Letters to Holly

Wednesday, August 4

Aunt(ie) Maimed

The Terminex man arrived Monday morning and smote the ants along our baseboards and house perimeter. But he did not smite the attic ants, and we remained sore afflicted. We called the office and asked him to come back the next morning, but we had a small window: Your Sis had jury duty, and I was taking Deputy Awesome to work. But, in a tribute to small-town customer service, he made that window exactly on time. Upon seeing photos of the corpse piles under the skylights, he visited the attic and found two nests. He blasted them with his magic Ghostbuster ant-zapper voodoo, and not one bug has been seen since. Victory.

Your Sis was able to leave on time for the courthouse and was sent home almost immediately. When asked if there was any reason she could not serve, she lifted the breast pump above her head and screamed "I'm made of milk, and my skin suit has holes."* She was excused for another three months but not before being asked if she would have the same milk problem then. Your Sis said she honestly didn't know. Over coffee, she called a longtime friend who also has kids and was told yes, she would still be nursing in November. So who knows? At least one day in November, I'll bring the kid to work again. Hmm, unless Your Parents are back in town. Or maybe I could telecommute. Again: Hmm.

* I lie.

Our day at the office was merely alright. I cheated and overfed him, inducing milk comas twice. He did indeed sleep, and I was able to get some work done. He was a bit distracting, I admit, but now that I've seen he can handle the new environs, I can drop my guard with him.

Our garden does well. We have plucked many a tomato and pepper, and Your Sister cleaned out my squash vines for a soup experiment. I didn't know that when I checked the garden, and I thought we had been veggie-robbed. I mowed.

I have not yet heard from the roller derby rep. I'm not concerned.

Picture of the Day
I retire to my library, Watson.

Monday, August 2

A Drama Weekend

As soon as I walked in the door Friday evening, Your Sister announced we again have an ant problem. Each summer, we discover a cloud of dying bugs in the kitchen and her bathroom. We usually respond with fresh traps in the cabinetry hidden from the cat(s). Among the normal ant representatives are flying ones. I always suspect they are termites, but Google searches show wings much larger than what we're seeing. She called an exterminator for an estimate, and he assured her we don't have termites. We decided to see how bad they got before we asked him to spray the house.

I put out feelers for a roller derby gang for Saturday night, and we went to Asheville that afternoon for baby shopping. The boy did well. He got his first car feeding and changing in the mall parking lot and slept for the majority of the outing. I wore him on the chest pack and discovered the old axiom about men with puppies and babies is true. Your Sister noticed this too and kept close.

We split up as the derby approached, and I heard from my usual fellow spectator. He brought one of his sons, and the two immediately quizzed me on the alter egos of comic characters. My name was announced at the civic center as the winner of the logo contest, and that was fun. Watching the bout was not. The opposing team was the derby equivalent of the Harlem Globetrotters, and they destroyed our team. That team, the Texas Hell Marys, was in the derby movie Whip It, and many people came out to see them, including teams hailing from cities hours away.

Sunday morning, I was still groggy from the evening (and the $5 beers) when Your Sister said the ants were back and she was keeping the baby away from them. I quickly dressed and drove to Lowe's to buy brand-name ant traps. I stopped in the store to ask for help about the ceiling fan, and here comes a little story detour.

To install a fan, you need to nestle the fan motor into an outlet box in the ceiling. My workshop already has an electrical outlet in my ceiling (probably to power a removed garage door), which means I don't have to run additional wiring. The existing outlet wiring will work fine. However, the outlet box is too small to house the fan. Replacing that box is easy enough, as is attaching the wiring to the fan. The problem is with the fan's weight. An outlet box by itself can't carry it; the box must be braced by an additional structure.

There are two kinds of bracing you can buy, either for new construction or old. New-construction kits are for unfinished roofs. You put in the kit and then nail up your ceiling from below. That won't work. I know this because I bought such a kit Sunday morning and tried it. I bought it out of frustration with my talk to the Lowe's employee who answered my help summons. He tried to talk me into an answer involving carpentry. I bristled as I don't have woodworking tools. Don't I have neighbors who can cut wood for you, he asked. I mentally asked why he didn't suggest his own store, which used to cut wood to specs. After about ten minutes of suggesting many overly complicated measures, he admitted he didn't work in the lighting department (I'm gonna guess he works in lumber.). It was then that I bought the kit and drove home much later than I had expected.

I put the traps in the kitchen and bathroom. The skylights were abuzz with flying and crawling ants. The last time we saw ants, they were swarming in my workshop, huddled in my lights for warmth, and I put traps in the attic and in the workshop. After I placed the traps this morning, I realized the bugs weren't streaming from the baseboards or the drains. They were coming from the skylight. Maybe the light seals were bad. I went on the roof and couldn't find any bugs outside the windows. I put a few traps up there anyway, but I was certain now that the ants were spilling out of the attic skylight seams and down into the house. Not two hours later, the bug numbers seemed to increase, and Your Sister announced her displeasure. Back to Lowe's I went. I bought spray and hanging traps and more of what I bought earlier. I raced home and slipped into the attic. I sprayed the skylight frames and placed traps throughout the attic.

An attic in August is a joy. It was a hot box of wood and fuzzy insulation, and I added to this a fog of chemicals. Also, I was a bit hungover from the derby, and I hadn't eaten anything. I tried the fan kit and proved to myself it wouldn't work. I may have to use the employee's carpentry notion after all, dammit. Anyway, the traps were set, and the numbers of bugs drastically declined throughout the day. We did see more silverfish, and we suspect my attic work drove them into the house where they quickly were squished. Still, the exterminator will be asked to go over our house Monday to ant-proof it.

When this drama was dwindling, Your Sister shuffled out of the nursery crying and whispering that she was in intense pain. I sat her down and called the OB/GYN. Because it was Sunday, the call went to the birthing center, and I gave them the info. We affirmed we were successfully breastfeeding and were told the doctor would call us back. He did so very quickly and told her to take Advil and see if it diminished. It did, but it spooked her. It hasn't come back as of this posting. She stayed home to let the medicine work while I went to the grocery store.

Her jury duty appointment was pushed back to Tuesday, and she will have the tree frog all day. I will take him to work Tuesday, and we're all curious about how that will go.

Picture of the Day
Toast defibrillator.