Squashes and fences and ants (oh my)!

By Mir
June 22, 2011

Listen, it’s kind of been a whirlwind around here for the last few weeks: There was getting the kids ready for their trip, and then we went camping, and then Kira was here, and then Otto came back, and then another old friend of mine came by for a quick visit; and you know all of this is a bit much for my delicate system—all of these comings and goings—and really all I want at this point is to sit on the couch with some popcorn and something terrible on television and not have to talk to anyone for a while.

Of course, that is simply not how my life goes… um, ever. Which is fine. Really, IT’S FINE. WHY AM I YELLING? Ahem. No. It’s totally fine. There’s always things to be done and stuff to take care of no matter how slug-like I’m feeling. And at least Otto being home again means that when I get up in the morning and regard the coffeemaker with a mournful expression and a plaintive, “There isn’t any coffee in here,” Otto is willing to swoop in and fix my life, or at least my coffee.

There may not be enough coffee in the universe to get me through this week, though.

Here’s what I always forget about gardening: Zucchinis are possessed. Other vegetables grow at a predictable rate—or, in the case of my banana peppers, are devoured by pests at a predictable rate—but zucchini are all “Oh, hello, I am but a tiny bud. Nevermind me! It will be WEEKS before I come of age!” and then the very next day you have a zucchini the size of a rottweiler. You would think that after YEARS of gardening I would be able to remember this, but you would be wrong. Because it’s WEIRD. How does a squash, on a day when there’s no rain at all, grow eight inches overnight? I am suspicious.

Nevertheless, after Kira left I decided to visit my garden just to see how things were going. And I found this:

Can you tell from the grotesque, claw-ish-ness of my hand that that thing weighs about three pounds? I did manage to pick it before it reached baseball bat length, but it’s already huge. And the problem with those rogue ‘cchinis is that they don’t taste good. When they get huge they’re just not as yummy. So I’ll be making that into… muffins, probably. Lots and LOTS of muffins.

Epilogue: You’d think that finding that on Sunday taught me my lesson, but I carefully checked the rest of the box and went on my merry way. By yesterday (Tuesday) there was ANOTHER one, which I swear wasn’t there before. THE MUTANT SQUASH ARE TAKING OVER, RUN FOR YOUR LIFE!

No one says hello to us, anymore. The standard greeting to anyone who lives in my house is now, “How’s your fence? HAR HAR!” Because it’s hilarious, you know. For everyone else, anyway.

The answer is that today is day 33 of our 2-day fence job. HAHAHAHA. HA. Oy. But the GOOD NEWS is that they’re going to finish today or we’re going to kill them all. Er, I mean, they swear they’re going to finish today and we are just WAITING PATIENTLY.

This crew (crew number four, for those of you keeping score at home) arrived bright and early Monday morning and proceeded to rip down our stupid vinyl fence. Now they’re putting up a cedar fence, and it smells very nice in our backyard. Also, it looks like an actual fence, or at least like it’s turning into one:

The best part is that when they arrived on Monday morning, the foreman handed me a satisfaction survey to fill out. “Oh, no, honey,” I said to him. “You REALLY do not want us to fill this out.”

He looked kind of stricken, but then said, “Ma’am, this is a survey for you to fill out on MY crew. When we’re done. Not the other folks who’ve been out here, just my team. And we’re gonna get you all taken care of, I swear.” He is sort of earnest and adorable and so assuming this ends up being a completed fence in the very near future, we will probably give them a good evaluation.

Yesterday I walked outside with the dog and one of the guys was hosing himself off, shirtless, and he began apologizing profusely. It took me a minute to realize that he was apologizing for having his shirt off (behind the house) and he said he was just cleaning off and putting on a clean shirt, he was so very sorry. It was about 98 degrees out and all I could manage to say without laughing was that I’d rather he do whatever he needed to do than die of heat stroke on my lawn, and he seemed relieved.

It is just hilarious to me that after this prolonged comedy of errors, a guy is apologizing for taking his shirt off on my property. Dude, build the fence stark naked with tassels hanging from your balls for all I care. JUST BUILD THE FENCE.

When we got home from camping we had ants in the kitchen sink. ‘Tis the season, and all of that, but I am an equal-opportunity bug hater and I ESPECIALLY hate those tiny little ants that appear out of nowhere and get into everything. Bleah. We tossed a couple of ant traps on the counter and a day later the ants were gone. Hooray!

