The previous owners of my new home were not full-time residents. This property was their extended family hunting retreat and their time here was spent floating down the local spring-fed creeks in the summer and enjoying the warmth of a bonfire during the fall hunting season. Many of their home furnishings were included in the sale and left here for me to either integrate or re purpose. So, while I brought a uhaul full of my own furnishings and personal items with me when I moved, I brought only what was needed and what was too special to leave behind. The trash can that was here had “Paper Only” written in black sharpie on the lid. When I was deciding what I needed to bring with me and what was being left behind, aesthetics fell second to the priority of functionality, so the trash can with it’s outdated graffiti became my new kitchen trash can…and a daily source of regret.
I’m not sure that I’m proud something as insignificant as writing on a trash can has the power to affect my peace. It opened every time I wanted it to open, it stayed closed when it wasn’t supposed to be open and it kept the trash in the can…so I really tried to accept the lid as being the best trash can lid it could be. Unfortunately my mind couldn’t let it go. Every time I opened it or even walked by the kitchen trash, I would mentally berate it. “That’s a lie, bitch. You accept all kinds of trash since there is no damn recycling available in this area. You’re ugly and have horrendous penmanship. So shut up, trash can.” Okay…so maybe I should be more concerned about the fact I spoke to my trash can than I am about it having the power to affect my peace…but meh.
After finishing up several days of unpacking and getting my new central air system and fiber Internet connection installed, I finally decided to take a couple days off to relax in the cool air with a WiFi signal. As usual, I quickly discovered that in order to relax, I needed to be doing something. I decided to decorate the trash can lid so I could stop hating on it. I have always had a love for the transformative power of spray paint and often find myself browsing the hardware aisles looking for that special color that begs to go home with me. As I looked through my stash of spray paint cans, I found an, as yet, unused color named “Cranberry.” Perfect.
20+ hours of Netflix, two coats of spray paint and some time spent practicing my shading using acrylics later, I had painted a little peace into my life. I admit that I’m spoiled by the luxury of having time to paint trash can lids, but I see it as a trade off. In the past, I wouldn’t have had the time to just stop, drop and paint…because I would have been at work in a career that sucked the life out of me…so I’d have the money to buy new trash cans. As I’ve discovered, not having money is a lot better than not having time. Now, because I have the time to do something I love, something as simple as my kitchen trash can makes me feel happy every time I look at it. One hell of a good trade off, in my books.
In addition to their furnishings, the previous owner also left behind a home that was pest challenged due to its infrequent use. Now…if a little sharpie squiggles on a plastic lid can mess up my groove, you can only imagine what kind of struggle it was to move to a whole new house and share it with multiple other creatures. I’d like to think I’ve handled it gracefully for the most part but there have been days I was ready to fire bomb this place and move to Colorado. For realsies.
Luckily I have some pretty solid country living roots. So while it’s been disturbing, it hasn’t been completely unnerving to share my space with country critters. The local mice seemed happy to share my new home with me and roamed freely, yet unseen, throughout every corner of the house. While I never actually see them outside of the peanut butter baited traps I leave out for them, I found their little brown gift cards everywhere (…everywhere…) for the first two weeks. The army of tiny ants marched gallantly, and with seemingly endless reinforcements, toward every drop of sweat tea spilled. The spiders skittered about and rebuilt their webs defiantly in their previously uncontested corner properties. The vagabond ticks jumped aboard for a ride on every walk through the woods or swing in the hammock. The large clumsy black beetles flew into the house for every after dusk opening of the door and would succumb to my vengeance after only 20+ swats with the flyswatter; twisting their heads and clamping their pincers while they died angrily and evilly. Mosquitoes, chiggers, red wasps, bumble bees, snakes, and even a few creatures I couldn’t quite identify have been my constant companions both inside and outside of my new home.
I’ve spent hundreds of dollars in building a small arsenal of chemicals, traps and home remedies against all things that crawl, fly, and skitter and, for the first time since moving, I’m feeling hopeful. With the exception of chiggers (aka “spawns of satan”), I’ve beaten back, contained and tamed most of the population of pests that have tried to eat, bite, sting and infest my happiness. It’s more of a truce really…they’ve agreed to leave me alone and I’ve agreed to put every consumable good in my home safely within plastic containers and to drown my pores in deet every time I leave my house. If at any given point I let down my end of the bargain, however, they attack. Five days ago, after I’d showered and cleaned up from a long hot day, I made the mistake of going outside to watch the sunset. Going outside to watch the sunset wasn’t the mistake. Taking a shower with scented body wash and then forgetting to spray my legs with Off! was my mistake. This mistake, combined with my tendency to be highly allergic to any kind of insect sting or bite, has left my legs covered in hundreds of large angry purple blisters from chigger bites.
It’s been over five days and I still can’t put on shoes because my ankles are too swollen. And I’m pretty sure I’m going to scar in a way that leaves me looking vaguely contagious on my upcoming family trip to a water park. And, according to my favorite pair of jeans, I’ve gained a couple of pounds in just a week of not taking my daily walk because I can’t wear my walking shoes. So I lost the battle but I’m still winning the war…’cuz you don’t need shoes to paint.