Bugs, Birds and Bees

Recently I was talking to my mother. My phone call interrupted her in the shed where she was wrestling with the pesticide pump. She was removing the original hose and replacing it with a longer one. By way of making conversation I stupidly asked why. Her plan, she told me, was to climb up into the roof cavity and spray the pesticide throughout the ceiling. At this point I should mention that my mother is in her seventies. She’d obviously just been told that’s the new thirty.

I almost said, “Haven’t you heard that the European parliament has banned pesticides because the honey bee has lost its dance?” But I caught myself in time. My mother is a migrant to Australia from Italy. Italy has very few songbirds, hardly any bees and virtually no insects. Anything that crawls, flies, or moves on four legs must be stomped out, or eaten, as quickly as possible, including the European parliament. So what I said instead was, “Can’t you call the pest control man to do that?” I’ve found that delaying tactics sometimes work better than outright obstruction.

“No. No. No. I did that last time.  He just stands on the ladder and does ‘puff’, ‘puff’, two times in the air. He doesn’t even go inside. And two weeks later the ants are marching across my kitchen again. He is a waste of money. I will do it myself. And I use three times what they say on the bottle. I make sure that it works.”

The problem had now escalated from simple pesticide use to toxic chemical warfare. I attempted a bus analogy, “I don’t think you need three times as much to kill the pests. If you get hit by a bus and die, it doesn’t matter if two more buses run you over. You’re not going to be more dead.”

It didn’t work.

So I switched to an occupational health and safety angle. “You know that it’s really poisonous to breathe in those chemicals?” As I listened to her answer, I watched a drunken cockroach stagger across the carpet of my living room.

“I”m not stupid. I wear a mask,” she said. And just as I was about to mention that the chemicals seep through your skin. “And gloves. I wear your father’s old boiler suit. The white one. I look like I am going into space,” she chuckled.

“How do you get up into the roof?” I asked.

“I climb up on the ladder.” Her tone was one of wonder at the enormous stupidity of her own daughter.

“You go all the way into the roof?” I persisted.

“To every corner. That’s where they hide. But don’t worry; I take the telephone with me. If anything happens I will call you.”

And with that she hung up. She had things to do, places to be, a whole roof cavity to napalm.

Later that day as I sat down with a cup of tea I saw the cockroach under the coffee table. The poor thing was lying on its back. That’s when I remembered the baits I’d put out a few weeks ago. The first bug of the season had succumbed to my need to euthanize these living creatures.

“Oh!” said the pot to the kettle……








About sagesomethymes

Daniela is a writer, theatre producer and civic educator. She has had short stories and poetry published in: 'Prayers of a Secular World', Inkerman & Blunt; 'Blue Crow Magazine', Blue Crow Press; 'Knitting and other stories', Margaret River Press and Radio National’s '360 documentaries'. Her debut play, 'Talc', was produced in 2010. Her short play, 'Sicilian Biscotti', was produced for the launch of “Women Power and Culture” at New Theatre in 2011 and shortlisted for the Lane Cove Literary Award in 2015. Her second full length play, 'Friday', was produced by SITCO at the Old Fitzroy Theatre in 2013. 'The Poor Kitchen' was produced in 2016 as part of the Old 505 Theatre’s Fresh Works Season and was published by the Australian Script Centre in 2017 (https://australianplays.org/script/ASC-1836). It was re-staged by Patina Productions at Limelight on Oxford in 2019. She co-wrote 'Shut Up And Drive' with Paul Gilchrist and it was produced at KXT in 2016. 'Seed Bomb' was produced at Old 505 Theatre as part of the FreshWorks Season in 2019 and has been published by the Australian Script Centre (https://australianplays.org/script/ASC-2166). She co-wrote 'Softly Surely' with Paul Gilchrist and it was produced at Flight Path Theatre in 2022. She is the co-founder of indie theatre company subtlenuance (www.subtlenuance.com) Her published short stories can be read via the Short Stories tab on this blog.
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4 Responses to Bugs, Birds and Bees

  1. G~ says:

    I swear I could hear Zia’s voice as she spoke to you. I could see her in my minds eye, with your questions interfering with her intentions! You captured her logic and her determination very well. I loved this! Thank you for sharing. 😀

  2. Carol Richardson says:

    Just had time to read this! We have the same parents!

    Kind regards Carol Richardson 0407755567 Sent from my iPad


  3. And we love them!
    Happy New Year! Wishing you and Sean and the boys a wonderful 2017!

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