A day after that, they were back. Boo! I repositioned the ant traps. A day later, they were gone again.

A day after that they were back, and I was unable to walk into the kitchen without breaking out in a knee-jerk string of obscenities at the sight of tiny ants all over the counter. And then I remembered that we have a Bug Guy and I should just call and get him to take care of it. (I’m not entirely sure why that wasn’t the first thing I did.) The woman on the phone was all, “Is there a time today that is better for you?”

I said, “Whatever time he can come and kill these ants is the best time for me.”

She seemed to find this amusing, and pointed out that, “This is just the time of year that the ants come inside for water, you know, we’ll get it taken care of for you.” Like, she was reassuring me it wasn’t my shoddy housekeeping or whatever. And that was a huge relief, because really, I’d been feeling so down about my… ummm… propensity for leaving the ants a nice clean kitchen counter to ravage. Or something.

I mentioned the woman’s comments to Otto. “Oh!” said Otto. “Of course! They’re coming in for the water? Let’s just start keeping all of our water OUTSIDE, then.” He’s so smart.

In conclusion: There’s never a dull moment ’round here. I mean, some people make lemonade when life hands them lemons, so I think I’ll bake the fence guys some zucchini-and-ant muffins. That seems fair.


  1. Leandra

    Don’t make the new guys the zucchini and ant muffins. Send those to the OTHER fence guys. Or at least wait a few days and see on these guys. I’m sure another giant zucchini will come along if you need it.

  2. Otto

    I made sure the pool is full. You know, the 25,000 gallon hole in the ground we fill with water. Just point the ants to that.


  3. KarenP

    OOh the fence looks pretty!

    P.S. the last two times we planted zucchini they rotted in the Northwest Rain. Three years in a row we have had a terribly wet spring and things have rotted or just washed away. This year my carrots were up and the next day all gone.My potatoes and onions are doing well. We haven’t even bought tomatoes yet since we were leaving for New York and there has been a shortage of sun around here. At least it isn’t humid!!!

  4. Kristin

    “Dude, build the fence stark naked with tassels hanging from your balls for all I care. JUST BUILD THE FENCE.”

    You owe me a new monitor, etc. Still chuckling.

  5. Damsel

    Zucchini and ant muffins, indeed. Too funny!

  6. Dawn K.

    Squashes: This is my first year placing them in my garden. I’m now afraid the giant plants will revolt and attack us in our sleep.

    Ants: I’ve had luck with using cinnamon as a barrier to keep ants at bay.

    Fence: Man oh man….I’ll keep my fingers crossed for the crew to be efficient.

  7. Javamom

    zucchini and aunt muffins…


  8. parodie

    That cedar fence does look awfully pretty. Just like you.

    I hope that crew lives up to their word. What a comedy of errors you’ve had!

  9. ememby

    The whole fence debacle just has me laughing (though I do feel properly annoyed for you) but it has allowed you the chance to blog about tassels on balls and that opportunity is priceless.

  10. Em

    I am not much of a conspiracy theorist but could this whole fence issue/debacle/tragedy/hilarity be a set up by the fourth crew to get themselves a stellar customer service review? These folks, as you said could “build the fence stark naked with tassels hanging from your balls” and still get four stars as long as they get the fence up. They are building a name for themselves on Angie’s list. Motto: You’ll see a lot of skin but we’ll get the fence in”.

    I say good for him for being embarrassed about being shirtless. It is about time guys started being embarrassed about being shirtless in the summer. It isn’t any cooler for women but we are able to stay dressed. Plus, it is never the David Beckhams of the world hosing themselves off in the yard, it is always the George Wendts. And while they are getting embarrassed, how about getting a pedicure or putting on some shoes? I hate summer.

  11. Morgaine Fey

    I think I freaking LOVE your brain for the tassels on ze balls comment. Made my morning, although, not having to deal with any of that would have made yours.


  12. MichaelB

    Excuse me while I go gouge my eyeballs out with a rusty fork in order to get the image of a nake construction worker with tassels hanging from his balls building your fence out of my mind….

    Thankfully I had already finished my Zucchini and Ant Muffin before I read that!

