Saturday, March 6, 2021

The Fantasy Garden of Happiness Room

Is anyone having lots of pandemic fun? Boy, I am! After painting so many of my interior rooms in bright, happy colors, I was exhausted and finished. Then I had some more extra free time and tackled the "mud room" or back door entrance. Door landings and entrances I believe are a free-for-all: they are "through" rooms. No one sits in the room and stares at the walls so as far as I'm concern, anything can happen! 

It was previously painted with a floral pattern, but the walls are wood paneling and unfortunately, many years ago I received very bad advice  on how to prep them and vibration from nearby semi-trucks caused the seams between the panels to crack over time. The walls needed to be redone. I found out the proper method is to use flexible caulking, prime it with exterior flat white, and then paint whatever you want. I already had the exterior paint for my house's trim and all the leftover paint from the other rooms. I decided to create a fantasy garden to match the floor at the front door landing. Zero cost, but very time consuming. I got a little crazy. It reminds me of a circus especially the ceiling. So cheerful!





I really want to paint this door RED!




Ceiling


Thursday, December 31, 2020

2020: Review and Resolution

 OMG! Where does one even start with the year 2020? 

THE GOOD STUFF:

BYE-DON! Dump lost; Biden won. I can't even explain what a relief this is. And we have a woman vice president. It's about time.  I can now go back to not stressing about politics and feel confident that adults will be back in charge very soon!

FREEBIES. I wrote a recent post on my hoarding. It's such a joy and practically the only public entertainment I have lately. Most recently I acquired a blender. It was ugly, formerly white, covered in old black and brown dried food. Nasty. Scary nasty. I brought it home and plugged it into an outlet outside. That's how scared I was! It worked. I kept my mask on, wore gloves, carefully carried it to the kitchen sink and with all kinds of tools (tweezers, Q-tips, scrubber pads, soap, rubbing alcohol...) worked on it for two hours. It now looks like new. SCORE! Love it. I wish I would have taken a "before" photo, but I was afraid of contamination!

FORCED SECLUSION. I love it! I love it that we are expected to stay in our houses and people aren't wandering around wearing their stink and poisoning everyone as much as they used to. I love there isn't as much air pollution. I love it the animals want to come out in the open since humans have disappeared. I love I no longer feel like a weirdo secluded in my house when everyone else is free and bragging about how free they are all the time. I love the camaraderie of everyone's misery.

EMPLOYMENT. I'm still employed. In the spring when this pandemic started a lot of people didn't know what to do and many were told to go home and isolate which shut down a lot of businesses. This caused me to be on a lengthy staycation since no one was hiring me never mind I work from home and could very easily have kept working. Thankfully the people I work for figured it out, learned to work from home, and never went back to the office! Work is slow and I've lost money, but so thankful I'm still employed when some people aren't and have run out of options.

PAINTING. Or pandemic peace of mind. Or happiness. Or sanity. I've painted rocks, lamps, floors, rooms, bulletin boards, paintings, tables, switch plates...if it has a surface, it's calling for some paint on it.



CONSTRUCTION PROJECTS. I got a lot done this year: fixed my fence, replaced deck boards, and stripped and refinished my living room floor. At times finding supplies was a challenge with manufacturing slowing during the pandemic and finding the energy or know-how to do the work, but I persevered and got things done! The living room remodel inspired me to clean other rooms, reorganize shelves and closets and do a basic make-over. Then I painted my office. Next maybe the kitchen. One room at a time....

I seriously love this room now!


GARDENING. I downsized and cleaned the whole garden and added bark to the walks. Beautiful. It makes me feel happy and content, first, because it's nice to look at and second because there is so much less work now.

 


CHRISTMAS CARDS. Last year a friend sent me a recycled Christmas card she made. OMG! What a brilliant idea!  I love finding new art projects and I went a little crazy. I send maybe ten cards to friends and a few to my favorite businesses...sometimes...when I'm motivated, but I made about forty cards most of them snarky since that's the kind of Christmas card I like and can never find. Many were political since this is an election year. I ended up participating in an online art show, although that wasn't a great experience, it was still time-consuming and a distraction from the world around me while it gave me a voice to rant my complaints about society.





