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3. Other Things Whimsy Writing Life

Ants. What I do when it’s ants.

Here’s proof this blog is about anything and everything. Tonight I’m writing about tiny ant season. Tiny ant season came early this year. I griped about having to perform an Unscehduled Ant Eviction on Facebook, that led to a conversation about how I get rid of tiny ants, and I promised I would write it out for some people.

And here we are.

I apply a four-step strategy to ant warfare: kill it with fire, salt the earth, raise high the walls, and poison the well.

Step 1. Kill it with fire

This is the most labor intensive phase. Everything comes off the kitchen counters. E V E R Y T H I N G. The counters all get washed w/soap & water, the floors get vacuumed & wiped down. (I confess I do not mop because I do not mop anything. Ever. Scrub on hands & knees, yes. Mop? No. ANYway.) If you suspect ants got into drawers, the drawers get opened, anything with crumbs or possible food smells on it gets tossed & the drawers get washed with soap & water.

It’s a royal PITA. And avoiding having to do it more than once a year is why I’m big on the salt the earth & raise high the walls prevention elements.

Step 2. Salt the earth.

Diatomaceous earth, to be precise, or DE for short. You have to block ants from returning once you’ve cleaned away the ant scouts & their scent trails. DE is my first choice for barrier protection. It’s non-toxic, safe for pets, and a generally fabulous insect death- dealer. You’ll want to wear a dust mask while working with it, because tiny dust particles are bad for your lungs in general and awful for triggering allergies, but hey! Everyone has masks lying around these days, right? How convenient! A little line along the baseboards does the trick if your only choice for barrier protection is indoors, and you can dust generously along the foundation of a house outside as well. Yes, it’ll wash away in rain, but it’s cheap & you can re-apply.

ALTERNATIVE: you can combine steps 1 & 2 and engage in chemical warfare. The windows get opened, the fans go on, and I spray permethrin-based ant death spray along every baseboard and at the bottom of the tile backsplash, also the wall behind the stove, and around any plumbing pipe accesses under the sink. (pick your own brand. I recommend ones that use no fragrances. But only permethrin ones. None of that heavy organophosphate bullshit.) It’s death and barrier all in one.

But if you want to go pesticide-free, you can skip the spray. Wash everything, then lay down DE.

And shouldn’t have to write this, but…yeah. NO POISON NEAR FOOD SURFACES EVER.

And let’s pause for a quick commercial.

Step 3, Raise high the walls.

Eliminating the temptation of food is THE essential aspect of long-term victory over ants. I was raised in an area where bugs & mice were impossible to keep out, so I know all open food has to be kept in sealed containers & all dishes have to be washed or inside the dishwasher before bedtime. But I don’t live in a pine flat converted to a subdivision anymore. So every winter Spouseman & I get slack about defenses…until one of us discovers a gleeful parade of ants partying on the countertops or lurking inside a kitchen drawer. So. Once the house has been reclaimed and the defenses are built, everything gets sealed in glass or plastic. Period. The cat’s food (when we have cats) goes on a tray with just a teensy bit of water in the bottom. (It kills the ants dead. So delightfully simple.

Pro tip: If it’s REALLY bad, upturned lids filled w/water or oil under table legs keep ants off the dining room table. Or other furniture.

Step 4: Poison the well.

Put out ant baits near any potential entry point. Ant baits do work, but they work really slowly and not universally, so they’re basically a long-term maintenance element in the defense effort. Thus, they come last. And they’re the simplest. I mean, there isn’t much to them other than, “unwrap & place where the cat can’t sniff them out & decide to play with them.” Oh, wait. Ant bait granules outside around the foundation too. Outside the line of DE, if you’re using that. Two layers of protection are better than one!

And there’s no need to feel quilt about laying out something that might be bad for other insects. It isn’t. Baits aren’t pesticide. It’s borax, like for laundry. Chemistry!

That’s it. That’s the post. How I get rid of ants. I know, in my last post I said I would write about the books I’ve read this spring, but this was overdue. Also I’m a little mush-brained from dealing with…life stuff.

NEXT-next time I’ll list off the books, most of which I’ve already recommended online here or there. Pinky swears.

