three weeks and DONE

Warning: This is mainly a venting and letting-it-go release post. It relates to sewing only because my precious sewing magazines, patterns, and books once sat on this bookshelf but other than that is it the story (well, stories) of Cathy vs. Nature. Casualties ahead and no sewing talk, you’ve been warned.

iloseagainstthebookshelfbeetles01When declaring war on critters in Ouidah… admit defeat. You can’t and won’t win. You are outnumbered – it’s humid and hot here and you are surrounded no matter how much you try to get rid of them. Shoo away one and five more appear. So either accept them, or silently countdown three weeks until you can run away on a plane and never deal with them ever again!! HOORAY!!!

iloseagainstthebookshelfbeetles02Basically, many months ago, I discovered pyramids of wood dust in my bookshelf.

iloseagainstthebookshelfbeetles03A lot of them.

iloseagainstthebookshelfbeetles04When I emptied out my bookshelf and looked underneath… horrors. I took it outside, and underneath the heat of the sun, those beetles crawled out of their holes in my bookshelf and all died. Win!!! Win!!! Or so I thought…

waroninsectsijustcantwin03When I brought it back inside… a few days later… more pyramids. Sigh. I told myself “only 6 more months, whatever, I don’t care, they don’t really bother me… they’re just a few… not a lot… I’ll just ignore them…”

waroninsectsijustcantwin18And ignore them I did. Every few days I had to sweep up a dead beetle, but that didn’t bother me… they were only maybe 5 a week. That is okay, I can live with that.

Until one day I snapped. With only six weeks to go, so close to the finish line of where I could hop on a plane and leave this bookshelf behind forever and escape the need to deal with this problem… I snapped. I think a lizard got into the shelf and started making noises, which made me think that the noises were the beetles munching on wood and so I emptied out my bookshelf. And moved it. And underneath it I saw over fifty dead beetles. I snapped. I lost it.

iloseagainstthebookshelfbeetles05I took the bookshelf outside to finally kill them all.

iloseagainstthebookshelfbeetles07I immediately hopped on my bike and left to purchase some highly toxic chemicals a neighbor recommended (nitrosomething cellusomething?), grabbed a paint brush, and proceeded to douse my shelf in the stuff in an attempt to kill all the beetles. Look, here is one coming up for air! Success! CRUNCH. That’s the sound of me pinching it between my fingers to make sure it doesn’t crawl back into my bookshelf. Murder was the only thing on my mind.

iloseagainstthebookshelfbeetles06Look at the poor refugees that had to temporarily live on my table while I dealt with the bookshelf problem.

iloseagainstthebookshelfbeetles08A cleaned corner, hooray! A fresh start, with a bookshelf with no beetles! Hooray! I would finally have a a few weeks of peace peace because I had just annihilated an entire population of bookshelf beetles!

waroninsectsijustcantwin01Except. Three days later. What. WHAT. My mind was blown. My bookshelf stank for a good 72 hours!! You couldn’t breathe around it, that’s how badly it smelled after I painted the layers of supposedly-magic-beetle-killing-liquid on it! Why are there more dust piles?? The sad truth is: I lost. The beetles won. They lived and were back to eating wood and making babies. Fine. They can have the bookshelf. At this point I did the only thing I could think of: grab a calendar and count the number of days left before I move out of this house.

waroninsectsijustcantwin02I’ve got three more weeks here. And as the dust piles keep accumulating (sigh…) the number of days I have left here decrease and I can finally say goodbye to the beetles. Three weeks and DONE.

waroninsectsijustcantwin04Since I started, I might as well finish my complaints about other critters. Let’s talk about ants. I cannot eat on my table. That’s right. For the last 10 months all my meals at home have been eaten on my lap. All my meals have to be eaten in one bowl because to have more than one means I have to set the second one down… and I can’t do that. And that’s because my dining/sewing table is infested with mini ants. A drop of water or anything edible is all it takes for them to come out and swarm my stuff. They don’t bite or anything, just eat.

