June 19, 2006

Exterminator came to tend to our leetle problem today. (Crickets and spiders and ants, oh crap) The house where we are staying was built in the 20's and has been updated, but not necessarily renovated. The front door is a bit askew, the floor slopes in some places, things like that. The house is in a wooded area and has some standing water around back. You get the picture...we have bugs. At first, it was just some ants in the bathroom. Little ants and only in the bathroom. They didn't really bother me all that much...they were just little specks of something moving around the vanity occasionally. However, they were soon joined by the camel crickets. Do you know the ones I am talking about? They have the big bodies and the bigger legs and are somehow 10,000 times grosser than your average cricket. I hated them before and I hate them more now that I have squished one with my bare foot walking down the hall one night. There are also spiders, lots of them and all different kinds, spinning webs on everything, making it look like I never dust or sweep (which I totally do, Mom! - well, sweep at least - but those things are really quick and they have them built back immediately).

All of this was a nuisance, but a bearable one, until hot weather hit and the roaches were invited to the party. Roaches, gah. Big, brown ones that are, no joke, 5 inches long and stand about 2 inches off the ground. I hate them. I hate them. I know that they are not as bad as the little, German roaches that show up in the kitchen bringing 100,000 of their cousins with them. (Exterminator kept referring to these as the ones you see in restaraunts and grocery stores. He might see them in restaraunts and grocery stores. I do not and I prefer to believe that is because they are not in the restaraunts and grocery stores where I go, thank you very much.) I could maybe deal with these other roaches on an occasional basis. If deal means scoop up the baby and run screaming and cussing from the room and occasional meant never again. But each day for the last week, one has made it's disgusting way across the living room while Olivia and I sat playing or has been crawling up the bedroom wall when we woke up. Finally on Thursday, I found one in the shower. (Marc: "I believe that is what's known as the Common Voyeur Roach.) We called in some help.

Now, as I have made a more diligent effort over the last few years to increase the healthy in my life and be aware of what is going into our bodies, I have also made attempts to decrease the unhealthy and limit our exposure to environmental toxins. I'm not a zealot, I'm not renouncing plastic or anything (well, not totally, but all that is a whole other post in itself); I just try to choose the product with the fewest ingredients, or clean the bathroom with Dr. Bronner's soap and water instead of commercial cleaners, that kind of thing. When I called in the professionals for our bug problem, I was fully aware that they weren't going to come and escort the bugs across the border - I knew they would be using chemicals - "traps and bait and treatment" - but I had no idea.

Marc was disappointed initially that they didn't arrive in Hazmat suits to wrap the house in some kind of tent, a la E.T. or any given X-Files episode. I had asked multiple times for the pest people to assure me and explain to me how none of the treatment would be detrimental to Olivia or Moose, and they had done so each time. Everything started off well and good: removing webs from the outside of the house with a cute little brush, putting "houses" out for the ants, doing something in the basement that I didn't have to witness. It was painless. Then Exterminator announced he would be treating the outside of the house. I watched through the window, holding O. while Marc got ready for work. A long hose was connected to a tank in the truck...a spray apparatus was attached to the hose...Exterminator starts towards the house with the hose in hand...I'm not liking how this looks, but I figure he is going to spray the foundation, or zap some nest. As I turn to Marc to ask what he thinks about taking Olivia outside in a few minutes time when we need to leave, there is suddenly an explosion of spray against the living room windows. It's like that initial blast on your windshield at the carwash. Fluid, treatment, POISON, DEATH is streaming down the glass. As soon as I am able to see out again, I realize that he is simply hosing the entire structure down with this stuff: the porch, the steps, MY PLANTS, all the windows, everything. And it's a strong spray - he's probably peeling off paint (ok, this is where Marc will want to point out that I am prone to hyperbole, but I'm not exaggerating here.) We head towards the back door, thinking we can get out that way before he makes it around. As we move through each room, we are met by The Spray of Death. It's like a horror movie. We move back into the living room and hunker down.

Finally, he is done. We have no choice but to go as Marc is due at the hospital. I gather O. up and head out quickly to avoid any fumes, but not so quickly that I fall and dump us in a flesh-eating puddle (ok, there's the hyperbole). With each step, I can almost feel the rubber melting off the bottom of my shoes. The poor house sits noxiously steaming in the sun. When we reach Exterminator, looking well-pleased with himself, he launches into a little spiel about the resiliency of bugs, how difficult they are to treat, etc. and basically finishes up by telling us this whole thing may or may not work. With a jaunty wave, he is gone.

And it has worked and hasn't. We have seen a bug or five, but most of them have been in the death throes. A few have faked me out...on their backs, legs up, only to flip over and scamper off crookedly when I try to dispose of them. One got away yesterday. Maybe he's putting the word out...stay away from the House of Horror. They aren't kidding around up there.



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