The Birdies and the Bees (and the Wasps)

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No, not those birds and bees.  We are old after all.  Who you calling old?  Well, if the shoe fits…  Oh, where were we? Ah, yes, the subject today is fitness, fun and pest control.  Related subjects?  Wait for it, wait for it.   We all know that keeping fit is the key to happiness and extending our middle aged personas into the later ages. But now that we can no longer cope with our previous Olympic training regimens, we need activities that won’t wear out our insurance plans too soon.  We also need those activities to tune not just our sagging bodies but also that large mass of neurons we call a brain.  And what better way to stimulate the unified body than by playing racquet sports? There is tennis of course, that old standby for those who can still manage the footwork, but then we have paddle tennis, pickle ball and even badminton providing excellent alternatives for less mobile competitors.  I favor pickle ball myself, a fantastic half-tennis court game played with a paddle and sturdy whiffle ball.  Pickle ball builds strong hand eye coordination, quickens the reflexes and is almost always played two v two which means you get to meet a lot of new friends and have plenty of opportunity to argue with your significant other.   These small court games played with fast moving projectiles hone the survival instincts so essential to prolonging a healthy life.  React or get pinged in the head!  That will get the adrenaline flowing.

The other advantages of pickle ball and badminton are the lower risk of knee blowouts and tennis elbow.  Moreover, people who play these games are known to be super sweet and welcoming of others.  Unlike say, surfers, who guard their wet turf like murder hornets, pickle ballers and badminton-ers will bring you right into the fold and even offer to share equipment if you show up empty handed as a curious first timer.

Did someone say, “Murder hornets”?  That scary invasive species bug surging through the country soon to appear at our front doors to sting us in the temple?  Wait, where were we?  Oh yes, pest control.  Not for murder hornets (not yet anyway) but something similar.  At my humble homestead, there is a battle every spring and summer between two rather large scary looking, buzzing pests and me.  The first is the wood boring carpenter bee.  These amazing flyers would be great to have around for pollinating all the ornamentals as well as visual entertainment except that they have power drills attached to their face.  In no time at all one bee can put a 1/2” hole into the side of your garage or deck and then tunnel deep, making swiss cheese out of the defenseless lumber.  You can actually watch the sawdust float down from an active drill site.  Two good things about these borer bees – they are not aggressive towards humans (the males don’t even have stingers) and they like to hover and battle each other while patrolling their fly zones.   Why good?  Wait for it, wait for it.

The second remarkable buzzer is the cicada killer wasp.  I dare say the murder hornet has nothing on this monster wasp when it comes to size and energy.  Aside from decimating the local cicada population their main task is digging holes in the yard until it resembles a prairie dog town.  Each morning during July and August there will appear several new substantial mounds of dirt where once there was just grass.  If we humans had commensurate strength and energy, whoa, the remote control would be history!  Luckily, these frightful looking giants are very reluctant to land on, let alone sting a homo sapien.

So, how to deal with these two threats to the perfect Pleasant Valley homestead?  Trigger warning:  the following sentences refer to the offing of insects.  Your closet is likely full of insecticides so let’s not get all anti-speciest on me.  Ok, where were we?  Chemical warfare?  No, that is for cowardly couch potatoes and rather gruesomely painful for the bugs.  The answer, of course, is the badminton racquet you have right there in your garage.   It is the ultimate organic, non-GMO, gluten free, non-toxic to humans and pets way of controlling these mega-insects.  In fact, it is not just not harmful to you, the human, it is beneficial, providing a mind and body sharpening training regimen perfect for your on court hobbies.  That’s right; you take your racquet in hand and stalk your prey for the quick (humane) dispatch stroke.  The carpenter bee elimination technique will utilize the overhand and side arm swing while the cicada killer strokes are mainly ground level forehands and backhands.  Remember, patience in timing your swing is the key to success.  Wait for it, wait for it, ping!  Variations on stroke types include the “oh no I missed, now spin and swing wildly behind me” move. Then there is the “*#$@!, I just smashed my racquet on the door molding so put it away before my wife sees it” maneuver.   After haranguing your winged pests for a week or two, your court mates will start asking how you became so good with a racquet.  “Aha” you will think to yourself, “I’ll never tell!”  Which is good advice judging by the concerned reactions of my family whenever they see me flailing around in the front yard or standing in wait, racquet raised, next to the garage.   Your neighbors may also begin to look at you funny so be careful who has line of site to your training grounds.  If confronted by a concerned onlooker just tell them you are practicing a brand new martial art.  They can look it up.  It may soon be all the rage.

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