No end to the wonder

Last night in bed (oh, how my husband’s throat must close up to see me starting a sentence on my blog that way, it makes me giggle) I grabbed Otto and insisted there was a SNAKE! SNAKE IN THE BED! And he did not seem to find it all that amusing. I cannot imagine why. Because I thought it was completely hilarious. I plan to preface all important announcements this way from now on. Just because I think it’s a snappy way to get someone’s attention.

He got me back this morning, though. Oh yes he did. Not only did I have to rise at the buttcrack of dawn and get the kids ready for school, after they were dropped off Otto made me go exercise with him! To be fair, we’d discussed this last night, but last night it seemed like a really good idea, this whole “morning walk” thing, and this morning, going back to bed seemed like a MUCH BETTER IDEA. Alas.

I am currently living a very sedentary life, and this is bad for a number of reasons. First of all, it’s probably not very healthy in general. Second of all, I am getting OLD and when I actually DO exert my body—as infrequently as I manage it—I can feel it for days afterwards (or longer, if I’m unlucky). And lastly, I don’t know if you know this, but there are a lot of really yummy things to eat here in the south, all of which are encrusted in bacon fat or nuts or both. And eating has always been one of my very favorite hobbies! And it’s a hobby that Otto and I can share! So, um, to characterize our marriage as fat and happy would not be entirely inaccurate at this point, is all I’m saying.

And chasing snakes out of the bed doesn’t burn up nearly so many calories as you might think.

So we have vowed to go for morning walks together after the kids are dropped off, as this will allow us to eat more ice cream in the evenings.

Anyway. I like walking, I do. Of course when we bought this house I was certain that I would SWIM LAPS every day for exercise, because I love to swim and it’s a great workout and having a pool RIGHT HERE is just perfect. I neglected t take into account the fact that our pool—which is lovely, you understand, and we enjoy it very much—is not exactly lap-sized. This is the perfect size pool for the kids and for just lolling around and cooling off, but if I wanted to do laps in this pool it would sort of go like this:

Dive in, surface, stroke, touch the wall.
Turn, push off, stroke, touch the wall.

That ends up feeling like a lot of work but not much exercise. So. Walking it is!

I like walking with Otto because, well, I like him. Also, I haven’t figured out how to program my iPod yet. But mostly I like knowing that if I find myself face to face with danger, he’ll protect me. Or at least that he probably runs a little slower than I do. And this is important, because this is a strange and wondrous land filled with bizarre creatures.

Just this weekend the kids and I were headed out to the car (so that we could go to Kroger… Kroger’s motto should be “We’re The Most Mediocre Supermarket Around, But We’re Everywhere”) and when we stepped out into the garage, something VERY RED AND HAIRY scuttled out ahead of us. We three immediately declared “WHOA! What was THAT?” and ran out after it, at which point we were able to follow it down the driveway and marvel at it for quite a while.

Monkey wanted to pick it up to get a better look, but I stopped him, giving a short speech about how brightly-colored insects are often poisonous. Boy, did I feel relieved later on when I went to look up this creature online, because what we had there was a velvet ant (for the love of God, DO NOT click that link if you are squeamish), also known as a “cow killer.” While they don’t actually kill cows, the nickname comes from having an extremely potent sting (worse than most wasps). I’m glad I didn’t let Monkey pick it up, because that doesn’t sound like any fun at all, except for the part where later you get to tell people you were stung by a COW KILLER and lived to tell the tale.

I’m not sure where I was going with this, other than to say that I am eating too much and exercising too little and the bugs here scare me. The end.


  1. Ree

    Ants? Ugh. centipedes? Double-ugh. Silverfish? The creature from hell sent to make me go into the fetal position.

  2. prophet

    always good to have a snappy wrap-up – know the other feeling, though, too (the “where was I going with this?”). . . . I’m trying to ‘wrap-up’ my doctoral dissertation and it feels JUST LIKE THIS! I wonder if I could get some mileage out of the ‘scarey bugs’ bit. Can I borrow it?

  3. Burgh Baby's Mom

    You remembered “very red and hairy” but neglected to mention the BIG part. 1 1/2 inches? Are you kidding me? It’s decided, I’m staying in the North where the bugs don’t grow to be bigger than the toe I use to squish them.

