Bumps in the Road

Last weekend we had our second house guests in our new house, as K and her new boyfriend C visited for a day and a half (two nights) at the end of a vacation they’d be on. We had a good time, with dinner at Cascal, and a visit to the Computer History Museum. I hadn’t been to the museum since before they opened their spiffy new exhibit hall. While the artifacts on display haven’t greatly changed (other than lengthier descriptions and some multimedia presentations), the big change is that they were able to spread out the exhibits for the personal computer era from a couple of racks of hardware to several rooms of material. Well worth visiting, as always.

Two sets of house guests in two weekends is a little exhausting, though, since it means we spent a lot of time cleaning and preparing for their arrival. We enjoyed having them, but it feels like it’s been quite a while since I’ve had the time to keep up with hobbies and even home maintenance.

That was the most fun “bump” in recent days. The rest are not any fun.

Blackjack has been more subdued lately, and Debbi and I have both been worried about him. He had his regular chemo treatment on Thursday, and the vet said she agreed that something seems off, but it’s nothing she could diagnose, and that we should keep an eye on him. He did have one of his more difficult chemo treatments right before our first guests arrived, and it might be that all the visitors has thrown him off and he’s just feeling tired of change himself. Fortunately, these last couple of days he’s seemed perkier than he had the previous week, so maybe he’s getting over it. But we’re still worrying about him.

The other big bump has been that we have ants in our house. The tiny, black kind who send out little scouts and then swarm when they find things. The weird thing is that they started out in our master bedroom, and have gradually made their way downstairs. They’re in the kitchen now, and found the cat food yesterday. We’ve been dealing with them as best we can, amidst everything else we’ve been doing, but it’s been massively stressful. As with many such problems, my first concern is the cats: The ants aren’t really a danger to the cats, but I don’t want to use a treatment that will hurt them. If it was just us humans, I’d be more likely to call an exterminator to nuke the buggers.

Here’s what we’ve tried:

  1. We started by getting a soy-based spray and spraying it along the base boards of the bedroom, which stopped them from coming in for about a week.
  2. We bought some Grant’s Ant Stakes, which seemed to eventually get rid of the ants in the immediate vicinity of the stake, but they have not shown a huge amount of interest in them, so they haven’t done their intended job of destroying the colony.
  3. We’ve treated a few spots outside with a spray insecticide, which certainly dealt with the problem there, but doesn’t help indoors, since I don’t want the cats to be exposed if we can avoid it.
  4. I’ve caulked a couple of places where they were getting in, but I don’t think we can caulk every opening.
  5. Finally, after reading an article by my friend J.D., yesterday we deployed some Terro bait traps (which I’d previously picked up but not tried), which is another “kill the nest” treatment. This one the ants are quite interested in, and we’re hopeful that we’ll have J.D.’s experience and see the ants go away over the next couple of days. Cross your fingers for us that it works.

If the Terro does work, then we’ll investigate more perimeter defense to see if we can keep them from coming back.

While I don’t really hate ants, seeing them swarm around the Terro baits makes my skin crawl. I just don’t want them in the house. I can’t recall ever living anywhere that ants were a problem – it’s weird that we never had a problem with them at the townhouse, which is only half a mile away. But maybe ants are just a problem everyone has to deal with around here, and we just got lucky. I don’t know.

I thought I was dealing with adjusting to our new home pretty well, but the ants have really thrown a wrench into it. It sucks.

A smaller issue is that one of our carbon monoxide detectors (which are now required by law in California homes) beeps occasionally, and the other night about 2 am it decided to beep multiple times, but not persistently, and not in any pattern that the instructions said meant anything. So after checking things out, I removed the batteries, and put fresh ones in in the morning. No more beeps since then, but it’s annoying. (One friend on Facebook called this the “pull me off the wall and throw me in a drawer beep”.)

Lastly, we’ve started moving on selling the townhouse. My agent says it’s in good shape, and he was impressed with some of the things the HOA has done over the last decade to stay up to code. We’re doing the necessary improvements (such as painting and recarpeting, things we probably would have done soon even if we hadn’t moved), and hopefully it’ll go on the market in the next month or so. Other than a few miscommunications, this has been rather fun; but amidst everything else that’s been going on it’s been just one more thing to take care of when I’m already pretty stressed out.

Overall, I’m hoping we’ll have good progress on the ants in the next couple of days, and that my stress over them will go way down.