Sunday, January 20, 2008

Rampant antipathy

Just after Christmas, Bloke was stretched out on the couch, watching the Boxing Day test. Which Melbourne stole from Adelaide, by the way. Just like they stole the Grand Prix. Well, admittedly, we only pretended to give a rat’s tail about the Grand Prix. It was bloody noisy. The only reason we have to be angry now is that instead of a Grand Pricks, we ended up with a mob of V8 Supercar pricks, who represent a very special breed of drunken bogan scum. Digression, digression. Sorry. Couch; cricket (stolen).

There was a slap and then another and finally he jumped up and said, “There are bloody ants on the couch!” I’d noticed a few myself, on and off, for a few months, so I just said, “Yeah, there have been a few.” He changed couches and all speech was lost to beer and lethargy.

Ants and I don’t really get along. I’ve complained before about their regular attacks on my kitchen, but those stick-on ant baits do seem to keep them at bay. And anyway, I’m not nearly as bad as my mum when it comes to ants. She makes it her business in life to keep lots of cheap fly spray on hand so she can nuke them into antigeddon. The other day, I went over and she said, “Look at this!” She led me into the backyard and there, on the slate path, was a piece of bread spread with honey sprinkled with something oddly white and crystalline. “Ant Rid,” she said smugly. “They’re loving it!” And they were.

I don’t know quite where mum’s antipathy comes from, but I have a feeling it’s a minor phobia of possibly falling over in the garden and being beset by three million soldier ants before being able to get up. Which, now that I mention it, sounds horrific. Nuke 'em, mum, nuke 'em!

Anyway, back to the couch. Later on the day that Bloke first noticed the ant-couch conundrum, I flopped down on the same sofa and swiftly realised that I was being walked on by many little feet. “How by jiminy could there be so many col-danged, naughty ants on the couch?” I wondered aloud. (Of course, there was no swearing.) “From whence could they possibly be coming?”

A closer inspection revealed a slim trail snaking across the floor from a gap in the skirting, climbing up the couch leg and disappearing between the seat cushion and the arm. Not entirely normal ant behaviour, you must admit. What were they eating? Flock? Springs? Lost bookmarks?

So, in spite of heat and post-Christmas lethargy, I ripped the couch apart. And discovered, along with two bookmarks, a business card and a few fragments of crisp, half an After Dinner Mint stuck between the arm and the seat. “Ah, so this is the reason we have nieces and nephews,” I said with an indulgent and auntie-like smile. “In order that one of the little dears might insert half-eaten chocolates into our couch! Excellent.”

I even can’t remember the last time we had After Dinner Mints in the house. It must have been two or three years ago at least. And it looked like the ants had been working on it all that time. They’d mined deep into that mint, gradually nibbling out the white bit and leaving a hollow shell of slightly desiccated brownness behind. It was a sustainable resource and only known to a few, by the looks of it, or they would have Hoovered it long ago. But obviously someone blabbed, because there were so many ants on the couch that we finally twigged and destroyed their minty motherlode.

Mint removed, ants Baygonned. All that was left was to whine about the ant problem at a full-moon gathering of the coven. “Bloody ants,” I moaned. “Mint. Couch. Two years. Little fuckers.”

Well, it was on for young and old. How many mint and ant jokes do you think there are out there? Between them, Petstarr, Audrey, LMac and KFlip came up with more puns than I’ve heard in many a long year. Bloody journos. Be warned – this is what writing headlines will do to you.

Audrey and Petstarr even decided an antimated movie based on The Legend of the Great Mint was warranted. I’m still not entirely convinced. I think Antz, A Bug’s Life and finally Bee Movie have taken insect jokes as far as they can really go. Possibly further. Nevertheless, the movie had to have a name and LMac decided it would have to be called Antonemint. Not that anyone likes that scary little Keira Knightley even if she does have a good dress. And my three regular readers know what I think of Ian McEwan.

While we mulled over the storyline for said movie, we hopped in to some truffles that my outlaw had given me for Christmas. (After first having given me nut chocolates. For the 12th time. Even though she knows I’m allergic to nuts. She’s trying to kill me, I swear.)

The ant/mint thing developed a life of its own, turning into the joke that refused to die. It even sank into a reply-all email loop the next day. Ten days later, we’d nearly got past Antonemint, but on Friday night, I came home from the pub and found a steady little trail of ants wandering along the kitchen bench in front of the cooker and totally ignoring the natty little stick-on baits. I smacked 'em into the middle of next week and followed the trail back to its source.

Back to the dining table, in fact.

Where the box of truffles was still sitting.

The little bastards!

I suppose that’s what you’d call vengeants.