waroninsectsijustcantwin05I let them be because it’s a lose lose situation if I spray my table with insecticide. Since it’s a table I eat off of it, killing the ants would mean that I would just ingest the chemicals later and have terrible tasting food. As well as inhaling the stuff since I am always next to this table. Better to let the ants have the table, and stick to my lap for a dinner table. However, three more works and I’ll be free of them! I can’t wait to set my plate down on a table, put a glass of water next to it, even, gasp, set my forks and spoons on the table too – without it becoming covered by 100 ants in 30 seconds!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! !!!! CAN YOU SENSE MY EXCITEMENT!!!!!!!!!!!!! (I have to say, one of my favorite things to do is that whenever I press fabric or apply interfacing… is to kill an ant with an iron on high heat.) Three weeks and DONE.

waroninsectsijustcantwin07I’m also sick of these strange furry black caterpillars that would sting you if ever it touched your skin. And then when you kill it, it explodes into a glob of black liquid which was always a pain to clean up. It was no “pick up and toss in the trash” job with these guys – wet rag and scrubbing is what I had to do each time I killed one of these. SIGH so much work. Three weeks and DONE.

waroninsectsijustcantwin08The lizards/geckos/salamanders I was okay with. They loved to do push ups and poop in my kitchen… but they did help keep the insect population down. However helpful they were, I am done with lizard poop on my stove, in my pots and pan, on my soap, in my buckets….

waroninsectsijustcantwin06I am also done with them just hanging out in my wall in the shower, watching me as I take my heated bucket shower. Like… can’t you hang out here when I’m at CIAMO? When I’m sewing? When I am watching Mad Men? I am cool with you living and pooping in my shower/kitchen, but please, don’t stare at me when I’m in the shower. That just isn’t polite. Three weeks and DONE.

waroninsectsijustcantwin12During rainy season, I had another visitor I didn’t mind so much. There is a catch to a great sunrise…

waroninsectsijustcantwin17…the snail. For about two months, they would be found every morning in my kitchen and outside my door and on my plants – anywhere nice and dewy.

waroninsectsijustcantwin10I didn’t mind them because they didn’t do anything. What I hate about insects is the scurrying around and chasing and bzzzzzzing. But snails? They’re just there, doing nothing. All I did was pluck ‘em up and throw them in a bucket outside.

waroninsectsijustcantwin09You see, my neighbor was collecting the snails so every morning she’d go around the courtyard searching them out and then trapping them in this bucket.

waroninsectsijustcantwin11These weren’t tiny snails, by the way.

waroninsectsijustcantwin13Uhh… in any case… I’m not counting down the days for my au revoir with the snails because I’ve actually been done with them for a while now.  It’s just taken me a while to write about them. You see, rainy season ended about a month ago and we entered a mini hot season – no more snails. The other reason is that my neighbor threw all those snails from the bucket into a pot of hot water and boiled them to death…

waroninsectsijustcantwin14Proof that Benin is a former French colony. They eat the snails!! They fry ‘em and throw in oil and eat it with bread! They made me try some. By some I mean one. Hey, the snails were free – cheapest meal yet I think for my neighbors.

Back CameraIt wasn’t just my neighbor – it was everybody in Ouidah that collected snails during rainy season. Here are my students collecting snails from the street drains for a tasty supper later.

waroninsectsijustcantwin15The ONLY non human I am NOT counting down the days for is Bosco. Sad smile All other critters I could care less about. But not Bosco. Even if he is MOST UNHELPFUL with my insect issue.

waroninsectsijustcantwin16While I’m busy battling things with 6+ legs, he just snoozes! What a dog. Bosco, couldn’t you help me out a little bit with my bug problems?

waroninsectsijustcantwin22PS: Also on my DONE list are: roaches, mice, microscopic worms, scorpions, huge flying things that shed their wings, spiders, ticks, mayflies, crickets, mystery red velvet thing, gnats, flies, fruit flies, crickets, and mosquitos – all things I’ve had to deal with at Hotel Cathy but I won’t write that novel here.

Back CameraIn all honesty it’s not as bad as I make it sound. All it takes is some adjusting – but I’m just looking forward to taking a break from scanning all walls and surfaces 24/7 in anticipation for something that will hop, fly, or scurry away/towards me. It’s the element of surprise that bothers me most, not the insects themselves.

Back CameraBack to sewing now! Here’s a random Ouidah sunset. Sunsets are great at making me forget about things that bother me – they wipe the slate clean. Insects, what insects?

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