Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Sour Keeps Me Sweet

I arrived at school today to discover that pretty much everyone had reached the same conclusion as I over the holiday weekend: "it is just too "summer" to be here." Staff, parents and kids alike...none of us much wanted to be back in the routine. It all just felt so very wrong. I had to repeat the countdown stats approximately thirty times today.

Yes. We still have twenty days of school unless you are an 8th grader and then you have one day less.

No. That is not your report card. That is your progress report. You take that home and try to convince your parents that you will still be able to pass for the year if you really buckle down and start taking this education thing seriously for the next twenty days.

Yes. I am counting today. We are still here so it is still twenty days.

No. I am not going to go back and count it out again. I'll do it during math class when numbers matter. Right now it is social studies and we are more concerned with the fact that I am giving a test on ancient Greece sometime during the next week.

Yes. I am sure about the number of days. And your class average. And that what I am handing you is a progress report, not a report card. Report cards go out after school gets out. In twenty days.

I'm tired of talking about it. At least it will be a different number every day between now and the end of the school year. That'll break things up a bit.

Meanwhile, I have a limited list of other things to talk about. It's hard to not think about how many days of school I have left and the only other topic is that Thing That Is Not A Sleeve. Who wants daily updates on the progress of a tube? Especially one that is moving along with all the speed of this never-ending school year...

Fortunately, a few folks asked about the vinegar spray I was using for the ants. I can share a bit more on that life event. There is hardly any counting involved and I can make that stuff faster than a Not-Sleeve.

I've been using a homemade cleaning concoction made of vinegar and whatnot for a while now. I heard about similar recipes and thought it might be a nice alternative to the stuff in the grocery store. I tried it and found that it worked rather well. It's nontoxic and costs mere pennies to throw together. It's also fairly simple to use when the kitchen floor gets sticky.

I am not much for measuring, but I generally put something like 2 parts water and 1 part vinegar in a spray bottle. Sometimes it's more like half and half. It doesn't seem to matter, really. Then I add about two tablespoons of lemon juice and a few drops of dishwashing detergent. I shake it up before each use and spray where needed. I happen to really hate mopping the kitchen, but don't mind spraying stuff. That's kind of fun. I spray down the kitchen floor, run the mop over it as quickly as possible and the floor is clean.

The formula is also great for kitchen counters, although I am more careful to rinse after use. Especially if I am going to be doing any baking. We don't want vinegar in the bread dough...

During a recent on-line search for natural ant repellents, I happened upon several sites that suggested vinegar and lemon juice as a solution. It was then that I remembered thinking that there were not all that many ants in the kitchen last summer. I think I even mentioned it in a blog post at one point, although I'm darned if I can find it. You'd think the ants would like it in the kitchen. If nothing else, the cats do a lovely job of scattering food around for them. But they just didn't seem to want to go in there.

I figured it couldn't hurt to spray down other areas and see what happened. The theory seems to be that the scent is not only repugnant to the ants, but that it also masks their ant trails, rendering them incapable of doing that conga line thing that they so love to do.

I'm not an expert in these things, mind you. I have done no studies in ant behavior. I don't even know anyone who has undertaken such a thing. I make no promises regarding this course of action. I also can't say for certain whether this is safe for carpets and furniture. I only know that I don't much care about my carpets and furniture at this point. There really isn't much more I can do to them in the way of abuse. I've seen no ill effects to date, but I'd feel badly if you tried this and found yourself with melting upholstery or something.

What I can say is that there have been no ants in the living room since I sprayed. Nor have I seen any in the kitchen where I regularly use my cleaning concoction. Make of it what you will and feel free to try it. For the record, I also tossed in a bit of lemon peel this time around just for kicks.

Oh yeah. It also smells like vinegar. But I'm assuming you've already figured that part out...

I'm going to sign off now. I need to feed a few cats, spray down my carpets and see about getting some clothing ready for tomorrow. I have to go back to school again so that the kids will know how many more days we have to keep doing this.

19 for 7th graders and staff. 18 for 8th graders and those who plan on skipping the last day. Just in case you were wondering...



trek said...

With the new laminate kitchen floor, maybe I should try the white vinegar and lemon trick.

Nothing wrong with the kitchen smelling like viniagrette, right?

Kath said...

I think I learned to use vinegar in cleaning from my mother. And where I live we have incredibly hard water - vinegar is wonderful at getting the nasty mineral deposits off stuff!

Guess it's a good year to be an 8th grader, eh? 'Course there's that whole "skipping the last day" idea, that has promise.

Jeanne said...

I think I'll try this remedy against the big black things that call themselves ants but are really monsters in disguise. As for the smell, it already smells like pickled sheep in here from all the yarn dyeing--a bit more won't make a difference. :-)

Knitting Linguist said...

That's a very good thing to know about. Just FYI, we've also found that putting dryer sheets under cat food bowls keeps the ants away from the pet food. Gotta love those home remedies...
(Now, if only there were a home remedy for the last three weeks of school...)

=Tamar said...

Thanks. I'll have to try that.
I wonder whether it would work without the lemon juice.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the "recipe". Look out ants; your days are numbered!

Anne said...

So.... what you are saying is 19? Or is that 20? How would I know if I'm in eighth grade or not? Is that for THIS year, or next year?

catsmum said...

interesting - I've been using a mix of 3 parts water to 1 of vinegar for 20+ years instead of ironing spray, so I will definitely be trying the addition of lemon on some of the sixty gazillion ant species that I share the acreage with.
Maybe I could do a study !