GLASS MOSAICS. I was determined to use up my supply of glass and the last of my large frames so I could STOP doing glass mosaics. Although I do enjoy it, it's a very expensive art form and dangerous. I got tired of my hands cut up and infected. I felt very productive and proud to accomplish so many with so little supplies!

Immersion

Life is Not the Beach

Male Privilege
Season's of Love: The Fall


TILE MOSAICS. I have been collecting free, brightly colored plates all year. I wasn't really sure why. I loved the colors, but had no idea what I would do with them. Then all of a sudden I was compelled to take a hammer and break them! Doing glass mosaics made me curious about tile mosaics, or, in this case, creating decorative frames from broken dishes. This is free glass so cuts down on cost and the edges are not so sharp so less dangerous. Pulverizing dishes with a hammer is exceptional for stress relief. I also needed some new, different and colorful wall hangings for my newly painted and colorful rooms. I was tired of painting. Not sure if I'm excited about this new media yet, but it was experimentally fun.


NEW STOVE! I waited fifteen years to get rid of the mismatched, rat-infested stove/oven that came with the house when I bought it. It lasted a good amount of time before it started having problems...during a pandemic. I waited for the universe to send me a free one, and I actually was offered a free, used one but it was too old and I didn't feel comfortable. I was told the old ones are energy suckers, and, of course, if it dies having it hauled away would cost. Many of the big-box hardware stores' products were back ordered to next summer, but I found this outstanding small, mom-and-pop appliance store that had exactly what I wanted. The customer service was outstanding, the FREE delivery was outstanding, and the FREE haul-away-the junk was outstanding. What an outstanding experience. So rare these days! Merry Christmas to me!

FRAGRANCE-FREE FRIENDS: I am so thankful for my friends. One drove hours to deliver food to me when I was sick. Another drove hours to visit. Another bought art from me which helped my finances. I so appreciate their online conversations, support, and constant advice when I am in need. Thank you!

LIFE!!!!!!!! I AM ALIVE!

THE IN BETWEEN STUFF:

CONSTRUCTION WORKERS. I started running out of time and energy and hired two sleazy, lying workers to help remove and replace fence posts. What a waste of money! I know better, but I was worried I wasn't going to get it done and the fallen down fence repair was a priority. They did save me a lot of time and effort, but the expense was outrageous. Such a waste of money.

THE BAD STUFF:

THE PANDEMIC. Duh. It goes without saying. It's affected everyone on the planet and most would say this is the worst year in their lives. Even if we haven't experienced death or near-death illness first-hand, we are surrounded by it. The stress has infiltrated every facet of our existence. People are on edge either fighting to stay safe or fighting for their perceived personal rights. We are at each other's throats. We are inconvenienced in every way. Our health is constantly on the line as access to medical care is limited since all resources have gone to fighting this pandemic. Grocery shopping is a pain in the ass. Supplies are inaccessible. Going out in public is risky. Lack of income is affecting our ability to pay bills. This is all common knowledge by now. I had the coronavirus in the spring and continue to experience side effects that may or may not be serious, but thankful to be alive. My income suffered, but not nearly as much as others who have lost their jobs and/or homes. I'm so tired of the whiners complaining about how many parties and family functions they can't attend or how bored and lonely they are as if they aren't complaining about my normal chemically sensitive lifestyle. (Damn, I miss concerts!)

COVIDIOTS. For instance, my neighbors who send their grandkids to play outside my house during a pandemic. REALLY? A friend of mine went to a big family wedding and then had a big family Christmas gathering. People are tired and have stopped caring which also makes them apathetic to everyone around them. We live in a very self-serving world. I could list a million examples of the stupid, but more than likely you've seen them in the news or in your own neighborhoods.

DUMP. That incompetent, foolish, fake president needs to go away and his silly, unprofessional, immature, sociopathic antics need to go with him. Take all the white supremacists and treasonous GOP, too. His entitled family and rich cronies need to vanish. May they all disappear. I'm so tired of looking at his face or seeing constant complaints about him. Really tired of his ignorant, racist followers.

THE WAR. Yellow jackets, mice, rats, ants. Good lord. It's never-ending!

