F. often participates in Diamond Dave’s Friday afternoon Mutiny.fm Internet radio show, at their studio in the Mission, and I sometimes join him for an hour or so. The whole show is three hours long and features a motley collection of poets, musicians, essayists and ad hoc ranters. One Friday late in July, I met F. at the radio station and then we had dinner at El Metate—he had never been there before and liked it—and went on to the soup kitchen for their open mic. A fellow known to both of us came along eating a cupcake and F. exclaimed over the profusion of icing; he doesn’t care for it. “Good,” said the man firmly. “You can keep your hands off it, then.” Later the same man turned up with a cookie and instructed, “You can treat this cookie the same way you treat my icing: stay away from it.”
As my apartment is an insect sanctuary, meaning that none is knowingly harmed, I found myself co-existing with a spider who had made her web on the window nearest my bed. (Are all spiders girls? I’m sure I’ve mentioned that when I was a child, my mother would tell me and my sisters, “Spiders are our friends and sisters.”)
One day there appeared in the web a spider larger than the webowner, and of disturbing appearance, with thickish legs and body, all or mostly a translucent pale yellow, as I recall. The first spider was a regular dark spider, not particularly beefy. Could this other spider have fallen prey to the first? It appeared entirely intact, but when F. blew gently in the direction of the web, the first spider twitched, but the second didn’t: dead.
Yet the next day, the second spider was entirely gone. It seemed unlikely that the first spider could have consumed every fragment of it already, since there were still remnants in the web of other tiny creatures left over from days or weeks before. No, this second spider, employing notable malevolence, had played dead when F. performed his test, and was now elsewhere in my apartment waiting to walk on my eyelid in the night.
I decided the charm of co-existing with a spider had worn off and took it out to a large planter box in front of my apartment building, then wiped the web off the window.
Next I turned my attention to the fruit flies that were swarming out of the compost bin when one lifted the lid to make a deposit and generally hanging around in that area. They didn’t really bother me, but the compost bin is not far from the back door of the apartment under mine, and its inhabitants didn’t like getting a face full of little flying creatures every time they came out of their door, and so installed a chemical bug-killing device.
I offered to see if I could find something less toxic at Rainbow and found a product that was made specifically for this and which initially worked remarkably well, but after a while, the fruit flies were back to being out of control. I’m not sure if this is because not everyone was sprinkling the product on top of his or her compostable materials, as a handsome nearby sign, made and laminated by myself, recommends, or if after a while, the fruit flies got used to the stuff and returned to vigorous reproduction. I told the downstairs neighbors I’d go back to the drawing board and experimented with sprinkling in cinnamon or powdered ginger. This caused the fruit flies to scatter right away, but the next day I would find just as many there as the day before.
A couple of days ago, I soaked two cotton balls with tea tree oil and hung them over the lid of the compost bin and that seems to be working excellently. I can see live things strolling around in there when I open the bin, but no creature comes flying out. As an auxiliary measure, I plan to make a spray of eucalyptus oil, witch hazel and water to leave by the bin.
My three favorite words: vermin, goiter and fritz, as in the TV is on the fritz.
I passed that place the other day where I took the puddle photos and saw it still was a puddle. There must be some sort of drainage issue there that makes the place permanently wet. Maybe I had better keep the exact location to myself in case I have to drink that water someday.