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» Wednesday, March 07, 2018The Overloaded Pantry and The Tiny Invaders
It's fine if you're outside. Spot a mosquito hawk buzzing around or a green fly against the red bricks of the front porch, and you sigh, but it's expected. But when you emerge on a warmish, bright Monday morning and find several dozen tiny little bugs on both sides of the doors to your pantry, it's more like an "oh, hell, no" day. What made it worse is that I saw the same little guys last year. When the exterminator came by for the spring quarterly spray a few days later, I had him spray around the doors to the pantry. But not in the pantry, which was cheek-by-jowl with all sorts of packaged foods.
The pantry's sort of been a thorn in our sides for a few years now. It's not a walk-in type, but rather a shallow closet, maybe about fifteen-twenty inches deep, with bifold doors. Over the years it's been filled with a Del's lemonade kit, a container with chow mein noodles, bottles of coffee syrup, Rice-a-Roni and Knorr sides, cereal and pasta put in large plastic containers, boxes of soup and pasta and cake mix, mandarin orange and applesauce and pineapple cups, casserole mixes we bought at the Yellow Daisy Festival, Reynolds Wrap, slow cooker liners, birthday candles, old cake decor, chips for cookies, baker's chocolate and cocoa, Asian noodles, and more. Over the years, things we wanted to "save" for special occasions got pushed to the back while newer things stayed up front. One of the things I knew I had to do once I retired—since it would be a full day job—was give that pantry a thorough cleaning-out.
Well, today had to be that day, judging by the little insects that were still hanging around the doors to the pantry. I called up Northwest Exterminating and they said they could come tomorrow, so it was drudge time.
It was worse than I thought. The little bugs didn't come from the outside, like the time we had ants climb up the deck and saunter into the dining room as if it were their own, or the time we carried cockroaches in on wild birdseed bags. These guys were coming from inside the pantry, from under the baseboards.
I'll spare you the details to not make myself queasy again, but let's say it was a mess. All the favorite stuff we'd saved for special occasions had been chewed and some of it invaded. I remember reading about a woman who died before she had ever used all her "special" clothes and shoes because she never found an occasion special enough; this was the same thing. I tossed what had been delicious soup mixes, and grain mixes. I tossed anything that was open. And it gave me another opportunity as well to clean out food that was too salty or too sweet or baking things we'd never use, not to mention jarred pizza sauce dated 2004 which must have come from the old house!
Along the way I had to clean out the potato bin, which was the least objectionable thing. The floor with all the dead bugs on it was the worst.
So I ended up with two largish plastic containers of food left (and the casserole mixes put into plastic ziplock bags) and four trash bags out in the garbage (not full, but heavy). Then I swept the walls and sprayed them with a vinegar/Windex cleaner mixture and washed the wire shelves and then scrubbed the floor after sweeping it up. Washed the shelf that was in there as well, and the potato bin, and after over three hours, I was done, and I was beat, and angry at myself at letting this go so long and losing those soups (although James couldn't have eaten them anymore anyway).
So it's done, and the exterminator will be here, and after he treats I'll ask if there's anything to prevent this happening again. Baits? Bay leaves?
Besides our not saving for special occasions again because you've finally realized that every day you're alive is a special occasion.
My reward for this performance was James coming home to make a delicious dinner of beef bits, mushrooms, onions and cashews, and roast potatoes. You can keep your gourmet dinners; this was heaven on earth.