cicadas, food poisoning, and bedbugs…???

Moses Pleading with Israel, as in Deuteronomy ...

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It was like the plague of locusts as foretold by Moses to the Pharoah, if he did not allow the Hebrews to leave Egypt. Wouldn’t you know that at the time we needed to undertake my daughter’s move from one apartment to another, made monumental by having to sanitize everything first, the cicadas would have to rise from “dead?” Evidently before the adults die they bury their eggs in the ground at the foot of a tree, and they all hatch 13 years later.

When we lived in Connecticut more than a decade ago, it was somewhat charming to hear the cicadas chirping outside our bedroom window at night. But I was not prepared for their dive bombing antics while we attempted to move stuff in and out of both apartments and the storage unit. My daughter and I had to hope a cicada wouldn’t fly into our ears or mouths as we weaved in between their flight paths. Nor was it fun to try sidestepping their seemingly dead bodies which lay everywhere, in the parking lots, on the walkways, on stairs, and most definitely forming welcome mats outside the apartment doors. Some were dead; others would suddenly take flight scaring the bejesus out of us. Even as we removed bins and garbage bags filled with my daughter’s furnishings from her car, we were waving our arms frantically so the cicadas wouldn’t find their way inside. One did. I had to kill it because it kept trying to fly at me.

A pair of Greek cicadas

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For a month or so, cicadas were everywhere, in town, in neighborhoods, at malls, at grocery stores, at restaurants…everywhere! The buggers crawled up sides of buildings, houses. They seemed to occupy every tree and bush. Bumping into one accidentally would ensure being bombarded by cicadas not keen on being disturbed. It was my theory that if there were breezes, the insects remained in trees, but since that was few and far between in the torrid mid-90 degree temperatures, the cicadas preferred to find respite on the cool concrete of nearby structures. So it became us against them, as to who had the right of way in the buildings. Their sheer numbers made them mightier it seemed. We could hear the lone shriek here and there as women, us included, came under attack.

Thankfully, the cicadas were taking their leave of earth toward the end of my stay. Their numbers seemed to be dwindling. Since I’ve been home, I’ve not heard my daughter speak of them anymore. But she has assured me she doesn’t plan to be living in that state 13 years from now. Know what? I’ve already told her she’ll have to get her next boyfriend to help her move, whoever he may be. I’ll definitely be too old to repeat this once-in-a-lifetime experience. She laughed; so did I. Hmmm…

I mentioned the heat. Unless you live in the south, you don’t know what hot is. While the warmth was a welcome relief from Seattle’s wintry climes, I felt like I’d gone to hell, bypassing more pleasant destinations like Hawaii or Florida. It was wonderful dressing in shorts and flip-flops every day. But feeling the need to take baths several times daily was not joyous. The heat was made even more unbearable by the equally high humidity. But riding high on adrenalin, my daughter and I were not deterred from our task. Until another predator came calling, an invisible one…salmonella.

 

Salmonella typhimurium invading cultured human...

 

I’ve had my fair share of food poisoning episodes over the course of my 61 years, none worse than when my daughter and I visited NYC years ago. She was enrolled in a summer dance program at a well-known performing arts high school near Lincoln Center. Unfortunately the name escapes me, it’s so famous. I jest. It really is. I think Broadway and Hollywood celebs have attended it. Anyway…I took my daughter and a fellow student dancer to dinner at a local Italian restaurant. The food and conversation was great. As I downed forkfuls of one of my favorite desserts, a cannoli, it seemed the ricotta cheese filling was runny. It seemed odd, but I didn’t stop eating it. Huge mistake for which I paid dearly hours later.

Rather than spending the night in bed, I was in the bathroom relieving myself of every last drop of that rancid cannoli. Finding no reprieve I finally had to call a taxi to take me to the nearest ER. Vomiting blood scared me into leaving my daughter alone in a hotel room sound asleep. Fortunately my good friend Katie and her teenage son were in the same hotel, coincidentally deciding to visit NYC that weekend. So I alerted her to my situation and asked her to be on call should my hospital stay be longer than I hoped. As it turned out I was totally dehydrated, and the blood was from having aggravated my stomach tissues with all the vomiting. Intravenous fluids and rest got me back on my feet so that I was able to walk back to my hotel, a few long blocks away.

Returning to the present bout with food poisoning, my daughter was the first to begin vomiting and so on. She literally sat on the floor, head nearly in the toilet bowl, spewing forth everything she’d eaten within the last 24 hours. It seemed to go on and on. I was concerned that she’d become so dehydrated, that I asked several times if she needed me to take her to the ER. Having already been there, done that when I was with her in February, my daughter was not inclined to repeat that long, drawn out, 7 hour scenario in the hospital. Thankfully she started feeling better probably a day-and-a-half later. Knowing she needed to maintain a balance in her electrolytes, I got her Pedialyte juice. Once stabilized, she began having broths, soda crackers, and eventually more solid food. Meanwhile, I pushed on with cleaning and moving stuff, as my daughter lay resting. Unfortunately I didn’t escape her fate. As she seemed to be on her way to recovering, I took my turn at the toilet bowl. And then I was laid up in bed as well. We were two miserable human beings as we lay amid the mess in her old apartment.