So...the year has sucked, BUT honestly, I look at this list and it's been a really good year for me!

New Year's Resolution....Simple....Just survive.



Wednesday, December 9, 2020

Hitting the Wall

The title has everything to do with walls, but no, I didn't actually hit my beautiful, newly painted wall. I love my newly painted room(s) so much I hesitated hanging anything so I got the bright idea I'd create matching art. First, the lamp:




Then I wanted more of this design and I became obsessed. The wall space behind the lamp needed something hanging since there is a nail there already.

So I'm loving my Happiness Room living room and loving the crazy patterns I'm creating, but I look at my office with the old olive green drab colors and think, Oh! It's a small room! It wouldn't take long to paint! I WANT MORE HAPPINESS IN MY LIFE! I bought another can of Horizon non-toxic interior Latex. Never mind how poor I am. The woman at the paint store asked what I wanted to call it. I said "Pandemic Purple". She tilted her head and looked disapproving. "Virus Violet?" She said, "How about lilac? I really like lilacs." We started talking about our love of lilacs and I failed to notice she overrode all my naming suggestions and went with "lilac". OK. Like a crazed painting maniac, kept painting.

(Ignore the olive green checker floor. I hope to have it stripped and refinished next summer and look just like the living room floor. And the blue in the kitchen...that's be gone sooner than later.)

And, of course, I need to paint my bulletin boards to match. Oh! And my art table! I've always wanted to paint the top of the art table! I keep painting...

The problem with painting all these accessories is I'm using a lot of the Latex interior paint samples which are NOT non-toxic. I know I have an expiration on how much I can handle, usually about two weeks, but it's been over three months since this all started and I'm feeling fine and overconfident. I've been wearing my mask, using gloves and being safe. Then I forgot to wear my mask. And then I wore a mask not good for chemicals. Then I hit the wall. My body became overloaded and unable to function. 

It started with back pain (liver) and like a brain-dead fool I kept asking myself, Is it something I'm eating? Then finally after days of working on the art table, I'm hit with insomnia, nerve oddities, and I'm feeling exhausted but up until four in the morning and again, I ask, Is it something I'm eating? You'd think I'd learn by now.  I kept painting because it's almost done and I just want it done. This is my office so I need to finish and then offgas the room so I can use it again, but the side effects become unbearable and it's clearly the paint. I start experiencing incredible nausea, head spinning, lung pain, and my teeth start hurting. I also urinate all night long every hour, but I do that when I eat something toxic, too. The side effects get worse and wearing a mask longer makes a difference. This is a poisoning. I stopped.




I moved the unfinished art table and bulletin boards to the sealed Happiness Room to air out (I really need my office which is also my entertainment center), and air all the rooms with fans alternating with heat. Immediately I was able to go back into the office without being hit with nausea.

I hit the proverbial wall. I'll wait a few weeks to unload the toxic body overload. I'll take a lot of hot baths, drink a lot of water, drink lemon juice, drink and eat beets and apples, go for fresh air walks, and stay away from paint! Maybe. Eventually I'll have to finish the table and bulletin boards and a lamp for my office and switch plates, oh! the living room needs another painting...and...and...and! And I have one more room to go...the kitchen!! Painting is my addiction.

ARGH!


Three days without painting I was fine and vowed to be very diligent about wearing a mask and keeping safe:


 


Monday, November 30, 2020

Coronavirus Crazy...So Many Ways to Poison People


My library was closed during the first pandemic lockdown. It took them months to figure out how to work with the restrictions so those of us secluded at home could have something to read or watch. Once I got through my stash of DVDs watching each movie TWICE, I became stir crazy. Facebook notices were posted about how essential the library is, but if it's closed during a lockdown, I guess not. 

At one point I emailed the library management with gentle suggestions and helpful tips to think out of the box so they could remain viable and relevant. The thought of all those DVDs sitting in transport boxes waiting to be sent to me drove me nuts. I was told, and I quote, "That's not our job description." I wanted desperately to reply, to scream, "But you are failing miserably at your job description now so thinking out of the box might be a better solution." I didn't. I just let it go. I've learned to choose my battles carefully.

