carpet beetles

Clothes Make the (Wo)Man

Almost a year and a half ago, Jimmy and I bagged up most of our clothes and took them to a local dry cleaner to clean and store while we battled the nefarious carpet beetles that infested our home.  We kept Daniel’s clothes since they were easily washable, a few towels, t-shirts and lounging clothes and a few items for work that would see us through what we thought would be a short time.

It wasn’t.

Fucking carpet beetles.

Come summer 2012, I was buying new shirts and a few new skirts and dresses to see me through.  Fall 2012 found me buying a few more items.  I tried to purchase carefully, knowing that at some point, hopefully, I would be getting back my wardrobe.

By Winter 2012 I was frustrated.  I had kept skirts but in some cases, inexplicably, not sweaters or warm shirts that would go with them.  I had kept only a couple of sweaters in general.  My stress-induced weight gain made some of the my meager wardrobe look like shit on me.  I was sick and tired of what clothes I had and had to talk myself down from deciding a (small) shopping spree was in order.

A couple of months ago, Jimmy told me he thought we could bring home our clothes.  We had waged war against the damn carpet beetles for over a year and (knock on wood!!), the situation seemed to be under control.  We set a date; I dared not get my hopes up.

Last weekend, our clothes came home.  That may be the stupidest sentence ever written on this blog for its sentiment, but I was thrilled.  THRILLED.  I had a wedding to go to last Saturday and reveled in the luxury of 4 outfit changes.  As I flipped through the clothes encased in plastic, I practically cooed.  I had forgotten about this shirt and that shirt and oh, look at the cute summer clothes I had forgotten (or tried to forget) I had!!


OUR CLOTHES!!! Yeah, we might have too much

I’m proud of myself for managing to survive on a few pairs of pants and skirts for over a year.  My wardrobe was thin, and I hope I didn’t look ridiculous for a year.  I’m a bit embarrassed by the sheer amount of clothes we have, and I suspect I have a lot of weeding and donations to Goodwill in my future.  I have a bad tendency to hoard and hang on to items much longer than I should, but I’ll be happy to go through and ruthlessly weed items that I easily got along without for a year.

But for now?  I’m enjoying the over-full closet. All of my socks are back! I wore a sweater yesterday from the returned items and paired a blouse and dress for today.  I’m far from a clothes-horse or fashion guru, believe me.  Many of the items in my wardrobe have been collected over many years, and I like to think they are classic and timeless.  This week I have enjoyed having variety from which to choose and just having a little fun with my wardrobe. I feel more confident and secure wearing my clothes. They are old friends.

black shift and blouse

Black dress w/ blouse back from storage

After the last couple of weeks, it’s nice to find a few rays of sunshine.

An Open Letter to the Carpet Beetles With Whom We Share Our House Unwillingly

Dear Carpet Beetles,

We’ve been co-habitating for a year now (to my knowledge. It could be longer but I don’t want to think about that), and I think it’s past time for you to move on.

I miss my clothes.  I miss my sweaters and cardigans; my cute skirts and seasonal pants.  I miss my seasonal socks. I know you miss them too because you love cashmere and wool as evidenced by the holes you nibbled in some of my favorite shirts.

But it’s more than missing my clothes.  I’m tired of you.  We’ve had exterminators in the house every few months since January.  We were told it would take only a few months to eradicate you, but you have proven to be pernicious.  Your hardiness was so impressive that our exterminator’s boss demanded a sample because he could not believe that they had done so much treatment and we still had a problem.  The verdict?  Carpet beetles.  Gee, I knew that after about 30 seconds of Googling last December. Thanks for telling me something I didn’t know.

Today the exterminators were here again, hosing down the interior and exterior of the house.  We listened as the manager commented on our furnishings and paintings, teasing the guy he was with that the “girl” in the painting in our living room might be for him.  For your edification, sir, the painting is of Circe.  She isn’t someone you’d want to date.  She turns men into swine.

Did you know, carpet beetles, that you also are extremely tempted by cat hair?  Wow.  We didn’t know that.  It hadn’t come up in ANY of the Googling we had done.  Not at all.  Maybe we should throw out the cats or contemplate shaving them because every.single.person who comes to our house to deal with the problem mentions the cat hair connection.  I appreciate that yes, we need to stay on top of our cats (ha ha not literally), but cat hair is not the root cause of the problem.  It’s not like you, carpet beetles, are being generated from cat hair.  How about, oh I don’t know, treating the problem???

Your presence is also extremely embarrassing.  When I come home, the first thing I do is scour the baseboards for you, and I take too much pleasure in squishing you.  It’s probably not healthy to delight in your demise that much.  But you also make me feel dirty.  How can I have people over when our house seems so disorderd and filthy?

We are not filthy people, carpet beetles, and I suspect that we have been categorized as that by the exterminators and others we come in contact with because of your presence.

The bottom line, carpet beetles, is that you have far outstayed any welcome you had (and you had none) in my house.  It’s time for you to move along.  I wouldn’t subject anyone else to you, but surely you can find a decent home that will let you consume all the natural fibers you want without devastating anyone.

Thanksgiving is a time meant to put aside differences and come together, celebrating the highs and mourning the lows together.  Carpet beetles, you inspire a lot of lows and no highs.  I do not celebrate you on Thanksgiving.  I do not at all wish you well now or in the upcoming year.  May you starve.  If I could hit each of you on the head with something really hard, I would.

May we all have wonderful Thanksgivings.  And death to you, carpet beetles.



