Saturday, February 2, 2008

My life with humidity

Mold spore
I thought St. Louis, our home town, was the most humid place on earth, but I had never before lived near rain forest. Up North, however, no matter how nasty the humidity is outside, the inside is always nicely climate controlled. (Of course one reason I wanted to move here was to get out of my climate controlled box.)

Here is far different. Here I clean mold off my furniture. Did your mother teach you how to manage mold on your furniture? Mine did not. My leather shoes begin to grow fuzz. And today I took out a couple of pillows to find the cases covered in mildew. Ugh :(

We have some friends who bag up their most precious things with silica gel. Mr. Wizard is thinking about having lights burn in the closets of Lilliput to lower humidity. (But only after we are off the Domlec .47 USD per kWh electric grid.) Many hours are spent around dinner tables swapping ideas about managing humidity, mold and mildew. I have had people tell me of opening their DVD or VCR players to find them full of mold. The tropics are tough on electronics.

Who knows, maybe the next line of antibiotic is lurking within the the mold of someone's VCR on Dominica. Where, Oh, where might Jonas Salk be?

Of course we all know what mold can do to people's health, and it is so prevalent here it is worrisome. Mr. Wizard is highly mold sensitive and has to take antihistamines before entering some buildings which trigger his allergies.

Keeping house here is far more work intensive than up North. Having open doors and windows are wonderful in keeping the psyche connected to nature, but it also means the house has all manner of things blow through. (I recently found a tiny frog on my kitchen counter who had to be repatriated to the great outdoors.) And because of the humidity everything needs to be hauled into the sun frequently for airing. Having household help is not a luxury here. It is necessary if you do not want everything you own to be destroyed by the tropics, and if you need to perform any other function in the world other than house drudge.

So, today I am bleaching pillows, trying to catch up the masses of laundry, and muttering.

livingdominica: who is afraid to take out her posh red leather jacket an see what the tropics have done to it.


Editor B said...

Sounds like your humidity is more severe than New Orleans even.

Speaking of energy costs, my friend in Bloomington IN just posted some numbers I thought you'd enjoy.

Jen said...

Whimper. I would LOVE 10 cents per kWh energy costs.

Happy New Year to the "3" of you Editor B!

Mary said...

One thing I've learned from keeping our sailboat on the U.S. gulf coast is that keeeping the air circulating is a big help in keeping mold down. It's counterintuitive to me that blowing wet air around would be a good thing, but in fact keeping fans blowing can be somewhat of a miraculous help. Fans don't use all that much electricity...

I have a question for you - are mosquito nets to hang over the bed readily available in Dominica?

Jen said...

Yes, we use a lot of fans!

We can generally find nets, but finding the size and kind you want requires hunting. None of the stores here maintain a consistent stock of anything.

zooms said...

Whenever I recover my Mexican Leather sandals from the back of the closet, it is true to say they are a little fluffy but a quick wipe over with some olive oil, restores them to their former glory.
Hope it does the same for the famous leather jacket, which occasion are you saving it for by the way? (just teasing)

Jen said...

Zooms, if I ever go North of San Juan again I will drag the jacket out. I am never cool enough to wear it down here!

Minerva said...

Happy - and mold free - New Year, Jen!

La Gringa said...

Here in Honduras, I've discovered things that I never knew COULD mold. My leather chairs were a bad idea. Wood furniture and spaghetti were big surprises to me.

Anonymous said...

In our part of Mexico, the electric bill is subsidized - up to a point. And if - as we have - you go over an average (in our case because of welders at the end of construction) your bills start out at the top teir - about .27 US/kwh.