Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Bugs and Trucks Go BEEP, BEEP, BEEP

We are not getting a lot of sleep here at the Dog Park Annex, also known as my home. The nighttime is full of creatures great and small that are determined to keep Muzzy and me awake and not for fun reasons. The first culprit is a bug that has taken residence under the wooden platform outside the patio door to my bedroom. I have no idea what kind of bug it is, but it is kill-ing me sl-ow-ly. Every night since summer began, it has waited until just before I turn out the lights to start its singing. It has not the  rhythmic, soothing tones of a cricket's chirp or even a cicada's chrrr-chrr. It belongs instead in the techno section, as its call has the same piercing intensity of, say, a smoke detector or an alarm clock or the emergency broadcast system's test pattern. Here is a transcription of its call:

CHIRrup, CHIRrup, CHIRrup. (long pause)

The fellow (it's definitely a boy; I've written enough middle-school science instruction to know that it's always the male who makes a racket trying to attract a female, any female) then grows quiet for about seven minutes—just long enough for me to roll the pillow off my head and fall back to sleep. Recovered and still looking for love, the bug starts again:

CHIRrup, CHIRrup, CHIRrup. (long pause)

This goes on all night long. Clearly, the love bug's not making much headway with the ladies. (Or, I could be wrong. Who knows what goes on during those blissfully quiet seven minutes.)

I have tried ear plugs, and I've tried sleeping with pillows on my head, all to little avail. I have also tried direct confrontation. More than once, I have gotten out of my bed and stormed outside in rain boots and my jimjams to jump vigorously up and down on the little side porch. At first, this tactic seemed to work. Love bug would suddenly break up the band and discreetly relocate, but only for a day at most, and only a few yards away. I could still hear him "singing," but without the resonating chamber of the porch to amplify him, I could ignore him and get some shuteye. Sometimes, thank God, when it rains, he takes a night off. But lately, all my jumping and cursing have done no good. Love bug is desperate. 

(Note: My suspicion is that love bug is a cicada. This is the first time in eight summers that I have ever noticed or been bothered by this insect. Also, a little research at a Website hosted by our friends at Texas A&M reveals that cicadas leave small bores in the ground that they create after burrowing out from underground. I have noticed a couple of those in my backyard, very close to my porch. The photo above is of a dog-day cicada, named for its seasonal proclivities. It shows up in Texas between April and July. Please, please, please God, let it be one of those. July is almost over! No extensions!)

Not that the demise of my bug friend will make nights any quieter. As many of my neighbors know, the good people at Texas Department of Transportation (hosts of the actual Dog Park) are repaving (again?) the stretch of MoPac that runs between the Lake and 2222. And because TxDoT doesn't want to inconvenience drivers during the day, it runs its machinery at night. I live (and try to sleep) roughly 500 feet from MoPac. So when lovebug is not screeching beneath my floorboards, the TxDoT trucks do this: "BEEEP, BEEP, BEEEP, BEEEP!" Unlike my love bug friend, they also go, "Vroom, vroom, vroom," which makes the house vibrate like an old sea barge. Every morning, all my picture frames are askew. I'm askew, too.

There is a small grace period. Both TxDoT and love bug shut down after 5:30 am. That means I can squeeze a few hours of uninterrupted sleep before the construction crew at the house reno two doors down show up. No beeping, just sawing and hammering and AM music blaring from the car radio. Sigh. It will be a very long summer.

By the way, here is a picture of a real love bug. For details, check this link. -z

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Hot Dogs

I know that it's the 13th, but I'm under-employed again, which means it feels as though July 4th weekend will never end. This year, I've used the holiday and my lack of money-making activity as an excuse to put my feet up and extend my vacation at home. In the spirit of independence, I've been sleeping late and, while awake, living on a pretty strict diet of hot dogs (soy dogs, really; sorry carnivores, but they taste just as good and contain no dubious body parts) and watermelon. Mmm, mmm, mmm!

Each day, I can't wait until lunchtime, when I toast yummy hand baked hot dog buns from Central Market (whole wheat, yes, but made with butter and cream), nuke a couple of dogs, lay down a schmear of yellow mustard, and then park myself under the ceiling fan and listen to the radio announce how hot it is outside. I have a real (room temperature) dog at my feet. She would like some of my hot dog, but no soy for you. It gives you gas. But you may have a bite of this tasty crust.

For dessert, a big, thick, bubblegum pink slab of icy watermelon. It's so crisp and sweet. Pure heaven. I thank the powers that be for every delicious bite. Sigh. Summer lasts forever here in Texas. Might as well enjoy it. Ta. -z

Photo credit: I found this delightful graphic at Dog Art Today. Go to that link to trace it farther back.