I have had waaaayyy to much time to think up here. You are probably wondering if I do anything besides contemplate the big life questions and clean up doggie doo. Well, I do. Lots of stuff happens here. I try to talk to the housekeeper in Italian. She has started to flinch every time I come near her and as she’s talking she backs away from me. I practice conjugating verbs so I can dazzle her the next day with my new words. I draw. I read. I pick wild berries. I watch grass grow.
I do have to say that last night was the most exciting night we’ve spent here. Our experiences lead me to believe we should be asking for hazard pay.
It started out so innocently. After the usual ritual of counting dogs and cats, last night finding two dogs and one cat, we closed the doors so those inside couldn’t escape while we tried to coax the second cat inside. We were unsuccessful, but it’s a cat, it can survive one night in the yard without getting eaten. Once we had everyone within the walls we headed upstairs to get ready for bed. Two big dogs and one cat clattered up the wooden stairs ahead of us. Three flights of stairs later we arrived at our bedroom, which as you know is small. We fought our way through a flurry of wagging tails and wet noses to our respective sides of the bed and started to get ready for sleep. I finished in the bathroom and told Leif he could get ready now and I would get everyone settled in.
He walked into the hallway, looked up at the beam in the ceiling and said “That’s a big wasp.” And it was. It had wandered in through the open and screen-less windows or door of our terrace and wasn’t sure how to get back out. It hovered near one of the beams, the sound of it’s wings echoing in the stairwell. I told him to not to worry about it and he went up the short flight of stairs to our bathroom.
I sat on the floor between the dog beds, petting them both as the cat rubbed itself against my back and through my arms, purring the whole time. I was feeling pretty content. What a pleasant night. I turned to the door as Leif came in and said, “Stop! The wasp is on the floor in the doorway. Don’t step on it!”
He leaned over to look at it and said quietly, “That’s not a wasp.” It was hard to see well because the lighting in the hall is a bit murky. I looked closer (without getting closer) at the grey blob on the floor. It moved again and suddenly I could see it’s eight legs. I was frozen to the floor. I asked calmly (I think) if he could see past his principles to kill it. He looked at me, raised one of his eyebrows, said “Yes,” and grabbed one of his sandals. It scurried out of the doorway and I heard a loud SMACK! The sensitive dog jumped off her bed and into my lap. I tried to calm her and soothe Leif’s conscience at the same time.
He just stood there holding his sandal (turned discreetly away from me so I didn’t have to view the remains) and looking kinda sad. I motioned for him to come into the bedroom so I could comfort him. As I turned to the bed, something landed on the comforter. I took a step back, thinking this was the giant wasp. Then I looked closer and realized that it was a giant grasshopper. (for those who want to know, it’s body was at least 4” long) Again, the lack of screens allowed it in and now it couldn’t figure out how to get out. I put my arm out to stop Leif from coming closer and said “That’s the biggest grasshopper I’ve ever seen!”
“A what?” he asked. But this was no time for a language lesson. “They don’t bite, they’re just really sticky,” I said. “You don’t have to kill it, but it has to be moved to the terrace.” he picked up his other sandal (the first one still had spider all over it) and tried to push it towards the door. Which works great if what you are pushing can’t fly. He would move the sandal behind it and push. It would jump and fly backwards. After a couple of tries he seemed frustrated. I told him it would be fine with me if he decided to kill it. We could spend all night trying to get it out of the room. Since he already had it cornered he nodded, turned away from me and again there was a loud SMACK! Again Siri jumped off her bed and ran to me.
Leif was looking a little flustered. I peeked over the edge of the bed and looked at the floor. There was a flat grasshopper shape with legs sticking up everywhere. “I’m going to get some paper for…..this,” he said as he waved his arms around to indicate that the entire room needed a good wipe down. He left, I soothed the dog, and he came back almost immediately with empty hands and a very strange look on his face.
“What?” I asked. “You don’t want to know,” he said in a very calm, very quiet voice. I looked at him, trying to decide if I really did or didn’t want to know. I decided that I did. “What?” I said again.
His face was tight; this was a man who had had enough for one night. “A scorpion. On the stairway,” he said slowly. “On our stairway? To our bathroom?” I squeaked out. "The stairway I just used a couple minutes ago?” He looked at me. “Yes.” My jaw dropped, my mind stopped working. All I could say was “aaaah.”
The poor man had run out of sandals. He took the grasshopper sandal and walked with great resolve out of my sight towards the stairs. This time there was no loud SMACK, just a dull thump. Only one. For a live and let live kinda guy he sure has good aim. He walked back into the room still holding the sandal. “Is it….gone?” I asked. It’s not that I felt bad about the scorpion, but there had been a lot of killing in the last three minutes and I felt it was better to resort to some other way of saying “dead.” Leif looked a little shell-shocked. “Yes,” was all he said.
He left me in charge of the animals while he cleaned up the carnage. How do you show your appreciation to a man who has killed three Neanderthal sized bugs (OK, I didn’t see the scorpion, but who cares how big it was? It's a scorpion for heavens sake!) in less than three minutes? By taking the entire bed apart to make sure that there were no other little surprises. By staying awake with him until the adrenaline rush wore off and he could fall asleep. By bravely staying in the house with him when every survival instinct I possess was screaming to leave, NOW. As we turned off the lights I sent up a silent prayer that we would have no more surprises during the night.
Everything seems better in the daylight, don’t you think? I felt fairly cheery as I got out of bed, carefully studying the floor before putting my feet down. I opened my suitcase holding a sandal in the ready position and found something to wear. I got dressed, first shaking all my clothes out over the terrace wall, just in case, then shaking my shoes out to be sure they were empty and then using them to beat on my socks, just in case something crawled in there…..