Months later they opened with "take-out" option. This was easy during the summer. All activity was outside. They even rigged a door bell in the parking lot. This was perfect for me even during non-pandemic times. Social distancing and masks were required.

Recently they finally opened the front door and with plexyglass covering the check-out counters, one person at a time is allowed to browse the shelves or use a computer for exactly five minutes. Besides masks, the requirement to enter the library is to place your hands under the hand sanitizer.

I don't browse nor do I have any need to use a computer. Never have. Our library does have a fragrance free policy, but they forget. Librarians, library patrons and books wiped with someone's hand lotion or perfume stink. I order DVDs through the online holds, they arrive, and I pick them up. Again, take-out was perfect for me. However, with all their restrictions, the delivery of DVDs was reduced to once, maybe twice, a week. It can take weeks to get one DVD. So the other day I thought, Hmmmm...maybe I should browse? Especially since they let only one person in at a time.

The librarian said, "Would you like to browse for five minutes?" Followed by in a much louder tone, "DON'T FORGET TO SANITIZE YOUR HANDS!"

I don't hand sanitize. Putting chemicals on a chemically sensitive person's hands is idiotic. I know this, but I also know if I say anything I'd be grouped in with the Covidiots who are refusing to wear masks and lying about having disabilities to justify their bad behavior. So I keep my mouth shut.

I looked at the automatic spraying hand sanitizer (OMG!) and wondered silently, what's in it? I wanted to enter. I went out into my vehicle and got some plastic gloves. This is my procedure when I must hand sanitize at the food co-op: disinfect with either vinegar or hydrogen peroxide, protect my hands with gloves under the watchful eye of the store guard, sanitize, go directly to the restroom, remove gloves, wash hands for twenty seconds, put on new gloves that are located right outside the door. Pain in the ass, but I'll jump the hoops. I understand the importance of this, however, once again, the special needs of the chemically sensitive are being ignored.

I placed my gloved hands under the sanitizer and they were doused with what seemed like a gallon of stink spraying all over and into my nose. I felt the spray particles on my face! Oh shit. I rubbed them together desperately thinking I now needed to run to the nearest sink and wash. I lasted about ten seconds. The stink was overwhelming. I frantically removed the gloves and left the library.

What is in hand sanitizers? There are two types:

The first is ethanol or an ingredient called ethyl alcohol. This is grain alcohol and usually used to make distilled liquor. Oh, it might be fun to put some whiskey, tequila or gin on my hands! Well, not exactly. This is "denatured" alcohol so drinking it or licking it off your hands will make you sick.

The second type of hand sanitizer is made with isopropanol or isopropyl alcohol or what we know as rubbing alcohol.

Other ingredients commonly used in both hand sanitizer types: thickeners which are called carbomers or cross polymers, PH adjusters like triethanolamine or aminomethyl propanol (yuck), and moisturizing agents like vegetable glycerin (yuck), Vitamin E (gluten), or aloe leaf juice.

Last, but not in any sense least: FRAGRANCE. Not all hand sanitizers use fragrances, but if they are made with either essential oils or chemicals. It is advised to not use chemical fragrances (phthalates) as they could irritate one's skin. Yep. At least someone is thinking, but unfortunately the general population doesn't think so you know they will migrate to the smelly stuff as often as possible. Scented hand sanitizers are becoming popular. It is believed, like with all other products, if it smells good, people will be more likely to use it. 


The concentration requirement according to the FDA is 60% for maximum effectiveness. They do not recommend consumers make their own hand sanitizers, and highly suggest not to ever put household cleaners or disinfectants on your skin or in your body. In other words, do not follow the advise of that idiot president. Like perfumes, hand sanitizers are flammable. Make sure your hands are dry before continuing activities involving heat, sparks, static electricity or open flames. Smokers beware! If a hand sanitizer has either methanol or benzalkonium chloride in it, avoid it like the plague (pun intended). Children under six years old should not use hand sanitizers. Keep your sanitized hands away from your eyes and don't lick them. Good advice.


