Herbal Bath, Skunk Odor Removal, and Other Country Lore

This installment of an ongoing country lore feature includes contributions from an Ontario reader who came up with method of making a homemade herbal bath and an Idaho man who used cedar smoke for skunk odor removal.

| September/October 1978

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    To make a closet bug trap, turn off all the lights in your home at night except for one in a closet. When the bugs fly in, close the door.
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    Maybe they can't be house broken, but cows can be barn trained.

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The following housekeeping tips and other bits of country lore were submitted by readers. 

Herbal Bath

After a long, dusty day of working in the garden, about all that most of us can think of is a good hot bath. "But wait!" says Pat Mestern of Fergus, Ontario, Canada. "Raid your herb border first—that is, if you want the most refreshing and sensuous ablutions you've ever enjoyed. Gather a goodly bunch of mint, or lemon balm, or fruit sage, or chamomile. Tie the sprigs together (picking 'em at least five inches long makes it easier) and toss the aromatic bundle into your tub under the running water. A marvelous aura of herbs will permeate the steam while you soak and soap, especially if you use your bouquet garni as a gentle sponge." It sounds downright habit forming, Pat!

Skunk Odor Removal

Last spring, when Paul Lish's pussycat had a "brief encounter" with a skunk under the Lish trailer out in Inkom, Idaho, Paul and his wife were literally "gassed" out of house and home. Airing the place did precious little but make it cold, and when they closed the doors and windows again the overpowering fragrance returned. Paul's native American co-worker, however, had the remedy: Burn cedar or juniper wood in the stove with the damper almost closed so the smoke would fill the house.

Mrs. Lish was skeptical about applying this piece of Indian lore (she fretted over the likelihood of sooty ceilings and drapes), but as Paul pointed out, they had to do something: They couldn't afford to trade in their home on a new one, and they couldn't live in the place as long as it smelled the way it did. So Paul and his wife cedar-smoked that trailer—inside and underside—and behold, the malodorous "eau de polecat" was gone, leaving their dwelling only pleasantly redolent of cedar ... and with no blackened interior after all!

Alternative Toothpaste Uses

Would you believe that Vern Johnson of Bettendorf, Iowa has discovered that his living room wall has 100% fewer cavities after regular brushing with Crest! Vern says that just about any kind of white toothpaste makes an excellent spackling compound for patching small holes and cracks in plaster walls. "It works very well," says Vern, "and it dries surprisingly hard." Johnson adds that toothpaste cures slower than commercial wall spackle, but this only makes it easier to apply and smooth out. And sanding will not be required at all if you blend the paste into the plaster by rubbing the filler with a little water. This "bathroom spackle" takes paint very well and can be cleaned from tools and brushes quite easily with just a little washing. Vern also reminds us about the old trick of using toothpaste to shine rings and other delicate pieces of gold jewelry.

Furthermore, as long as you've got that tube of denture-dazzler in hand, you might as well search around and find that perfectly good watch with the badly scratched crystal ... or the favorite pair of sunglasses that you just can't see through anymore. John Corbin of Sumter, South Carolina recommends buffing the murky glass with a high-abrasive toothpaste—or one of the newer tooth polishes—to erase those troublesome scarifications. One caution in working with watches, though: Be sure to wipe off any excess completely if the timepiece ain't waterproof!

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