June 2015

It is 10:30am. We have had breakfast and been to the beach, where I practised my ukulele and Leo ran. After taking a shower, we are now at the lovely hostel cafe, located right beside a big field on which two cows are steadily chomping grass. They have a lot of grass to get through, and I have a lot of work laid out. But I daresay we’re contented, the cows and I, and today is unfolding into a great day.

We have decided on a rough routine. We wake up about 7am, do beachy things, and start work around 10. Lunch, continue working, and do another round of beachy things around 5pm. Dinner follows, with or without copious amounts of alcohol – a mug of beer in the neighbourhood Chinese seafood place is RM5 – and we are merry until 11pm, the time we go to bed. The routine for the next ten days will be broken for two days of motorcycling/cycling around the island, since the hostel rents them out at low prices.

Besides some work that I’m quite excited to get into, I am also budgeting some time to practise the ukulele, read books (I am 10 books behind schedule for my 2015 reading challenge of 50 books), and brush up my long forgotten taichi. Some doodling on my notebook is in order because I forgot to bring a sketch pad. I guess some staring into the distance and daydreaming will also be involved. And writing – for the sake of writing. I don’t think I’ve done so in a long time.

Yup. We’re contented, the cows and I. Work awaits.

So I decided today that I am going to try making mosquito repellent with my garden’s over supply of indian borage (also known as bangun-bangun). I’ve read here and there that it is a natural repellent and have been curious about whether if it works or not.

15 mins later.

I blended a sizeable bunch of leaves with some water. Filtered the concoction, and am left with about 200ml of green, disgusting-looking liquid. Now it is on my work desk willing me to go deal with it but for some reason I am paralysed by a ball of fear in my stomach and hence I’m staring at it from afar.

Some part of me wants to throw it away and have nothing to do with it. But the rational part of me is telling me that I’d come this far (harvesting the leaves, blending them, filtering them) and I should just heat and hold it, throw in some bug repelling essential oil and a few drops of preservative, and call it a day. At least I would have accomplished something. Another part of me is telling myself to restart the process by brewing an indian borage tea and use that instead of the icky murky dark green liquid.

The irony of this is that while I’m typing this, I am itching from a few mosquito bites on my arms, affecting my judgment of the situation. Could it be that I’m unknowingly making a concoction that attracts mosquitos instead of repelling them?

Argh. I’d make the worst witch ever. Alright. I’m going to measure out 100g of this liquid and heat and hold it. The rest might just go down the drain.

10mins later.

The slow cooker is in motion and I’ve put 106g of the indian borage liquid in to double boil. The remaining liquid is still staring at me but I’ll probably throw it away. Heat and hold process starts now, while I practise the ukulele.

Quite some time later.

So I put 40 drops of mosquito repellent essential oil into the indian borage juice and 10 drops of preservatives, and put it into two 50ml spray bottles. Froze one bottle. I didn’t bother with the Polysorbate 20 so I will have to shake the bottle every time I use it. The concoction looks and smells like herbal tea. I have sprayed it over my arms and legs but since I haven’t seen any mosquito flying around, I can’t tell if it’s working. The spray is pleasant on the skin because there’s no oiliness, but maybe it also means that it will not stick on the skin for very long and I will need to reapply quite often.

No bites yet so far. Let’s see how long this lasts.