In Malaysia the latest fad is retail outlets are now using "aerosolization". Or disinfectant tunnels. Yep, you read that right! As you walk into the store your whole body is sprayed with chlorine bleach. This is along the same thought process as passenger airplanes being sprayed with pesticides while the passengers are on them. Or casinos and other businesses using scented products in their HVAC systems as a marketing strategy. Those in management are hoping to save time and money with mass sterilization thinking it's more effective. It's all about money and the bottom line. Malaysian officials and scientists have stated this practice is ineffective against covid, but can be harmful irritating the lungs and skin. The businesses still invest thousands of dollars on these machines and do it anyway. I know people who's extremities go numb if they get anywhere near bleach and, of course, many chemically sensitive can't use it at all without dire consequences. This is more evidence of the stupidity of people thinking more is better, and everyone needs to breathe poison, be dipped in it, or in this case sprayed down as if we are cattle.

The best way to sanitize one's hands according to the FDA: hand washing with hot water and soap. There is no evidence that antibacterial/antiseptic soap works better. Plain old soap and plain old water for twenty seconds.

Stay safe, not just from covid, but from all the stupid people trying to poison us.


Thursday, November 26, 2020

The Hoarder

For most of my adult life I've lived in tiny, one bedroom apartments with stark white walls and few closets. Minimalism was my middle name. I had little room for anything so gathering or stocking up on essentials or non-essentials was out of the question. Besides I hated shopping. I still hate shopping. 

Then in an attempt to rid myself of shared walls with toxic neighbors and dangerous landlords who want to spray chemicals or paint without warning, I bought a house. By my standards, a HUGE house. Three bedrooms. It was out in the middle of no where so the price was right. For years I had empty closets. I just didn't need all that room with so little possessions.

Well, all that's changed. My house is full. My closets are packed. I even have a garden shed and garage that is filled to the max. How did that happen? WHEN did that happen?

I love sunflowers!
It actually started as soon as I moved. Being disabled because of chemical sensitivity, unable to work and too close to homelessness at one point, that fear of impending financial doom is always in the back of my mind. Saving money any way I can is a priority. I've been a devoted customer of Freecycle and with a house that echoed, I started gathering. I love Freecycle and I started getting free furniture which inspired me to paint furniture which quickly got out of control. 

Then a few years ago the local junk store went out of business and started leaving their unwanted junk on the sidewalk with FREE signs. That was wonderful. Then I discovered the thrift store in the neighboring town puts all the donations they can't sell out in their carport with a huge FREE sign. I've become addicted. I love seeing what treasures are waiting for me. I've love bringing junk home cleaning, restoring, fixing, painting and giving the junk some tender loving care and a new life. It makes me feel resourceful and proud to find items I need and can use especially since much of it can be recycled for art projects. I don't even bother with yard sales anymore. Who wants to actually BUY something? They do often have free boxes for digging and that's where I head. Neighbors often put stuff out on the sidewalk with free signs. I have no qualms about digging through someone else's garbage. In fact, I come from a long line of dumpster divers! The rule is if I can use it now or in the future, take it as long as it's non-toxic or doesn't stink. Below are some of the items I've gleaned recently, in no particular order:

Tablecloths, kitchen towels, pot holders, cookware, bakeware, plates, cups, soup bowls, ceramic bowls, large brightly colored plastic bowls, crockpots, Elmer's glue, toothbrushes, dental floss, paint brushes, paint edgers, oil pastels, color crayons, pencils, greeting cards of all kinds, ribbon, florist wire, beads, jewelry, hair dryer, Christmas platters, sheets, fabric, pillows, books, magazines, paintings, bunny erasers, bird houses, chairs, footstools, vases, paper plates, plastic utensils, ceramic teapots, ceramic pitcher, pottery, toilet seats, t-shirts, turtle necks, hats, coats, socks, jeans, blouses, garden tools, phone covers, storage bins, files, craft supplies for 1st graders, coat hooks, sewing supplies of all kinds, yard furniture, spider web decorations for Halloween, one giant spider, rubber boots, Converse shoes, rugs, lamp shades, plastic mats, cutting boards, amphora, electric candles, Christmas ornaments, Christmas lights, Christmas beads, Christmas tree stand, wrapping paper, tissue paper, cafeteria tables, notebooks, dining room tables, Virgin Mary statue, toothpicks, felt pens, cane, dishracks, light cover, light switch covers, curtains, flashlight, and one really cool metal fan.