  13. Chuck

    My apartment building is old, and they have those tiny ants – the bug guy hired by the complex said they live in the walls or something. His solution was to put out poison bait that attracted dozens of them into my kitchen and bathroom. (“They eat the bait and then they take it back into the walls and die!” Um, to me it looks like they were just eating the bait.) I got rid of that and started just regularly spraying generic bug spray behind my refrigerator. That seemed to scare them back into the walls as I haven’t seen any for over two years now.

  14. Tenessa

    You crack me up, Lady, you truly do!

  15. Jenn

    Almost spit iced coffee all over my phone at “tassels hanging from your balls”. That was
    Quite a picture, Mir!

  16. Katie in MA

    I think I am maybe afraid to say anything other than to pat your arm encouragingly and remind you that no matter how much coffee this week needs, Amazon will be there to replenish your stash on Friday.

  17. Mom2Trplts

    (When that hot guy is finished with your fence, could you send him to my house? I don’t need a fence, but I have a hose he can use.)

    About 10 years ago, I cleared out a patch for a garden and naively planted 8 zucchini plants – those little ones that came in a pack – in a space worthy of one.. I would go out one day and ‘nothing’. The next day would yield a zuch worthy of turning into a playhouse for my children. To this day Zucchini Muffins strike terror in the minds of my family!

  18. Tracy B

    I just said (outloud) what Otto said. That is too funny! I don’t get the whole zucchini thing either same down here. Of course, we haven’t had rain in like 3 months and yesterday and today it comes 5″ worth. WE are NOT complain rather having a “rain party”.. and this weekend, Mud Fest! (Seriously, it’s such a thing) YAY! In Louisiana, we have a festival for everything including MUD!

  19. Amy

    Because of course the one thing that sticks out to me in this hilarious post is the ants, I would just like to share that distilled white vinegar will get rid of them…

  20. Megan

    Down side – over a month of Fencepocalypse 2011, upside, WAY prettier fence! (well, hopefully. Eventually. Some day. Knock on wood… only probably not on the fence, natch, JUST IN CASE)

  21. alihua

    Am I the only one that hoped shirtless guy was one of the 0.1% of ridiculously hot men found only on romantic comedies? And that there would be a picture? Perhaps I would be willing to have fence issues for wet man candy in my backyard.

    No one else was? hmm, perhaps my husband’s been deployed too long?

  22. Nancy R

    In this area they say those ants come in because of all the rain. Illinois clearly needs to swap ants with Georgia.

  23. Varda (SquashedMom)

    If that dude DOES take you up on your offer? Promise me you’ll take a photo of him building your fence naked and… dangly and all. Good blog fodder, that!

    Cheers to finished fencing and zucchini bats!

  24. Erika

    “Dude, build the fence stark naked with tassels hanging from your balls for all I care. JUST BUILD THE FENCE.”

    …that’s probably the funniest thing I’ve heard (well, ok, read) yet today! And it makes for a very interesting mental image!

    I just got done making several loaves of zucchini bread last night from the giant mutant zucchini my mother-in-law shared with me. I have never had so much trouble peeling a vegetable in my life– it was like trying to saw through wood!

  25. ste

    Tassels! HA! You’re awesome.

  26. 12tequilas

    Okay, after reading the comments I had to go back and check. You called the shirtless fence builder “one of the guys,” and did not specify that he was hot. That was the picture in my mind, but you didn’t say it. I really thought you had….

  27. Carolyn

    Tassles!!! Priceless!!!


  28. dad


    I’m so proud of you!

  29. Katherine

    I have tons of the tiny ants too. I’ve been trying bleach on them, which seems to kill them, but doesn’t do much to keep them away. I’ll have to try the vinegar and cinnamon. I hope one works cause I’m tired of wiping down ants. Alas I have no zucchini to make the zucchini and ant muffins.

  30. Peggy Fry

    not to be a wet blanket or anything, but does the top of the fence in the picture seem awfully raggedy looking to you? Are they going to trim it up so it looks all even and pretty?

  31. Carmen

    I have always heard that peppermint oil keeps ants at bay. About five years ago, I started using Dr Bronners peppermint castile in a squirt bottle – full of water with three or four squirts of the castile soap added – to wipe the counters and table.

    It’s amazing how well it works. If we get a couple of ants, I just spray and wipe and it clears up.

    Hope this helps. And I’m sorry you are having such a difficult time.

  32. Samantha

    Tassles, You made me choke on the fistful of chocolate chips that I should not be eating but most definitely am eating.

  33. Veronica

    “Dude, build the fence stark naked with tassels hanging from your balls for all I care. JUST BUILD THE FENCE.”