The Eye of the Storm

Daniel and I walked in the door at 6 last night.  Despite the fact that he had not napped that day (quickly becoming our new normal), I didn’t feel the usual stress to rush in under two hours to get him fed, into pajamas and have story time before tucking him in.  Even though the adults in my household had grumbled about the time change and its potential impact on our routine, I liked that it was still bright outside when we came home.  I felt calm, peaceful. 

As I started dinner preparations, my peace evaporated.  I felt tired as I maneuvered around three grouchy felines demanding their dinner, eyed the chaos of the refrigerator, and sighed as Daniel spit out a sweet potato fry after taking a bite of it (hey, at least he’s past the throwing food phase). I snapped at him for something so trivial I can’t even remember what it was, and his little face sort of crumpled, I felt like crying myself.

When Jimmy came home, he commented, “You look frazzled.”  I started to launch into why and then I realized that I didn’t really feel frazzled.  The evening was proceeding smoothly for the most part and we were on schedule.  My day had been quiet and tolerable.  Why did I feel so irritated?  And then it hit me.

“I hate our house right now,” I told him.

I hate our house.  I hate our house.  I hate our house. I hate it.  I hate that we are still living in chaos thanks to the damn carpet beetle infestation.  Most of our clothes are in storage at the dry cleaners and the washable items we kept are in 3 laundry baskets haphazardly placed throughout the living room because we can’t put anything back into our drawers until we get the all-clear.  Each night I move among different baskets to pick out an outfit for Daniel for the next day or pajamas for that night.  Toddler socks jumbled together with towels and big people socks and tshirts and underwear, and I’m always afraid I’ll accidentally send along a pair of MY underwear in his bag to grandma’s.

And I wonder if houses can suffer from the Broken Window theory because as I look around, I see disorder and chaos  everywhere.  The sink overflows with dishes again despite being empty only two days before and there is a slightly off smell coming from the sink even though I can’t identify the source.  The three bulbs in my flower beds that have survived the demonic squirrels that proliferate in my area are fighting for space with lush…weeds.  My dining room table and counters are cluttered with mail, paper, receipts and preschool artwork.

The first thing I do when I come home in the evening is check the window sills for the adult beetles because Daniel likes to play there with his cars and trains.  “Lady bug! ” he exclaims, and I rush over to kill it, feeling a tiny niggle of remorse because bless their hearts, the damn things are trying to get out; they don’t want to be here either (and it is their larvae that destroys our clothes, not the adult beetle).   I’m embarrassed by my house and the chaos in which we’re living (because we aren’t filthy people I promise), yet when I try to figure out where to start, I just feel overwhelmed.

And then I wonder who is mirroring whom because when I think about it, I too feel cluttered and messy, barely put together and in need of maintenance.  And old and unlovely, with gray hairs appearing every day and permanent bags under my eyes. 

I want to be able to wave a magic wand and empty the house of everything , make it all go away and start over as I did with my new work computer last week: when the IT guys asked me what I wanted brought over from my old machine, I said, “nothing,” and it has been freeing to have a blank slate.

At times my house has felt like a sanctuary but now it most often feels like someplace I don’t want to be.  That night, I wanted to scream.

But then.

But then.

A small voice said, “Daddy, make pizza with me.”  Jimmy went over to the kitchen table and helped Daniel with the mise en place of his felt pizza toppings.  I joined them, and we giggled as we put the sauce on the triangles upside down and called peppers “plus signs.”  Jimmy and I watched as Daniel carefully put a slize of pizza on a plate and put it in the oven to bake.

It was only 10 minutes, but it was the best 10 minutes of the day.  The house was silent except for our playing, and everything felt calm and peaceful as we focused on nothing other than helping our little boy make the best darn felt pizza ever.

Can 10 minutes be enough? Last night it was.  I feel calmer today, and I know that our family life (and house) will return to “normal” eventually.  We’re still reeling from the blows we’ve been dealt recently.  One step at a time.  That beautiful 10 minutes gave me grace to take pause and acknowledge the small moments.  I need more of those moments, but it is my job to seek them and for now, that’s enough.

The most beautiful slice of pizza in the world

Free Advice: Cat Fur

A lot of sites are going black today in order to protest SOPA.  Mel at Stirrup Queens came up with an alternative way to protest, suggesting that we offer advice today in order to demonstrate the kind of information and discourse that could disappear if SOPA passes.  I liked her idea because I think it’s an interesting way to frame the issue.

Don’t get me wrong.  SOPA is scary, and I obviously don’t support online piracy.  However, as usual, lawmakers have gotten it all wrong and haven’t considered the unintended consequences of the bill.  You know who will suffer most if it passes?  You and me.  Our voices.  Our experiences.  In this case, we truly are the 99%, so  yes, let’s pass a draconian law intended to address the 1% who are the problem (and likely won’t stop them anyway) and punish the rest of us.

So here’s my advice: Cat fur – sweep it up.

We have three cats.  Two have long fur, so it is almost impossible to keep up with the cat fur.  No matter how often we clean, it seems there is a tumbleweed of fur taunting us at it rolls across the floor.

But try.


Carpet beetles. Our house somehow has them, and they love cat fur.  They also love natural fibers like wool, silk, cotton and cashmere, fibers which we happen to have some of in our closet.   We’ve had to throw out several well-loved, expensive pieces because the damn carpet beetles got into our closets and drawers and thought, “yummy!”

We are having our house treated on Friday.  We’re in the process of taking our entire wardrobe to the cleaners because only dry cleaning or high heat will kill the eggs.  This situation is especially painful because we replaced almost all of our carpet with hardwoods before Daniel was born, so the infestation of a pest with “carpet” in its name is especially infuriating.

So please, please, please stay on top of cat fur or make sure everything you own is polyester.  You decide which is more tolerable 🙂