I have started collections. I've never been one for collecting anything so this is a new and wonderous experience and understand now why people collect things just for the sake of collecting. Not that I need to collect anything.... The first is gift bags. There are always gift bags to be had for free. They are usually unused, brand new, with fancy ribbons for handles, and cards attached. I don't know what I'll do with them. It's not like I give gifts to a lot of people. Some of them are absolutely gorgeous.

 I've also started collecting little decorated cardboard boxes, also for gifts. Yeah, between the wrapping paper, greeting cards, tissue paper, ribbons, gift bags and now gift boxes, I think I have gift-giving in my future. These boxes are really adorable:

I've become fanatical about frames of every shape and size. Initially I started collecting these because I volunteered to help kids at the fair put their art for the art show in frames. Because of the pandemic, the fair was cancelled this year so I have about 100 frames stuffed into a closet, but I can't stop taking them! Habits are hard to break! I limit my collection to only wood frames, although sometimes I take a frame only for the glass or matt board. Some frames are incredibly beautiful and intricate; some very old with lots of history. Every now and then I search through the frames and do a painting for one of them or create a mosaic. I'll never run out of frames! I'm considering doing something creative with them. Not sure what yet.

I looked for years for a lamp shade for an antique lamp and found one that matches it perfectly. (See top photo.) Then I thought it would be fun to learn how to redo shades so I collected about six.

Probably the weirdest things I started collection are old dish towels. Yeah, you heard that right. OLD dish towels. It started when I went to the store to buy dish towels. $7.00 each??!! Are you kidding? I thought maybe I could cut up a regular bath towel, but then I started finding them in the alley free pile at the thriftstore. They are often seasonal, fall or Christmas, so they are hardly used. I only take ones that are 100% cotton and don't have rips or tears. I do take those with stains, but I bring them all home and bleach them in the washer with hot water. If the stains persist, I use those for rags. So many of them are ugly, but that's part of their charm. LOL! I'm also fond of Christmas pot holders. LOL!

The one freebie I really, really like is an original oil painting by Eugene Kingman who was a professor at RISD in the 1940s according to online sources. The frame is beautiful. I don't think it's worth anything. It's a fairly small, non-descript, mundane landscape with no context, but I like it and I love that the artist has an online presence. I've tried emailing the website to find out more about the painting, but no one has responded. It even has a certification of authenticity on the back.

I found this painting, too, but it's not by anyone I can find online: 


It looks like it's Havana (?). Perhaps painted by an amateur painter (?) or street artist (?).  I'm guessing it might have been a tourist purchase. I just read a book on a 1950s African American painter who spent a lot of time in Havana painting so I felt a connection. It was a very popular destination for artists to go back then. I love the bright colors, but I'm not sure if I will keep it.

It's very weird to be a hoarder and I am hoping it doesn't get too out of control and I end up with trails through my house with junk piled to the ceilings. I've seen houses like that. It's definitely mentally ill. For me it might be a hormonal thing and I'm nesting or in some kind of survival mode. I can't blame it on the pandemic since this started long before. I love saving money especially when I find things I need. Still, trying to get enough supplies to weather this pandemic has been challenging. I'm just not a buyer so I'm not good at stocking up or self-centered hoarding. When my friend Girl Alive told me to go stock up on groceries and toilet paper, it still took me three trips to the store before I bought even an adequate amount...not counting the three year's supply of toilet paper I bought a year ago when I cancelled my Costco membership. That was a smart move!

Visiting a thrift store in a back alley is much safer than shopping with toxic people! My neighbor's garbage pile - much safer than shopping with toxic people. But free stuff is so wonderful!

Saturday, November 21, 2020

The Winter War Begins...


The floors in my house are white, with the exception of the newly re-finished living room floor which is now an amber wood color. People always grimace when they see the floors and ask, "Aren't they hard to keep clean?" I think white floors would be difficult for someone who never cleans, but I clean all the time.


When I first moved here I was talked into staining the floors a dark brown, so dark it was almost black. I hated it. Besides the fact it was dark which can be pretty dreary during our dark, wet, cold winters, I couldn't see the spiders. It freaked me out they could sneak up on me. So I stripped the floors and painted them white. The kitchen, laundry, mud room and downstairs bathroom are all white tile. I can see those black creepy little bodies a mile away now!

