I never heard of these little rascals until about a week ago when I showed the red bites around my ankles to friend and life-long Carolinian, George.  “Those are chigger bites,” he said, with the confidence that only comes from experience.  When you’re talking about local facts and lore, you can count on a person, I’ve decided, whose family name was used to name a local road.  George has a road. 

This got me checking the internet for more information, most of which is in a word, disgusting.  Here’s an image of a chigger.

Nasty looking little devil, isn’t he?  Keep in mind that the actual chigger is virtually invisible at 1/50 of an inch.  The more I read about these things the more grossed-out I became.  I’m just going to give you one sentence from Wikipedia about how they work on a host (like me).  “Chiggers attach to the host, pierce the skin, inject enzymes into the bite wound that digest cellular contents, and then suck up the digested tissue through a tube formed by hardened skin cells called a stylostome.”

To complicate things, the red, itchy welts one gets can take as long a 24 hours to show up, so in my case it took me a while to figure out that I was getting bit down in my outdoor painting booth.  They got pretty used to me heading down there in the mornings when the winds are calm.  “Yo, guys, here comes Smorgabruce, get your stylostomes.”

I tried some “namby pamby” bug spray and got bit some more.  As I sit here typing this I’ve got 16 bites that I can see (and feel); there are probably more.  Lovely that they like to invade warm places like under you socks and are you ready for it…your underwear!  Ok, enough said.  I’m now spraying myself with bug spray that contains DEET before going to the paint booth, and it looks like I’m in the clear.  Of course, the DEET will probably kill me before I can get all the money out of my pension, but at least I’ll go out without all the damn itching.

Tractor News

I keep making progress.  I’m working on the left front hub and wheel now.  Here’s what all the stuff looks like inside the wheel hub.

You can click on the image to see a little closer detail.  That’s my bike stand there that I “repurposed” as a tractor manual holder.  I’ve got the hub all apart now, and everything looks pretty good.  I’ve got all the parts degreased and cleaned and am in the process of painting the exterior parts.  Turns out the yellow paint I bought called “Tractor Yellow” was way off the mark, so I’ll need a “do-over” on that  one.  Sorry there Cost-O-Meter.  Here’s another photo.

That’s the primer coat on the left front end.

Remember that blue bird that took off a bit prematurely over a week ago?  Generally most of the babies leave the nest within a few hours of each other, but even though we saw the adults going to and from the nest feeding, day after day we saw no sign of any more chicks.  Now today I came home from the morning 40 and saw this little guy.

He looks like a survivor to me.  By the way, that nutso father hasn’t been around for several days, so we don’t know what became of him, and the female is doing all the work.  Please ladies, no commentary.

Finally, here’s a suggestion for you if you want a flashback to your youth.  I was in the ice cream isle at the grocery, found no brands that I like on sale, so started to move off.  Then I spotted some boxes of Nestle’s Drumsticks.  Remember those prepackaged cones filled with vanilla ice cream and topped with chocolate and peanuts?  I had not eaten one of those in decades, but I ate one this afternoon and I’m tellin ya, the taste took me straight back to age 8.  Try some, yum!

Have a great last week of June, and thanks for reading.


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