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About Magnificence in the Mundane

Bringing humor to the many challenges of parenting, driving a gigantic SUV full of smelly boys and their friends, letting go of the idea of perfection and tackling middle age all serve as my inspiration. We all have common experiences, I just share my take on the absurdity of every... Read more

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Summer Blog Day 1: Antvasion

sunAnd so the time is upon us. The time for summer blogging. This time of year, I chronicle the longest days of summer. The days when camps are over. Vacation is in the books. And we have nothing but summer homework, school supply shopping and bickering to fill the hours. The true dog days of summer. Here is the first installment for 2015:

I was swiping the counter one last time before leaving for vacation when Reed uttered four simple words:

“I see an ant.”

Now, if there’s one thing everyone knows, it is that there is never just one ant. Or even two. If there is one, there are 1000.

“The ants go marching one by one hurrah, hurrah..”

I always hated that song.

Any-hoo, back to my pre-vacation infestation, which was a total mystery to me by the way. You see, we pay a reputable pest company to come four times a year to make sure my lack of cleaning does not bring about this very situation. In their defense, we haven’t seen an ant in a decade.

So why now, on vacation day?

I got out the phone book (yes I am a dinosaur) to ring up said pest company just as my in-laws arrived to pick us up.

My husband had left at the indecent hour of 5 a.m. with the other two boys to make a tee time. I’m letting him slide for not noticing because the ants were probably still asleep.

The earliest appointment was on Tuesday. A full three days away but I took it.

What choice did I have?

Before hanging up, she gave me a list of instructions which would have been useful if we were actually going to be home. All of the things they tell you to do –or not do- are counter intuitive.

You can’t kill them or it will cause panic in the nest. You can’t spray or they will find another way in. They actually expect you to turn your home into an ant farm until their super-secret, special treatment takes place.

No way.

I wiped down the floor with soapy water, taking legions of ants with me. I removed all the rugs in case there were food remnants. I took out the trash. Sprayed the crap out of the doorway, floor and trash can and went totally rogue and borrowed an ant trap from a neighbor.

Then, I was forced to shut the door and let the ants mock me while I was away for a week.

When you add in the pain of arranging for a neighbor to let the pest guy in without letting on that the house is vacant, it is GOOD TIMES! Just like I pictured vacation, except not at all.

Tuesday morning the big, bad pest man touched base with me and SWORE that there were about 20 ants around the doorway and trashcan. I thought he was a big, fat liar but let him blather on about the trail and treatment. He let me blather on about leaving the door open because my fictional house sitter was going to be right back. So, we were even.

I drank a lot on vacation to banish the antvasion from my mind but when we returned Saturday night, the horror was worse than any hangover.

Ants made dizzying circles all over the counters and floors. A steady chain of ants marching toward the counter from the floor looked like a moving hyphen. Bold and determined.

So, this time I turned to trusty Google.

Wow, hundreds of videos about ants most of which included Borax. Who are these people? Obviously folks who keep Borax on hand. I grabbed white vinegar instead. Apparently, vinegar removes the scent that the little buggers leave. And it had the bonus of being approved by pest companies because it was a natural approach.

The problem with this method is that it might kill you. Breathing in 20+ ounces of vinegar is bad. Very, very bad.

When I finally sat down, convinced I had quasi won the war, an ant appeared on the lens of my glasses. As he wiggled his antennae straight at my eye, I knew what I had to do.

I went to the grocery store and bought every repellent they had on the shelf. Pest people be damned. Let them come live here with ants crawling all over their head.

I put down 8 traps, wiped with vinegar again, sprayed outside and felt a little light headed but had taken charge. The stream had turned to a trickle.

Of course God punished me for feeling so self-satisfied. As I left the kitchen, Drew screamed. I turned around to see a trap in the dog’s mouth.

My kids glared at me like, yes Einstein, whatever lures the ants will have the same effect on Murphy. There was probably something on the label about this, but who had the time for reading fine print when there were ants on their face?

The fact that all five of us were running around screaming, freaked the dog out enough to drop it. I immediately had to remove all the traps on the floor.

Advantage ants.

I crawled into bed having unpacked only food that needed refrigeration. Everything else was still in the middle of the floor. Undoubtedly covered by ants and reeking of vinegar.

I slept for approximately 10 minutes total. Yes, total. When I wasn’t smacking at the ants I was convinced were in bed with me, I was peering at the dog to ensure he hadn’t ingested poison from the trap.

I greeted the morning feeling like I had hitched a ride on the bumper for the entire 3 hr trip home. I smelled like a combination of vinegar and Raid and my hair was a mess from all the nocturnal scratching.

Vacation was definitely over and I had bags and golf clubs all over the family room to prove it.

As I reached for the coffee maker, the only life preserver in this vast ocean of hell, I heard Reed’s voice saying,

“I see an ant.”

And everyone knows what that means….

Maureen Stiles

About Maureen Stiles

Maureen is the author of the blog Magnificence in the Mundane. You can read her monthly column at The Town Courier.

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