Until later!

Look. I don’t know why this image came up on a search for “cute ant” photos, but how could I resist?
credit: ROMAN ODINTSOV on Pexels.com
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3. Other Things Detours Whimsy Writing Life

Achievement unlocked: house to home

Tl;dr version: if you just want pictures, scroll down.

Today was THE day. The magic water box. (a Zojirushi hot water dispenser) came to rest in its new kitchen home and sang us its happy little “water is hot & ready” song. This makes our move-in officially complete.

Bringing over the tea maker and our everyday clothes was the culmination of the long and hectic week. It started with the movers hauling over all the Big Things & Many Boxes on Monday and that wasn’t enough, so we arranged to have MOAR THINGS arrive on Wednesday. 33 new things, in fact.

Now it’s Sunday night, the old house is empty of all but the non-essential flotsam & jetsam of daily life, all the moving boxes have been unboxed  (or stored, as appropriate) our new mattress has done its unfoldy-expandy-floofy thing, and food is in the fridge.

The move-out won’t be done until the old house gets sold & the remaining “staging” furniture comes over, but this space is now ready for all our Home Things to happen.

Things like making a morning cup of tea after snoozing all night at home in bed

At home.

This is our home now.

I feel like that idea should take longer to sink in, and I’m sure it will in some practical ways. But at the same time…it’s a done deal.

There’s a strange kind of magic in the moving of one’s life from one location to another. The process is messy and complicated and a lot like camping in bad weather — much more fun  to reminisce about than to live through.

Things get lost. Lost things return from limbo. Discoveries are made. Mysteries arise. Old issues re-surface, and new problems pop up at every turn. Surprises of the pleasant and unpleasant variety appear at predictably unpredictable intervals.

I’ve moved a lot in my life, enough times I would have o think hard to count them all. The first one happened when I was younger than 5. Every time, somewhere in the middle of all the upheaval, something simply changed. Home stopped being one place, and became another. 

This time, for me, it was hearing the tea maker beep.

Have more random phone photography.

 

and a bonus pic from earlier in the day, just because it’s pretty:

And that’s all the all there is for now.

Categories
3. Other Things Detours Whimsy Writing Life

Latest project completed: walls!

Tl;dr version: if you just want to look at pictures, scroll down to the end.

This post is about colors. I love vivid blues & greens. Cobalt blue is my favorite color ever. Much of my wardrobe comes from that part of the spectrum. My hair is often bright blue or green.

But.

When it comes to my surroundings, I go straight to the earth tones every time, and the lighter, the better. Leafier greens, red-mineral browns, and the kind of creamy pale shades of gold you see in autumn meadows.

New house is mostly painted in cooler colors like cloudy blue and sage green, but they’re earthy enough to live with for 5+ years, which is when the walls will be due for refreshing anyway.

But some of the color choices were Just Too Much:

  1. a minty-fresh green in one basement room (henceforth to be known as the game room)
  2.  a turquoise I’ll call bottom-of-a-California-swimming-pool blue” that was used in a bedroom, a stairwell and in the utility area of the basement.

Both colors are pretty. I have shirts in those colors. For walls, thought? No. Sorry, not for me.

Spouseman concurred with my judgment, emphatically so. And thus in the fullness of time, painters were hired, and lo, they have made with the painting.

I had to be at the new house at 7:30 AM two days running, which was a fun trick to manage while still living in the old one with the car in the shop all week. I got up on time both days, and the results were more than worthwhile.

The walls in our bedroom, the game room & elsewhere in the basement are now all warm, bright, and mellow…or they’re boring and bland as hell, depending on your perspective. What matters to me is that I’ll sleep better in a room with “light honey” walls than I would in one that made me feel like I was underwater.

And Spouseman says the games room looks calmer now. For sure it looks more like a room in a house and less like a dentist’s waiting area, and that’s all I ask from a finished basement.

Last note: in one of those amusing moments life sometimes offers, I realized today that without even trying, we’d matched the downstairs utility area paint toathe original vintage ’30’s door into the mechanicals room.

Here’s the door and peeks at the other painted basement parts:

And as a bonus, another pic of my evolving soon-to-be-office space:

bonus