how're you?

Me? I'm boring because the stomach has been hideous the last few days. That second brain needs some therapy. I suspect my kids will need therapy eventually, too. BUT I am only remarking on this now because I have found the perfect book for captivity.

Diary of a Provincial Lady by E.M. Delafield. It's a blog from the 1920s, I swear. I love this book. I got it from a library yard sale so it smells slightly mildewy which matches the story set in drizzily England. Still, once I'm released from current confinement, I'm putting it out in the sun with lots of baking soda. See? It's inspired me to talk about household matters.

* * *

Big plan for the day: Chop down the peach tree I planted four years ago. The tree is happy, healthy and terrific. Every summer it ends up loaded with peaches. Just about the time the fruit gets to the right size and starts to ripen, the squirrels eat every last peach. AND just to add injury to insult, the buggers break open the pits and leave jagged bits of peach pits all over the deck.

No way I'll be able to outsmart the local squirrels. These guys are ruthless and aggressive. Every plastic garbage can in the neighborhood has squirrel-sized holes in its lid. I'd leave the tree in place because the flowers are pretty and I don't actually hate the squirrels, but the yard is small and the tree takes up a lot of the sunny space.

* * *

Are you still here? I haven't bored you YET?

Oh, okay, so here's another household story. After all, he's expecting me to. . . I don't want to disappoint the husband who said, in a snide, gloomy voice, you'll put it in your blog, of course.

The ongoing saga in our house..... "sponges, and how to kill the off bacteria that stink them up."
I put wet sponges in the microwave, hit the setting for small popcorn (three minutes) and push start. I like to do this partly because the microwave display blinks "ENJOY!" when that setting's done. Nothing like opening up and finding a foamy sponge. (Popcorn's the only setting that gives any kind of advice at the end the cycle.)

The husband hates this. Not the ENJOY! part, the whole microwave issue. He has clipped bits from the newspaper to show me how inflammable sponges are. They're made of cellulose which is WOOD! which is fuel! He's reminded me of the time the microwave caught on fire when I was melting crayons.

He's lectured me, even said in a particulary unpleasant tone, don't do this in my house. He has badgered me about this every time he's caught me, which is often because I nuke the sponges every few days. I try to do it when he's not around. But because we've been together more than 25 years, I tend not to pay as close attention to the lectures as I once might have. To get him off my case, I did finally promised never to leave the kitchen when cooking the sponges.

This morning I woke up to a beeping smoke alarm and a bluish haze. My husband came upstairs, turned off the alarm and gave me a present--one of the best in all our years together. He admitted that he'd been decontaminating sponges. The thing that caught on fire and filled the house with smoke was a pan that had been full of water and sponges. He'd put the pan on the stove and forgotten about it. The reeking smoke was pure bliss and so is the sight of the charred ex-sponges.

The only disappointment from the incident: my call from K. She works with Mike, so naturally I had to tell her every detail of the story. Her response: You two deserve each other. Why the fuck don't you throw smelly sponges away?


  1. I put mine through the dishwasher on the "heavy sanitize" cycle. I'm guessing that's not an option in your house?

    Soak them in bleach, maybe?

    But throw them away -- no. Perfectly good, useful sponges? That's two bucks I can use to buy ink cartridges, paper and tequila, yo.

  2. azteclady2:28 PM

    I had to laugh at the question, but in the main, I just can't throw away anything that can be reused--no excuses, no exceptions.

    I don't much use sponges myself (prefer washcloths, which I then soak in a borax solution overnight prior to washing). But one of my friends does the dishwasher thing like Selah.

    The GREAT thing about borax (other than how cheap it is), is that it can use to clean pretty much anything, take of smell off things, and help control pests--from fleas to dust mites.

  3. Re what azteclady said, another plus of borax is that it's less toxic than bleach, if I'm not wrong.

    Hmm... How about buying more sponges and doing a whole load of them in the washing machine every now and then?

    PS Thanks for the laugh. I needed it.