And in other news just to hand, I’m packing my gear and getting ready to clear out for Africa again. On Thursday, sometime before our local sparrows roll over and scratch whatever they scratch in the morning, I’m on a plane to Jo'burg. Himself has been there for two weeks already, tweaking and poking things on the flight simulator. Happily, Mr Furpants has a kittysitter this time. He doesn’t have to go to Guantanamo Puss and I don't have to feel like the biggest heel south-west of John Howard. (Thanks Luke – you rock.)

So, I get about six days at Palm Haven to get over my jetlag and the ridiculous amount of work I have to finish before I can leave the country. There’ll be some lolling on the stoop, looking at this view, I think, possibly with Gilgy and/or Lady for company.

Stoop, sweet stoop

When Bloke finishes work, we’re off to Namibia for a road trip. We were going to fly to Kenya and Tanzania, but then Kenya had to go and have an election and things went to putty. First we decided that we’d just skip Kenya and still go to Tanzania, but then the death toll hit 600 and we figured that if Kenya sank into civil war, there’d be a big ol’ refugee exodus across the border, especially since they share tribes. Things could get really sticky at about five minutes’ notice. And “see Kilimanjaro and die” is meant to be just a saying, you know?

So while I’m a tad annoyed at not getting to see Masai Mara, the Serengeti, Ngorongoro Crater or Mt Kilimanjaro, I figure discretion is the better part of not getting dead. And yes, I’m aware that I’m being selfish at whining over a foregone holiday when more than a quarter of a million people have had to run from their homes and a formerly stable country has gone to pot. At least I know I’m being selfish. Bite me.

Anyway, Namibia. Strange plants called welwitschias that they’re quite proud of, for some reason. They just look dead and mangled to me. Huge red sand dunes. Salt pans. Flamingoes. Kayaking near flamingoes. Meerkats. Rhinos. Super-sized pussycats. All these are good things. There are probably a few too many Germans there, but I suppose we can cope with that so long as we don't mention the war. And apparently everything runs on time, at least.

After Namibia, we head back to South Africa for a little jaunt in Kruger. Four days wending our way from the park’s southern-most gate to Bateleur Camp about three-quarters of the way up, then back to Kapama, a private game reserve outside the boundary fence and a little trip down the Blyde River Canyon to God’s Window. There could well be some river rafting involved.

So, keep an eye out. I’ll post with pictures when I can. Tootle-pip!

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At 1:44 am, January 21, 2008, Blogger littlefaeriegirl said...

i hate ants

and i too, believe that it stems from being covered in ants as a child. except i remember the part that came after being covered in ants. you know, that part when your mum picks you up by one wrist, holds you in the air, and smacks all the ants off of your bare legs? remember that? i bet you do now

have fun in africa. if you happen to go to chad and you see a little girl called augustine, could you tell her hi and sorry that im such a lame sponsor person that i didnt send her christmas card in time? thanks

At 9:12 am, January 21, 2008, Blogger Jo said...

You need some anty-disestablish-mint-arianism.


At 9:13 am, January 21, 2008, Blogger Mex said...

those journalists! they're such pedants...

At 11:37 am, January 21, 2008, Blogger Ariel said...

Looking forward to more Africa-blogging. And I'm very, very jealous.

A two-year-old After Dinner Mint? Those are some lazy ants if they took two years to swarm it.

At 5:10 pm, January 21, 2008, Blogger hazelblackberry said...

Mintox! as we say here in the West to anything that is fab.

Have a mintox holiday.

At 5:31 pm, January 21, 2008, Blogger River said...

I quite like Africa. I watch bits of it on tv. Often. But that's as close as I'm getting.You know, the whole "discretion being the better part of not getting dead thing."
As for the ants, you may have to stash all chocolate in the fridge until the ants forget the source of goodness. About a month should do it. Or you could stash it at my house.

At 7:13 pm, January 21, 2008, Blogger The Blakkat said...

Wish I could beat Antonemint but, no, that's pretty good & up with the present times, to boot.

Africa. Wow. Awesome. Jealous. Have an amazing time & make sure you tell us all about it in your usual entertaining style.

At 8:12 pm, January 21, 2008, Blogger redcap said...

lfg, ooh, now the repressed memories flood back! My dad was quite good at putting the hose on me for ant removal. I probably won't get as far as Chad, but if I do meet anyone Augustine, I'll deliver the message ;)

jo, oooh, winner! I think that's even better than Antonemint.

mex, ba-dum tish >:)

ariel, I think it was a carefully guarded secret. And there was I, thinking that ants were like the Three Musketeers.

hazel, oh I like that! Mintox. Where does that expression come from?

river, it's so tedious. Some chocolate just doesn't go well in the fridge. I think your place is looking like a better option ;)

blakkat, I'm sure there will be many an entertaining tale to tell. I just hope we don't come across anything to rival the melted puddle of goat from last year's trip. It's amazing how decomp clings to your nostril hairs. Even the memory of decomp clinging to your nostril hairs cling to your nostril hairs...

