Another Brief One

I just finished getting my checkbook in order (and discovering that DirecTV had invented/connived/manufactured a $16.08 charge, supposedly “due” on June 29 that they explain nowhere among my various incomprehensible bills on their website — that sort of financial falsity is why I do not wish to permit  corporations unchecked rein/reign in our nation ever. Period). The important stuff (back to the checkbook balancing/verification process) must come first.

I am excited to be anticipating my Lovely Oneʼs return home from work some time after noon today (to learn why, youʼll just have to wait until tomorrow, heh heh). Therefore, this little post will be as advertised in its title, brief.

Work, as I indicated yesterday, has been hectic (fulfilling and fun, too — but taking time and exhausting). Since I last wrote (before yesterday, that is), I have checked traps in all three of my counties, getting all of the big purple trapezoidal boxes, at least briefly, back up in trees. (We had a remarkably windy May-into-June this year, evidently — at least based on the number of blown-down emerald ash borer traps I have replaced* or put back up.) I was also checking on the bugs stuck, living and expired, to the sticky exterior of each trap, searching for (but hoping not to find) an emerald ash borer. I mostly find “click beetles,” flies and a few moths, but I have taken perhaps two dozen samples to be checked by those more experienced and knowledgeable than I.

In late June, once my boss did his ride-along with me (when he did all the work, interestingly; I guess a day out of the office is fun for some, regardless what you have to do here in the field — including stepping high over suddenly installed electric fenceline hedging off a ditch beyond which we had placed a trap in need of checking), I got assigned to help my EAB partner (now working on gypsy moth trapping) finish getting her hundreds of traps placed in Linn and then Scott counties. She found the spots and drew the trapsheet maps while I stapled up the little cardboard boxlets and did the computer files. It made an interesting four days, and Pam acted as tour guide around Cedar Rapids.

Also following boss Robʼs visit, it became time to replenish the lure packets in the traps. I elected to continue northward from where I had left off just checking on the traps (I wanted to ensure that as few as possible were missing from trees still), completing Jackson and my half of Dubuque counties before heading back south (just late Wednesday and yesterday). Naturally, I check each trap for its assortment of bugs, and yesterday my supervisor, John, looked at my samples, helping me realize what I already actually knew — they were click beetles. However, he took one test tube to send along to Des Moines for further scrutiny. The bug wasnʼt an emerald ash borer, but I had found one of its related species.

Work Costume

Todayʼs picture — one of those Janet shot on Independence Day as I examined our home trap — shows me in full working outfit.. The reflective vest is one I had bought years ago for running (it was rather warm for summer mornings) that I dragged out when I realized how close to traffic my work placed me.**  The t-shirt is work-provided and says “Burn It Where You Buy It” on the front, referring to the fact that the emerald ash borer (and several other pests, like the gypsy moth) mostly have spread by human transportation. A typical ash borer doesnʼt on its own get farther than a mile or two from its birth tree. The hat is an old one (from Alaska) that I use to protect my noggin (bald heads do burn, baby, burn, in the sunlight) and shield my eyes when gazing upward, usually directly in line with the sunʼs position somehow. I wear jeans because I get to clamber into and through overgrown ditches regularly, and I already had a minor encounter with poisonous wild herbage. I like carpenters pants in real life, and the leg pockets carry stuff on the job — a pen on each side, my cell phone on the right and some gum on the left. You canʼt see in this shot, but my keys are on a (Guinness) lanyard around my neck, along with my credentials from USDA; once I locked myself out of the GOV back in May, my first day out on my own at all, I have been very careful about those keys. I am actually (not pretendingly/ dramatically) extending my pole upward at a trap, and you can see (part of) the pole in the shot. Also out of frame are my beloved waterproof boots that I wear all day every day on the job.

I had bought the boots at the Bass Outlet store in Wisconsin which we pass (in an outlet mall) on the way to visit Janetʼs sister and her husband. Although supposedly listed at nearly $150, I picked them up for just about twenty bucks. Considering some of the situations into which I have staggered on the job, the original price would not have been too high. I hope they last and last.

I also have rain gear that I paid a lot more than I did for the boots (at Theisenʼs, from Carhartt***). But the Fourth was a warm enough day I wasnʼt going to model those orange bibbed pants and coat for my Beloved to photograph.

And thatʼs what I wear for work (and Iʼve already worn out one pair of pants that ripped out both back pockets from carrying a staple gun — used to attach little signs to the trapped trees). The clothes get washed daily, reserved just for the job because my GOV (like all the seasonalsʼ vehicles) stinks of manuka oil in the lure. Also, I get the sticky residue, from accidentally touching traps, particularly on my pants.

Wasnʼt that exciting? Feel enlightened?  — Thereʼs more to come. Eventually. When I have the time.

* You would think that something as large as the EAB trap is wouldnʼt vanish utterly when blown out of a tree — but about half the time, sadly maybe more, that is exactly what seems to happen. At least to me.

** No one else on our team of seasonal employees wears a reflective vest, but itʼs become a part of the daily costume for this role for me.

*** If you clicked the link and looked at the pants, I also bought the corresponding hooded coat.

©2011 John Randolph Burrow, Magickal Monkey Enterprises, Ltd, S.A.

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