Sometimes the list of chores seems so long that she's gets caught up in thinking about the enormosity of it all, and even though spell check says that's not a word, it feels right. When Suzanne can hone in on just that one thing, it's a good day. The key is blocking out all the other stuff and just enjoying the moment. It's something to strive for ...

Dropped Suzanne earlier this evening at the Subway at Southland Shopping Center on State Road 84 in Fort Lauderdale. Propped her right up there by the sink, where she seems to add a splash of character to a somewhat sterile environment.

When I returned home, I ordered something very special online, something I've been thinking about for years ... 1500 live ladybugs to release in my yard. They eat garden pests such as the aphids that prey on the plants that attract butterflies. The leaves of my veggie garden experiments are looking tattered, and I once had more monarchs.

But, you know, the ladies have to travel to get here. Then I'm supposed to put them in the fridge for awhile (apparently, this calms them), and then I'll have to make some "wheast" (from wheat flour, yeast and honey) and stick it on popsicle sticks in the yard, because that will make them like my yard and want to stay there. So now, I'll have to get some Edie's lime popsicles.

But the wheast seems to be a better alternative than one Web site's suggestion of how to get them to stick around -- spray them with half-water and half Coke to glue their wings shut for about a week ... that seems cruel and unnecessary. I want them to feel welcomed, not stuck and gluey.

Whenever I encounter a ladybug, it feels special, like seeing a rainbow or something. But I guess it's not too special for the aphids, and I do feel bad about that. I hope the People for the Ethical Treatment of Aphids don't learn where I live. But the People Against the Use of Pesticides (which I never use) might agree, and the butterflies will smile.

Ladybugs are fascinating little creatures. Do you know they flap their little wings 85 times a second when flying and their bright color is a warning to predators? If predators do attack, their blood smells so awful that they won't continue attacking. They also lay eggs that look like "clusters of little orange footballs" and after hatching they look little tiny black orange-spotted alligators. Then they pupate, typically atop a leaf, and while developing, the larvae will eat about 400 medium-sized aphids, and as many as 5,000 during it's life.

I was talking with friends the other night about the usefulness of insects ... we were at a loss about the mosquito's usefulness so I'll have to investigate that. But someone posed the question -- "What about humans? How are they useful in the cycle?" We seem to be throwing off the balance of nature on so many levels.

So, the bottom line, is that you never really know about these things. I mean, the ladybug release has always seemed like a good thing to me, but now I'm thinking what if I investigate aphids and find out they have some fascinating little life and purpose too? And even if they don't, is it right to send the ladies in after them?

The more I know, the more I don't know. Will I be keeping the peace, or starting a war in my own backyard? Sometimes even the simplest things get complicated. Once again, I'm wondering how I threw myself smack into the middle of this. But, you know, I guess it's always good to be smack in the middle of something interesting. How else are we gonna grow?


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