megpie71
megpie71
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October 2019
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A Household Hint

I've been made unemployed again (my contract expired at the end of last month - if you're hiring admin staff in Western Australia and need someone three days a week, let me know!) so I'm spending a lot of time at home. This is (fortunately or unfortunately) currently coinciding with a bout of rather nasty pain from my right temporo-mandibular joint, which means I'm currently drinking one heck of a lot of tea in an effort to keep things from getting entirely too painful[1]. Plus, of course, it is SPRING in Australia, and it's been about three years since the rear courtyard and steps of our place were sprayed with weed-killer. So in order to be dealing with the combined problems of a) boredom; b) too many weeds in the paving; and c) no money to spend on weed-killer, I've been using what I call "the poor person's glyphosate" on the weeds in the rear paving.

What is the poor person's glyphosate? Boiling water. To kill weeds in paving, pour boiling water over them until they start to either a) wilt; b) smell like cooking greenery; or c) both. If it's a really big, bushy weed, pour the water over the base of the plant - kill that and you'll get the rest of it, trust me.

This has several advantages over commercial weed-killers. Firstly, it's entirely non-toxic to the rest of the garden (and to the gardener, for that matter). The thing which is killing the weeds is the heat, not the chemicals - the water itself is entirely non-toxic to the garden when it cools down past boiling point. Secondly, it's not toxic to animal life (if you have pets or fish, you can use this particular weed-killer with no problems whatsoever - just keep them out of range for about five minutes while things cool down). Thirdly, it's also a nice, non-toxic way of dealing with the ants in the paving (pour boiling water down an anthill to give the ants the hint you're not interested in having them excavating Right There). Fourthly, it's cheap and easy. Or at least, it's certainly a lot cheaper and easier than buying commercial weed-killer and using that would be.

Essentially, what I've been doing is each time I boil up the kettle for a cup of tea, I've been taking the remaining hot water out the back door while the tea brews, and pouring it onto a clump of weeds. So far I've managed to clear the back steps, and I'm getting started on the paving nearest the door to the house. At this rate, I'll hopefully have everything cleared by about the end of the next week or so. Then I can get started on the front paving, and clear a bit of that.


[1] Long story short-ish: the temporo-mandibular joint is inflamed, which refers pain to the nerve on the right hand side of my jaw, which means if I'm not taking regular painkillers, I wind up with everything from my wisdom teeth to the front edge of my right incisors aching like blazes. Including the upper pre-molar which was removed a few years ago. It's a bit annoying, to put things mildly. (Actual joint pain: about a 2 - 3 out of 10. Once the teeth get involved: easily a 6 - 7 out of 10, if not higher). This only gets worse if my right ear or the right side of my jaw get cold. Hence hot liquids as a palliative measure.

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Cos I'm Working for the Dole, Working for the Do-hole...

As a dole-bludging layabout, perennial leaner who is failing/refusing to "have a go", and parasitical drainer of the Australian taxpayer, the time has come once again for me to perform public penance for the sin of being unemployed and (apparently) unemployable. I'm working for the dole again.

This time around, I'm cooking for the homeless. I did my first day of it on Thursday. I'm working in a commercial kitchen space for a charity group; the charity group are hiring the kitchen space from the Uniting Church, and there's apparently supposed to be about twenty-five of us in the group. On Thursday there were three of us, and we were still having to dodge each other a lot of the time - by the time they get up to twenty-five people into this rather small and not-air-conditioned space, in the middle of the Australian summer... well, let's just say it's going to be standing room only, and pass things from hand to hand, and we'd better be allowed to keep water bottles on hand so we don't all keel over from heat exhaustion.

On Thursday we basically did baking (Carrot Cake muffins from one person; ANZAC biscuits from me; and the bloke in the group was doing a spaghetti sauce, I think) which was frozen for future use, and we took inventory of what we had for cooking with. Everything is donated, which means we have some interesting oversupplies, and some interesting little blank spots. For example, the ANZAC biscuits were made without coconut, because we didn't have any - instead, we gave 'em extra rolled oats. The icing for the cupcakes was supposed to have cream cheese in, but because they didn't have any of that, the person making them threw in extra butter. It's an exercise in figuring out what can and what can't be done with what we have. Lots of substitutions. The take-away lesson I'm getting from this is if I'm going to donate to a service like this, I'm going to be giving money rather than goods (or at least looking for a shopping list or similar from them).

We had disposable plastic aprons to be wearing, which after about ten minutes tended to start sticking to my chest (perils of v-necked t-shirts in such a situation) from the amount of perspiration I was pouring out. I've dug out the two cloth aprons I have from home, and I'll be using those in future. At least with a cotton apron, I know it's not going to stick to me.

One of the little facets of this job that I wasn't strictly prepared for was it's all standing work. Now, the last time I had to stand for long periods as part of doing my job was back when I was working checkouts, in August 1996. After a twenty-two year break, my feet aren't happy with the whole business, and oh boy did they let me know about it. Fortunately, I remember the trick for dealing with sore feet from back in my checkout days - about ten to fifteen minutes of laying down with my feet higher than my head, which allows things to drain a bit, and drastically reduces the throbbiness of things. Also, lace shoes loosely, because tightly laced shoes cut off circulation toward the end of the day.

Another thing I've learned: apply sunscreen before leaving the building on the way home. Due to fun and games down on Albany Highway with pipes and things (the Water board are having so much fun down there) the buses aren't running their usual routes to and from town. Which means while I have about a 300m walk to the bus stop in the morning (8.30am start, which means I'm leaving home around 7.30am in order to get there on time in the morning), on the way home at night, I have something like a four block walk back from Albany Highway to where I'm living on the other side of Berwick Street (or it's a four block walk back down Berwick Street from Balmoral Street). I didn't realise this on Thursday, and got a little sunburned (hottest day in months, and we were sent home early due to lack of work to do).

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