Archive for August, 2012

The Owl in the Night

Saturday, August 11th, 2012

THE OWL IN THE MIDDLE OF THE NIGHT

As is often the case, I was wide awake the other night, when I would rather have been sleeping.

But the anxieties that usually visit me at such times were suddenly stilled.  The low, nighttime din of insects had been pierced by a sweet whistling.  Beginning on a high note, the whistling continued, each note lower than the last.  After seven or eight notes, the whistling stopped.  Then, a few moments later, it resumed in the same way, starting high and ending low.  After several trips down the scale, each sequence followed by a pause, the pattern changed.  Now the whistling was one low, sustained note, filled with vibrato!  It sounded absolutely quivery.

The owl doing the whistling must have been very near, closer than I can remember ever hearing an owl in the 14 years we have lived on this ridge in the Shenandoah Valley.  I lay in bed, listening intently, thrilled to listen to an owl’s nighttime calls.  Insomnia had paid off!

After what must have been more than a minute, the owl stopped its whistling.  And the night was the same again, silent, except for the ongoing summer sounds of the insects.

But I was different.  My anxiety had been replaced by deep joy.  Happy, I drifted into a pleasant sleep.

P.A.  I think the owl I heard was a barred owl.–April Moore

Cheers for Humble Baking Soda

Monday, August 6th, 2012

My cousin recently showed me how I can clean my glass stove top with baking soda instead of specialized stove top cleaner. Since then, I have been thinking that there are probably many household uses for the humble sodium bicarbonate. A simple compound, baking soda is likely much more benign than many household cleaners that come with warnings to avoid contact with skin or eyes.

I went online, and sure enough, I found dozens of around-the-house uses for baking soda. Here are a few of my favorites, taken from the website, TIPNUT.

**Whatever type of stove top you have, if it’s crusty and gross, baking soda can save the day. Generously sprinkle the stove top with baking soda. Then spray with hot water, enough to dissolve the baking soda without making it run all over. Let the mixture sit for about 30 minutes. Then you should be able to scrub the stove top clean without difficulty.

**Remove coffee mug stains. Just wipe the cup’s inside with a wet cloth. Then rub with baking soda. If stains are stubborn, pour in hot water mixed with baking soda, and let sit overnight.

**If the usual cleansers you’ve tried don’t do the job on bathtub stains, make a miracle paste of baking soda and bleach. Apply the paste to a wet sponge and wipe down the tub.

**If you’ve been using toxic Soft Scrub on your stainless steel sink, you can stop. The sink will get just as clean by sprinkling it with baking soda and then rubbing the sink with a damp sponge.

**You can even freshen stale-smelling luggage with baking soda. Sprinkle baking soda inside the suitcase, close it, and then reopen after a day or two. Odors will be gone, and you can just vacuum up the baking soda.

**Make your own air freshener spray by mixing 2 cups of hot water with 1/8 cup of baking soda and 1/2 cup of lemon juice. Shake to dissolve, and simply spray in your home as needed.

**You can remove rust from cast iron cookware by using baking soda as a scouring powder.

**Water stains on wood can be removed by making a paste with a few drops of water and baking soda. Rub the paste into the stain, and then wipe off.

**When the sink drain is clogged, solve the problem with baking soda. First, remove as much water as you can from the stopped-up sink. Toss 1 cup of baking soda down the drain, and follow it with 1 cup of white vinegar. Plug the drain with a sink stopper and let it sit for a half-hour. Then, unplug the sink and pour a kettle of hot water down the drain.

**When the dog smells less than sweet, you can make a doggy deodorizer with baking soda. Mix 1/2 cup with 2 cups of water. Soak a bandana in the solution, and then let the bandana dry in the sun. Tie the bandana around the dog’s neck to help keep odors at bay.–April Moore

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