Friday, June 26, 2009


Balabusta: Yiddish for "good little home-maker."
Bubbe: Yiddish for "grandmother."

A birthday story: I have one of those thermostats supplied by the utility that automatically turns the air way down at the day's peak demand point. If I'm hanging out - which I often am, since I'm still officially a student - I have to physically override the mechanism.

Yesterday at 2 p.m. the air cut out abruptly. Thinking it was the automatic mechanism, I monkeyed with it. No result. The thermostat is new this season, and it's not particularly user friendly. It's also very different from the thermostat I had for the four years prior. So I assumed the failure was human error. I kept monkeying with it.

(Aside: How many monkeys does it take to change a lightbulb? I'm sure there's a punchline for this... let me google it.)

By 4 o'clock and about 94 degrees or so indoors, I admitted to myself that the air was officially broken. My dad, the expert in all things engineering, was half way across the state of Kansas on his way to a family reunion in Denver. I spent another hour scouting for the phone number of his favorite air guy. Out of order. Ugh.

Last night, Lucy and I may as well have gone camping for all the sleep we got. She ate a lot of ice cubes, I drank a lot of iced-tea. Despite the fans, and throwing doors and windows open to the breeze, it was still a muggy 82 degrees at 2 a.m. It hit 80 around 3. I made myself a tall Sangria over ice - a sleep cocktail for equatorial conditions. Around 3:30a.m. I finally slept. Up again at 7:20 a.m., and already 80 degrees again. Or maybe it never dropped.

Are you feeling sorry for me yet?

(Aside: I found two punchlines for my lightbulb gag. Both are too crass for my tastes. I better relate to this one:

How many Jewish mothers does it take to change a lightbulb? "Oh, don't trouble yourself. I'll just sit here in the dark.")

Believe it or not, I'm getting to the "eco" part of this blog. It's my birthday. I'll ramble if I want to.

Apparently, heat brings out the worst in air conditioners. I called about six service companies before I located Jim, a semi-retired oldster who works out of his house. His wife Nancy answered the phone, "hello?" instead of "Jim's Air Repair."

Jim wasn't up to much. He put on his special "Jim's Air Repair" shirt with the button down collar, and came right over. Before you know it, we were both outside in the heat, trimming hedges so he could get at my unit. I offered Jim some ice water, and went back inside. Pretty soon, Jim calls me out to show me his find.

ANTS are nesting in the electrical contactor box inside the unit. Little ant bodies have crowded into the metal box, body-blocking wires from making necessary electrical connections. I guess we hit the tipping point about 2 p.m. yesterday.

I wish I'd had the presence of mind to take a picture. Jim might have thought I was nuts, but on the other hand, he took the contactor box with him to show his buddies. He said he'd never seen anything like it. Aww. My job was special. $181.24 special! I hope Jim takes Nancy out for a nice supper.

So, I found a couple of substitute pictures on google images. You'll have to use your imaginations a little. The one on the left shows what the actual electrical box looked like. The other, maybe, is some sort of latch. But the way the ants are nesting in the latch is exactly how they nested in my electrical box.

Some critters can make themselves at home anywhere.

Now, we get to my personal moment of truth. Do I regress and douse those ants and the air conditioner unit with insecticide?

Or do I try to solve this naturally? $181 + 24 hours in a hot, hot house makes insecticide very tempting.

BUT NO. Sigh...

I googled around. I found a nice Jewish recipe. I plan to kill the ants with food, and lots of it. How else, dahling?

Jewish ant killer: one tbsp sugar, one tbsp. molasses, one tbsp. yeast. Mix well, serve on Sabbath china with the good silverware. The ants dine, and then graciously accept left-overs to take home to the nest for the other ants to eat. Later, the yeast gets moist inside their tummies and expands. Voila', exploding ants.

Such an eco-balabusta. My bubbe would be so proud.

My thanks to an anonymous contributor, screen-named only "Carolsis," from the, for the recipe!

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