For several days we were waterlogged; the rain just seemed like it would never end. So I spent much of the weekend making a papier-mâché spider. Our friends, Kevin and Jill, will be coming state-side in a few days and will be here for Halloween. Jill’s family has a tradition of hanging a large spider, Borris, out of their window and scaring the shit out of trick-or-treaters. One year, Kevin actually scared a little girl who ended up being the daughter of one of my former Spanish teachers. This Spanish teacher always stood in front of the class, trying to discreetly scratch his balls and pick the scabs on his head while “teaching”. Then he’d go ignore us while he worked on charts for the track team. So, while I felt bad that a little girl had been frightened, I had a bit of satisfaction when I learned who her dad was. Karma’s a bitch, ball scratcher! Or, you know, a spider. Anyway, so in honor of their visit from jolly old England, I am making Borris 2.0. Of course, right now, he looks a bit more like the Buggalo on Mars.
I also finally received notification that my Daisy troop had been registered, complete with shiny troop number. Of course, that meant that I had to pull my head out from under my place of safety and start coordinating like a troop leader again. I avoided it for a couple of days, which made me a big old fun ball of anxiety that had to keep breathing deeply. I felt better once I put on my big girl panties and acted like a leader and sent coordinating emails. You wouldn’t think it would be so hard, but for me it takes forever to send emails. Since I have perpetual foot in mouth syndrome, I’m always worried about inadvertently offending someone whenever I write an email. I also want to strike a balance between authoritative and likable since, whether we stay in Girl Scouts or not, I will be in contact with these parents for, mostly likely, the next several years. But it was a bit easier once I took Mike and Jill’s advice: it’s better to be respected than liked and to be more like a benevolent dictator in running the troop. I was then able to get over myself and actually act like a leader.
Yesterday, the sun finally came out and started drying things up. So we took a walk as a family to rid ourselves of some cabin fever. The girls spent time trying to jump in puddles, (Zoë succeeded once. Me, trying to catch her, was like trying to make Jello move fast) looking at fuzzy caterpillars, millipedes, and daddy long legs, and leaf collecting. The creek we walked alongside was raised and flooded the path in some places. A couple of people rode up to a creek crossing on bikes and actually contemplated crossing.
I totally stood ready to video the disaster had they tried crossing.
Once we got back, it decided to try and get more pine cones for decorative and crafting purposes. I hit the mother load at some trees out on the main street of our neighborhood. I didn’t have any of my own bags with me, so I grabbed a bunch of bags the neighborhood provides to pick up dog poo. So I’m sure it looked like I was walking home with five giant bags of dog poo..with no dog. I had already successfully baked off some pine cones I had collected awhile back, but wanted to try another method of sap removal I had seen online. It entailed soaking the cones in water and vinegar for awhile, and then the sap was supposed to come off. But of course it didn’t. So I began the messy task of scraping off the sap. I ruined a pair of gardening gloves, covered Mike’s utility knife, and made a general mess. But after awhile, I discovered the key, which I will share with you now.
Step 1: Just go buy pine cones if you want them sap free. The time and effort isn’t worth it for free pine cones.
Step 2: You’re crazy like me and decide you want to do it the hard way anyway. Fill a bucket or sink with hot water and a cup of vinegar. The vinegar will kill any little beasties and germs. Before you handle the cones, cover your hands in non-stick vegetable spray. Remove any needles and place the cones in the water. Make sure the cones are completely submerged. Soak for at least 30 minutes.
The second time I soaked them, I submerged them under a bowl covered in plastic wrap.
Step 3: The sap on the cones should be gooey and ready to be scraped off. I found you get it off best when it’s wet, hot, and gooey. (That’s what she said. Hey oh!) You could use a utility knife covered in vegetable spray or your fingernails. I used my thumb nails, hands covered in cooking spray. Make sure you get the oil under your nails as well. Depending on how many cones you have, you may have to reapply the oil.
Step 4: Once each cone is scraped to your satisfaction, place it on several layers of newspaper to dry for a few days. The cones will open back up as they dry.
Step 5: Clean up. I was able to cover a rag in vegetable oil and clean all the sap out of my sink. Then wash the rag and sink in dish soap.
Step 6: Realize I was right at the beginning of this list and buy clean pine cones next time.
If you don’t mind sap glazing onto the cones, you can bake them in the oven. Cover a baking sheet in parchment paper or aluminum foil. Bake at 200 degrees for 20-30 minutes. The cones will open when they get hot. You can bake them more than once to get them to open more if they haven’t opened as much as you’d like the first time. Baking also kills the critters. Baking, and soaking to a lesser extent, will make your house smell like Pinesol.