    = Best line in a blog post ever.

    That is all.

  34. Holly

    The fence is gorgeous! Here’s hoping it actually gets finished! Preferably with no tassles!

  35. Chris

    I am now wondering where to find ball tassels.

  36. traci

    Whenever I’ve read a reader’s comment about spitting coffee or other beverage while reading your blog, I’ve always nodded to myself, thinking, “Yeah, Mir is so hilarious…she makes me laugh really hard, too.”

    OBVIOUSLY I didn’t truly understand how literal they were being.

    I’m squinting to see through the diet coke splatter on my screen as I type.
    (Offending line: “…stark naked with tassels…”) Hahahahahahahahahahaaaa. Awesome.

  37. MaryP

    My former father-in-law used to live on 30 acres in the country, and had a VERY large garden in which zucchini could hide until they were a solid three times the size of the one you were brandishing.

    In his never-ending efforts to be rid of the ridiculously prolific things — he never did seem to be able to PLANT FEWER of them — he used to hide zucchini in any vehicle which stopped on his large country property, for whatever reason. Friends, family, church people, contractors, bird-watchers, the mystery vehicles which park on the side of country roads and are left empty for no apparent reason for hours on end, the guy who came to clean their septic tank… you name it, they were all ambushed by zucchini. Still makes me laugh.

  38. addy

    Ummm so if he shows up pantless with tassles would you kindly snap a few photos for me ……. pretty please with sugar on it top ….please-pleassseeeeeeee :) thank you – that is all

  39. Cele

    There are not enough ways to serve zuchini that would talk me into growing more than one plant.

    Note to Otto… the ants want the cool stuff in the fridge.

  40. Kathy

    L-ing my A off!!! I know you DON’T want to hear this … but I’m really gonna miss the fence stories! They have made me laugh and cry right along with you. The new fence looks t-rif and I hope you enjoy it in good health!!


  41. Cheryl

    HaHa MaryP – my mom could never plant less than a dozen zucchini plants – she would ambush people getting off the bus after work at the bus stop behind her house. Suddenly everyone would ride the extra two blocks to the next stop if the “crazy zucchini lady” could be seen out in the yard!!!

  42. Brigitte

    Only you can turn that overwhelmed feeling into such a hilarious blog post, thank you!

  43. Alicia

    Little black ants hate talcum powder…they won’t walk thru it. I sprinkled a little bit around the edge of the window where they were coming in and pushed it down into the edge of the window and the window casing….I haven’t seen any since….

  44. Aimee

    Yech. I hate those little ants. We get them here in So Cal too.

    If you do send the monster zucchini and ant muffins to the old fence guys, just tell ’em the ants are poppy seeds. ;)

  45. Kim

    First it was the “Oh, honey…” comment, because I can only imagine the sweetness and light put into that statement. But the kicker was the tassels. A new classic! (Plus, the search engine mayhem that surely ensue!)

  46. Beth R

    I grew up in a lovely ND town where nobody ever felt the need to lock their car doors… except during zucchini season. You could leave your car at the grocery store and come back to a passenger seat full of the critters!

    Cheers for a hopefully successful fencing today!

  47. Daisy

    Zucchini and ant muffins? I could have made those for the teachers’ lounge last year. I would have warned my friends away first, of course. No, I didn’t much like my coworkers last year. So when you post the recipe, let me know.

  48. Erin

    Those giant zucchini are good for making relish. You would never know its zucchini if you didn’t know it.

  49. Amanda

    I effing love you!

    If a man that is worthy of seeing comes to your house and is building anything…..fence, table, sandwhich…..naked, then I am booking a flight to your house asap!

    That is funny…..tassels on his balls would be a great tag line for a builder!

  50. Headless Mom

    “Dude, build the fence stark naked with tassels hanging from your balls for all I care. ”

    Best.line.ever. Seriously, I almost peed my pants.

  51. Sara

    I just found a mutant zucchini like that too! Which will also be made into muffins, or bread or other similar baked good.
    I too enjoyed the ball-tassle comment.And I wonder how long that image will be stuck in my head…

  52. Asea

    The good thing about baseball bat sized zucchini is that they’re really good stuffed with rice, onions, and cheese. Mmm. You have to scoop out the seeds to make room for the chesse, of course.

  53. Chloe

    I cannot get enough of this site.

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