Saturday, October 30, 2010

The Mutant Cricket

It's funny the stories your brain can create when half asleep. 3am this morning I was rudely awakened by a very loud trilling noise. Within a minute I was about to drift back to sleep when the trill resonated within the room again.


WHAT was that? And where was it coming from? It seemed like it was from the left side of the room near the bathroom. It only seemed to sound every 30-60 seconds, leading me to believe it was an electronic device. Maybe Danno's ipod or his phone?


No, it definitely wasn't electronic in origin. It almost sounded like


I had never heard a cricket make such a loud or long noise. In my cricket-listening experience, their chirps were short and rapid, not long and loud like this one. But then most of the crickets I heard were during the summer, when it was hot. This was late October and it was cold outside.


Wow that was loud. Maybe it was a mutant cricket, big and black, at least 3 inches long (the average field cricket is 1/2" to 1" in length). I laid there and wondered how he got in. I was at the Ecology Center on Thursday exploring the woods and prairie with a group of kindergarten-aged children. Did he slip into a pocket while I was outside? When I returned home that day, I threw my uniform into the laundry hamper, which, incidentally sits on the left side of the room near the bathroom. But how could I have slept through him trilling Thursday night? And how in the world would I have not noticed a huge cricket like that jumping into my pocket? I could feel ticks crawling across my skin. Surely I would have noticed that behemoth of an insect jumping on me.

I pictured the cricket on the bathroom window, inside looking out, or maybe he was on the mirror. After another ear-splitting trill, I jumped up and turned the light on and all fell silent. Not another sound was heard. I laid down and stared up at the light that was burning through my pupils into my retina. I was not going to be able to sleep with a light blaring down on me.

I got up and turned the bathroom light on. That was better although there was still a light on in the room. But at least I could close my eyes and not have the light shining through my eyelids. As I laid there, I swore I could hear the patter of the enormous feet that belonged to that mutant cricket. He was on the mirror, tapping the lights with his long antennae. He was looking for something to eat, he was...

I jumped up and looked in the bathroom. No enormous cricket crawling on the window or tapping the lights above the mirror. I left the light on and closed the door. Not 5 minutes later I heard another trill, although the closed door brought the decibel level down to a manageable setting. The next time I looked at the clock it was 4 am.

That mutant cricket managed to steal an hour's worth of sleep from me.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Things overheard at a Brownie meeting

A few months ago I took the plunge into the world of Girl Scouts. Bug Lady undertook leadership of her daughter's troop but needed a co-leader. I happily agreed as it would be a fun way to hang out with Bug Lady and her daughter.

Our troop began with 8 girls, but has recently grown to 13. It has been interesting, entertaining, frustrating and educating. There have already been a few interesting highlights, a few of which are hopefully, more to come.

At the end of one meeting, we were playing shadow charades. The girl creating the charade stands in front of a light and creates her charade, which is projected as a shadow on the wall behind her. Some of the girls were getting very specific with their animal charades, creating Labrador Retrievers or their aunt's calico cat and the like, prompting Bug Lady to create a few rules for the game.

"Let's keep this simple. No specific dog or cat breeds ok? No Labradors or Collies or Persian Cats. Not everyone knows what these dogs or cats are. And no using Uncles or cousins dogs and cats either. Maybe some of these girls don't know your Uncle or Cousin or know they have a dog or a cat." she said.

It's E's turn and she gets down on all fours and begins walking around.

"A spider?"

"No." E replies before pretending to eat.

"A dog!"

"Nope." This time E begins to lick her hand.

"A cat?"



Bug Lady and I looked at each other before I whispered "I think she's imitating a specific dog breed." She nodded but allowed the guessing to continue a bit longer before speaking up.

"Ok E. We give up. What are you?" Bug Lady asked.

"My Grandma's Boston Terrier Oreo." she replied.

Well, at least she wasn't her Uncle's Labrador Retriever.

At another meeting I was passing out Cheez-Its for snack time when one of the girls attempted to grab the box out of my hands.

"Excuse me." I said, holding the box just out of her reach. "That's not polite. What do you say?"

"Please may I have some Cheez-Its." She grunted.

C leans over and bumps shoulders with the offender before loudly saying "Did you say PLEASE? Or did you say CHEEZ?"

I roll my eyes and poured Cheez-Its onto both the girls plates.

Same girl, same meeting. One of the activities at the meeting was for each girl to lay on a piece of craft paper, have their outline traced before she decorated and colored her body outline. It was adorable, watching each girl, their faces serious with concentration, busily coloring with their little butts in the air. I started taking pictures of the girls but as I approached C, she sprang up like a prairie dog and flung her hand out to block my camera.

"NO! I'm not ready yet!" She protested.

"Ok, Ok." I replied, moving on to other girls.

Five minutes and across the room later, C bellowed "I'M READY!"

C sat next to her artwork and smiled before waving her hands around. "No! Wait! That's not right. Let me pose again."

She switched from a sitting position to laying on her side next to her decorated paper self. "That's better. Ok you can take my picture now."

At least she's not camera shy.

Yesterday's meeting focused on the Manners try it. Saying "please", "thank you" and the like. One of the other suggested activities is to throw a party that includes proper place settings on the table. We're throwing a party for 4 other Girl Scout troops in the school for the Manners try it and this was the first meeting to lay the groundwork for the party. Bug Lady gave each girl a place mat sized piece of paper on which they had to correctly set a paper plate, plastic fork, spoon, knife, cup and napkin. The girls were to draw or trace the setting on the paper once all the dinnerware was in the correct spot on the paper mat. The girls had correctly set their plates, utensils and cup and only the napkin remained.

Bug Lady wanted the girls to figure out the answer so rather than tell them where to place the napkin, she asked "What do you do before you eat?"

"Wash your hands!"


The answers prompted a smile from Bug Lady and she conceded that these each were true. However, when one sat down, the napkin usually went on the lap.

"I don't put a napkin on MY lap when I eat." M said.

"I do!" C piped up. "I always drop mashed potatoes in my lap, chicken on my lap, gravy on my lap."

The party is November 3rd. I can only hope we make more progress at the next meeting. But that being said, it sure has been an entertaining ride so far in the school year. Wonder what the next several months are going to bring.