You’re probably wondering why we opted to sleep where the bedbugs were rather than in my daughter’s new apartment? Well, remember the repairmen? This is where they come in, but that’s another chapter. So go have some coffee, a bite to eat, a snooze. But come back later…

and i’ll tell you another story…hugmamma. 😉  btw…i remember the name of that high school in nyc…la guardia performing arts high school…no memory loss here…just delayed…ha, ha.

how do you rid everything you own of bedbugs…???

Cleaning! Cleaning! Cleaning! I’m here to tell you that even then there’s no guarantee you’ve rid yourself of the little beasties! Bedbugs hunker down and bide their time. Evidently they can live without human blood for several months…hibernating. Unlike bears who, by virtue of their size, can’t be missed, and who CAN be deterred by jingling my bear bells, bedbugs literally come and go as they please, undetected by the naked eye it seems. Left to their own devices they multiply, until they’ve overtaken their surroundings and a full-blown infestation is underway.

Don't Let the Bedbugs Bite

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According to the rep from All America Pest Control, the infestation in my daughter’s old apartment was ultra-low. Even the Orkin rep had indicated that my daughter must be very sensitive to bug bites, which she is. Lucky for her, if getting bitten 30+ times is considered lucky, for had she not been bothered she would’ve been inundated by bedbugs. By comparison, dealing with 2 larvae and 1 dead bedbug found in the bed’s dust ruffle when it was laundered and removed from the dryer, was a piece of cake. Or so we thought.

No matter 1 dead bedbug or 1,000 live ones, cleaning everything is mandatory…or else! But you know what? My daughter became so paranoid that nothing short of baking the entire apartment would have satisfied her. But if “spot cleaning” cost $600, what do you think the charge would’ve been for bringing in heavy duty equipment to fry the little suckers? Probably a couple of thousand dollars!!! So instead the “light brigade,” an arthritic, middle-aged mom and her broken-handed daughter set to work cleaning every crevice of everything.

First my daughter had to recover her belongings from storage, bringing them back to the old apartment. No way were we going to take them to the new apartment without sanitizing them of bedbugs and/or their larvae. It didn’t matter that we couldn’t see them. Remember, they like to hide until the dinner bell rings…in their little pea-brains, I guess. While my daughter undertook the massive job of sorting all, and I do mean ALL, her clothes into piles for laundering, I proceeded to clorox wipe furnishings. I’m not sure whose job was worse.

Thanks to my generosity (or idiocy) throughout the years, my daughter has clothes up the wazoo!!! Not only were they hanging, organized neatly according to type, style, color, fancy, casual in her huge, walk-in closet, but they also occupied shelves in the closet, dresser drawers, bins in a bookcase as well as the second bedroom closet. Mind you, she is a ballerina requiring a whole wardrobe of dancewear in addition to street clothes. Nonetheless, the fault is mine… and my husband’s. Born into large families where luxuries were nonexistent, we, like many of our generation, tend to shower our offspring with what we never had. Bless our daughter’s heart for she has never asked for anything, probably because she knows all her needs will be met, and some. Perhaps the bedbugs were a blessing in disguise?!? Forgive me, I must be delusional. However my daughter and I agree that she has no need of any further piece of fabric, a favorite hiding place of those dreaded insects.

We felt the same about the furnishings. Wiping down every lamp and lampshade, picture frame, trinket box, extension cord, plastic food container, electric fan, dining room chair, pair of earrings, bracelet, necklace, cd speaker, clothes hanger, wire basket, wicker basket, candleholder, vase, candle, book, magazine, wastebasket, utensil holder and utensils, not to mention the really large items like a tri-fold room divider, made me sick to my stomach, literally. Actually there is some of that in this never-ending tragi-comedy.

North Face of Mt. Everest

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It was a massive undertaking, but my daughter and I “hit the ground running” when we returned to her hometown after she visited with my husband and me. With adrenalin pumping, she and I proceeded to climb our own “Mt. Everest.” While she began the process of laundering her clothes, I spent the first day-and-a-half painting her new apartment.

Benjamin Moore’s “white stone,” a soft blue-gray, lightened and brightened the heretofore dingy, gold walls prevalent in 70s’ construction. While I chose that color for the public rooms, I opted for a soft blue in the one bedroom and a soft lavender in the tiny bathroom. I wanted to preserve and enhance the vintage charm of the apartment with its crown mouldings and high ceilings. Funny thing, when repairmen stopped by (another part of this tale), the first thing they asked was if we had just had the apartment painted. Of course I owned up to the fact that I was the painter, but that the tops of the walls needed to be done. And since I was too short, my husband would be finishing the job. The men grinned, admitting to their wonderment as to who we might have hired to do the job. Intimating that they thought we’d been “taken,” until they realized that a middle-aged woman, albeit a short one, did a damn good job. If I must say so myself.

