December 16, 2020 – Things People Recommend

Need to get a solid night’s sleep for once? Would you like my recommendation? Two capsules of Melatonin, my friends. Two capsules and you’ll sleep like a spanked baby! Yes! I finally slept for a decent amount of time, 9 hours to be precise. It was w-o-n-d-e-r-f-u-l!! I’ve got a little more pep in my step and definitely feel much better emotionally than I did yesterday. Thank goodness! And speaking of recommendations, I’ve been thinking about all of the things people have ‘recommended’ to me over the years. It’s amazing how much information you can get just by asking. And before the internet was the place to research ‘how to do this’ and ‘how to do that’, the general sources to acquire that information were your family, friends, neighbors, clergy, shopkeepers, craftsmen or even from the glossy pages of a magazine. The funny thing about ‘recommendations’ is that sometimes they are fantastic! “Hey, Joe! Thanks for telling me about Dr. Such-n-Such. He’s been a lifesaver. We love him!” And then there are others, countless others, that don’t necessarily work out so well. I’ve had the opportunity to experience both. One had near disastrous results.

When you relocate, getting the ‘skinny’ from the local townsfolk is critical. You’re having to start completely anew and who better to ask? The folks that have already lived there! Why reinvent the wheel when all you have to do is ask a simple question. That’s what we did when we moved to our current home in a brand new town. We had to start from scratch in every possible way, so we asked around. And in no time at all, we had a skilled doctor, a gentle dentist, and an honest and reliable auto mechanic. But there were still so many other things to figure out. Where to go to get a haircut or who sells the freshest produce or which stores offer a military discount or when is the best time to go to the DMV? If the local townsfolk aren’t able to provide the answers, no problem! Try the next best thing, the internet. All you have to do is ‘hop on’ the internet and type in a question and just like that, your questions will be answered! You can learn everything from how to make a cheap and easy pork roast that tastes delicious to how to stop a leaky faucet to how to learn Spanish to how to completely rebuild a fiberglass boat.

Before the internet? It was a crapshoot. You had to rely on the people you knew to ‘provide the answers’, whatever they might be. And the ‘sound’ advice they provided you couldn’t necessarily count on as being ‘sound’ or ‘reliable’. When I lived in Spain a hundred years ago, we lived in base housing that was located in the city of Madrid. My neighbors were servicemen and their wives. And of those people, I knew very few. The home we lived in was in a pretty sad state. Aside from being cockroach infested, the outer walls of the 4-plex were made of crumbling stucco and the interior was pretty bare bones. The kitchen consisted of old wooden cabinets that were painted white, countertops that were covered in 4 x 4 white ceramic tile, an older stove/oven and a sink. It wasn’t anything fancy but it met our needs. But the one thing that drove me nuts was the countertop. All of that dirty grout! I guess at one time it was white like the tiles but it hadn’t been white for a very long time. I tried everything I knew to clean that grout. Nothing worked. And if you knew me, you’d know I don’t give up so easy. There’s always a solution! Don’t have the answers? Just ask around!

I asked around. But as I mentioned earlier, I didn’t have many ‘sources’ to work with. Every bit of info I got was either from my husband or from one of the wives that lived in base housing nearby. And I didn’t know that many as it was. But I did have a gal perk up one day when I asked the question and she had the BEST recommendation! Mix equal parts bleach and ammonia. It’ll work like a charm. Fantastic! I had both in my kitchen. And I was ever so grateful. The first chance I had, I got to work. I was going to have the cleanest countertops they’d ever seen in that housing development! I just happened to have a brand new (full) jug of bleach along with a brand new (full) bottle of ammonia under the sink, so I collected each one and set them on the countertop. And then I contemplated how to mix the two together. The solution I came up with was to empty out half of the bleach bottle and then pour the ammonia in to replace it. Once I poured out half the bleach into a separate container, I removed the lid from the ammonia and started to pour it directly into the jug containing the bleach. Some of you already know the outcome and cannot believe I would do such an idiotic thing, but some of you might not know, so I will indulge you.

