Infestation!

Who knows where they came from?

Maybe someone left the door open a skosh too long, allowing one to wander in from outside. Maybe one rode home from the organic food store, hidden among the bulk almonds or granola. Maybe one was hiding in a brown paper sack or in a reusable cloth bag stored in the car.

Wherever they came from, they arrived last year. My husband, Jim, who notices such things, looked up from his Kindle.

“Did you see that?” he asked. I think it was a year ago January.

“Was it a bug? If it was, you know I don’t want to see it.”

“A moth,” he replied. “Just a moth.”

We kept seeing ‘just a moth’ for weeks. I cleaned out the large pantry and set up moth traps. The problem seemed to diminish. We still saw them, but only one a week. Or two. Or five.

Beset by a series of domestic crises, including a basement flood, we used fly swatters to kill whatever moths we noticed as they fluttered by. Then, as if we hadn’t had plenty of warning, I noticed a swarm of moths sitting on the dining room ceiling. Our pantry moth traps were loaded. I went to make a cup of coffee and three fluttered around the pot.

“Damn,” said Jim. “We have to do something before they destroy our clothing.”

Google to the rescue. Pantry and clothing moths are different. Pantry moths flitter and fly. Clothing moths do not like bright light, so aren’t often seen. Clean everything, said the experts on Google. Use heat to kill the eggs.

And so, it began. Cupboard by cupboard we emptied the kitchen. Every dish, every bowl, every bit of silverware went into the dishwasher on high heat. We scraped shelf liners off the shelves — that adhesive is meant to be permanent – using fingernails and straight-edged razors. First, we scrubbed, then we scoured, and then we sanded each shelf. New non-adhesive shelf liner was installed.

Moths flew out of each cupboard we opened. Not many. Two or three. Until we reached the cupboard where we keep the cereal.

Cereal is a contentious topic at our house. I don’t eat cereal, having excised all wheat products from my diet. Jim eats it every morning. I ignore this, in my opinion, unhealthy habit because Jim is months from his eightieth birthday and should be allowed to eat whatever he pleases.

Still. The cereal is his. This fact becomes important in assigning blame for the infestation.

In the cereal cupboard, we found hundreds of moths, together with the nasty, cigar-shaped strands of eggs. Yuck. We threw the cereal away. We threw the raisins away. Both heaved when we opened the boxes. Double yuck.

We scrubbed, then sanded the shelves, and finally used a hairdryer to put heat on the wood. Despite everything, the moth trap tent we put in that cupboard overnight rewarded us with three dead moths.

A week later, the kitchen has been returned to its former neatness, much cleaner, and hopefully, moth free. As we sit, Jim is watching golf on TV and I am writing this, he utters a curse and exclaims, “Look at it!”

Oh no. Another moth…

Thanks to pixabay.com for the public domain photo of a moth.

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The Importance of Labels

In the summer of 2014, I had great success growing cantaloupe. We ended up with three melons, sweet, juicy and delicious. Last year, we had lots of vines and a couple of runty … well, I don’t know what to call them. I simply put it down to last year’s cool, wet weather.

Despite last year’s failure, we like cantaloupe. A lot. So why not try again?

You probably know that a vine will produce two, maybe three melons at best. This year, I decided to buy four plants. Twelve melons. Six to eat and six to gift. Everything was going along swimmingly until we spotted THIS on the vines.

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Excuse me. That is not a cantaloupe.

Yes, we did get a couple of cantaloupes. One – almost ripe yesterday – mysteriously vanished off its melon cradle. I found the remains back behind the burn pile. I hope that the thief – two-legged or four-legged – enjoyed my lunch.

And yes, I’m pretty sure that thing in my cantaloupe bed is a squash. It’s a particularly nasty squash with tiny hairs all over it. Jim and I planned to identify it when the first one ripened. But just as it started to turn yellow, it exploded. Gross! These are so awful, even the squash bugs haven’t attacked yet.

So how did I end up with squash instead of cantaloupe? I hate to think that the nursery mislabeled the plant. Maybe I didn’t bother to read the individual labels on the plants and just picked up squash set near the cantaloupe. Or, someone misplaced the squash label and replaced it with one that said cantaloupe.

Which got me thinking about the subject of labels in general. My mother taught that it’s not nice to label people. I wonder what she’d say about the name-calling going on right now. Arrogant, crooked, goofy, narcissistic, immoral, ignorant, loser… Sort of makes me remember what middle school was like. But enough about politics.

I promise not to call names or blame. I’d just like to remind all the nurseries I buy from about the importance of labels.

R*E*S*P*E*C*T

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Remember the Otis Redding/Aretha Franklin song? Remember Rodney Dangerfield? Like the song and the actor, respect can engender pathos and comedy. But respect for others has the potential to solve a lot of ‘human condition’ problems.

Giving (and getting) respect allows folks to hold onto their dignity. It’s a precursor to empathy. It creates a barrier against all the inhumane things people do to other people.

Last week, I did something again that I early-on promised to never do. I responded to a post from one of my Face Book friends who asked the simple question: what do you want? I replied that I wanted people to learn to treat other people with respect. And inevitably, someone added a comment, saying that as long as single moms received subsidies, children wouldn’t learn respect.

Huh?

For starters, I believe that sweeping generalizations – statements that characterize all members of a certain group – lack respect. Respect, like trust, is about individuals. Respect means that people can see the individual as potentially different from the group they belong to. Stereotypes occur all along the slippery slope of contempt.

And why single moms? Last time I looked, about 25 percent of the children in this country are being raised in single parent families. And how does receiving a subsidy reduce the possibility of learning respect for others?

In the nicest way possible and with respect, I tried to argue.

Nope. He wasn’t having any.

Back in the late 1980’s, John Lee published a book called “The Flying Boy.” My take-away from that book was the impossibility of having an intimate relationship without mutual respect. Minus respect, love turns to dislike or hate and then, finally, indifference. Like the song says: “Respect [me] When you come home, Or you might walk in, And find out I’m gone.”

One of the biggest lessons I’ve learned in life? Escape the field. Walk away. Avoid pointless conflict.

So with respect, maybe my 2016 New Year’s Resolution needs to be: Avoid making possibly contentious comments on Face Book. And it looks like even the most vanilla comment will elicit a ‘nay’ from someone out there. Maybe I’ll give up Face Book for Lent…