  4. Leandra

    I LOVE those velvet ants — to look at from a great distance I mean. And by the way, they are extremely hard to kill. They’re practically un-squashable. It’s like they’re made of teflon or something.

    I worked out, too! On an elliptical machine! Without killing myself! Or anyone else around me!

  5. Ei.

    “I’m not sure where I was going with this, other than to say that I am eating too much and exercising too little and the bugs here scare me. The end.”

    That could easily be my blog today. But luckily we don’t have any cow killer ants here in Iowa. I’m sure the cows wouldn’t like that very much. And I know I wouldn’t.

  6. All Adither

    Well, at least you and Otto didn’t have a Velvet Ant in the bed. Although, this could be great code for something. Let’s go try to find the velvet ant in the bed… your kids were never suspect.

  7. All Adither

    would never suspect. WOULD. Ergh.

  8. Jenni-nifr

    Welcome. To. The. South. Our awesome food is coupled with hotter than hades weather, as well as (sometime big ass) scary bugs! My sister and I are allergic to spiders. She will swell up, but I, on the other hand, get violently ill – which is a fantastic way to entertain at parties and get-togethers! Then there is my brother-in-law, a big, rough and tough country boy, who will run away, like a little girl, sans high pitched squealing – thank God – from a snake or spider. It really is quite funny. Side note: I was really curious what a “palmetto bug” was after I read a post about one that invaded your house. I guess y’all are fancier in GA then we are here in TX, b/c those are just cockroaches! No fancy name here – I think that is b/c it takes less time to scream “ROACH!” than it does “PALMETTO BUG!” and take the appropriate cover incase it is one of the flying variety. Happy Monday to you!

  9. Stew

    Dude. I was over your way in early July and had my first run-in with an armadillo. That’s creepy stuff there, which I thought was limited to Texas. Nope.

    Here’s a really cute article from UGA, which reveals that 25% of armadillos carry leprosy! Woo Hoo!

    Eesh. But forewarned is forearmed, right?

  10. Sophie

    I’ve never seen one of those before. Maybe I really don’t live in Georgia.

  11. Beth

    Fuzzy! Icky! In Houston, I heard palmetto bugs called “tree roaches” to differentiate them from the nasty house roaches everyone has (but the rich folks lie and say they don’t). I got the term palmetto bug from my aunt in Jacksonville, FL.

    I’m proud of you for walking this morning. I keep saying I need to get back to the gym, but never quite do. sigh.

  12. Chewie

    One of those stung my oldest son last year…and it HURT LIKE HELL…I know this because he flipped the heck OUT for a long while and he isn’t prone to exaggerations about pain. I’m so glad your monkey didn’t touch it!


  13. Beachgal

    I hate the bugs in the south. Never seen one of those velvet ants, tho. Very happy about that.

  14. Aimee

    AAAAAAAAAaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa! Oh. My. God.


  15. mojo

    And people wonder why I live so near the permafrost. Cold I can handle, bugs I can’t.

  16. LyndaL

    I absolutely refuse to live in any country where the bugs are big enough to have faces. Midges are our worst bug-y enemies in Scotland and you can barely even see those with the naked eye!

  17. sinda

    My daughter picked up one of those when she was two – she’s always loved bugs, still does – and when it stung her, it did seem to hurt tremendously. Lucky for me, my husband, who loved entomolgy in school, was there and could identify it so I didn’t freak out any more than I already had. A shot of benadryl did the trick.

  18. BeingParents

    Marriage is finding that special someone to annoy for the rest of your life. Married life is great but just don’t let it get to you.

  19. Marvo

    You folks need to install the Forever Pool, which has its own current/resistance that allows someone to swim in place. If I had the money and I didn’t live on the second floor of an apartment complex, I would get one installed.

  20. MomCat

    I’m ever so glad I didn’t click the link!

  21. Heidi

    Velvet Ant. Great name for a band.

  22. Liza


    If there are any reasonably near where you live, generally Publix is much better than Kroger. And if you use coupons, the prices are competitive, although sometimes Kroger has better supercheap deals.

    Also? Publix has that mystery $0.01 item coupon in the Sunday paper. Who wouldn’t want a mystery food item for a penny? Last week it was potato chips.

