In flight from a pest-ridden house…

About two weeks ago my Airbnb guests got back to find the contents of my food cupboard in a plastic crate on the front doorstep and several of my jumpers in the freezer. As you do…

The preparations aka Military Campaign for my extended trip overseas to spend all important time with family began about a month ago. I needed to finish up two jobs – one of them a maternity cover contract with high expectations and ambitious KPIs, organise my travel plans and get my house and garden in order ready to rent out – a job in itself.

I was doing pretty well, even if running on adrenalin, and found it a good opportunity to test drive some of the time-management strategies suggested by Brendon Burchard of the Performance Academy (as mentioned in my last post). To share a few of them: he recommends not checking any social media for the first hour of the day and, instead, focussing on what you need to achieve. I found that to be so simple and effective in freeing up and clearing my headspace. Because, as he points out, the minute we tune into the emails and messages we’re taking on other people’s agendas and demands, and we lose our focus. I put my phone on airplane mode before I go to bed and leave it like that until after breakfast. He also advocates dividing the working day into 50-minute blocks broken up by drinking water and stretching. And, importantly, ditching the social media and screens again at the end of the day and finding some time to meditate or do something that gets us into a less thought-driven and more grounded space before bed.

But then I discovered critters in my cupboards. I was getting ready for a meeting with my new boss (I have an exciting new job starting later this year) when I Googled ‘how to get rid of moths’ and up came ‘how to get rid of moths in the pantry’ and ‘how to get rid of moths in clothes’. My initial search was prompted by holes in my jumpers but then I realised, with a sense of panic, that the worm-like creatures lurking in my food cupboard and on the ceiling were pantry moths – well the larvae anyway. I’d never even heard of pantry moths before, let alone seem them. The hour that I had set aside to compose myself for the meeting was spent frantically chucking out dry foods – the larvae get everywhere even under lids of spice jars. Some were even inching their way across foil sachets of Miso soup while others were hanging out in the rice noodles. Yikes! I scrubbed the shelves and left them clear for several days – hence the food that I had not yet inspected being relocated to the doorstep – until I blasted them with barrier spray and then set up tent-like moth traps that I bought in the hardware store. Fingers crossed that they don’t stage a comeback when my guests move in a week after I leave.

A pantry moth larvae

A pantry moth larvae

My sister has been through the whole saga of moths in her clothes and instructed me to wash all my jumpers and then put them in the freezer for a few days before placing them into individual plastic bags. Sounds simple enough but not when you’re working 12-hour days, getting ready to go overseas AND have about 50 items of wool in your wardrobe. At the time of writing, my departure is about 12 hours away and I am just cycling the last woollies through the freezer and into vacuum-packed bags. The trouble with these critters is that they are discerning and choose the highest quality wool and cashmere, leaving aside the more ordinary sweaters made of acrylic and other man-made fibres, damn them. And, from what I read, they can graduate to other areas of the house and tuck into rugs, linens, towels and curtains. Perhaps I will come home to find my house full of holes like a piece of Swiss cheese…

Just some of my many woollen items

Just some of my many woollen items

deep-freezing my jumpers

deep-freezing my jumpers

One of my mother’s favourite expressions is ‘what a pest!’ meaning what a nuisance. Now I know just how much of a nuisance. My house and garden seem to be ultra attractive to pests. Mid-packing I’ve just zipped out and zapped my lemon tree as some kind of leaf mite was chomping its way through the leaves, then I noticed a bulge where a gall wasp had set up home, and THEN I came back inside and there was one of those European cockroaches crawling across my kitchen tiles. As you might know none of this has anything to do with cleanliness. Regular readers know that I’m a bit of stickler when it comes to cleaning. So maybe it’s payback for something I did in a past life – who knows?!

Needless to say I have not talked about bugs and beasts in the detailed house manual I have prepared for my tenants. But maybe I should have; listening to the science program in the car the other day I learnt that having a pet spider in the house is a great way of keeping other creepy crawlies at bay as the spiders eat them for dinner. The program gave spiders a very good rap.In one of my more Buddhist moments a few years ago, I did allow a Huntsman spider to live in the corner of my study window. The only trouble was that, after a few months, lots of tiny black dots appeared in the web and I realised they were babies. Did I really want to share my house with about 30 spiders? Needless to say I had to dispatch the spider and its babies to the next life. There’s a limit to this co-habitation thing; I’m finding the Airbnb guests enough.

But now it’s my turn to take flight and be a guest myself. By the time this goes out, I’ll be on my way to England to spend precious time with family and friends especially my elderly parents. And true to the original meaning of the word holiday(s), as in holy day(s) – a rest from the daily grind – the blog and are going off air and taking a break to rest and recharge away from the keyboard, the emails and all the stuff I do in my day job! That way I’ll be more available for my family and for new adventures. We’ll be back in October. Stay tuned.

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