Posted by: Valerie | December 1, 2009

It’s December – it’s coming!

It’s always a surprise to me when December arrives – somehow I’m never expecting it. And now we’re plunged into all this frantic present-buying and planning. Every year I swear that I’m not going to overdo it and every year I guess I do. However we do avoid the sickening excesses that I have seen in other people’s houses. Richard and Elizabeth focus on the feasting aspect of Christmas, rather than the present-giving side and that has its charm.

Oh well, I’m going to do a Scarlett O’Hara and think about all that tomorrow. Well, maybe not tomorrow exactly as we are going to Oshawa to have lunch with Joe’s daughter Liz. It’s her 50th birthday. It’s a couple of hours each way so it will be an early start and an early return to get back before dark. Neither of us is very keen on driving in the dark because of deer and/or moose on the roads. I’ve never hit one and I don’t want to! I suspect I don’t see all that well at night, either.

 Aside from visiting his daughter and her family, Oshawa has a major attraction for Joe in the form of a Hungarian food store very close by. They have all sorts of desirable delicacies such as pork scratchings, lovely buns called pogacsa, made with bacon fat, smoked sausages and a sort of haggis clone called hurka. I’m not sure what life expectancy is in Hungary but amazingly all Joe’s family seem to live to great old ages. Kind of challenges all our theories, doesn’t it?

 Last weekend we said goodbye to our late neighbour’s daughters who had been up here to finish clearing out the house prior to closing. They were kind enough to take us out to dinner – all you can eat fish and chips and horrible wine. Still, it was a night of not cooking. In return we have given yard space to an unsold 55 year-old Massey Ferguson and a wee trailer. Fortunately we have no view of these items as they are in the old sand quarry where we have our bonfires.

 Next day, being Saturday, we got all cleaned up and went to a Christmas bake sale/silent auction at a tiny church nearby, in aid of the local food bank. They had called it Granny’s Attic Sale and I pleased to say that Granny was there in person with her cute little granddaughter. She was kind enough to pose for my camera. We bought a silk scarf for 50c (which I have already lost – it was a pretty blue and green) and six cookies for $2.00. We ate them – the cookies I mean. Then we dropped into Oscar’s auction to see what was going on there. It was very crowded with locals probably doing their Christmas shopping although the offerings were even more trashy than usual. Another subject for my camera was a large fluffy cat peacefully sleeping on its own chair in the midst of all the noise and hustle of an auction. I am pleased to report we managed to leave with only an old German camera with leather case and light meter for $5.00.

 A very annoying thing happened on Saturday evening. I was sitting quietly watching a movie when I felt something moving on my neck. I hastily dispatched whatever it was but not before it bit me several times. I don’t know for sure what it was – maybe a spider, more likely a ladybug. It didn’t bother me until the next day when my left eye began to itch crazily and turned bright red. I didn’t make the connection for some time and thought I had conjunctivitis so headed off to see the doc on Monday. It’s not infected – it’s an allergy, probably to the bug bite. It’s pretty annoying when you can’t see straight and want to scratch your eyes out. Still now I have drops and I can see again so I anticipate a full recovery.

Some guys can sleep through anything!


  1. I have to to get a life!! I had no idea that lady bugs bite so I got on Google and now 30 minutes later know more than I never needed to know–but there are still some people saying they don’t bite?? One blog said use witchhazel–boy that took me back 60 years to my Aunt’s house and my memory of that not unpleasant small as she put some on a bruise I had gotten from falling down.

  2. I’ve never heard of ladybugs biting either. I often pick them up and move them to safe places if I find them in imminent danger of getting squashed on pathways etc. I DO know there are biting spiders in BC though. I ended up with meningitis after being bitten by a spider on Vancouver Island. My suggestion would be, be nice to critters whenever possible but if they cross the line and jump, crawl fly or drop onto your person smack ’em hard and fast.

  3. Yes, I have handled lady bugs for years and never been bitten. I would go with the spider theory.

  4. Not to downplay your re-action but–
    From (maybe it is just those Canadian ladybugs)?

    “And yes: I too, was at first suspicious about the biting stories. But many people have emailed to ask about it—and to report being bit! So I turned once again to one of my favorite entomological experts, former beneficial insect specialist for the Canadian government, and now private IPM Consultant Dr. Linda Gilkeson, who lives on Salt Spring Island in British Columbia.

    She replies: “You bet those little critters can bite! They don’t have any kind of venom or irritating saliva (like mosquitoes, black flies, etc.), but they are just big enough for us to feel it when they pinch our skin.

    “I suspect the reason people are so shocked,” she continues, “isn’t that they got nipped (a minor insult compared to the bites of most other insects), but that it was the famously friendly ladybug of song and legend that did the nipping. It REALLY freaks some people out. I have heard of soccer games (played by hearty guys, all) being scrubbed because so many Multicolored Asian lady beetles were getting onto the player’s white shirts…..oh the horror!”

    Thank you, Dr. Linda. So we can now say, with sound scientific backing, that multicolored Asian ladybugs do indeed ‘bite’. Although I would prefer we use a less aggressive term—like ‘nibble’. (Or maybe “Harmonia hickey”—a tribute to the Asian lady’s scientific name.) I’m not just semanticizing here—these aren’t really ‘bites’ in the true sense of the word. The ladybugs don’t break the skin (not even close), and many researchers feel they’re really just kind of ‘testing’ the surface (human skin) they’re on. So don’t be freakin’ out like them wussy soccer players—you may feel a little nibble, but these ain’t yellowjackets, folks.

    • Wow! What a hot topic I seem to have hit upon! I know that ladybugs do bite as from time to time we have heavy, heavy infestations of the little bastards which have to be vacuumed up. Oh, the outrage of finding one crawling around on one’s pillow or under the sheets or, as once I experienced, crawling along the rim of my glasses while they were on my face! These are not the cute little red aphid munchers but are some kind of foreign invaders and are more orange than red. Still, Julia’s expert say they carry no venom so perhaps indeed it was a spider that caused my allergy woes..

      • Sorry, Pauline – that was your expert.

  5. We got so tied up with ladybug bites that none of us mentioned the fact that it is very difficult to get the right vintage to go with “all you can eat fish and chips”!!

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