An old metal painting pan made the perfect container - it even had the built-in slope to represent Upper Egypt's mountains. I drilled a few holes in the deepest part, to allow water from our Nile to drain into the Mediterranean - otherwise known as a round cake tin - and set Isabel up with tin foil to line the pan and mold mountains. While she did that and Aidan napped, I jogged out to the farthest corner of the backyard, where we've been tearing out grass to construct a play area. This portion of the yard has dark, rich soil and since my initial, ambitious imaginings of the model included grass seeds, I thought it would be perfect. Working fast, lest Senor Crankypants wake from his nap earlier than expected, I filled a large mixing bowl with dirt and ran back in.
Referencing Isabel's map of the Nile, we got the model oriented in the right direction and dumped in the dirt. With spoons and fingers we smoothed the valley, mounded the mountains and dug out the Nile, its offshoots in the delta, and the sea. The dirt was imperfect, filled with grass clippings. That's the reason I didn't notice them sooner - they blended in with the grass clippings.
"Them" being the worms.
No, let me rephrase. Not just "the worms," but THE MOTHERF***ING WORMS! Scores of them. Thready white nasty little buggers, undulating and burrowing all through our model of the Nile. I think they might have been these, and am hoping like hell they weren't these.
Me: Oh my Gaaaawwwd!
Not out loud, though. I managed to keep a calm demeanor. But make no mistake - in my head, I was jumping around and screaming like a maniac as those horrid little things wriggled around on my dining table. Oh, Lord, on my table. Very, very calmly, I scooped them out, one at a time, and re-deposited them in my mixing bowl (which is now slated for destruction, as I will never ever evereverever eat anything that comes out of it again). One by one, until there was a nice, thick pile of those squirmy sonsabitches. I flushed them down the toilet, with much malice in my heart.
We filled our pitcher (the one we made in our recycling/gardening tool project a couple weeks ago) with water and rained down on the mountains. It worked! The water flowed through the mountains, into the Nile, through the delta and into the sea. It flooded and drained, just as it was supposed to. And as it drained, dozens more worms popped up out of the dirt and made a mad dash for higher ground. Popped their slimy white heads out of my Nile Delta and looked at me, I swear to God, they looked at me with evil in their microscopic eyes, or whatever equivalent to eyes worms have.
Unfortunately for me, Isabel was very taken with her Nile model and wanted to keep playing with it for a while. So I isolated the damned thing the best I could, with tin foil and a tray, and let her flood it a bit longer while I got to the urgent business of cleaning all the spilled dirt off of my table, chairs and floor. Because you know what was in my mind... bitty worms and worm eggs laying around, just waiting to be eaten by some unwitting child or house pet. Or, maybe, just maybe, lurking and waiting for the right moment to burrow into the bottom of my foot and lay eggs in my brain or some such fodder for a blockbuster horror film. Just because it hasn't happened yet doesn't mean it couldn't - someone has to be the first. It would be just my luck to be the first human invaded by some body-snatching alien worm creature from the Nile.
So I cleaned. And cleaned and cleaned and cleaned. I knew it was overboard even while I was doing it, but considering that what I really wanted to do was (1) blow the house up or (2) power-wash the entire dining room with undiluted bleach, I figured I was doing okay by settling for some obsessive-compulsive scrubbing with vinegar solution. I also enforced rigorous hand-washing by all Nile-flooding participants, but did it without screeching about intestinal parasites so, again, bring on the congratulatory self-back-pats. I invited Isabel to help with the cleaning but she was suddenly and tragically struck blind, as evidenced by her dark-tinted princess glasses. Remarkably coincidental, how she is always unexpectedly overcome by such afflictions just when I need her help with tidying up.
I managed to hold on until Nick got home. Isabel flooded the Nile for him and he was appropriately impressed. And then I smiled, pulled him to the side, and hissed, "There are worms in the model and you must get it out. of. my. house. NOW."
Which he did. Husbands are awesome.
Isabel had a blast, and she did eventually understand why Upper Egypt is Upper Egypt and Lower Egypt is Lower Egypt. So it was worth it in the end.
Naturally, there are pictures.
Aidan's contribution. I'm not joking, either - this is the very best contribution he could have given us. I love it when he sleeps through the big projects!
Worm pie. Er... I mean, the Nile. It's partially flooded here.
Aidan woke up.
Isabel. She was blind here. As you can tell by the glasses. Her sight was miraculously restored when all the cleaning was done.