I love email. I especially love it when people who read my blog consult me regarding serious concerns in their lives. If you have left me a comment, I am here for you. If you are a lurker, I will give you extraordinarily bad advice.
A fact that few people know about me is that several year ago, when I was an insomniac, I decided to make stuff. The difference between a person who can't sleep from homemade speed and a true insomniac is that people on homemade speed take stuff apart while insomniacs make stuff.
I learned to knit. I took a correspondence watercolor painting class. I wrote a book of redneck haikus. I refinished furniture and reupholstered my chairs. I mosaicked a tabletop with fragments of broken dishes. I built a loom and wove a rug. I beaded my own jewelry. I made candles. I collaged. I made my own paper. I studied aromatherapy and began making my own soap.
I love making soap. There is something about playing with caustic chemicals that makes me feel smart. When I make soap, I casually throw around words like pH and saponification value and sodium hydroxide. I wear an apron with a picture of Totoro on it and plastic safety goggles. I do not feel sexy, but still, I love using my candy thermometers and essential oils. It makes me draw upon everything I learned from Mr. Glock in chemistry class and incorporates my knowledge from the day spa.
Yesterday, I got an email asking me if I knew of or could blend a soap to protect against poison oak. I have never had poison oak, I know nothing of the chemical properties of poison oak, and I would never assume that I could combine the perfect mix of essential oils to prevent a nasty rash. Still, I felt as though I could help.
The best way to prevent poison oak is to stay in a hotel and avoid the outdoors at all costs. I prefer the Omni hotel, but I also am fond of the W hotel. I like Doubletree hotels for the cookies and I have never had a bad experience in a Westin. Clearly, all of these hotels have an anti-poison oak agent in their soap. I cannot vouch for the La Quinta Inn or the Red Roof Inn or any of the motels in the Super 8 chain. While they offer free HBO and a continental breakfast, I have never seen anything on their signs about soaps that protect against the outdoors.
I wasn't asked, but I would like to add that I have never been attacked by bears or killer bees or encountered a plague of locusts in any of these hotels either.