when words fail me, which is often, I paint. When words work for me and are available on time, I am surprised.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Bed Bugs!

A lot of things have changed around here since Tate entered lives. Our little houses (2 small ones) on seven untenable acres have become a serene haven in a park like setting. He’s conquered the brambles. He’s conquered the weeds. He climbed every tree and pruned the dead wood from their canopies. He mulched, fertilized, planted and built sculptures out of enormous rocks. I remember one day in the early years, it was spring time; “Hey Stace, how come there’s no birds around here?”
“I don’t know. They just don’t live here.” I said.
He hung birdfeeders. Now our summertime skies are packed full of goldfinches and the constant song of “Sweet, Sweeet”. I love them.
He bitched and moaned every time he cut the grass. I seemed to think final grading was an unnecessary step in the house building process when I had the houses built six years ago. I was cutting costs. It was true, every step you took could cause an ankle to twist, a tendon to pop. It was red clay full of rocks and dips and weeds; a wild ride on a lawnmower.
Last weekend, I awoke to the sound of bulldozers and graders tearing up the front yard. Dump trucks had stockpiled 15 loads of river bottom topsoil and “bio-compost”. Bio compost, if you are not familiar with its high tech name, is . . . well, it’s treated human waste, yes- sewage. Supposedly it is safe to use on lawns but not certain edible plants. It smells like shit, to be honest. The week before, the yard guys stockpiled the “compost” in small mountains in the front yard. The flies began to multiply in the kitchen. They’re still there, but there’s more. Our 10 year old cat has been engaged in a battle of wills with the two of us since we returned from our 12 day vacation in August and left him with a house sitter. He let us know it wasn’t cool with him, this gross abandonment, by pooping on our Persian rugs, three days in a row. He’s been banished to the outside world; I am going to win this war! But that’s not all.
The graders tore up the grass; they spread the stinky compost and dragged the hill. They threw down grass seed and fertilizer as they normally do and tucked the seeds in to rest under a blanket of golden straw. It’s going to be beautiful some day, I know, but the air really stinks. Summer finally surrendered to Fall, my favorite season of the year. It’s my favorite season for lots of reasons, especially the way it smells. I can’t open the windows, the A.C. still runs, its 72 degrees outside. The flies are still proliferating, the air still stinks outside, the war is still raging between me and the cat and that’s Not All!
My dog recently got skunked so I refused to take him to his appointment with the Vet. He has an auto- immune disorder and some oozy secondary infection on his elbows which he licks CONSTANTLY! He licks, and licks, and licks; he is on daily Cortisone pills and has gained 20 pounds in a year. He weighs 1 pound more than me. Billy Bob, a.k.a. Bo-Bo, has taken to rolling in the shit out in the yard. “Oh MIGOD!” I have to let him into the house occasionally; he grooms himself on the kitchen floor.
I never enforce the “remove your shoes at the door policy” so Tate, the workaholic and Yard Meister tracked a bit of “dirt” into the house as well.
All this fun for an obsessive compulsive with heightened olfactory perceptions (not to mention other sensitivities) in one weekend.
Monday morning. I talk myself out of having a break down. “Remember Howard Hughes”, I tell myself. “Richest man in the world, so germ-a phobic he starved to death.”
Swat flies, sweep then wash floors, wash feet, take bath, study, wash dishes, make bed, run laundry, go to work. I made it out of the house; I managed to forget about the assaults on my senses as I drove the 45 miles to the office.

During my drive home I listened to NPR. Martha Woodruff reported on a health concern story in New York City. BED BUGS. Bed Bugs: bloodsucking black lentils with legs. Bed Bugs infesting hotels, soft fabrics and mattresses in even the cleanest of apartments in the city.
“It isn’t just a health concern, it’s a Mental Health concern” said a representative of the NYC Health Department.
A bed bug victim, a woman who sounded to be in her early twenties, told her story. She talked about the welts, the blood and the nightmares. She left, no, she Ran away from New York City. She moved to Pennsylvania. She set up a website, maybe it’s a Blog. It’s a Bed Bug site. Her site is a place for Bed Bug victims to commiserate, she has received thousands of site visitors; it’s a virtual support group.
I’m never going to New York City again! I’m never sleeping in another hotel room as long as I live! I’d rather just stay home. Yes, home is just fine.

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