Inez Castor

Shakespeare was right; all the world's a stage and all the men and women are players upon that stage. We're also the writer, the producer and director of our own little comedies and dramas, and we all play lots of different roles.

I began playing the role of object lesson early in life by habitually running full tilt under the kitchen table - and then grew.

Mom said I knocked myself out three times demonstrating how not to get safely from one side of the kitchen to the other. I'm too darned old to play the part of object lesson any longer. At this age, we're all one bad fall from losing our independence, and having spent last winter holding still and healing, I have no intention of reprising my role as invalid.

And that's where the baking soda comes in. Ancient Egyptians used

sodium bicarbonate as soap, but it was less than 200 years ago a couple

of New York bakers developed a method for combining that substance with

carbon dioxide to create what we know today as baking soda. Currently,

over 100,000 tons of the stuff are produced annually, so we must be

using it for something other than baking.

It's right up there with duct tape, WD 40, bungee cords and vinegar

in the list of things I can't live without. As WD 40 is to duct tape,

baking soda is to vinegar. Soda raises the pH of whatever it touches,

being alkaline rather than acidic. I've slipped on a suspiciously green

top step and gained altitude before touching down in the back yard. I

try not to do that these days, and last winter gave me marvelous

training in moving mindfully, paying attention to where I put my feet.

That green tinge is moss or algae, highly acidic and slippery but easily

killed by sprinkling baking soda on it, making it unnecessary to file a

flight plan.

You're likely to see that green tinge on most anything here, since

our water, soil and air are acidic, and soda is always the appropriate

response. When the inside of the gallon jug I use to fill the birdbath

gets green, I dump in a bit of baking soda and a bit of kitty litter and

shake it up with some water. Instead of expensive chemical agents, I

regulate the pH balance of Rubber Tubby with baking soda. Soda goes in

the washer on cleaning rags and balances the vinegar that does the same.

Soda is the primary ingredient of toothpaste, removing stains from

your pearly whites, and a bit sprinkled on your fingers and rubbed

inside the mug removes the coffee stains. A spoonful in a half glass of

warm water will bring on a veritable explosion of belches, relieving an

upset tummy. Just remember that many of us should not consume large

quantities of sodium.

Yep, I'm all through being an object lesson, for this incarnation,

and baking soda is a big help.

Reach Inez Castor, a longtime Triplicate columnist, at