Rural Life

Name That Bug


Can anyone identify this freaky-looking insect?

Gold star if you can.

(That’s my key chain in the frame, for size perspective. I wasn’t brave enough to stick my hand anywhere near this thing!)


Carpenter bees suck


Carpenter bees pose almost no threat to humans at all.

Carpenter bees seldom sting.

Carpenter bees are not aggressive. Often, a carpenter bee preoccupied with something will not sting or flee when approached closely or even touched by a human, but merely raise one or two of its legs in the air instead.

Lies, lies, lies.

I’m telling you, carpenter bees do sting and it hurts like hell.

Last week I landed my third sting in as many years. The first carpenter bee zap came when I retrieved the mail and accidentally touched one trapped in our mailbox. The second one got caught in my shirt.

And last week I stepped on one that — inexplicably — was nestled among the dirty clothes by the washing machine. It stung my toe (yes, I was shuffling through the Mount Everest mound of dirty socks and shirts on the cellar floor.) For days my toe didn’t resemble a human digit, it looked like a sausage. (Riding boots and softball cleats do not readily accommodate sausages.)

I pulled up a few websites and at least one added the following annotation to the “bees are harmless” claim: male carpenter bees do not possess stingers; females can sting when disturbed and the sting is painful.

No kidding.

Martin has a theory as to why I’ve been targeted so many times: “You’re actually an alien and the bees can sense it and are trying to destroy you.”

It’s possible.

Recently I’ve identified another potential extra terrestrial who has suffered the carpenter bee’s wrath: my farrier. He’s been “bitten” and “yea, it hurts like hell.”

So consider this a public service announcement: beware the carpenter bee — at least the females. Fortunately, they can be easily “sexed” at a glance. Males have a patch of white or yellow on the face, and females do not.

You got that? Next time, if there’s any doubt, just cup the bee in your hand. If it delivers a searing sting, it’s a girl.



The Day After



The day after the Potomac Hunt Races isn’t a functional Monday; it’s just a bunch of hours strung together… an interminable slog to the finish line: rest, recovery and Tuesday. After days of preparation leading up to the Races, all the grunt work, not to mention the pre-parties… and the pre-pre-parties, and then the actual event on Sunday–

–well, Monday’s pretty ugly.

If dinner’s any indication, I served the kids the following on Monday night:

  • 1 slice of pizza, divided three ways
  • 2 chicken nuggets per kid
  • snap peas — about 20 — divvied into 3 portions
  • 1 peeled carrot per person
  • a pint of wrinkled blueberries. 

Voila, dinner is served!

To their credit, the kids didn’t utter a word. I had that post-race glaze that said: tread lightly.

But enough about recovery, fatigue and hangovers. Were the Races worth it?

Um…. yea!



A few of our friends host a tailgate that’s always theme based. Previous themes have included safari, pirate, Wild West, and horny (don’t ask).

This year’s theme: “War Horse.”


Bubba, replenishing supplies


When we weren’t socializing, snacking or depleting the mojito supply, we were piloting the gator — sometimes ferrying equipment, sometimes shuttling elderly folks or heavily burdened families en-route to their parking spots. But more often than not, we were entertaining kids in joyride fashion. Every time we started the gator, children emerged from the woodwork.




Amidst all of this, there were races and horses — the whole point of the day.



Cayden, Hadley and Brynn managed to monopolize on the event… not by betting, but by taking advantage of bettors. Hadley made a bunch of rubber-band bracelets and the kids peddled them rail-side between races.

Asking $1-$2 each, they pocketed $50 total.



A day’s end it was time to hang it up, break down the tailgates, pack up the leftovers…

…and distribute the kids to their rightful owners.