There are some things I’m much happier not knowing:
• What the Presidential nominees learn during their first national security briefing
• What foreign particles are in my peanut butter
• What’s 2,000 feet below me when I’m on a cruise ship
• What just crawled up my leg in the shower
That last one is the theme of today’s post.
Do you live in a place where bugs are a fact of life? Of course you do. Unless you live in Antarctica, and even there you have one species of fly (tiny) to annoy you.
(Katie, you should probably stop reading here and skip to the end. No? Okay, I warned you.)
Here at the farmhouse, bugs (and by “bugs” I mean arachnids too) are much more than a fact of life. They’re our overlords. They suffer us to live here because of our occasional donations of blood and other interesting things to eat, and we offer a really fun playhouse where they can come and go at will. Not that we haven’t tried to stop them. It’s just that there are . . . so many.
I knew we had a problem before we ever moved in. Our friends Ed and Dee lent us their travel trailer so we could live on the property while Glen remodeled the farmhouse. (Yes, I did try to help him. But he quickly learned that I contributed best by driving to and from the Home Depot and Lowe’s in Hutto.) The travel trailer wasn’t big enough for us, the dog, the cat and our luggage, so we stowed the suitcases on the concrete floor of the gutted farmhouse. The first morning here, I unzipped my suitcase to pull out a clean T-shirt, and found two brown, hard-shelled spiders inside on my clothes. Kind of like dime-sized crabs, but I’m guessing not as tasty.
We started looking around and realized those spiders were everywhere. I couldn’t find them online, so I asked Glen. “What . . . are . . . those??”
“Oh, they’re just baby daddy longlegs,” he replied.
Really, Glen? Then why have they never grown up?
After five days we shook out every item in our luggage, repacked it all, and moved to a motel till the renovation was over.
When I was young, my family had a friend who made his living as an entomologist. He taught me way more about the various mosquito species in Southeast Asia (I was living in Thailand at the time) than I ever wanted to learn. I knew people who’d had malaria (I took medicine weekly to prevent it), and I’d witnessed the effects of elephantiasis. One night while walking in the lane leading to my house, I almost stepped on a beetle bigger than my hand. That was many years ago, but those experiences stuck with me, and today I still use them as a benchmark to help me sort the bad bugs from the rest. As long as bugs aren’t actively gunning for me, I’m fairly tolerant of their existence. But . . . spiders nesting in my suitcase? I had to draw the line.
The remodeling took about 6 weeks. Glen installed, among other things, new sheetrock, baseboards and cabinets; new windows, a front door and an air conditioning unit; a new fireplace and chimney. He stopped up or secured every possible point of entry. He caulked, puttied, screened, spray-foamed, plugged, spackled and insulated. Still the bugs poured in, and the spiders partied on.
We’ve seen scorpions sauntering from under the bed, emerging from the pantry, and once, curled up on top of Glen’s nightstand. (It was winter, and the poor little thing was cold.) For two weeks we had slender, striped, inch-long beetles streaming out from under a baseboard and climbing up the bedpost. A sizable mystery spider (not a friendly, cuddly wolf spider) skated at light speed across our living room rug and hid under Glen’s recliner. Twice. We’ve also hosted dirt dobbers; red wasps; yellow jackets; pill bugs; houseflies; mosquitoes; umpteen kinds of beetles, ants and moths; two lone star ticks (just this week) and an inexhaustible supply of yet more spiders—every variety found in Central Texas, I’m sure.
We’ve seen cute bugs:
And we’ve seen interesting bugs:
During the worst heat of the summer, Glen and I lamented that we didn’t get much birdwatching in, since we weren’t spending as much time outdoors in the mornings and evenings. Not so with bugwatching. We can watch bugs anywhere. Thank heavens this thing was outside:
On the plus side, we’ve seen some very beautiful bugs, indoors and out:
You wouldn’t think it, but we seem to have lots more bugs here than where I lived in steamy, lush, tropical Thailand. I think the foot-long Tokay geckos there must have kept the bugs in check. (Which would you rather have in the guesthouse, Katie? Bugs, or 12” lizards?)
We’ll be moving out in a few months once our house is finished, and, with the new construction, we don’t think we’ll have the infestation that we do here. But this farmhouse will be where our visitors stay. With an eye to keeping those future guests comfortable, Glen is trying like crazy to get the worst of the bug problem under control. Katie has sworn she won’t visit until he does. Hey, I’m sorry. We live in the COUNTRY! We have bugs.
And as I’m typing this, another dirt dobber has found its way inside. Third one this week:
Oh—so what did crawl up my leg in the shower? A scorpion. I rinsed it off of me and mashed it under a bottle of shampoo. But that happened in a different house. Not this farmhouse, I swear.
Have I told you how much we’re looking forward to your stay?
Next week: a version of the classic cocktail, the Sidecar!
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