DIY Termite treatment

It appears that termites are not even remotely deterred by woodstain. So here’s hoping the fifth page of Google Search results helped with the used motor oil and gasoline treatment.

A few weeks ago my in the early stages of building the bungalow my husband went to a motorbike repair shop and picked up a quart of used motor oil free of charge. It was for pouring on the wooden posts where they met the ground, something he said would keep termites away. The single quart didn’t go very far and I only treated the outside posts.

Around that time I checked google about this. The used motor oil here is a nice greyish black color, and I wondered if there was a way to mix it with a thinner and create a stain that was also a pest deterrent. The first page of results was filled with EPA warnings about don’t think about using it, take the used motor oil to the nearest approved recycling center because it’s carcinogenic (i.e. causes cancer). Don’t all the other chemicals I might be applying otherwise also cause cancer? There’ aren’t too many EPA approved recycling centers in Thailand anyways. So as I often have to do, I jumped to the fifth page of Google’s search results (they know that 99.9% of users don’t click past the first page, so the good unconventional stuff sometimes gets buried). There I found an old timer who had stained his barn by mixing motor oil and diesel fuel 50/50. He had some pretty pictures of the barn, which he said had been pest free for 20 years. He explained that the diesel fuel was to push the motor oil inside the wood…otherwise it would coat the outside and take a very long time to dry. His post was from 1997…I always love the first adopters posts. But we were out of motor oil and Oh thought wood stain and lacquer would work better.

So I bought wood stain instead. I’ve never dealt with termites before, so I wasn’t sure what to look for. But for about the past week we’ve been having these flying insects buzzing around the lights at night (termites can fly–who knew?). Just a few at first. I also noticed that the kitchen and bathroom area always looked dirty, like someone has trailed dirt inside on their shoes. I figured maybe Oh hadn’t laid the cement right and that that was making it seem crumbly. He said he did want to put a top coat on it.

The night we officially moved in the few flying insects by the light had turned into a literal swarm. The next morning the ground was littered with hundreds of these bugs. Just like mayflies in Ohio and Michigan. “Termites.” Oh tells me. I’d say they had a party but a more accurate description is they’d built a city. Overnight they had produced this spiral dirt clump that wrapped around my freshly stained kitchen post and went almost up to my head. That’s when I realized all these dirt clumps by the wooden posts on the kitchen and bathroom floor were not from us tracking in dirt but from termites bringing in dirt. Lovely. Oddly all of the wood on the original bungalow, where I had poured the motor oil at the base, had not been touched.

So I cut motor oil with gasoline. I added in a bit of red enamel just to match the original stain. When applied directly to the small blond termites, they stopped moving within five seconds. That’s better than any pesticide. I had to dig the ground up all around the house but Oh’s mom hooked me up with 3 gallons of used motor oil. Last night the termites city festival had turned into a wedding party. Tonight after crawling under the house and treating both sides of everything there were only 5-10 left flying around the light. I don’t know how long the motor oil deters them but Oh says they have a “season” here and will go away on their own in a few weeks. I’m not sure the bathroom would have lasted that long as I’m blown away by how many boards they’d eaten through, usually starting right where the nail had joined the two boards together.

The end result is stunningly pretty, dried quickly, deters water, and most importantly the termites don’t like it! I can add termites to my very long list of insect pests I’ve hopefully killed off. We kept Eliza away as much as possible, and I shall do a niacin detox soon. If I get cancer in 20 years…eh. I’ll blame the GM food I used to eat. 😉




Death is not the end

I had a dream about my aunt Sharon last night. I am not sure what she said, or why she was in my dream. But since she’s passed away it’s far from the first time I have thought of her.

We had a complicated relationship, I suppose. When I was young I was aunt Sharon’s golden girl, the only niece she had. She lavished me with countless gifts and I spent a large part of my childhood summers in Lomas Santa Fe, California, at her house. I always remember her bubbling laughter “So you finally made it.” when me and my family would come in the door, bedraggled from our 2500 mile car trip from Ohio. Her house was a place of peace and solitude in those days, a place where I could listen to music and bask in the California sun and dream of things far away from Ohio and try to figure out how I could make them a reality.

As I grew older I remained her golden girl, graduating college and going to graduate school, and then it all melted down. I needed to take a break from school. I was burnt out. I didn’t know what I wanted in life but I was sure it involved California. She offered me a place to stay with her until I got off my feet. I proceeded to melt down further.

Then I met Joe, my golden guy. Aunt Sharon was very happy about this. And then that all melted down.

It’s sad to think of most of my last interactions with my aunt. She did talk to me, I suppose I can say that. But her questions always had an accusatory tone. Her comments were very critical. I couldn’t seem to swim against the current. I was reduced to a little girl, forever trying harder to explain. There was a lot of dialogue and none of it went anywhere.

But now I remember the music again. I’m listening to “When the Lights Go Down in The City” by Journey, a song I am sure I remembered for the first time at her house in Lomas Sante Fe. I can remember the way the fog rolled in from the ocean that morning, so different from Ohio and so welcome. Like a breadth of something I didn’t know I how much I needed.

I am a 10,000 miles away. Yet I still expect to walk into her house in Oceanside and have her say “So you finally made it” with her bubbling laughter. I suppose one day I will hear her say that again. For now it can remain in my dreams alone.

Death cannot be the end, as long as we are living….and thinking about someone we love.



Seven year old logic

My recent conversation with my seven year old daughter, Jasmine:

Me: “I think you’d really like to go camping with me.”

Jasmine: “No Mommy! I’m scared of the bears!”

“Bears? What bears? There are a few in the woods, but they won’t bother you if you don’t bother them.”

“But I’m so scared that a bear is going to eat me.”

“Bears don’t eat people dear. They might attack if they feel scared, but they won’t eat you. You just have to be careful and not leave any food out.”

“Mommy can we do something else? I’m so scared.”

Sigh. “Well I’m tired of the Adventuredome and I really like camping. Hey could you go camping in Thailand?”

Jasmine: “Are there any bears in Thailand?”

Me: “No I don’t think so. But there are monkeys, and elephants, and tigers.”

“Well if you camp in certain parts of Thailand, a tiger could eat you.”

“Cool! That sounds like so much fun Mommy!”

Me: “Wait a minute. Did you just say that it would be cool if a tiger ate you?”

“I just want to see a real tiger!”

Uhmmm…no comment…