where the writers are
Dirty Hands
Jules Artemisia arborescens

Tanquerey on the rocks with a twist was what I was thinking when I pulled in the driveway after a discouraging in-service on Substance Abuse, Use and Addiction in Southwest Missouri.

Thank God I wasn’t an alcoholic, was what I was thinking when I got out of the car and noticed my husband, RJ, crouched over something in the yard. I picked up my pruners and walked through the herb garden to see what he was doing. I realized what the back stabbing trapper was bending over. “Where did you get that armadillo trap?”


“I thought we conceded to the armadillo.”

“You conceded. I didn’t.”

“Well,” I huffed. “I’m Zen with it.”

My husband laughed. “You’re not Zen with the armadillo. You bitch and moan about him every morning. I’m sick of it. He’s going to die.”

“Is that a gleam in your eye?” I accused as I snipped spent Salvia flowers.

“No, of course not,” the armadillo killer said calmly.

“Good luck <snip>,” I snapped. “Finding any earthworms to use for bait <snip, snip> since the armadillo already ate most of them." <snippety-snip-snip-snip>

“I’m not using earthworms. I’m using marshmallows.”

“Wonderful,” I said. “The only thing you’re going to catch is ants.”

Smug smile. “Armadillos love ants.”

Armadillos love ants? “Maybe that’s why we haven’t had any ants inside the house for weeks. If you kill the armadillo, you could upset the entire ecological balance of our garden.”

“Make up your mind, no ants or no plants.”

“You know I’m going to choose plants. What are you going to do with him when you catch him?”

“Have Rudy shoot him.”

Magnificent. Our 82 year old, trigger happy neighbor was to be the executioner. I whacked at the base of our Artemisia arborescens ‘Powis Castle’ with indignant vigor.

RJ said, “You want the armadillo to go away but you don’t want to get your hands dirty.”

“You got it.” I nodded and headed for the house with the soft, silvery Artemisia in my hands. “The only dirt I want on my hands is dirt.”

RJ noted what I was carrying. “What are you doing with that Wormwood?”(Wormwood is the common name for Artemisia arborescens.)

“Trying a new recipe,” I tossed over my shoulder.

“But the only thing you can make from Wormwood is absinthe.”

“Exactly. I’m going to need something stronger than a martini for my first Armadillo killing.”

“You don’t really know how do to make absinthe, do you?” he asked worriedly.

I didn’t answer. Let him wonder.  

11 Comment count
Comment Bubble Tip

Conflicting needs...

Very funny. You expressed our conflicting desires so well.

Comment Bubble Tip


I am conflicted. I get up in the morning and look out our bay window at the trap. The past two mornings I've been relieved to find it empty, although the marshmallows are slowly disappearing.

I was coming home from a marathon doctor's appointment today, and was only a half mile from home when I saw a dead armadillo in the road. I thought, please God, let that be my armadillo.

Wouldn't that be the best ending?

Comment Bubble Tip


What a fun read. I know about armadillos. They can really be destructive. In Texas they're open game. I couldn't shoot 'emn, but all our friends and neighbors had no problem.
I'm with you...get rid of them - don't use me - and, um...don't hurt 'em.

Comment Bubble Tip

Outta here!


I want him gone. Long gone.

Going. Going. Gone.

Outta my yard. (But I ain't shooting 'em, either.)

Comment Bubble Tip


Jules, I believe absinthe is really potent, so can you not invite the armadillo for a drink and see if he can handle it or not? If he can, then a horribly drunk one cannot be upto much mischief. Or, don't you have any poisonous mushrooms?

Lovely read, and thanks for introducing me to this armadillo character. I did not know about him. By the way, how do you know it's a he and would you react differently if it were a she?


Comment Bubble Tip

He vs. She

You know, for me, F, it would matter. I don't know about Jules. The armadillos do a tremendous amount of damage. However, if I encountered a female, it would probably be different.

After my  husband had been training police officers on the outdoor range in the desert. He came home and presented me with a box, closed. He set it down and said, "It's a girl."   I expected a small fur-bearing animal, but it was instead a fairly large coiled gopher snake. But as I looked in the box, I sad, "She looks depressed."

Miss Hiss, stayed with us for about  4 years.    Had it been Mr. Hiss, I am pretty certain she would have been driven back into the desert.

For what it's worth. 

Comment Bubble Tip

He vs. She

Although armadillos are very destructive, I must say, F, if it were a she it would make a difference for me.

 After my husband had been training police officers on the range, he came home and presented me with a closed box.  As he set it in front of me he said, "It's a girl."  My heart was ready for small female, perhaps a small fur-bearing animal.  instead it was a fairly large, coiled gopher snake. But it was a girl. I said, "She looks depressed."

 Miss Hiss stayed with us for about 4 years. Had he said it's a boy. I probably would have insisted he drive it back to the desert. Why?  I don't know. I supposed identified with the difficulties of the female in every species.

Comment Bubble Tip

He Vs. She

My reaction to any gender of non-venenous snake, is to release it into my garden. Snakes are very beneficial. We have a Spotted King Snake. He would eat a dangerous Copperhead, if one should happen to wander on our property. 

I don't know if snakes are happy in a cage because they don't talk to me. I tend to let things in cages go, especially if they are wild and native to the area to begin with. (Hence the armadillo dilemna.)

Comment Bubble Tip

Armadillo Gender


As usual, you make me think. (Please don't stop.)

If I could get the 'dillo close enough to have a wee bit of absinthe, I suppose I should just trap him/her. (I believe it is a her because 'dillos are supposed to be stupid and this one isn't, proving it is a she.)

I'm out of poisonous mushrooms due to our 47 day dry spell. Not to fret, currently living in my garden are poisonous alternatives including lily-of-the-valley, castor bean, digitalis, oleander, caladium, clematis, heliotrope, nicotiana and lobelia. 

Before you think I am a really evil gardener, I must defend myself by stating there are a gazillion poisonous plants in the world. The problem is the Damn 'Dillos don't eat the plants, they just destroy them while rooting around for the worms and grubs. Grrrrr.  

Comment Bubble Tip

So they're not just cute...?

Having been born in Texas but removed as an infant, I haven't had the pleasure...or perhaps displeasure...of armadillo acquaintance. They just look cute on TV. I guess I'm with the writer above. If we're making absinthe, share with the varmint! I enjoyed reading this very much.

Comment Bubble Tip

The Only Good Armadillo is a...

So the saying goes in Texas...The only good armadillo is a dead armadillo.

But, armadillos look darn cute, Ma'am, on a tee-shirt sold at Bush Intercontinental Airport.  Texas profits from their tourist inflicted misconception of armadillos.

Yes, I blame Texas. (Did I say for armadillos only?)

My husband is from Houston. I lived in Houston for seven months, which is like total immersion into the State of Texas Alternative.