August 6, 2010

Little Bugs and Little Women

After a few days of recovering from our recent nine day road trip, I decided it was high time I made a fresh blueberry pie - a family favourite. I opened the second drawer of my trusty kitchen island, the drawer where I keep all the baking supplies like baking powder, salt, sugar, etc, only to discover that the drawer had been invaded, conquered and colonized by teeny tiny grain weevils - billions of them. Not only were they happily munching away and breeding in all the various bags of things I had neglected to transfer to sealed containers, they were crawling all over the plastic storage containers in the drawer below, and making their way into the other drawers full of non food items. Blech!

Fortunately, earlier this year I had overhauled the pantry and put everything in sealed containers due to an invasion of silver moths in there, and the weevils had not yet expanded their territory beyond the kitchen island. Still, their presence in my kitchen at all was enough of a 'casus belli '* - (an event or act used to justify a war) on my kitchen. I can handle an untidy house. With six people and all their stuff, I have to. What I cannot abide is insects in my food. That kind of thing sends me straight up the wall. For the past week I was treading a fine line between a 'this too shall pass' attitude and a homicidal obsession with cleaning my cupboards. While well aware of the hundreds of thousands of people left homeless and grieving in Pakistan after the terrible flooding there washed away their homes and killed fifteen hundred of their countrymen, and closer to home, the four hundred forest fires currently burning in British Columbia causing a Los Angeles-like haze to settle over the southern half of my province, it was all I could do to keep my little problem in perspective. By yesterday afternoon, however, my kitchen island was bleached beyond belief, placed in the garage on suspension (I was still seeing a few bugs which had escaped my manic scrubbing by hiding in the crevices, and though the local expert told me the weevils could not live more than two days without a food source, I couldn't stand the idea of any, even dying ones, in the kitchen) and replaced by a large table, and my kitchen was cleaner than I'm sure it has been in years, the only evidence of the war between woman and wee tiny beastie so recently waged. I could have sent a victory flag - one with a picture of a half-crazed woman brandishing a can of Raid in her rubber-gloved hand - up the flagpole.

Needless to say, I was ready for some diversion last night by way of celebration and was glad my friend and I had made plans to take our youngest girls to see Little Women: the Musical, put on by a brand new theatre company in our nearby city. I have read the book and seen the excellent movie with Winona Ryder as Jo March, but never the musical. I would say it was a pretty ambitious production for a young theatre to start its career with, and I don't wish to criticize any of the people who worked so hard to put on this musical, because overall they did a very good job. BUT. I don't know what the set designer was thinking. Granted, this particular stage can be a difficult one for a set designer - the theatre was specifically designed for Shakespeare plays and has a round stage with seats on both sides, so this limitation in size makes it difficult to change sets. An attic plays an important role in Little Women, but I am sure there was a way to design an attic less alarmingly dangerous than the one we cringed at last night. It was so high off the ground with three little levels and only one wimpy looking railing only at the top, and a lot of action was played out on that precarious platform by characters in long Civil War era dresses. A few wardrobe malfunctions occured as dresses, designed too long for such a set full of ladders and steep stairways, were tripped on. At one point, the main character, Jo, played and sung superbly by a young local actress, almost lost her skirt entirely!

There was no denying the talent of the actors who play the four March sisters. They certainly could all sing very well, and act well, too, making the long production of three and a half hours quite tolerable. Everyone cried when Beth dies, and everyone laughed when aspiring writer Jo acts out her 'blud and guts' stories for the family. It was the opening night of the first production of a brand new theatre company after all. I'm sure they'll work out the bugs for the next performance - if only they would put that dangerous attic platform away and replace it with something much less distracting for the poor audience!

*thanks to Paul from 365 Word Quest for this great word


  1. Ooohhhh, bugs! Around here we get ants in the heat and the rainy season. To this day, the smell of Raid, reminds me of Christmas. Hm.

    Any way, I am glad you have pushed threw it. :)

  2. I had a mouse in the kitchen a few weeks ago. No longer.

    Little women, I cannot place it. But at the back of the mind I have this feeling of a drawn out version with aspects of the plot of Pride and Prejudice written from the point of view of the girl that married Wickham.

  3. Tracey: I am almost finished my complete overhaul of the kitchen - just the fridge left now. I didn't actually use Raid, but I liked the image.

    Vince: Oh yes, Mice. I had several years dealing with those delightful critters at the lodge on Vancouver Island.
    Little Women is a famous American story by Louisa May Alcott, and is loosely based on her family life growing up in Massachucets.

  4. Amazing how tiny insects can multiply like that when there is rich food around. Surprisingly this summer we have not had the usual visit by ants in our kitchen, another reason for a 'casus belli'. Thanks for the link to 365wordquest.

  5. Oooh - yuck to insects in the kitchen. We had an infestation of mice up here in Scotland in my mum's holiday house and that was pretty grim. So everything is sealed in tupperware now. I made an apple and blackcurrant crumble yesterday by the way - so great minds think alike. Did you make the blueberry pie? I guess not.
    And you're certainly right, those floods in Pakistan certainly do keep those little irritations of life in perspective.

  6. Paul: I do wonder if it is in part due to a very mild winter this year that we had such an infestation!

    Kate: Your crumble sounds great. I did make the blueberry pies, 2 of them, (the crust ingredients were untainted, fortunately) but after that I didn't make much of anything in the kitchen for a few days! Scotland sounds lovely, apart from the 'wee timrous beasties', as Robbie Burns called them.

  7. Sorry LW is not something I would read for fun. But I think I caught a glimpse on the telly at some point. There is an older version than the one with Win Rider, isn't there.

  8. Well Vince, I would venture to characterize LW as chick lit. There is an ancient version with Katherine Hepburn, but I've never seen the whole thing. My daughter absolutely loved the play so we had to rent the Win Ryder version so she could see the story in motion again.

  9. I really must repackage my flour into sealed containers... it's only a matter of time. You'd think the mice would have been a warning to me.

  10. Lucille: I read on the internet as well, that if you freeze all your grains and sugar for two days before putting them in your usual containers, that will kill whatever critters may be hiding. I think they must have been in my organic cane sugar and then had a wonderful spree while we were away.

  11. I love 'Little Women', the book and the movies, but I have never seen a stage version. That platform sounds very unsafe - hopefully it undergoes a transformation before someone is injured.


I'd love to hear your thoughts. Thanks!