I've supplied links to them all except Reframing Ants, an early article that wasn't originally published on the Internet, so I printed it out here. Yeah, it sometimes helps to understand some of the references to Humboldt County trivia, but some of them are universal, especially Reframing Ants.
August 14, 2003
by RICK ST. CHARLES
Before I heard about this wonderful technique called ‘reframing’, my family used to have a problem with ants. They’re sort of like tornadoes. Some neighborhoods are devastated by them while others are left unscathed. Our neighborhood in Bayside is crawling with them. I personally have never minded ants as long as they’re outside. In fact, as a kid, I used to spend hours admiring them with a magnifying glass, usually with the sun behind me so I could see them better. It’s when they invite themselves into the house that the trouble starts.
Ours started in the very rainy winter of 1996, when the saturated ground drove them to seek a cozier place to hang out. Since we’re pretty casual--okay, slobby--about leaving crumbs all over the place, along with half-eaten cartons of Chinese food and something called cheese fries that our kids are addicted to... well, the experts tell us we may as well have hung up a sign that said ANTS WELCOME. STAY AS LONG AS YOU WANT. INVITE YOUR FRIENDS. BE FRUITFUL AND MULTIPLY. Because by the time the ground was relatively dry (the summer of 2000), the ants had concluded they really liked our house and made the decision to stay.
We have tried many things to get rid of them, including an environmentally friendly spray made out of orange peels. This does not kill them. It just coats them with a sticky film that gums up their tiny legs and sort of renders them inert, although if you spray enough, it drowns them. It’s also supposed to repel them, but it doesn’t. They just wait until it’s dried to a tacky surface on our countertops, then they march over it in waves that remind you of the robot soldiers in Attack of the Clones, finally amassing around some microscopic particle of pepperoni.
Because it doesn’t take much to get them excited. Things you would think no self-respecting ant could care less about bring them streaming out like tweens to a Backstreet Boys concert. A cantaloupe seed, for example. A toothbrush that hasn’t been rinsed off to the degree of sterilization. Certain electrical appliances: We’ve found colonies in our alarm clocks and radios that remind us of those termite mounds in Africa.
We’ve tried all the ant poisons which GUARANTEE that the worker ants will take the bait back to their nest and poison the queen, which will cause the colony to die. Hah! Our ants have either developed an immunity to all the poisons ever invented or they’ve figured out a way to clone queens. We’ve tried this stuff for weeks on end and all it seems to do is produce more ants. “Look!” we chortle at first, as the designer bait traps disappear under swarms of ants. “Little do they know their frenzied glee with soon turn to despair!” A few weeks later we say, “Look! More ants! Boy, what suckers! They’re just hastening their doom!” A month later we say, “Wipes out the colony, my ass! Where’s the blowtorch?”
So we had a problem until I ‘reframed’ the ants. I forget where I first heard this term. I have read about 1500 self-help books and it was in one of those with a title like Admit It--You Know Nothing that I discovered this technique. What you do is, you take something that’s really bothering you and you reframe it--you see it in a different context. Like if your neighbors have formed a really loud rock band and they’re trying to do Crosby, Stills, and Nash harmonies that only Crosby, Stills and Nash can pull off, and then only when Crosby is relatively sober, and which otherwise sound like raccoons in heat, instead of thinking, “Where’s a bunker blaster when you really need one?”, you reframe the situation and think, “Boy, no burglars are going to come into THIS neighborhood while those inconsiderate jerks...I mean, burglar-dissuaders are playing! How lucky we are to have them right next door to us, practically in our bedroom! God bless ‘em!”
So I reframed the ants. Instead of thinking of them as the most noxious creatures on Earth next to mosquitoes, people who litter, and contestants on reality shows, I thought of them as “our little maids”. I figured all the ants are really doing is cleaning up after us. And they’re meticulous. But also miniscule. So if they find, say, a speck of Frosted Mini-Wheats on the floor, whereas you or I could just pick it up by pressing a fingertip into it, or better yet, ignore it, about five thousand of THEM are going to diligently show up to tackle the job.
pointed out to my family that if we were tidier, there would be fewer
ants. They pointed out that I’m the
messiest one in the house. I try to
remember to wipe off the counter and put everything away as soon as I’ve made
one of my artery-choking hot-pastrami-with-a-hot-dog-wrapped-in-bacon
sandwiches, but by the time I’ve cleaned up, my sandwich has gotten cold and
started to coagulate. So I promise
myself I’ll do it as soon as I eat the sandwich, but then I wander into the
living room where Everybody Loves Raymond is on and it’s the episode
where Robert gets gored in the butt by a bull, so I have to watch that, and
right after is the Seinfeld episode featuring the woman with man
hands, a classic, so I have to watch that, and by the time I get back to the
kitchen our personal maids have called out the reserves and the counter is a
writhing mass that looks like the train depot scene featuring the entire
Confederate army in Gone With the Wind. So
I surrender, another thing I learned from my self-help books, along with,
“Don’t sweat the small stuff." And
ants are definitely small. Unless you
have a billion of them.
So I surrender, another thing I learned from my self-help books, along with, “Don’t sweat the small stuff." And ants are definitely small. Unless you have a billion of them.
© Copyright 2003, North Coast Journal, Inc.