Thursday, January 11, 2007

One step forward, two steps back...

Hi there, sorry about yesterday - another day of Dot getting up at five so I just had to have an early night.

So, I was absolutely thrilled when I got home to PA - the hubby had headed home a week before us, and Dot and I returned to find the house sparkling like a new pin. It was amazing - the kitchen sink and the bathtub had never been cleaner.

And then I got suspicious. How had he got everything so much cleaner than I ever could? There was only one possible explanation... "You used bleach!" I said accusingly.

"Yeah, and?" he replied, "it was under the kitchen sink."

"That was there from when we moved in, left over from the old owner and you know we're not supposed to use bleach," I said.

"That's ridiculous, it got everything clean which is more than you can say for all that weird shit you use," he countered, not entirely erroneously. "So, what, we're never meant to use bleach again?"

"No," I said, "never."

You know what this means: it means I'm going to have to start experimenting with homemade concoctions pronto as the only way I'll win this argument is by proving I have a valid alternative. So thanks to Pen who posted the following handy hints in the comments:

1. For baths and basins, use bicarbonate of soda - it's ideal for tougher stains. You can mix a paste or use as a diluted solution depending how bad the problem is.
2. Tea tree, citrus, sage and eucalyptus oils are natural disinfectants. Great for floors, work surfaces and shower tiles. Use 2 - 4 drops in a bucket of boiling water.
3. White wine vinegar cleans glass and tiles and removes stains on cups and teapots.
4. Table salt works as a mild disinfectant and makes a fantastic mild abraisive. Mix into a thick paste for better results.
5. Use hot water and plain soap flakes with a little washing soda as an all pupose cleaner. Simple but effective.

I'll get to work with the bicarb tomorrow and keep you updated.

Regretfully the re-emergence of bleach in our lives was not the only backward step. I suddenly realized I'd spent the first two days back switching off lights, heaters, the computer printer and the TV, and that like some bad French farce, they were being switched back on again the minute my back was turned. I found this deeply depressing not just because I felt a bit like I was dealing with a small child and I hate being a boring old nag, but also because if my own hubby is still leaving the house lit up like the Brighton Pavilion, what hope is there for the rest of us?

I was brooding on all this as we drove to the city (I know, more driving) yesterday for a quick bit of work I needed to do. The hubby must have noticed my morose demeanour because he asked what was wrong.

"I'm depressed," I opined, a bit melodramatically.

"Anything I can do to help?" he asked kindly. Oh dear. Wrong question.

"Well actually, as a matter of fact, yes," I said. " You can tell my why it is that I still have to go round the house turning off lights when you know how bad it is for the environment and you know the environment is my thing."

"I turn the lights on because when I get up with Dot at 6.30 it's still dark and the lights make it cozy," he replied, defensively.

"Well that's fair enough, and you are amazing for getting up early with Dot, but I'm talking about them being on when there's sun pouring in through the windows at 11 in the morning in rooms we're not using," I said.

"Well maybe I don't get round to turning them off, and anyway I just like having lights on, I think it makes the house cozier and I like it to be cozy," he said.

That was it for me. "What are you talking about?" I said, getting up on my soapbox. "Cozy?! Do you not realize what's going on here? Did you not read about the ice shelf collapsing and the polar bears becoming extinct and all the rest of it? When are people going to realize how serious this is? Well, soon enough we'll have electricity rationing and then you'll be buggered."

"Or we can get solar panels on the roof and then I can have the lights on all day, and anyway I thought we'd bought wind power" he countered in a tone which implied he thought he'd caught me out.

"But solar panels are yet more stuff in circulation which one day has to be disposed on and will end up in landfill," I said. "And we do have wind power but you can't cover the entire surface of the planet in windmills, so we have to cut consumption too."

I remembered my mother in law'd told me I was onto a losing battle with this one, and my sister in law had emailed to say T had always liked the lights on, even since they were little children. I sighed and closed the discussion the way I always close it, with the biggest insult I can think of.

"You're as bad as George Bush," I said.

But actually, after today's news I take that back. Very few people are as bad as GWB, least of all my husband.

But if he could just try to turn the lights off now and then....

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