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Gracie, the Fake Ladybug (Part 1)

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Don’t mess with hubby’s airlock, not even for the fake ladybug in the window. Right?


Feel good humor, really …


Did it move just now? The fake ladybug in my office window behind the plastic film? The thing is right in line with my view of the winter snow garden. Really bugging me.


One of those fake ladybugs. An imported Asian lady beetle, orange-red with nineteen black dots on its back. The kind that bites hard. Pees in your mouth this liquorish poison that makes you wail and spit for ten minutes.


How do they get in your mouth? They drink from water glasses. Crawl into salads, mixing with slivered carrots and tomatoes quite nicely.


My office has wonderful walls of windows, so we purchased an EdenPure Heater like the one on Paul Harvey, just to keep me warm. I love mine more than Paul loves his. Then hubby bought me a radiant Heat Dish. Now our pets sleep in baskets by me where I spin them like rotisserie chickens.


Ask the ladybugs, winters are rough in the Great Lakes region. So he applied lovely plastic film to the windows to give them one more layer of insulation. Since I refuse to use drapes or blinds because I don’t want to lose my view of the winter garden, the film is a compromise.


The problem with this bug-thing staring in at me is that hubby is very protective of the film. The technique is in the airlock. So he spends the rest of the winter accusing me of pushing stacks of books, the lamp shade, and my purse into the film, which does leave dents. I cannot deny evidence.


One must understand the dynamics of our relationship, of him bringing me sustenance while I create my prose in the office. Autumn onward, I would don gloves, many sweaters with hoods, scarves, jackets, then coats and boots, frozen fingers typing numbly.


Stubborn me with my walls of vintage windows on my vintage office-porch I would not change for the world, freezing to death.


What a lovely winter garden, though. Birds, wildlife, a tiny lacy cedar tree tipped in ice beads dancing beneath the grey skeleton of the high bush cranberry. I love my trees. My blue wind chimes.


Hubby loves me. So he contours the film, trims the edges within a sixteenth of an inch from the two-sided tape so I never know it is there. Then he uses hair dryer heat to coax the film to completely disappear as it spreads tighter and tighter.


Who would mess with the airlock? Not me. I’m not even touching it.


But the poor fake ladybug got caught between the windows and the plastic film.


Day before yesterday, the bug was lively. Being the coldest day of the year, I felt sorry for it, doubting its survival for more than a few more hours. I know, I am a heartless fake ladybug hater. That evening when I turned out the lights, I do not remember noticing Fake Ladybug. She had probably frozen to death quite painlessly … right?


She? Yes, she. All ladybugs are feminine in fairytales.


Yesterday was more spring-like. Fake Ladybug was not flying around but she was still there, behind the plastic, mulling how to escape her winter wonderland aquarium. Then she disappeared for several hours. Before I turned off the lights, I checked for Fakie and she was not between the windows, not in cracks as far as I could see.


Fakie? Yes, Fakie. Just as Gracie is a cutesy name for Grace. Fakie. Using “ladybug” in her name is too good for her.


Today I come in here to work, five essays exploding in my mind. There is Fakie, still as a nailhead on the white windowsill, staring at me through the plastic film. Eh.


I’m trying to work. And she is either dead or dying.


To my defense, these fake ladybugs can live through the winter. They hide in our insulated homes—all of us—between the drywall and outside wall, then come out in droves in the spring.


Summers they spend in alfalfa fields and when that is harvested, they fly into communities like yours to bite you and your children, stick in your fresh deck stain, pee on your windows, until they settle down and crawl into your house to stink and hibernate—those that are not rolled into the bales to be fed to the poor cows. I wonder if the cows can taste that poisonous vile they spray. Uck.


To my defense, some environmentalist from some agricultural improvement agency decided the United States farmers would be better off with these cold-weather resistant Asian lady beetles instead of old tried-and-true, gentle North American ladybugs who die off in the winter, it seems, and were a bit more sluggish in cold summers ( huh? ) when they were supposed to be eating aphids, I guess, and they say our native ladybugs were not as aggressive on the aphids.


Please. Have you ever seen the close-up images of what North American ladybugs do to a smorgasbord of aphids?


To my defense, once upon a time I always scooped them up to take them outside and make a nice plot of leaves and stones for them to live under far from the house, just like I do for the mice.


To my defense, I used to take my hanging lamps apart to get the fake ladybugs out before they fried their little feet on the bulbs. And when they fry they stink, too.


Then one day, hubby got out the shop vac. Who would win? Me, the defender, or him, the warrior?


But too many times the nasty creatures got in my salad.


Once my pet skunk tried to eat one and vomited around the house ten times over, me following with paper towels and the vinegar spray bottle while he squeaked and spit and gagged all over the hardwood floors. You laugh, but it could well be your dogs and cats eating them.


Oh! Then I drank one of those poisonous devil bugs, so drank ipecac as a chaser to get it out of me.


I let hubby shop vac a gallon of them a week from there on out.


I couldn’t watch, couldn’t stand to hear their little screams as they were suctioned at high power into blackness like a tornado before one is in the center. Could not imagine their little faces when they were left in the stillness of the contractor strength garbage bag he dumped them into everyday.


But within a few weeks of hubby shop vacuuming fake Asian ladybugs, we had no more. And spring after spring our droves were lessened until we gave a sigh.


But now I am staring at Gracie … I mean, Fakie. And I think she was in a different position a few minutes ago. She could still be alive in there.


Part 1 | Part 2

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