At 10:59 pm, January 21, 2008, Blogger MikeFitz said...

It was Jeff Kennet who stole Adelaide's Grand Prix wasn't it? I remember people joking that he was going to steal the Sydney to Hobart next.

Looks like all the crawling insect jokes are done. Anything I could come up with would be an ant-iclimax.

Have fun in Namibia. And take notes. I'll be asking hard questions. (Mrs Fitz bought Lonely Planet's Africa last week.)

At 1:50 pm, January 22, 2008, Blogger eleanor bloom said...

Not bad for a bit of antertainmint. (*shrugs* that been used yet?)

My thing lately is the smaller sized spiders crawling on me and waking me at night. I'm just thankful they're the smaller ones though.

Am more than happy to help you out with your excess of chocolates!! I'm caring like that.

Hurrah; someone else finds Kiera unsettling. She seemed to pose an awful lot in Atonement but I agree, were some bloody nice frocks.

At 2:51 pm, January 22, 2008, Blogger Lonie Polony said...

Ooh, looking forward to more Africa travelogues. Mr. Lonie wants to go and asked me for input. Typically, he wasn't really listening because he agreed to Darfur and Rwanda.

At 9:36 pm, January 22, 2008, Blogger ali g said...

If you get down to Skukuza when in Kruger could you hop into hut 42 and grab Mother's new frock which she left in the cupboard there?
Hope you get a chance to catch up with Parks & Wildlife before they head home...
Have a great time there. Just loved Africa!

At 10:39 pm, January 22, 2008, Blogger ThirdCat said...

If you want every possible ant pun, Janet Frame wrote a wonderful ant book - Mona Minim. I've read it eight thousand times, or possibly nine. It's for children, and really funny.

Enjoy Africa.

At 10:43 pm, January 22, 2008, Blogger ashleigh said...

I'm a bit antsy about all the ant jokes. Ah well :)

Seriously though, a nice fresh bottle of ant-rid, and putting some of the evil smelling brown stuff on an old bottle cap or piece of thick paper works wonders. They eat it for a while and then they all disappear.

But using an old bottle is a complete ant-iclimax. It doesn't work at all. Perhaps all the ant-ioxid-ants have been let out :)

Have fun in Africa!

At 11:16 pm, January 22, 2008, Blogger redcap said...

Thanks everyone! I'm sure we'll have a great time.

Mike, ooh, you're gonna get bit with the Africa bug! And yes, it was Jeff Kennett. But Melbourne's welcome to it as far as I'm concerned. The noise was horrific.

eleanor, I don't usually cope too badly with spiders, but walking on me in my sleep might just freak me out. Spiders and I have an agreement: if they keep out of the house, I'll usually leave 'em alone. Unless they're redbacks or those big fat black ones that make the verandah messy with web and spider poop. Oh, and unless they appear in the bath when I'm about to take a shower. They should know the bath is off limits. As for Keira Knightley, I just can't like her. Maybe if she went out and got a burger, I'd like her better. I'm afraid she'll poke out someone's eye with one of her shoulder blades...

lonie, hehehe. I love it when you can do that to boys and then laugh at them because it proves they don't listen. Botswana is nice and peaceful. You could go there. The worst thing we came across there was the goat puddle.

ali, your missus sounds like me. I left my dressing gown in the Okavango Delta last time. But miraculously, it found its way home via a very circuitous route: lodge to lovely travel agent from LIquid Giraffe, lovely travel agent to Bloke's usual place of abode at Palm Haven and then back home in one of his workmate's suitcases. Amazing, really! We won't be in Kruger until about the 10th or 11th. And are you sure that Tony really wants random fans knocking on his tent door?

thirdcat, that reminds me of an ant book I had as a kiddie - Algernon the Ant! There was an ant pun or 12 in that too, from memory.

ashleigh, you sound like my mum :) Have you been making them honey and Ant Rid sandwiches too?

At 8:38 pm, January 23, 2008, Blogger PetStarr said...

vengeants! I love it, it's gold. And just you wait - one day I'll write that screenplay and make a gazillion dollars off it.

At 11:00 pm, January 23, 2008, Blogger redcap said...

Pet, see if Seinfeld will buy it. Actually, call it Deliverants.

At 2:27 pm, January 26, 2008, Blogger Steph said...

Who knew ants liked their breath minty fresh?

Have a safe trip!


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