I'm not going to bemoan the new FTC guidelines that say that bloggers must disclose the swag they receive, because I take it as a sign of respect. It recognizes that we are journalists and that our readers rely on our integrity, so we can't allow ourselves to be bought off.
Honestly, though, the temptations of blogging have thus far been very few. I've been offered shockingly little of selfish interest: no cases of lily or tulip bulbs, for example, or cast-iron urns or stone Buddhas. The stuff that I do accept is generally not stuff I even want, but something I think I ought to write about.
And you can use the hideously unflattering photograph below as proof of my sincerity:
I wouldn't be caught DEAD in clothes like this, if it weren't for this blog. These are clothes cut for rectangular women, and that happens not to be my body type. But in April, a company called Insect Shield contacted me and asked me if I'd be willing to try some of their products.
Insect Shield has found a way to bind the insect repellent permethrin so tightly to fabrics that the protection against mosquitoes, ticks, and flies may outlast the clothes themselves. The clothes are designed and produced by various rectangular-people purveyors like L.L. Bean and then treated by Insect Shield.
Obviously, such a fabric treatment might prove really important in preventing diseases like malaria, which devastates the developing world. But even in cozy upstate New York, we are increasingly made miserable by vector-borne diseases, particularly Lyme, which NO ONE on my country road has escaped. I had Lyme last summer. Here is another really ugly picture that demonstrates what happened to my knee as soon as I pulled the tick out of it:
Obviously, I caught this early. But the intense achiness and fever were not fun. My daughter Georgia was not so lucky at the age of eight. We didn't know she had Lyme, probably for months, until her knee suddenly swelled up like a balloon and her doctors initially terrified us by claiming it was juvenile rheumatoid arthritis.
So I wore the Insect Shield clothes all summer, together and in combination with other clothes that fit me. And when I forgot to bring a belt with me to the country, I used whatever was handy to hold up the theoretically size 2 pants, would otherwise would fall around my ankles.
For the first time in six seasons of gardening in my tick-infested country place, I did not get a single tick bite. Dear FTC, I can't say that my experience is typical, but Insect Shield seems FANTASTIC to me!
My only complaint is that I was forced to listen to the sad laments of my husband all summer long about the transformation these clothes seem to highlight: "When I met you, you wore leopard-print miniskirts! Now, it's tick-repellent pants held up by a dog leash!"
Such, darling, are the depredations of age and the effects of decades of happy contact with the soil. One transfers one's vanity from one's own person to one's glorious root crops.
Insect Shield, I love you. But for the sake of my marriage, could you please negotiate a license with J. Crew? The J. Crew/Insect Shield line, I'd gladly pay for out of my own pocket.