Yes, I love white tile. It's easy to wash. It's like doing dishes. And I don't have cats, dogs, kids or men walking in and out of my house with dirty shoes. I don't even wear shoes in the house.  I have no desire to track not only mud into my living space, but pesticides, herbicides or dog shit. Lately, I've had too many people complain when I ask them to take off their shoes, but I have yet to have anyone volunteer to clean the floors before they leave. I am tempted to post a sign on my door that says, "REMOVE YOUR FUCKING SHOES!" I am so tired of arguing with these people.


Will I ever experience a winter without a war? Summer wars include bumble bees, yellow jackets, hornets and wasps. Every winter larger animals move in and I've been infiltrated by opossums, mice, rats, and one year I had a cat living under my house. Looking back I think that cat was probably managing the rats, but hearing it run around the crawlspace all night did not give me comfort. It's a struggle to get rid of the freeloads and try to do it safely for both myself and the vermin. So far this year the critters have stayed away. (Knock on wood.)


This year it's ANTS! First time in fifteen years. If it wasn't for my white tile counter and floor, I probably wouldn't have seen them until they took over the whole kitchen and ended up in the food. They are so tiny they are nearly microscopic. They were coming in through under a window ledge (I think) in the pantry, traversing across the counter, down the cupboards, across the floor and up the garbage receptacle which is in the kitchen just outside the pantry. Thankfully, I don't keep food in the pantry - just toilet paper. Again, thank GOD for my white tiles or I might have never noticed them until it was a real mess.

So, how to get rid of them without poisoning myself? First, I cleaned out the garbage container and moved it to the other side of the kitchen up on a chair. They didn't like that and started marching INTO my lower cupboards searching for tasty treats. UGH! No snacks in those cupboards but I had to clean everything stored in there. (What a pain!)

I needed to try some natural deterrents, remedies that wouldn't poison me and would just keep them from wanting in the house. I read like spiders they hate peppermint so I washed the tiles down with peppermint oil. That worked for a couple hours then they were back. I kept washing, and they kept coming back. Not working.


I read vinegar will kill them on contact and deter them. I tried that, but I know vinegar can eat tile so I wasn't thrilled with the idea. I tried it once and it didn't faze them at a all, in fact, their troops seemed to multiply.

Cayenne pepper. In another dwelling I had an ant problem, bigger ants coming in from the garden into my ground level apartment. I tried all kinds of things and the only thing that worked was cayenne pepper in a line on the edge of my patio. But how do I place bright red cayenne pepper on my beautiful white tiles and grout without staining it? I tried putting it on just the tiles, but the ants just walked around it. Not working.

After a week of battle, I was at my wits end. I was done trying to deter them. It was time to bring out the big guns. I've used boric acid for cockroaches when I lived in Phoenix and it works great but you can't just leave a pile of it and expect them to eat it. They are smart. They won't. You have to dust their trails with it so they only walk in it. After the cockroaches clean themselves by licking it off their feet, they are dead. Boric acid is also toxic to kids and pets, and if you stick your hands in it and then eat it, poisonous to adults, too. I tried it on the big ants in my former apartment, but I don't think I did it right. I found a recipe online:

Wearing gloves, mix 8 teaspoons of sugar with 1 cup of warm water in a container you plan to throw away or can clean really well after. Instead of sugar, you can use maple syrup, molasses, honey, or anything you might have around the house that is sweet and yummy. Add 1/2 teaspoon of boric acid and mix well. Using cotton balls, soak up the mixture and place where the ants are coming in. I also added a bit of coconut flour because I figured if ants want to carry it back to the nest, they would poison the other ants.

I put the cotton balls on little pieces of plastic to 
keep them off the tile.

I also placed a small container under the house below where the window is located.   I also caulked around the window ledge, but I did worry they'd find another way in. Annihilating them seems to be the only solution as they are relentless.

They loved it. Yum. It took about 24 hours for the ants to all disappear, with a few stranglers every now and then. I've left the poison balls on the counter just in case...for now.