Waters turn to blood
There’s a park I used to frequent called Cedar Lake Wildlife Management Area in Buena Vista, New Jersey. The lake itself has a tea-colored (or cedar) water as a result of the tannic acids present in some of the flora surrounding the lake, as well as some naturally occurring iron. Although it’s not truly red, it resembles something more of a coagulated blood that will also stain your skin and clothing when you swim in it. Yuck and eww!
This would have to be my all-time favorite. Back in 1983, I was travelling with my then boyfriend and our male friend, returning to Phoenix, Arizona from Tucson where the friend had supervised visitation with his two young children (that’s a completely different story for another posting). On the way, I really needed to use the bathroom, holding my bladder as best I could. I don’t know what that route looks like today, but 40 years ago there was nothing on that highway, except a gas station or two, one of which we stopped at for me to use the facilities while the menfolk peed amongst the cacti. We were in the middle of the desert in the middle of the night. If you’ve ever been in the desert in the middle of the night, you’ll know how dark it gets. The ladies’ room light wasn’t on, so I had to fish my way around the walls to find the light switch – yuck and eww! After nearly wetting my pants and feeling every and any kind of germ known to man festering on my hand, I found the light switch…and one bazillion frogs! I had and have never seen that many frogs in one place at one time. Naturally, I ran screaming from the bathroom, sat in the car and held it in until we got home.
Okay, don’t get me started on every lice epidemic I have witnessed and, thankfully, have not suffered personally from. The worst scenario occurred at summer camp in 2006 when I was the parent liaison for the 15-year-olds. For those of you who haven’t been to a Jewish summer camp, the first thing they do when you get off the bus is sit you down and check your head for lice. One boy came from Israel with a pretty bad case, he deciding it was easier to shave his head rather than go through treatments, which was a very difficult choice on his part because he had a beautiful frock of hair, black and full, falling down to his shoulders. In solidarity, his entire bunk decided they would shave their heads as well, which meant I had to call every single one of their mothers and ask permission to have their sons’ heads shaved. All in all, that event went very smoothly. And then it was time for the girls…one of the American girls came off the bus with a head full of spiders – holy shit! A head full of fucking spiders! I had and have never seen that many lice on one person’s head at one time. And, of course, the girl’s mother refused to admit her daughter had lice (G-d forbid), making treatment very difficult. And, of course, several other girls in the bunk ended up with lice. And, of course, every single one of them had thick hair down to their butts that they refused to cut. I spent the entire summer helping nitpick these girls’ heads. Yuck and eww indeed!
Back to summer camp for this one too. Remember the story about the old lady who swallowed a fly? Well, this was a cross between that and the introduction of rabbits to Australia. I think it was about my third or fourth year in when camp was taken over by moths. Not really sure why, but the suckers were everywhere, making it almost impossible to walk around at night, there dead lifeless bodies covering the grounds each morning, the maintenance crew driving around on their golf carts shoveling up the debris – yuck and eww. I had and have never seen that many moths at one time. So, by the next summer, someone had discovered that flies are the natural predators of moth larvae – enter Mr. Fly. And guess what happened? Yup, that’s right – camp was infested with flies that summer and, for the record, they don’t die daily… I had and have never seen that many flies at one time. The following years introduced black bears, but I don’t think they count as livestock.
Disease of the livestock
Mad cow disease, swine fever, avian flu, West Nile Virus, rabies, anthrax, botulism, just to name a few. And the list is endless. Shall I continue?
Okay, come on, who hasn’t had a boil or two in their lives? Even a sty on the eye is considered a boil folks. My worst boil episode occurred after having a spinal tap and a ridiculously humongous boil developed on my lower back. After suffering great pain for about 10 years, I finally decided to have the thing exorcised from my body. I won’t go into detail, but, in the words of the surgeon, “Oh man this is one angry guy!” That sucker spewed forth for at least a week – yuck and eww for sure.
Hail and Fire
Although I’ve witnessed hail many times, I can’t say that I’ve seen hail and fire at the same time. However, while in Jerusalem last month at the peak of the corona breakout, a freak hail storm developed out of nowhere. Perhaps COVID 19 counts as fire? Hmm…
The 17-year cicada swarm in New Jersey, 2013. The kid and I were joining my sister and her friends on a cancer walk three years after my sister had been diagnosed with breast cancer. She was amazing on that walk. Despite the pain and side effects from chemo and the unrelenting heat, she walked the entire 5km, even stopping to take a shower when the fire engines sprayed us with their hoses. Ever present that entire walk, the noise the locusts made was deafening. I had and have never seen that many locusts in one place at one time. And what about the locust plague in Africa right now?
Aside from that frog-littered gas station in Arizona, the darkest I’ve ever experienced happened in Inishmore on the Aran Islands, Ireland. A friend and I were walking back from a pub where they were filming a documentary about island life (my friend actually got to dance with the director). It was 3:00AM and we were certainly not not a little tipsy. As we moseyed our way back to the bed and breakfast, we talked about how safe we felt, despite the late hour and the complete darkness, me holding my hand in front of my face and declaring, “I literally can’t see my hand in front of my face!” I had and have never felt that safe in my entire life.
Death of the First-Born
My brother, Michael, October 27, 2015. Today is his birthday. He would have been 65 years old.