Blackberry beetle battle

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Morning all!

Did you notice the exclamation point there? And the full use of the “ing” instead of colloquial “in’?”

“Why, I did notice, Bethie. You seem a little peppy today.”

Yer darn tootin’ I am! The cake. The cake is gone. My home is no longer infested. The sun is shining a little brighter. A rainbow broke across the misty field where a unicorn stopped and cocked its head regally to watch the poignant moment.

…okay, that was a bit of hyperbole. There wasn’t really mist.

Can I just say… PHEW. I was totally unhappy with how it came out, but the bride and groom liked it. I didn’t make a bride cry. Not my best, not my worst, and now it’s over.

It’s late for muse. It’s humid as Jabba’s ass crack today, and the early hazy sun said if we wanted to get out and pick blackberries, we best do it early. I shooed the unicorn away and went to town. These are the small blackberries that are pictured right up there in the left hand corner of this blog. I have been corrected several times over the years and told they are, in fact, “black raspberries”. Google agrees with me that they’re the same damn thing, and since Google is the preeminent authority on everything, I’m going to keep calling them blackberries.

*and somewhere, a lone botanist waves a clenched fist at the screen and vows revenge*

Anyway, the small ones we picked today gave us damn near a gallon. Add that to the half gallon we got the other day, and it’s a good haul so far. We’ve got a large snake out there that didn’t seem happy to be disturbed. He likes to sun right on the berry bushes, right across the thorny branches.

Don’t judge, now. Some humans lie on a bed of nails. Just because he doesn’t have an assistant in a flashy getup or a bored audience doesn’t make him less of an artiste.

He reared up, but he’s just a garden snake, so we weren’t all that impressed. His pride bruised, he sniffed haughtily and slithered off. Then we only had to battle the beetles.

Boy are those buggers persistent, eh? There are two types that like to eat the berries: Japanese beetles, and squash bugs, which I’m not sure are technically beetles but they stick and cling like them. (And what an unfortunate name for a bug. Maybe they’re just resigned to their fate…) Most bugs will fly away if you move your hand toward them. Japanese beetles and squash bugs just hunker down. They’ve got brass ones, I’ll give them that.

Bugs on the whole don’t bother me. If I know they can’t sting or bite me, there’s no point in freaking out.

Okay…earwigs. Earwigs are the exception. I hate those squirmy bastards.

I don’t mind beetles, that was my point. However, I do get annoyed that I have to work so damn hard to take a berry from them. I pull it off, it clings to my finger. I go to flick it away, it just flies right back. It’s like beetles implant homing devices in their own personal berry. Determined little things. And then the next thing you know, they’ve called in reinforcements.

Squash bugs are much better. You pick them off and throw them and they get the hint and stay gone. Maybe Japanese beetles just have no social skills?

I had two helpers with me. The eight year old is short, so he does the stuff in the front. The teen whose here is mid-sized, so he takes eye level ones. And I’ve been picking berries for 30 years and am far more determined, so I pushed my way through the bastard prickers to get the good berries in the back.

Maybe I’m make a pie, since I’m on the outs with cake.

“Bethie, it wasn’t the cake’s fault.”

I know. I’m sure we’ll make amends down the road.

I worked on the book some, too. Not a lot because I couldn’t concentrate with the whole unicorn and rainbow thing going on, but I did make a dent in the work I’ve got left before I can email it to the editor. It’s the second in a series, and I have the third and fifth already done. I already know it’s an ass backwards way to do things, so stop rolling your eyes at me.

Oh! Tiny ants. I hate those, too. The little ones someone I know calls “sugar ants”, but I don’t know if that’s what they’re really called. The ones that show up out of the blue like fruit flies to swarm around a piece of food that fell on the floor unnoticed overnight. Those. I’m not scared of them, they just piss me off.

I saw these cool beetles out there I’d never seen before while out picking in the early morning sun. They were large, like the size of a good sized June bug, tan in color and glossy with black spots. I did a search on the Almighty Google, and found out they are called “spotted tan beetles”. Not a very creative name. They’re also sometimes known as “grapevine beetles”.

They were neat and climbed around a leaf on my hand for awhile while one of my helpers was impressed and one helper really didn’t care. I thought they were neat, though. They’re up from the Carolinas, I’m assuming on vacation since they don’t belong here and were sampling the exotic blackberries and not the grapes I’ve got. Definitely “cutting loose on vacation” behavior. They certainly didn’t implant homing devices into the berries I was trying to pick. Much better than the locals.

We triumphed, though, and now I suppose I need to go wash my hard-earned haul and hiss and bitch when the cold water hits all the tiny little thorn scratches… I shudder to think of the shower later. When I say I pushed my way into the center of the thicket, I meant it. And let’s not even talk about soap. *wide eyes of horror*

Ah well, at least I’ll be able to console myself with pie.

Thus concludes a surprisingly brief Morning Musing for Sunday, July 13, 2014. Maybe I’ll ease my way slowly back into cake’s good graces with blackberry shortcakes. Seems like a good starting point in repairing what once was a beautiful relationship…

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