Several weeks ago while D’argo and I were playing in the courtyard, I noticed a large weed growing in one of the planters. I was not planning to do yard work but thought I”d just pull that one weed out. It was a large weed and was not going to give up without a fight. I grabbed it with both hands, braced my knee against the side of the planter and pulled! The weed let go taking out most of the soil with the root ball. I was breaking up the soil from the roots when the most excruciating pain hit both my hands. I can only describe it as shocking. It felt like hundreds of hot needles were stabbing my hands. It took a few seconds for me to realize that all those black specks covering my hands were fire ants.
I tried to shake them off or brush them off anything to get rid of them, but those little suckers were angry and they were not letting go. I had to kill them to get them off. My letter carrier saw what was happening and told me to go inside and put chlorine bleach on my hands to neutralize the poison. After soaking my hands in bleach for a few minutes, I washed them with antibacterial soap and then slathered them with hydrocortisone plus. By this time both hands were swollen and red, the bites or stings (don’t know if the bite or sting) had raised red buring welts. My left thumb and forefinger had the most bits. They were consentrated on the knuckle in my thumb and the large joints at the base of my thumb and forefinger. I could not bend my fingers. The hydrocortisone and two Ibuprofen lessened the pain but did not completely remove it. The fire ants won this battle.
Next day my hands were still too swollen and painful to do much, but I was angry now. I have always admired ants for their work ethic and have tried to peacefully coexist with them. (even when they got inside my air conditioner and ate the starter switch and I had to pay $100 to get it replaced) But this was war. Ortho and I went after them with a vengeance. I eradicated them not only in my courtyard but outside on all my property and one hill on my neighbor’s lot. I went back next day and applied another round of pellets just to be sure they were gone. I will not give them another chance to live on my property. If they had gotten D’Argo the way they did me, I think they would have killed him. His little nine pound body could not have withstood such a shock. I now know of a boxer that died from fire ant bites. Had I known that earlier, I would have taken action to protect D’Argo from day one.
There has been very little knitting or anything else for the past several weeks. The swelling is finally gone. There are still scars. I can type, can hold a book, and can do a bit of knitting. I still have a great deal of pain in the large joint at the base of my left thumb. I have mild arthritis in my hands especially the left one, but this pain is different from the arthritis pain. I have heard that some people say they got releif from their arthritis from bee stings. I can attest there is no such therapeutic value from fire ants.
Sock knitting has been impossible since I could not bend my fingers enough to hold the tiny needles. I tried working on a mohair shawl I have in the works that is knit with size eleven needles. The large needles hurt my hands. I started a shawl that I saw on display in Weaving Works in Seattle more than a decade ago. Before I left Seattle I purchased a cone of Claret Jaggerspun Zephyr 2/18, 50/50 merino wool/tussah silk yarn and the pattern for the shawl. The shawl was knit by Mary Aston from a pattern marked ww #307. I am knitting it with size seven needles. I still cannot knit for a long stretch and have to stop often to let my hands rest. None the less I have finished the center section which is a garter stitch square and have picked up stitches along one side and am knitting the lace for that side. There are sixty rows of lace then the peaks are knit for that side. All four sides are knit this way then the sides are put together with herringbone stitch. I am on row twenty. I have a way to go but may finally after all these years get my beautiful shawl make. I guess in a way I could thank the fire ants for that, but I will not.
Last thursday while I was waiting for D’Argo to get his spring hair cut I tried to knit a bit on the purple and teal sock. I knit a few rounds, about and inch or so but stopped because it was aggravating the left hand. I do not know when the socks will be done. I have decided I do not like the pattern I knit in the first one so unraveled it and started over. I am going to knit them plain because I want the beautiful colors in the yarn to show and any pattern I have tried detracts from the colors.
We have had much needed rain for several days. The sun is finally out, the sky is blue and the temp is warm. D’Argo says it is time for him to take me for my walk. He is insistant. He will not give up until we go so more later.