Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Ask Mom: Mile High 2011 Edition

That's right, errbody: The Momness is in, and is about to drop some knowledge on my playaz up in here. Let's see what kind of questions we have:

Dear Mom: My basement windows have window-well covers that are those cheap plastic kind and they've gotten shredded in the past couple of years from the kids and the snow. My ex had screwed them to the concrete blocks below the siding and when I was trying to unscrew one of the bolts, I banged the screw-head up badly and now I can't unscrew it because there's nothing for the drill to catch on. I do have a set of Grabit drill bits and was planning on using those to try to get the screw out. Is there something I can do to make replacing the covers easier in the future?
Two bonus questions - how do I get rid of chipmunks, i.e. kill 'em good and dead? In the past I have left out poison packs in the garage for them (they dug up through a crack in the slab! and through the frame! in multiple spots!) and while the special candybars all disappeared, the little bastards are still alive. I probably can't sit on my deck with a .22 rifle and they're too quick for a shovel. Ideas?
Second bonus question - I'm having an ant problem in the house. I had sprayed the outside where I think they may have gotten in but they're finding other entrances. Is there a good way to uninvite them, i.e. kill 'em good and dead, without
paying for an exterminator?
Signed, Nancy

Dear Nancy: Windows, chipmunks, and ants. Wow, how fucked can one woman be? Let's take these one by one.

To remove the screws from the concrete block, use a tool called an "Easy Out". You drill through the top of the screw (it's VERY hard bit) down through the center of the screw, then you put another tool (heh heh, I said "tool") into it and twist and pull it out. If you want to go cheap, just cut the heads off of the screws with a cut-off tool (they have them for drills) and cut 'em flush. The cheapest way to fix it back is to drill an oversized hole in the mortar between the concrete blocks, put a soft metal anchor in the hole, and then put the screw into it. The anchor will allow the screw to come back out if you ever need to remove it.

Chipmunks: well, my dogs kill 'em. One of my dogs is a short-legged varmint dog, and she kills them 'til they die from it. Cats are also a good idea: get a mama cat who has already had kittens, get her spayed, and make sure she's got enough to eat--she's got to have strength to hunt. She's gonna hunt, even if she's not hungry--she can't help it, she's a mama. But you're not gonna kill 'em with poison or guns or traps. The only way I've ever seen is to close up their holes to keep them out of the house or any buildings (with metal flashing), and then get one or more predatory pets. They will Fuck. Them. Up.

Now, ants: you have to barrier spray. Not just where they're coming in, but the whole exterior. The spray stinks, but spray the entire perimeter or foundation. The granules are good--look for the ones that say "barrier" in the name or description, and shake 'em around the house in a path about three feet wide. At the exterior doors and windows, spray all they way around. Put your sugar in the fridge, and put your kids' cereal in airtight Tupperware--don't give them any sugar to draw them inside. If you have pet food sitting out, set it in a ring of diatomaceous earth. If you eliminate what they're eating, you eliminate the final thing element that draws them inside. (Even Twinkies--they're deadly to humans, but ants will still eat them.) Another good way to get rid of ants: make them fight each other. Get a scoop of two different anthills and dump them on one another. You'll see a decrease in population--Armageddon. Works best on fire ants and Congress.

Dear Mom: Can you describe some fashion Wins and some fashion Woes for us girls whose chests are able to hold a place setting for 6. I have the damnednest time finding things that don't make me look like I'm either a street walker or a carnival tent.

Hugs from your Alabama niece in Las Vegas, Scarlett

Dear Scarlett: One word, and it's not plastics. It's tailoring. Go up to the larger size and have it altered. Nothing makes you look better than clothes that actually fit. Who gives a fuck what the number on the tag says? A corollary to this is good editing: don't have a closet full of clothes that kinda fit, but go instead for a small number of clothes that totally fit. you really don't need a massive closet: render unto Tyra Banks' what is Tyra's.

