Monday, August 25

Let There Be Light 3: Now With Less Gnat

Tennessee mountain summers are a lot like Tennessee mountain winters.  Both are odd and unpredictable and certainly nothing like California.  Now granted I've been living outside of California for half of my life, having moved out at 22 and now being...gulp...44.  But I think those first 22 years were rather formative and continue to be my touchstone for all things weather related.  And before you get carried away, I lived in the Bay Area of northern California.  We had seasons.  Sort of.  Mostly involving varying degrees of dampness.

Each Tennessee mountain summer is a bit different than the previous summer, which was different from the summer before that, and so on and so forth.  One major difference is the species of insect we will have to learn to live with.  The Summer of the Flea was one I'll never forget and hope to never repeat.  Out of desperation we dusted our house with diatomaceous earth-- so help me I'm still vacuuming the fine powder out of crevices between the wood floor planks.  Then there was the summer we were inundated with ladybugs.  Great piles of them formed on window sills and as they climbed over one another-- inside trying to get out and outside trying to get in.  They liked to commit suicide in our chandeliers at an alarming rate.  We'd try to put them out before they could jump, but then the ones trying to get in would take their place.  It was sort of sad really.  Dead ladybugs just seem wrong somehow.

This year, we've been invaded by gnats.  Little no-see-ums and slightly larger yellow ones that bite.  Swarms of them appear in random spots across our yard.  I tried to get a picture so you'd believe me, but they seem to resist photographing like vampires.  You can be walking down the street downtown in a sweet maxi dress and sandals, feeling pretty and soaking up the sun, then BLAMM-O, you get a face full of gnats.  You can't really see them unless the light hits them just right, the tricksy little bastards.  They are nature's ninjas.

Inside we've managed to avoid swarms, but that doesn't mean they aren't here.  You never see them until you are cutting fruit or vegetables or trying to enjoy a glass of sweet tea or wine.  It has gotten so I just fish them out of my glass with the tip of my finger and flick their rotten little corpses to the floor without a second thought.  Which is disturbing.

We were having a bunch of folks over for D-n-D night (including my sister and her husband, who've joined the motley crew) and I was mortified at the thought of gnats swarming the hors d'oevoures.  I am trying to maintain a certain level of sophistication, you know.  So I thought I'd get some citronella candles, which, I also thought, was rather a clever idea.  Unfortunately all the citronella candles I could find looked like they belonged on a patio or at a campsite-- neither of which describes Cecilia's living area.  

I picked up two of these at the local grocery and decided to try and fix them.  Cos that's how I roll, yo.

I had all the supplies already.  I honestly didn't think much about the decorating bit beyond a vague desire to un-patio them.  In my head I just got as far as white spray paint.  I have a ton of white spray paint.  Walmart was having a sale a few weeks ago, $.99 a can.  Seriously.  How awesome is that.

I removed the pail handles before painting, and left the inside of the can as-is for obvious I-don't-want-to-burn-Cecilia-down reasons.  Then I hot glued  yellow bias tape that I had bought years ago for a dress project that went horribly awry around one (covering the holes where the handles had been attached) and stuck the finished product on our trunk/coffee table.  For the one on the dining room table I glued on some rick rack left over from a table runner I made out some damaged vintage linen.  

And you know, they worked.  We had them lit for the party, naturally, and they did their job.  But even afterwards, and unlit, they still seem to keep the gnats away.  Pretty cool.

Speaking of spray paint, I've been using tons on old jars, glass vases and bottles.

They are going to be part of our Christmas decorations this year--so you'll have to wait until later to see the finished design.  Its going to be cool.  It looks totally awesome in my head.  But then, so do a lot of things. 

Remind me to tell you about the time Mom and I tried to build a bookshelf.

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  1. You are such the clever girl! I love all of your pretty painted candles and jars. I understand your bug situation, because my parents live by a lake. Lots of spiders and flying little guys. It's nice to keep the windows open for fresh air, but for a couple of weeks this summer, if you kept them open (even with screens) you'd have little bugs all over your computer screen/iPad/TV. I watched a movie on my iPad under the sheets. ;)

    1. Ew. Spiders *shudder* We can open the windows during spring, but they stay firmly shut in the summer because of the bugs. Sigh.

  2. Gah how smart are you? Looks great!


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