My Cute Little German Mother is enjoying her summer in Colorado Springs, where the air is dry and temperatures are mild. When my sister and her family left to go back home, they took her with them and left my niece to stay with me for a month. We’ve had a great time visiting. She’s 16 now and a lot of fun to talk to. We introduced her to a summer game my sister and I termed “Texas Badminton.” All you need are a couple of fly swatters and some June bugs – I’m sure you can fill in the blanks. We got some great video, complete with screeches and awesome serves. One thing she is not used to since moving from Texas six years ago is the insect population. They really don’t see many bugs in Colorado Springs, so she’s spent considerable time either screaming or just intrigued – depending on the size and nature of the bug. The rhinoceros beetles we saw on our evening walks had her reaching for her cell phone camera to send images of the hulking bugs off to friends who’ve never seen such a creature – several have vowed never to visit Texas. And then there are the raccoons. She was dying to see one up close, as she told me that she’s only seen them before as road kill. Well, we have several who frequent the backyard bird feeder, as well as the cat’s bowl in the garage if the door is left partially open. But since her visit, it seemed they were staying away. She tried putting out cat food for bait ... even the ants didn’t eat that particular can of food. Then I got her a can of tuna to put on the patio. “They love tuna and they’ll smell this,” I assured her before going to bed (she’s up late and they come late). But, the next day, still no coon. “They just don’t like me,” she said with a downward turn of the lips. “Oh, that’s not it ... they come and go,” I replied. “You’ll see one.” Well, a couple of nights ago she got her wish. One of the little bandits showed up in the garage. It started with the cat food and then tried to get the lid off the metal garbage can we keep the dog food in. “I saw me a coon,” she said the next morning, with the purposeful slip in grammar that she uses just for fun when in Texas. She also got a taste of trying to tan in the backyard when it’s nearly 100 degrees outside. She described the experience when I got home from work the other day. A variety of bugs, including fire ants, had crawled on her, she sweat, apparently a LOT, and a fire ant bit her in a place hidden beneath her bikini. The summary of events can only be best appreciated when coming from the mouth of this very vocal, very very dramatic, 16-year-old girl ... a girl who was speaking three-word sentences at nine months of age. I explained to her that in the absence of a pool, the water hose is a necessary component of backyard tanning. “You have to go out early, before you shower. You get the chaise lounge and put a big beach towel on it. Then you mist yourself with a little water every so often so you don’t get too hot.” “There’s a chaise lounge?!” “Yes, dear. It’s in the garage. What did you lay on?” “Oh, I just put a towel on the grass.” “Well, no wonder you had a bug problem.” No worries, though. The troublesome tan line left by her flip flops was taken care of ... ahhh, to be 16 again. I’m gonna miss that girl.

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