  23. Lori N

    The first thing I thought was “what a cute little guy” and then I noticed that it was as big as a penny. Whoa! Really glad I just have to deal with infestations of daddy-long-leg spiders and the rustling of field mice in my attic. (though the mice can get really loud at night!)

  24. Valerie

    Mir, this is one of those posts that truly makes me appreciate where I live. Between your velvet ants and palmetto bugs and Susan’s scorpions at her new house? I’m never leaving northwest Ohio. Nope. Perfectly happy here being a big chicken. :)

  25. Lulu

    Ooh, but they sound so soft and loveable…

  26. mama speak

    I will stay in my mild SF Bay Area climate thank you very much, where the bugs stay “bug-sized”: meaning smaller then my foot so that I can squash them when they show their ugly mugs. I will take a pass on the stinging ants. Pretty, but HUGE and they STING! ACK!

  27. mama speak

    ooh, I also meant to add that I think OTTO should find “SNAKES on a MF’ing PLANE” in bed tonight. Just cause I think it’s funny. So maybe a matchbox sized plane and a snake laying over it?

    I’m cracking myself up.

  28. dee

    I found one of these velvety gems for my high school bug collection project many moons ago here in neighboring Alabama. I was sure I’d have the highest grade with that fat puppy.

    (Of course, I procrastinated on finding any more bugs and had to go door-to-door in chilly December asking if I could have the dead bug contents of everyone’s porch light covers.)

  29. Andrea

    That would be kind of a cute bug, if it wasn’t SO FREAKING SCARY. Yikes.

  30. Ayla-Monic

    that ant is beautiful.

    not that I’d want to run into one in my garage.

    And yay for exercise. I’m going to start swimming laps this year, in the campus gym. Too bad the pool’s not big enough for you to do so. :(

  31. meghann

    Oh yay, I am looking more and more forward to moving to Georgia next year. SIGH.

  32. Tiffany

    I dislike Kroger also…We didn’t have them in Upstate Sc but its one of our *choices* here in Tx and it reminds me of Winn-Dixies. I am a Bloom grocery store lover, they aren’t here in Tx either…I actually prefer the super walmart to the grocery stores….thats saying ALOT!!
    Sorry about the bugs, they are huge in the south…I grew up in Wa and we never had bugs even remotely that big there!

  33. Ani

    You should trick Otto into water aerobics in the pool. It’s actually a heck of a workout, and no sweatiness involved.

    I lost 15 lb that way once. And then, sigh, let the Y membership lapse and put it all back on. With interest.

  34. Sarah

    Okay, this is the darn funniest thing I’ve read in awhile! I have to say that I have to start exercising myself but never seem to do. Oh well, I was just bitten, or should I say stung by one of those red velvet ants which are really wingless female wasps. Anyway, I was stung about 3 weeks ago on my foot, and it really does hurt like hell. And it keeps hurting for about 1 to 1 1/2 weeks. It does suck to say the least. Thanks for the laugh! :-)

  35. Jenny

    “Cow Killer” — also a great name for a band.

    My dog managed to get fire ant bites in his ear a few weeks ago, so that was fun. And apparently it’s orb weaver season now — I can’t walk out in our yard without walking through a giant nasty web. Actually, lately, I don’t walk out in the yard at all — not without a really long stick. ARRGAAGHBLLAAGCHH. I’m getting the willies just thinking about it.

    Bugs = gross. But is there a place with no bugs? A couple of you northerners laughed when a couple of us hapless southerners pooh-poohed your black flies and ginormous mosquitos and then went on a hike, only to return shell-shocked after having to keep a cadre of giant obnoxious flies from carrying off our lunches and the smaller members of our party.

  36. Tina

    OMG, you have GOT to stop with the bug stories! They always leave me haunted for days, even though I live in way up in Ohio.
    Your last palmetto bug story induced a nightmare somewhat like your Snake in the Bed…
    I was lying in bed when I suddenly became aware that there was a palmetto bug!! in my bed! A BIG palmetto bug!! Naturally, I began thrashing and screaming and generally flipping out. At which point I realized that it wasn’t a palmetto bug(!!)… it was a turtle. So, of course I rolled over and went back to sleep. About a minute later my eyes flew open and I said, “Ummm? Why is there a turtle in my bed?” So I jump up and fling back the sheets and comforter to reveal! – um, yeah – no turtle. Afterwards, I found it nearly impossible to fall asleep again because I couldn’t stop thinking about why? Why would I dream about a palmetto bug turning into a turtle? Why would such a thing be in my bed? And why would I ever think that having a turtle in my bed is a normal, “roll-over-and-go-back-to-sleep” situation?