  4. The trouble is my dh is a microbiologist and he loves doing experiments. I used to do sponges in the dishwasher but he didn't like that. Said that it only spread the icky bacteria to the rest of the plates.

    I said so what, it's not like I use the DISH sponge on the floor. Everyone in the dishwasher is sharing the same germs. I mean, really, when you live with Dr Microbacteria, you have different sponges for different surfaces.

    He managed to prove to me (with his usual plates of agar and growing colonies etc) that the dishwasher doesn't do the trick--bacteria survive that wash cycle and it barely makes a difference with the sponges.

    The only way to really kill off the bugs is by boiling them for at least a full minute.

    He also regularly reports that there is more fecal bacteria (e coli) on bean sprouts than on ground beef and that there's evidence of fecal contamination in the dog's water bowl.

    To give him some credit, it's not like he obsessively checks our house (unless he wants to show me How Wrong I Am about something). He does food labs featuring sprouts, meat and dog water with his students.

    K, his friend and mine, is also a microbiologist. She cleans everything with bleach and paper towels.

  5. oh and when you use bleach, bits of sponge come off whenever you wash anything.

  6. Okay, I'm soooooo glad I don't use sponges. I know way more about household bacteria than when I started this process. I will be buying lots of bleach and boiling lots more water.

    I did have to laugh about the lectures though. After 27 years GG sometimes likes to throw the 'because I said so' at me. It's usually breaks the tension pretty well because we end up laughing like loons.

  7. Fascinating, Kate. And more than a little alarming. I assumed the "sanitize" cycle on my dishwasher did just that -- sanitize stuff. Another illusion shattered courtesy of the Intrawebs.

    Borax, huh? My father used to keep a bottle of that stuff next to the sink to wash his hands. When I was fifteen, I started using it on my face. Did a bang-up job on the acne. I'll have to invest in some. Thanks for the tip, azteclady. :)

  8. azteclady9:28 PM

    may, borax is actually very toxic if ingested, so it should be used with care around food, pets and young children/pregnant women.

    Selah, you are welcome ;)

    It has no scent but it helps neutralize/eliminate odors in mattresses, couches, etc, and a borax solution looks pretty much like clean water, but it literally boosts other cleaners/chemicals performance.

    I don't know how to do proper links, but here are a couple good places for more info:

  9. I am a germaphobe. If it stinks, I toss it in the garbage. Now if I can only figure out how to detach my feet and throw them out.

  10. Hee Hee.

    Just giggling along here. No pithy comment to add to the mix other than: hee hee. Burnt sponge.

  11. Death to sponges, I say.

    Much Love Always,
    Rose Marie Wolf

  12. I love irony. :-)

    I toss my sponges in the washer with my white towels, on hot, with bleach.

    But I'm the one who horrified my mom by letting the boys play on the floor as babies when it was less than dirty. Always wondered why my kids never got lots of colds and stuff, compared to my sister's daughter, when my sister sanitizes EVERYTHING.

  13. KateR, how exactly does a microbiologist sanitize his dishes? The ecoli in the dog isn't at all surprising since dogs lick butts.

    Selah! Borax on your face? Seriously?

    I thought it was an old wives tale that borax killed fleas.

  14. He also regularly reports that there is more fecal bacteria (e coli) on bean sprouts than on ground beef and that there's evidence of fecal contamination in the dog's water bowl.

    Tell that man the same thing I told my mother when she asked, Was your childhood really that bad?

    "What does not kill me, makes me stronger."

  15. You don't have to nuke sponges into meltdown for the nuking to work. As I understand it, it's the radiation, not the heat,that kills the bacteria. I nuke mine for about 40 seconds. They get hot to the touch, but that's it, and the come out sterilized.

  16. All this about sponges and no one has commented on Diary of a Provincial Lady?? I'm so glad you found it because it is so brilliant! And you're dead on about the blog thing-- there was even an article in the New Yorker a couple of years ago that bascially called Delafield the first blogger. (Not that it being in the New Yorker always makes it so, or anything. Just this time.)


Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

what I'm talking about above--the letter in RWR

My Writing Day with an Unproductive Brain