Thursday, August 27, 2009

Ants in my ...

Canada Post Mailbox... mailbox.

One day, earlier this summer, I picked up my mail from the super mailbox down the street. When I plucked the mail from the slot, here were a couple of black ants racing across the envelopes and flyers. Odd. I shook them off then peered inside. The slot was crawling with ants! And what were those little, rice-like parcels they were carrying? Eggs. Piles and piles of eggs. What was the attraction of the metal structure? Weren't ants supposed to live in the ground? After a serious case of the heebie-jeebies, I set out to fight the invaders.

First stop, the post office where I discovered someone else had already complained about the ants. That one slot had been sprayed, but the rest of us were left without any defenses. The thought of having to retrieve any more ant and egg-covered mail was, for me, the stuff of nightmares. What if those eggs hatched during the night? So I bought a can of Raid, and sprayed the suckers. I realized I was being terribly hypocritical. Wasn't I supposed to love all creatures? But you have to understand -- I was completely grossed out. I also posted a sign advising my neighbours of the problem just in case the ants decided to move to a new 'condo'.

That was far too much excitement for one day. I just couldn't bring myself to clean the lifeless bodies and eggs from the mail slot, so I sent my husband down later that evening. I think that's why we get married, isn't it? To share the load. I do the laundry, and he cleans up the dead bodies. A match made in heaven.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Japan - Part Three

Kiyomizu Temple Kyoto

Kyoto offers a glimpse into what I imagine all of Japan once looked like -- ancient streets, timber-framed buildings with sloping roofs, and beautiful Geisha dressed in vibrant silk kimonos. It's all that, but it does have its whimsical side as well. On my first visit, four years ago, I took this photo of three cats peeking into a store window (click on photos to enlarge):

Kyoto Japan storefront cats
This summer, I spotted them again. Looks like one of the cats has been adopted:

Kyoto Japan storefront cats

The food in Japan is always exquisitely presented -- almost too beautiful to eat:

Japanese Cakes
Japanese meal presentation

In addition to traditional menus, most restaurants offer a visual array of plastic food samples to make choosing one's meal far easier:

Fake food sample Japan

And then there are the crepes which are stacked full of ... well, everything you can imagine:

Kyoto Japan Crepes

We all passed on the hotdog crepe, but my daughter and husband loved the strawberry-banana, while I opted for the vanilla and green tea ice cream cone.

Over 127,000,000 million people live in Japan, but there is never any jostling in line, and the citizens are always polite and friendly (they even have Canadians beat in that regard!). And despite the differences in food, language, and customs, I never once felt homesick. Had it not been for the fact that I missed my cat, Meeko, I might have stayed and discovered all the many more wonderful things Japan has to offer.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Japan - Part Two

As I said in my earlier post, I only visited cities while vacationing in Japan, and didn't see many animals. Then, one morning outside of my hotel, I spotted a green snake! Normally, I would have been hesitant to stick around, but I was so happy to finally have a chance at snapping a photo of some wildlife, I couldn't get my camera out fast enough. This Japanese Rat Snake was almost gone by the time I did. You'll have to click on the photo to enlarge because the snake was, sadly, pretty small. He's in the centre of the picture:

Japanese Rat Snake

Inside our hotel, there was a large stand for people to store their umbrellas for the day. Yes, they're just umbrellas, but don't they look like snakes in a crowded subway car?

Japanese umbrella stand

Of course, there's lots of Koi. I took this photo at Kiyomizu-Dera, a Buddhist temple in Kyoto. And look! There's a turtle on the rock. Two for the price of one -- it was a good day.

Turtle Koi Japan