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Thursday, 16 June 2011

On Being Stung, and Canine Betrayal

First, if I have ever shrugged anyone off when being told about a bee sting, I apologize. Even if I don't know you, if you were stung and you told your friend and that person seemed uninterested, I apologize for your friend.

Why? Because I was stung today, more than once, and it hurt. A lot.

Pause and rewind.

I haven't suffered a sting from a bee, wasp, or other insect for a long, long time. In fact, the last sting I distinctly remember was from a jellyfish, and I remember that because it induced a fever and I was laid up for a day. I think I was 14 at the time.

I'm a bit older now.

Now. Present tense. I'm visiting my older brother in North Carolina, in Durham, which is the home of Duke university--and, not surprisingly, also the location of Duke forest (though they are cutting down chunks of it)--a wonderful place, I am sure.

I'm sure that most of the Duke forest areas are also wonderful (except for the chunks that have been cut down).

However, (you knew that was coming, right? The "however" bit?) when we went for a walk today with my brother's 2 dogs (more on that species in a moment) there was a problem.

An unfortunate incident.

An experience I would rather not repeat.

We veered off the main path onto a smaller path--more of a trail--and, not more than 20 feet into the woods, I felt a sudden, sharp sting in the heel of my right palm. I thought I had hit my hand on a thorny bush, possible since we were moving through brushy undergrowth.

Wrong. That was actually sting #1, though I didn't know it immediately.

I did know, quite quickly, that it couldn't have been a thorn, because--in the second or so that it took to process the thought--the pain was not that of an in-and-out wound that a thorn or spike or plant needle would deliver.

No, it was an intense pain, and it didn't go away. I looked down at my palm, and, as I did so, I saw a brief flash of yellow and black against the dark blue of my t-shirt.

That was sting #2.

I let out a yell to warn my brother, and, as he saw an insect or two flying around, we hustled back onto the main trail. In the process, he got stung too. (Though, looking back, I wouldn't wish a sting on anyone, it is nice to have another person to share the pain with.)

Back on the main trail we both blew a sigh of relief (between pain-filled curses), and I let my guard down.

That was sting #3.

One hornet (that's what we think they were) sting was enough; three was cruel.

Now, back to the dogs. Man's best friend and all that. Dogs with nice thick coats. You'd think they could have--should have--thrown themselves in front of the rampaging hornets and thereby saved their loving masters from great bodily harm. You'd think canine loyalty might stimulate such an action.

Nope. They could've cared less.

Betrayal is a bitter pill to swallow. Especially with hornet poison coursing through your body.

Tuesday, 14 June 2011

Summer Vacation Pics 2: Colorado

A few pictures from time spent in Colorado:

The above shot is in front of the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) in Boulder; the buildings were designed by the famous Chinese architect I.M. Pei. The tour and facility have lots of interesting scientific information about weather and climate studies. (We also did a tour of the Celestial Seasonings tea factory in Boulder--cool tour--but forgot to take pics;(

The three pics above are from the Georgetown Loop Railroad, a restored narrow-gauge railroad (only a few miles long, west of Denver) that used to serve the (long-closed) silver mines in the area. We toured an abandoned silver mine, which was very interesting.

Saturday, 4 June 2011

Summer Vacation Pics 1: Florida

Here are some pics from Florida, the Gainesville area + (near) St. Petersburg's beach:

Scary, huh? Got burnt at St. Augustine beach.

Went to Cedar Key.

Found a baby lizard in the house.

Ate some fried gator, green tomatoes, and hushpuppies at Cross Creek restaurant (near the home of Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings (which we toured), author of "The Yearling").

tooling around the Gainesville country club (I've got connections:).

Visited the Univ. of Florida butterfly house; that big one is real!

Be careful where you swim!

The old trees in Florida are amazing!

Gators in the sun.