At the back of the hill

Warning: If you stay here long enough you will gain weight! Grazing here strongly suggests that you are either omnivorous, or a glutton. And you might like cheese-doodles.
BTW: I'm presently searching for another person who likes cheese-doodles.
Please form a caseophilic line to the right. Thank you.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014


Around this time of year, if you live in some parts of San Francisco, you become aware of something that surprises you: mosquitoes. You had happily forgotten about the little pests, because since you moved here from Alaska or Detroit, they weren't really on the radar. San Francisco is not prime malaria territory. And not really conducive to the mental or physical health of bloodsucking parasites. That's probably also the reason we have so few rightwing hose-bags, but that's a subject for a different post.

Parts of the Peninsula spray regularly at the height of summer to lessen the incidence of West Nile Fever, and Dengue is common in pockets of the Deep South, along with other mosquito-borne ailments.

Not San Francisco. We're moist, yes. But warm, no. Not usually.

Both fog and chill winds lead to torpidity.

Still, there are pockets.

Warm swamp.


I haven't strung up my mosquito net in years. When I still had a steamy relationship going on, it was an essential item from June through November, as my significant other would otherwise refuse to sleep in the same room. She'd always get bitten, or one of the little buggers would fly around in the middle of the night and keep her up whacking at invisible daemons with a pillow. Which is exciting oh boy howdy yes but not at all conducive to a good night's rest.

There are several things you can do to diminish the mosquito problem in your bedroom.

Mosquito nets, kelambu or kulambo in various Indonesian languages, muskieten gordijnen in Dutch, are not very expensive, easy to repair and clean, and make the bed-zone otherworldly. Could be very romantic, definitely old-school. Well worth your consideration. They can be ordered from companies in England and the Netherlands.

["Maagang taon na nakabitin ang kulambo, maulang magkano sa maraming buwan, at sa gayong nito walang pagpapatapon na lumubog..."]

Potted chrysanthemums are an anti-magnet for many insects, along with marigolds and lemon grass. Added benefit: lemon grass is a wonderful addition to stews, soups, and curries.

A metal tray of smoldering spent tea-leaves half an hour before bedtime will also drive them out.

Snow pear incense (雪梨香 'suet lei heung') repells mosquitoes, and leaves a delicate bookish fragrance.

Lavender or rosemary oil dabbed onto the temples and wrists at night also works.

So does the analgesic balm white flower oil (白花油 'baak faa yau').

Also effective: eagle wood incense (沉香 'cham heung').

But above all, travel with a female person of East-Asian ancestry when you visit the tropics. Trust me, it's magic. Mosquitoes, given a choice between a smelly white male tobacco smoker and a juicy woman with yellow skin, will avoid you like the plague and bite her.

During my first trip to South-East Asia I visited Mindanao accompanied by a Chinese businessman and his adult daughter, whom I knew from Berkeley. The two of them had one room, I slept in another. Every morning she'd show up for breakfast with her wrists and ankles looking like hamburger from the previous night's terrors, a veritable feast for the mosquitoes, whereas her father would only sport a few bites.
I myself, if I was lucky, might have just one.
It became a bone of contention.

Matters would have been better if I had been more diplomatic.
Instead I kept boasting about my uninterrupted rest.

That may have been the first time I ever heard "tiu, sei baak gwai, m-hou sik ga!"

[For the curious: 屌,死白鬼,唔好食噶!]

My ex, whom I mentioned earlier, is also a woman of East-Asian ancestry. South-East Asia is no place for a woman, especially a tender American, so while she and I were together any trips we made were to Canada and Western Europe. But I was much tempted, because the idea of roaming around Indonesia, Malaysia, and the Philippines, with my own personal mosquito bait, appealed to me immensely.
I fondly imagined comfortable repose.
But it never came to that.

Since we broke up, the mosquitoes have not visited me.
I haven't hung the net around my bed in years.

Her, they're still tormenting. She's never taken the net in her room down, and the vermin struggle to get in. They like her, they hate me. She lives in the other side of the apartment, and occasionally I am awakened in the middle of the night by loud thumps, as she combats their assault with her pillows, swearing ferociously.


Hee hee hee. Yes, I still occasionally light up some snow pear incense (雪梨香), which guarantees that I will not be bothered by the pests. But that's primarily to disguise the fact that I've been smoking like a chimney on my days off, frequently till late in the afternoon. She gets back around seven in the evening, and I really should let the place air out for at least four hours before she returns.

The other day I lit some damp tea leaves to fumigate the place.
Also very effective.

I've still got a few coils of eagle wood incense left.
And I know where to purchase more of it.

No need to hang the net.

NOTE: Readers may contact me directly:
All correspondence will be kept in confidence.



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