  37. Wendy

    I say leave your doors open. You get exercise from running away from the bugs and your husband gets exercise from chasing them down and killing them. Plus you save money on your bug guy. A win, win in my mind.

  38. tuney

    Tina just made me scare my cats with the laughing and the shaking of the sofa. A turtle..honestly. That’s money right there, bay-bee.

  39. carolyn

    I LOVE the south – hot weather, creatures and lots of yummy, but fattening food.

  40. bob

    I have never in my life seen nor heard of a velvet ant.

    I was leaving work today, looked down, and saw this red bug scuttling along the crack where the pavement meets the building. It was a velvet ant.

    it’s a sign, right?

    I’m not gonna start walking in my sleep, am I?


  41. Krisco

    Eeeeee YIKES!! That things is scary.

    Sorry your Krogers is so bad.

    We only have one grocery in our town, the next nearest is a drive off a mountain away (far) and Kroger’s knows it. So although ours is called “Smiths”, not Kroger’s (I think they’re the same megaconglomerate, but who knows), we get all the end -of-the line merchandise. Grapes that go bad in a day, plums that are already bad, fish that was caught last month….At lesat yours is (hopefully!) better than that!!! : )

  42. Barb Cooper

    Tonight I went to my monthly book club and I was sitting there with about three women waiting for the rest to arrive (okay, so who here has small children and understands the need to be incredibly punctual to all gatherings?) and a palmetto bug –an ENORMOUS FREAKING TREE ROACH –ran across the room. None of us moved. The hostess finally said, “Um, can we just pretend that didn’t happen?”

    Oh, YEAH. We were all in agreement that we could. We live in Texas and it’s considered impolite to get the vacuum cleaner out (my preferred method of tree roach killing) at a party.

  43. Tracy

    **long-time lurker….first time commenter** :)

    Its not a coincidence that Evil and Exercise start with the same letter. I’m just sayin’.

  44. Stacey

    That is the most perfect description of Krogers I’ve ever heard. I really dislike Kroger, but I shop there…why would they get better, mediocre works for them.

  45. Brigitte

    Just saw my first velvet ant last week (visiting my FIL in VA), what a coinky-dinky! It was running AWAY from us though, and he still insisted on squishing it. I say, if it’s outside and running away, I pretend it’s not there.

  46. Megan

    I exercise! Well… I park really far from work and I walk, which is exercise – or would be if I actually walked fast. But I speed up for lights if I have to! Also, I count the squashed ginormous roaches on the pavement as I go – just to remind myself how much I leeeerve living here.

  47. Suebob

    Yeeps. The ants are taking over. I just read a post over at The Wonderful World of Des about biting ants…and she lives in NYC.

  48. Chuck

    I go to Kroger because it’s the closest thing to where I live. One of my friends tells me I should go the extra two miles to Whole Foods. However, I haven’t ever been too unhappy with Kroger, yet.

  49. AmyM

    Gah! Hate! Bugs!
    I am being invaded by moths lately. Gross.

  50. Kris

    OMG Mir! My daughter (Bug) LOVES YOU!! You have found her “the most perfectest link in the WHOLE ENTIRE UNIVERSE. Thank that Mir lady and tell her she is the most gorgeous perfect beautiful Mir ever!! She rocks…out loud even!” (yes, those are her words. You are now a goddess to a 7 year old bug-loving girl.)

  51. Jenifer

    That’s the strangest looking ant I have ever seen!!!

  52. Manic Mommy

    I’m barefoot down here and just had to bring my feet up onto the chair. Ick.

    Thanks for the Bug Guide link. I think anything with a shell is a cockroach and freak out.

  53. Sherri

    Lisa referred me to your post after reading my post about the “velvet ant”.

    I’m glad that none of your children picked it up. My sister picked one up once and said it felt like her hand was on fire for about 5 minutes. Now, she has arthritis symptoms in that hand…a year later. I’ve read that other victims have this as well.
    If I had known what we were messing with, we would have never captured outs. I would have been too afraid to mess with it.
    It is a beautiful thing, isn’t it?!?

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