From here the story takes an unexpected turn, so make sure you come back for more. Suffice it to say that I find it somewhat therapeutic to be reliving several of the worst weeks of my life, physically and mentally. They left me spent in every way. I was certain this was my final parenting job, that I could mother no more.

you think???…hugmamma. 😉 

decorating tip, “change it up”

Growing up, our family never bought a stick of furniture. Everything was a hand-me-down, or a thrift shop leftover. Needless to say nothing matched. Since one of my Saturday chores was housecleaning, I taught myself to meld what most might consider junk. I didn’t know it then, but my passion for antiques and vintage collectibles probably grew out of necessity. Overstuffed armchairs, a long sofa with missing springs, a vintage, stand-alone radio whose flat top displayed religious articles, along with an assortment of odd pieces was my introduction to decorating. Each time I swept and dusted, I also rearranged the furnishings, even if it was just a nudge here and there. I continued this practice during my stint in retailing, during and after college. As a sales clerk and then a department manager, I was advised to “change things up” regularly. Customers would perceive that the store was constantly bringing in new merchandise, when in fact it wasn’t. To this day I redo my rented space in an antique mall, which always derives compliments from management and customers alike. Reworking the space freshens the look, and casts each item in a new light. It also helps with the “bottom line,” sales.

My house undergoes the same rearranging, more so in the past than now. Older age brings contentment with the status quo. Forty years of housekeeping will do that. “Been there, done that!” However friends and family will attest to the fact that the holidays consume my time and energy as I transform my home into a wonderland. For Halloween and Christmas my stored treasures are retrieved from the garage and incorporated into my furnishings. As in bygone days I have fun blending furnishings, with seasonal decor. Rather than relegate normal household items to the bins from whence the ornaments, wreaths, and garlands came, I intermingle all to enhance every room, including the bathrooms. I usually “pull out all the stops” for the holidays, because it always gets a jaw-dropping reaction. There are drawbacks, however.

It usually takes me 2 weeks of cleaning and decorating, to dress 5 or 6 medium-sized trees for display in various rooms, to hang garlands with ornaments atop cupboards, to create elaborate centerpieces for the kitchen island and dining room table, to configure a unique vintage vignette across the fireplace mantel. And that’s only a sampling of the holiday facelift. THEN there’s the dismantling, not done until April the last couple of years. Having taken so long to arrange, I’m in no hurry to destroy my masterpiece. Luckily my husband enjoys my creativity, or else he’s a saint for humoring my eccentricities. Probably a little of both. Friends don’t mind either. They enjoy a prolonged Christmas, especially when it’s in my house, not theirs.

So while visiting with my daughter, it’s fun for me to redo her apartment. Physically and mentally spent at day’s end,  learning and dancing new choreography, she is only too happy to let me “have at it.” She enjoys her mismatched furnishings, bistro table and chairs from Pier 1, ottoman from Bed, Bath and Beyond, long, antique dresser serving as a side table, antique Queen Anne side chair in need of reupholstering, vintage corner cupboard in a pretty, muted yellow. My daughter has grown up with my eclectic taste, and passion for vintage and antique furnishings. And we both love a good bargain, so Target is always one of  the stops when we’re out shopping for something new.

Well I’m off to perform some “magic” on my daughter’s apartment. Will chat again later. Enjoy all the moments of your day…

hugs of energy, as you go about your day…hugmamma.

a football player, and more

Read an amazing article in today’s Wall Street Journal, “Meet the NFL”s Most Interesting Man.” In part, it reads “The wonderfully named Zoltan Mesko speaks five languages and grew up dreaming of being an aerospace engineer before graduating from Michigan with a business degree and a master’s in sports management. He got lured into football only after he smashed a ceiling light with a kick ball in his Twinsburg, Ohio, junior-high-school gym.”

Romanian by birth, Mesko moved to America in 1997, when he was 10. Having left behind a war-torn country, his parents, both engineers, found living in a New York City apartment not much better. “It was expensive, dirty and cramped-even for three people–so they moved to Twinsburg, a Cleveland suburb with a large Eastern European community.”

In high-school Mesko discovered he could earn a college scholarship as a punter. “When he told his parents, they didn’t believe him. But Mr. Mesko knew they couldn’t pay for college, so he devoted himself to the singular skill of kicking a football as high as he could.” With the help of his father who “sent VHS tapes of Zoltan’s highlights to 86 colleges,” and his mother who researched school rankings according to their academics, he was the nation’s top punting prospect before his senior year. He was offered a scholarship to Indiana, and thereafter, admission to every Ivy League school. Wanting the best of both worlds, Ohio State and Columbia University, Mesko enrolled at Michigan State University.

“In 2009, he set Michigan’s records for gross yards per punt, at 44.5, and net yards per punt (gross minus the return), at 41. He was also named an Academic All-American and became the first specialist in 130 years of Michigan football to be named a captain. ‘That’s one I’m proudest of,’ he says.”

On July 16, the 24 year-old, 6-foot-4 punter signed with the New England Patriots. At the NFL’s minimum wage salary of $325,000 a year (we should all try out at that rate), plus a team bonus of $187,250 Mesko “might be among the poorest players in the NFL but is probably the richest kid from Timisoara, Romania.”

a football player, and more…hugmamma.