I’ve been working on getting our patio and garden ready for summer. What a process. First I had to organize the garage, not my favorite place to hang out. I’m always convinced something with eight legs is waiting to slip down the back of my shirt. I believe this comes from the spiders I encountered when renting one house while waiting for another to be built. The rental house itself was nice enough. A two-story, single family home, in a newly constructed neighborhood. I chose the area because I could keep my kids in the same school district during the transition.
This was to be the second time in my life moving into a newly constructed home came with some unexpected buggy surprises. The first was a condominium when my children were still in grade school. It was truly beautiful inside. Brand new, all the appliances were out-of-the-box shiny and the carpet and walls pristine. We moved in on a Saturday. A seasoned mover at that point with twenty-three of my thirty-seven lifetime total moves already behind me, I got the house quickly in shape. The first thing I tackle when moving into a new home is getting the beds set up. By the time the sun has set on moving day that is usually where I’m headed. After working all day the last thing I want to have to deal with is digging through boxes trying to find sheets. Late in the evening, I collapsed gratefully onto my mattress. Without much prodding I drifted quickly off to dreamland. I may not excel at everything, but when it comes to sleep I’m at the head of the class. Had a massive alien attack ensued during the night with bubble headed beings turning the entire human race into centipedes, it would have gone unnoticed by me.
Self focused little creatures, children aren’t concerned with whether or not their parents have logged eight hours sleep. If they’re up, everybody else needs get up. Just after sunrise the morning after the move, I was awakened by two bouncing children on my bed. Unable to drift back to sleep after the assault, I headed for the coffee maker I’d located the night before. There are certain appliances necessary for my survival, and one of them is the coffee maker. Susie’s gotta have her morning jolt into reality. Aliens may have landed but if they didn’t stop at Starbuck’s to bring me a latte, they’re just going to have to wait until the cycle is complete. Opening a kitchen drawer to retrieve a spoon, a long antenna tentatively reached out and began scanning the area. Good God, they had landed during the night. I believe I was standing on top of the kitchen table when what was attached to the antenna made its way out of the drawer, and he’d brought back up. I managed to suck up my horror. Grabbing the bug spray I sent this group off to a better place. Turns out they were only a scouting party. Shortly a scream emanated from my children’s room. Opening the door, it was like a roach rodeo running about the bedroom carpet. I put in a phone call to my landlord, followed by one to my mom requesting sanctuary for the night. It seems the neighbors had a severe roach infestation. No kidding. When they sprayed their house, the tenacious bugs simply packed their bags and headed next door to ours. Ewwww. Pest control arrived on the scene. The gentlemen with the logo on his hat explained this often happens in newly excavated properties. More is disturbed by their heavy equipment then dirt. In our absence they sprayed the entire complex, rather than one unit. Arriving home, it looked like a mass roach suicide site with little roach bodies strewn everywhere.
The roach situation seemed to have been taken care of. However, before they checked out they must have sent out a memo to the rodent community that the food was pretty good at our establishment. The first diner scurried across the kitchen floor and disappeared under the refrigerator a week or so afterwards. Droppings began to appear here and there. Known as somewhat of a “clean freak” this situation wasn’t going to work for me. When reporting multiple sightings to the management I was told they’d drop off some mouse traps. As a child I was never one for pulling the wings off flies or snapping small rodents necks, so this didn’t sound particular appealing. However, reminded they carried disease, I baited the traps with cheese and set the metal straps. Standing in the kitchen prepping dinner it didn’t take long to hear, “snap, snap, snap”. Disposing of the bodies, and reloading my traps on snap number fifteen, I logged in move number twenty-four in my diary. I don’t mind sharing the outdoors with the insect and rodent community, but I’ll be darned if I’m doing the same indoors.
The last infestation occurred when my kids were in high school, as mentioned in the first paragraph. Again, a newly excavated housing development but this time the creepy crawlies were a little more sinister. Preferring to have my laundry room in the house, as this again was a temporary situation I accepted I would have to settle for garage hookups. It was summer so at least not cold. My car remained in the driveway with boxes stacked to the ceiling in the garage. Not intending to unpack anything but the necessities as we would again move in several months, I viewed these as minor inconveniences.
At first it was fine. About a month into our stay things changed. While folding laundry I noticed fine strings hanging from the rafters. Barely perceptible at the ends of the strings were tiny opalescent spiders. Ugh. Finding myself again on the phone to my new landlord, they sent out a pest control man to check it out. We were on a first name basis by now. By the time he arrived the garage looked like Normandy on D-Day with spidies propelling from the beams at alarming rates. Shining his light in the rafters from his ladder (there wouldn’t be enough money in the U.S. Mint to coax me up there) he shook his head. Climbing back down the he said three words, “baby black widows”. WHAT! Man. What’s next, the locust or the snakes? It appeared black widows are very hard to get rid of, and have a particular fondness for cardboard boxes. Joy. Even after they sprayed, I suited up as if handling plutonium pellets to retrieve my clothing from the laundry baskets. When we finally moved I unpacked using industrial gloves and salad tongs. My son dropped a plastic spider over my shoulder and I beat my feet so furiously on the ground for so long, I believe I heard Mandarin being spoken. They still speak of this.
Since we’ve moved here the most serious thing we’ve found was a small hornets nest which we eliminated. I have my fingers crossed.
These ribs were truly finger licking good. Slow cooked in the oven first and finished on the grill. Yum.
Sticky and Delicious Chipotle Pork Back Ribs
3 1/2 lbs. pork back ribs
4 tsp. brown sugar
2 tsp. chili powder
1 tsp. hot paprika
1 tsp. cumin
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
1 tsp. pepper
1 tsp. salt
Mix together all dry ingredients. Pat ribs dry. Rub all sides well with dry rub. Spray inside of good sized piece of tin foil. Wrap ribs tightly. Refrigerate overnight.
Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Bake meaty side up in foil on cookie sheet covered with foil for 2 hrs. Remove foil and place on grill. Cook uncovered for 20 mins. basting with sauce and turning often. Serve with additional sauce if desired.
2 8 oz. cans tomato sauce
2/3 cups packed brown sugar
1/3 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce
1 onion, finely chopped
2 chipotle peppers in adobe sauce, chopped fine
2 tsp. beef bouillon granules
Put all ingredients in medium saucepan. Simer uncovered for 30-40 mins. until thickened.