After living in the country for more than two years, I can say with absolute certainty that I like it here.
The peace and tranquility I feel, away from daily doses of traffic jams, chronic noise pollution and a higher concentration of people with an innate talent for exasperating others, have been worth the time, the energy and the price of admission.
Despite this having been a truly joyful experience, there has been one inescapable irritant: Asian lady beetles.
For those who might not have had the pleasure (or displeasure) of meeting them, they look very much like lady bugs, but with a more orange-coloured outer shell.
While I am told that they aren’t destructive to property, one could be inclined to just ignore them… but it’s impossible. The problem is the numbers… on a crisp, sunny fall morning, my partner and I could be squishing dozens of them as they try to enter the house in search of a warm place for the winter.
And when you do catch one and squish it, they release this rancid peanut butter smell that is beyond gross.
The problem is that they have no natural predators around here. Whomever thought that it would be a good idea to bring them in to take care of aphids on soy bean plants (which are in abundance in our rural surroundings), they didn’t quite think through their plan.
In our first fall in the country, we tried several natural solutions suggested online to try to deter them but it was a losing battle. The invasion persisted.
In the second fall, we hired a company to spray the house to control them. The process was very effective. The only downside was that we had to be out of the house for six hours after the spraying.
If it was just my partner and myself, that wouldn’t be a problem. We’d just make good use of the time. However, there is a third party in the picture: Ivy the Wonder Cat.
The first time we had the spraying done, I made an appointment with the vet for her annual check-up and vaccinations. I asked if they could keep her a little longer and to run additional tests to monitor for a minor issue identified a year earlier. Fortunately, the additional tests revealed that the issue had cleared up.
This past fall, when it was time to spray again, I preferred to not risk overstaying my welcome with the vet. I was very comforted and grateful for the kind offer from relatives who offered to take us in for a few hours.
Just the same, the night before, I had a very hard time falling asleep. The morning’s logistics and the checklist of things to bring left me feeling a little overwhelmed.
Even though I wrote everything down to get it out of my subconscious, the fear of what could go wrong persisted. For a sensitive cat who lives for structure, I knew the disruption could be a challenge.
Questions swirled despite my attempt to count sheep well into the hundreds:
What if she takes out her frustration from the break in her routine on their furniture? (Answer: I’ll have to deal with it in the moment. Solution: I brought one of her scratching posts, just in case.)
What if Ivy has one of her monstrous bowel movements and stinks up their place? (Answer: bring the scooper and extra plastic bags.)
How do I transport all of her stuff so I’m not making 47 trips from the house to the car and then to their apartment? (Answer: put everything in one of the big suitcases.)
What if the exterminator shows up early? What if I can’t get Ivy into her crate in time? (Answer: We’ll just have to deal with it if/when it happens.)
Then my mind veered off into another direction: How the heck did my parents, friends and relatives do it when transporting kids, with diaper bags, diapers, portable playpens, bottles, car seats, extra clothes, etc.
In winter, it was the additional matter of snowsuits, tuques, mittens, scarves and winter boots.
And at Christmas, there were also the contributions to the festive meal and gifts to be transported.
I marvelled at their accomplishment and how they made it all look so easy!
On the morning of “spray day”, as I washed out Ivy’s litter box and prepared her suitcase of essentials, I couldn’t help but feel a flashback to my own childhood, a throwback to about 50 years ago when my own mom and dad were packing to drop me off at my grandparents.
Upon arrival, Ivy scoped out the new surroundings… repeatedly, methodically, for about an hour, meowing the whole time. Fortunately, because Ivy is well acquainted with our relatives, their home was probably host to familiar and comforting scents.
When my partner arrived an hour later (when the procedure on the house had been completed), Ivy settled down completely. I presume that knowing that her two dads were there, everything would be fine.
While she didn’t really nap during the time we were there, she was surprisingly well-behaved. The furniture and rugs were intact, she used her litter box properly and she didn’t show any signs of stress despite being away from home. Thank heavens!
All in all, it went better than I thought it would.
When it was almost time to leave, I took my time to pack her things up to make sure I didn’t forget anything.
Just the same, after dinner, we got the call that we forgot something… the pooper scooper and the extra bags I brought in case Ivy made a big stinky deposit. I made arrangements to promptly pick them up the next day as a used scooper is not the most glamourous thing I could have left behind as a sign of gratitude for their kindness.
That being the case, I still find it amazing how much stuff a cat needs, even for just the basic essentials for one day.
I presume that if we have to make visits like that on a regular basis, I might get used to the drill and relax more… especially the night before. Practice makes perfect, they say.
The whole experience just reminded me of how much thought and energy goes into parenting, even for something as simple as a stay at a relative’s house.
How our parents did it as often as they did is a mystery to me, but I feel huge admiration and respect for the way that they made it look as easy and as seamless as they did.
Let’s not forget the heartfelt thanks for the relatives who opened their homes to us, always saying it was a pleasure to host us.
How lucky we are to have such a village to help us raise our cat!
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Have a great day,