Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Natural Bug Repellants

I am heading out to Kenya, Africa for 3 weeks to study medicinal plants with the Samburu tribes in November. I just realized that they have BUGS over there.

You laugh, but I'm from Alaska - we don't have bugs up here except for the killer mosquitoes. So, my question is = how do I avoid them?

Say for instance: LICE = how does one ensure that they don't take up residence in ones head?

And how about FLEAS = how does one go about avoiding those little buggers (no pun intended).

I know there are sprays and whatnot that can be purchased over the counter at just about any supermarket - but are there any reliable natural ones? Just about everybody I've spoken to so far says DEET is the thing, but I don't know ... sounds pretty scarry to me.

And most important of all - is there something I can put in my luggage that will deter them all from coming home with me? Something that won't get me arrested at customs, by the way.

Monday, August 03, 2009


I know, I know. I’m not supposed to have a birdfeeder out during the summer months due to bear activities in the area. But there hasn’t been a bear sighting in my neighborhood in over two years, and the girls just love it.

One of the superfluous expenses I’ve had to do away with, what with the whole unemployment thing and all, is the luxury of having my yard maintained by a professional. I can’t mow it myself because of my back injury, so the yard has gone native this year. I love it! The back yard in particular is just wonderful. Fireweed has sprouted up all over the place, even coming up between the floor boards of the deck. This allows the birds to feel safe and protected (rather than being out in the open) so they are coming to the birdfeeder a lot more than I’ve ever seen before. They hop around on the deck, coming right up to the screen door at times, even.

My girls are beyond excited, let me tell you. They sit there, glued to the screen door, and just quiver with excitement. Oh, they want one so bad! Both of them make that chattering noise, and their big eyes get even bigger when a bird gets close to them.

Thank goodness I have a screen door, or I’d be cleaning up feathers all day long. Not that I would let them outside, however. But still – given the opportunity, I’m sure both girls would be great hunters. Well, maybe not Junie… she’s a bit of a klutz. Thing, however, would make a deadly hunter, I’m sure.

I’m not the most experienced birdwatcher in the state – anyone can verify that for you. But, according to the bird book I have, I’m getting chickadees, junkos, warblers, sparrows, and even the occasional Steller’s jay!

Single Again

I am once again single: my roommate Trish has gone back to college.

Her last day here in Alaska was Friday. She got to spend her last day at the zoo on a field trip out to Seward to see the SeaLife Center! I haven’t heard how that went, but really – how could it be anything less than great? It’s the SeaLife Center, after all. That pretty much took up her entire day, so she had packed up her stuff the night before.

While waiting for her boyfriend to pick her up to take her to the airport, she spent her last hour or so cleaning up after herself. She did a great job, too – the room is spotless, as is her bathroom. She had a few food items left over in the fridge; those will either be eaten by me or be passed on to others in my family.

Now the house is quiet, and I find that I actually miss her. It’s funny because I really didn’t want a roommate in the first place, but now that she’s gone I find that I had gotten used to her being around.

Unfortunately, I will have to rent the room out again soon. I only hope I get another good one!

Doctor’s Appointment

I had to go to the doctor the other day – not because I was sick, thank goodness, but because I had to get certain forms filled out for my Africa Expedition.

The office is just down the road from me, so I was able to walk there. I arrived with about 5 minutes to spare, so sat down in the waiting room and looked thru the expedition briefing that I’d brought along. Soon enough, the nurse was calling my name and leading me back to the exam room.

She took my weight, my blood pressure, and asked all the normal questions. I handed her the paperwork and explained what the doctor needed to do for me, then sat back and waited for him to arrive.

The office where I go for medical attention has many doctors working there, with many different specialties. When you make an appointment, you can specify which doctor you want or just take whoever is available. I chose the second option and ended up with a doctor I hadn’t seen in quite a while. He is German by descent, and unfortunately has inherited a few of the least desirable qualities of that race; namely the appearance of being rude.

I say “the appearance” because I know that Germans really are not rude – they just appear that way to me because of their abrupt nature. They tend to say exactly what they mean with no beating around the bush, and are very direct in their manners. And I should qualify my use of the term “they” = I have known perhaps two Germans in my life. That’s not really enough to make sweeping generalizations, but I work with what I have and apologize if I offend anybody because of that.

Anyway, the doctor finally walked into the exam room with my paperwork in hand. He was looking thru it as he asked me a few questions, and never once actually looked up at me. He stuck the thingy in my ear, then listened to my lungs, asked me a few more questions, and signed the paperwork. All that for $130.00 (and no insurance).

It just amazes me that he could conduct the entire exam without once looking me in the eye. But, hey – he signed my paperwork: that’s all I really wanted.

So now that the forms are faxed in to the Earthwatch Institute, I can get busy on the next step towards my journey to Africa = getting all the inoculations required!

Packing List

I'm limited to 22 pounds, so I have to be very careful what I bring with me. I need everything I need, but nothing I don't need - if you know what I mean!

Benedryl cream
Brush/comb/hair bands
Hand wipes/hand sanitizer/moisturizer

Flash light
Pocket knife
Camera/batteries/memory card
Electronic reader/batteries
Bug dope/DEET
Sun screen/sun glasses/hat
Water bottle
Field Guides
Clip-on watch/thermometer


Expedition briefing
Innoculation booklet