Do you want to know what happens when you mix bleach with ammonia? A cloud of smoke, alarming in size, will escape from the mixture and ‘spill’ out. This smoke is toxic. Very toxic. Toxic enough to kill you if you don’t run outside and get away from it fast enough. It’s bad news. And that is exactly what happened when I followed the recommendation of one of the military wives. I thought all along she was trying to be helpful. Now I wonder if she had it in for me. I NEVER asked her for advice after that. But I do have to tell you, I sure wondered if (at some point) she had taken out an insurance policy on me with her as the beneficiary. Despite all of that, I haven’t been deterred from trying to find better ways to do things over the years. I don’t want to have to reinvent the wheel. I still ask around but I’m a little more wary than I was before. And of course, having access to the internet has been a big plus! You can get right to the heart of the matter and not waste any time by pulling up YouTube or Google or Bing (you name it!) and figure out how to do just about nearly anything. And when I recently acquired my Mom’s old Stifel floor lamp that was mostly green, that’s the very thing I did.

“How to clean brass with household products,” I typed in. Bam! In seconds, I had all kinds of recommendations. And the one thing that I found many people used, that I happened to have in my refrigerator, was ketchup. Woo-hoo! I won’t have to go to the store and it’s good for the environment. After removing the shade and unscrewing the light, spreading a bunch of newspaper on the dining room table and placing the lamp on top, I got busy. I squirted at least a half bottle’s worth of ketchup into a bowl and started applying it generously to every brass surface with a soft cloth. As instructed, I waited at least an hour for it to work its magic. After an hour? I started to remove a little but it didn’t look as though anything had happened. Maybe I didn’t wait long enough? Maybe I should wait another hour? I waited another hour, long enough for the ketchup to start to dry out in several places and then I began to remove it. Do you think the result was any different? No. No, it wasn’t! The brass was still dirty, even after massaging the ketchup into the surface with vigor. At this point, I was starting to work up a pretty good sweat but I had lost all faith in the ketchup by then so I started the long, frustrating process of removing it all.

Once I had removed all of the ketchup, I looked for another solution. “Hey, I’ve got some brass cleaner out in the garage. Let me grab it!” my husband offered. Where was he before I wasted all of that time with the ketchup? Moments later, brass cleaner in hand, I went back to work. Surely, this is going to make it shine! It’s ‘brass cleaner’ after all. Haha! The joke was on me. Some company is making a whole lot of money selling a product that’s supposed to do something but in actuality, does nothing at all! I learned this after applying it to the entire brass surface and massaging it in with plenty of elbow grease and ending up with the same results as the ketchup. Great. ‘This’ is how I wanted to spend an entire day. “Wait a sec,” my husband said after sensing my frustration. “If I remember correctly, that stuff didn’t work for me either but I think I have something that does.” Seriously? Now he remembers that it didn’t work? Now that I’m drenched in sweat and exhausted? Sigh. A couple of minutes passed and this time he returned with a different container. “Try this,” he said. “This should do it.”

Do you need to clean some brass in your home and want to know exactly what to use that’ll do the job the first time? I’ll tell you. It’s called ‘Noxon 7’. Why am I telling you this? No, I’m not getting paid. I’m telling you this because I don’t want you to spend 8 hours cleaning a brass floor lamp like I did. I don’t want you to spend hour after hour applying ketchup and removing it and then another worthless brass cleaner and removing it and then yet another cleaner when you should only have to do it once and in a quarter of the time. It isn’t necessary to reinvent the wheel. Please, just take my advice. Sometimes I have some great advice. And I will never tell you to mix bleach with ammonia. NEVER. I want to keep you around, not kill you. And with those loving words, I am signing off. I’ve got my glass of water, my two capsules of Melatonin and I’m getting ready to enjoy a nice, blissful slumber. If you need some sleep, you get some, too. And if all goes well and the world hasn’t imploded between now and then, I will see you again tomorrow!

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