What else? Oh, stay away from wide belts if you're short (i.e., under 5'-6", rly sry Pixie) and ruffles regardless of height: 1734 called and it wants its jabots back. Also, the bit about no horizontal stripes is true, especially on the top. Avoid satin unless you're Calista Flockhart--satin stretches in the most unappealing ways across even the most luscious body. It shines and makes round things look rounder, so if you have a little tummy, you look like you're seven months along. Oh, and for God's sake: stand up straight. Nothing make tits look worse than trying to hide them.

Sadly, most off-the-rack clothes just aren't made for a woman with titties. And that's gonna get worse as America gets heavier--it's like fashion wants us to hide under muumuus. Learn to sew or make friends with someone who can (or find a good tailor). A good seamstress can make a $20 dress look like $1000 with a nip and a tuck.

Dear Mom: Elebenty years ago I made Roman shades out of silk fabric just like that. And for almost as long I've had the pieces for a shell for me cut out of the remnants. I'm stuck because I want the lines to go crossways [I'm flat-chested] and I haven't settled how to deal with the unravelling problem yet. How would Wilderness Gina handle it?
Signed, St. Blogwen

St. Blogwen, Wilderness Gina would start by laying the fabric on the sewing table and pulling the pattern out and staring at the two. Then she'd put the pattern away and take it out again a couple more times, maybe once a week. Then she'd put all of it in a closet for a few weeks, out of sight and out of mind. Then, the solution would come to her after a couple of months of this game of couture chicken. She would then acquire a fifth of vodka and a serger.

A serger (or a zig-zag pattern) at the edges is really your best bet. If you're not going to do that, you'll need to use twill tape in the stress areas, like around the armholes and neck, and that shit takes some getting used to wrestling with. You could use Fray Check (or that's what they call it at JoAnn's and Hancock in the South), but it will change the color and texture of your fabric in some cases. Try it on a corner of the fabric to see how badly it's affected before you get too goo-happy.

Any more questions? Send 'em on, kids: The Court of Mom is always in session!


Miss Kitty said...


Mommy, that was hilarious. WIN! I'll post a link on E&P to this Ask Mom™ so my readers can read Mom's latest advice. YAYZ!

Scarlett said...

Can Mom come to Vegas and be my tailor?

Orchidophile said...

Hello Mile High Pixie! Nice digs! I came to check out the latest edition of Ask Mom and it did not disappoint! Spot on!

I would also like to say that I like your chicken coop sketches!

Mile High Pixie said...

Kitteh: Lulz! Thanks for the linkage!

Scarlett: we shall buy Mom a ticket to Vegas and ship her sewing machine out there. If we take her to the spa and to see Thunder From Down Under, I think she'll sew just about anything.

Dr. O: Thanks much! I'm honored you'd drop by my tripe of a blog!

Sandy said...

I am most appreciative of the answer for the ants. My house was built on an ant hill!! I won't use an exterminator because I have kittehs and am afraid if the smell of the chemical (or the chemical gets accidentally tracked inside the house) will harm the kittehs. (I'll have to remember to Ask Mom about ground hogs moving in and taking over.)

Nancy said...

Thanks, Mom. You rock!

St. Blogwen said...

"This game of couture chicken" describes the case perfectly! I think I've already done the first steps several dozen times . . . and I've got a sewing machine now that's supposed to have a serger setting. So maybe the next step is learning how to use the bloody thing. And not pulling my frequent trick of experimenting on the garment pieces themselves.

Thanks, Mom. Though will it work all right if I substitute Scotch for the vodka?

Miss Kitty said...

I'd like to also suggest to Nancy re: ants...try diatomaceous earth. It's all-natural, made of the fossilized exoskeletons of ancient sea creatures, and is deadly to bugs. It slices them up, and they can't become immune to it. I use it sparingly in my chickens' feed to eliminate worms. To get rid of poultry mites, fleas, slugs, roaches, and ants, I sprinkle it around the chicken coop/yard, around my outdoor cats' food dishes, and anyplace in the yard where there's bug trouble. Check out organic animal feed supply websites for available sizes. Several years ago, I paid $70 (S&H included) for a 50-pound bag, but it lasts forever. I store it in a heavy-duty plastic Rubbermaid container with a sturdy lid.