Me v. Ants

This image requires some explaining.

My partner and I rent a house just outside of the city of Miami. I rented on my own for a long time, and I always strove to be a good tenant. Just recently, the garbage disposal system stopped working, and we contacted the property manager to find someone to replace it. Quickly resolved, he scheduled an appointment with me for this morning at 8:30.

All landlords are likely curious about their tenants, and rightfully so. Because, in most states, landlords cannot randomly show up and inspect the property when their tenants are not home, I imagine that they find other ways to make sure that their properties do not suddenly qualify for a guest spot on “Hoarders.” Thus, every time anyone is scheduled to come over to the house to fix something, the house is meticulously cleaned. The house is never too much of a mess, but I’ll admit that the carpet in the living room occasionally has enough cat hair on it to obscure its primary hues. Or, maybe I didn’t clean up that spot of make up foundation on the bathroom sink. Or, maybe the dishes from last night did not make their way safely into the diswasher. At any rate, no repair person or service person has ever had to see what I have neglected–I am certain that, if the property manager and the person hired to do the job have a good relationship, the occasional “So, what does the house look like to you?” gets dropped when the bill is sent.

Last night, I cleaned the house, and after days of reading a particularly long, complicated book on the migration of “barbarians” into Europe during the late antique period, it certainly needed some attention. I originally set aside about an hour or so for the task, but this quickly extended to over two hours before I was really satisfied. I was determined to wake up and have everything all set.

Of course, this turned out to be one of those nights during which I found it nearly impossible to cross the proverbial Rubicon between asleep and awake. I was baffled by this–I was so tired when I finally went to bed. As cleaning took up my usual dinner hour, I could only find the energy to consume about 7 Rolos, foiled in Christmas colors and still sitting on the coffee table in the living room. I was so sure I would be out and up feeling energized the next day. No such luck–the alarm went off too soon after I had managed to get to sleep.

The first order of business, therefore: Coffee. Well, coffee AFTER having fed the cats (who were not going to be content to let me tend to my needs first). I’ve been using a French press recently, so I heated up a kettle and checked my e-mail. The kettle flipped its switch, and the “click” let me know the water was ready. I poured it into the press. Then, I turned around. . .

For the first time, I looked at the espresso machine on the counter opposite the kettle and the press. Well, first I actually looked at the counter itself–ants. Great. The one thing about living in a tropical environment is the omnipresence of bugs of all kinds all year long. My partner and I have seen ants around the house, but we very quickly identify where they are coming in and seal it off. This has progressed to what the ants likely perceive to be an all-out war, as they continue to attempt to find ways to penetrate our defenses. Apparently, however, this time, they had infiltrated and were trying to accomplish a sneak attack of a mammoth kind. The ants were all over, and apparently inside, my espresso machine. They had identified the handle of the filter as a good place to put their hundreds of eggs.

I was horrified.

I immediately set about eliminating them, and I didn’t have very much time to do so–it was already after 8, and the last thing I wanted the plumber to see was an ant colony in the kitchen. I moved everything off the counter, I opened up all parts of the machine I could get into without tools, I checked the walls and the window to see if there was an obvious place from which they were coming in. When I removed the base plate, I could tell that at least some of them had gotten into the mechanism of the machine, and these I could not immediately remove. After destroying all of the ants I could see, I took the machine and deposited it on the porch. It was going to have to wait until later.

Fortunately, the plumber came, and there was no sign of the massive ant v. human battle that had previously taken place. The espresso machine remains outside until I can figure out what to do with it.

Today can only get better.

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