30 September 2012

Pie Under Attack & Can't Get No Sleep

My personal favorite fruit tree here on the property is a little limón crillo, known in the States as the key lime. This tree pumps out a constant supply of juicy fruit. Its juice is super-yummy in Coke drinks and, if I'm extra nice, Pat will turn a handful of them into Key Lime Pie. {Everybody sing: "Heaven ... I'm in heaven and my heart beats so that I can hardly speak!"}

Yet, (horrors!) something has been attacking my little tree's leaves.

We had the gardener look over the victim and he immediately pronounced, "Ants."

"Where?" sez I.

"No, no, señor, they come only at night. You'll never see them," he said. {Yeah, right, another old wives tale.}

"Put poison all around the base of the tree and you will have no more problems," he said with authority. {Yeah, right, it will last about two hours of DAYLIGHT time until the afternoon rains come and wash it all away.}

Oh, well. We said thank you very much and sent him on his way. I haven't worked my way down the task list yet to the "Put poison on lime tree" entry. Maybe tomorrow.

I'm too tired right now. I need a nap. Here's why:

We have wireless motion detector sensors hidden all over the property. They feed their signals into a receiver in the bedroom where a recorded voice will announce which sensor has signaled, e.g., "Rancho uno!" or "Bodega!" etc.

At about the start of the rainy season, in the middle of the night, "Rancho uno!" would go off, thereby jerking my eyelids open with a bang. The first few times I'd fire out of bed, turn off the burglar alarm so I could open the doors, flip on the lights, grab my flashlight and my weapon de jour, rouse the dogs and race for the Rancho to do battle with the thieves, who were obviously raiding the Rancho refrigerator and stealing all of my beer (or something less important.)


Every time ... nothing.

We came up with all kinds of theories. Cats? Bats? Birds? (At 3am?) Lizards? Urk, snakes! Who knows, but I could never catch the culprit, no matter how fast I got out the door. We decided that there must be something wrong with the sensor and even discussed ordering a replacement for a friend to mule down from the States next month.

Pretty soon, "Rancho uno!" got ignored unless it went off more than once ... or more than 3 times ... or more than ...

Last night, it started going off. And again. "I'm not getting up. The hell with it." Just get to drifting off to sleep ... "Rancho uno!" And again. And again, damn it.

"THAT'S IT!" I got up, with a vengance. The full regalia. I went out armed to kill me some wildlife.

Pat was trailing along saying, "Just take the battery out and come to bed." I wanted me some blood but the battery idea sure sounded like a faster way to get back to bed.

Pat handed me a step stool and I pried open the sensor's cover -- tool in one hand, flashight under my chin. Reached in for the battery and just got a grip ...

"ANTS!!!" Little bitty bastards. Way tinier than the head of a pin. And, FAST! They were all over my hand and everywhere quicker than I could drop the cover and get off the step stool. "Damn ... Ants!"

What was really there.
What I'm imagining was there.
While I'm doing a really creative dance around the Rancho floor, Pat handed me a can of Raid, whereupon I blasted their microscopic li'l souls to the netherworld.

Turns out, they were nesting in the bottom of the housing of the sensor. AND, they only came out at night!

[See where I'm going with this? Tying this all back together? Bet you weren't expecting that!]

Once in awhile, some wandering soldier ant would head north, up the sensor wall and crawl across the receiver glass (about half the size of your little finger nail.) Bingo. Off goes the transmitter.

And, last night must have been Ant Night At The Rancho so they were all up and excited, running all over the inside of the sensor. Sheesh.

But now, I've keeeeled them all and maybe that was the nest that was attacking my beautiful little lime tree.

And maybe I can sleep tonight.

In the mean time, is it time for a nap yet?

P.S. from Pat: And after all that excitement, the sprinkler system started up at 1:30 AM, when it wasn't supposed to, so we were up again! I had to wait 15 minutes, until it finished watering the first zone. Then I made a mad dash run across the wet lawn to the controller box and shut it off. In the meantime, the wireless motion sensor is frantically announcing, "Bodega! Bodega! Bodega" and all the motion sensor lights around the house are turning on. It must have been quite a sight to see the crazy gringa lady running in flip flops and a nightgown across the yard!

Finally, we could settle down to some well deserved rest... but no, the neighbors new rooster woke up at 3:30 AM, which in turn woke up Calvin (see earlier post). In spite of all the interruptions, we did manage to get in a couple of hours of shut-eye, but it will be an early night tonight.

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