Ode to a Toilet

17 Apr

Despite the title of this blog, I am not a neat-freak or clean-freak. However, cleaner and neater is generally better, in my view. I just do not have the energy most of the time, and my family has a tight budget.

This week I decided to splurge on some new cleaning supplies to improve general home conditions, and more specifically:  the bathroom used by our teenage boys.

No photos for this post. Trust me, you don’t want a photo.

I try very hard to avoid strong chemicals. They are dangerous. To your eyes, your skin, your lungs, and your general health.

There are safe solutions that work, I promise! 

My big purchase is a Swiffer Bissell steam cleaner for floors. Very small and light and easy to use, for about $50.00, with a swiveling head like the standard Swiffer. I can steam clean behind a toilet without getting anywhere near the toilet. The ultimate goal is for the boys to use it themselves, in their bathroom, but I am taking one step at a time. It looks and smells so much better in there, and I did not need to torture my knees, back, hands…or nose!

Speaking of toilets… I once had a school friend who was part of a Mormon family with eight children. I was at the house only once. The family was very nice, and considering the house held ten people and a dog, it was pretty clean.

Except for the toilet.

It had stalagmites in it. Like in a cave.

Truly, it did. I have never seen anything so filthy or covered in mineral deposits. I was shocked and confused, not to mention disgusted.

Looking back, I think they had just given up on the toilet.

I have a policy of expecting our boys to clean up after themselves. They do pretty well. Except for the bathroom. I suspect they are too squeamish and too gentle to do a proper job of it.

After three years in our apartment, my boys’ toilet was starting to resemble that Mormon toilet to some degree. One of them was ill recently and I knew his face was close to the toilet during that sickness. It is partly his own fault the toilet was so bad, but I felt sorry for him. I think, like the Mormons, the boys had simply given up on the toilet.

I decided to take drastic measures. Either that or we could never allow a guest in that bathroom!

I found an item at the store that looked like it might be useful.  A Pumie scouring stick –basically big block of pumice with a plastic handle. It worked as promised, although I needed to grind down nearly the entire block to clean the one toilet. (Under normal circumstances, it is meant to be reusable, getting smaller with use.) The toilet is clean, white, shiny and nontoxic.

I feel so much better now!

 

 

One of my Favorite Singers Ever: Storm Large

4 Jan

Storm Large singing “Angels in Gas Stations”.

If you ever have a chance to see her perform live, GO. Trust me. I saw her in 2001 and it is still fresh in my mind.

[Note:  Storm is a songwriter and some of her material, particularly the earlier songs, do have some foul language. So if you decide to watch some of her other videos online, please be aware that some of them are not very appropriate for children. ]

The Old Lighter Under the Shirt Trick

30 Jun

Reading  another blog  reminded me of something that happened in my little world recently and made me think about my first impressions of people…

One weekend, my husband and I had agreed to take a drive to help my mechanical-minded father-in-law pick up an old Jeep he was purchasing from a random seller (online). We drove him there to get the car.

Actually, first we waited for Jeepman to call back to arrange a time.

A time was set and we arrived and waited for Jeepman to return from fishing. There was a boat; there were children; there was chatting.

There was an enthusiastic pit bull that wagged her tail so hard it was like having our legs beaten with a very happy stick. Honestly, it hurt. It may have left bruises, I forgot to check.

The purchase was made. We were to follow in case the Jeep broke down.

And it did break down. About five minutes down the road.

A large pickup truck pulled up beside us, and there was an offer to tow the Jeep out of the intersection. We were towed away from traffic by the pickup guys.

I thought that was kind.

Then, the pickup guys parked and one of them got out and started trying to help fix the car so it would drive.

There was looking under the hood, there was tinkering… there was lying on the pavement underneath the back of the Jeep.

This was some real Good Samaritan stuff. Beyond kind.

I was truly surprised —  and I probably should not have been — not only because the guys took so much time to help out some complete strangers, but because the first guy I saw get out of the truck looked kind of scruffy, like a television version of a drug addict.

Stringy hair past his shoulders, missing teeth, tattoos, cigarette, worn clothes. His t-shirt had a design that seemed to blend into the tattoos on his arms.

He saw me watching him from inside our car. He grinned and waved at me. His hair was blowing everywhere. I should note that I stayed in the car because I thought it would not take long. I was wrong.

I watched as Scruffyman searched the ground after his fresh cigarette blew out of his grip. He picked it up from the sidewalk at the edge of the grass, put it in his mouth and pulled his shirt over the lower half of his face. Then he stuck his other arm under the shirt. His face emerged with a lit cigarette.

I had never seen this before.

I thought maybe he should have a hairband if he was in the habit of smoking with long hair on windy days. Seemed risky.

The Jeep got started again as I reflected on the kindness of Scruffyman.

We went a few miles before the Jeep stopped again.

This time, the Jeep was pushed by hand, and a tow service was called. We sat in my car with the windows open and the radio on. It was windy, hot, boring.

There was a deer across the street running inside an enclosed fence. It disappeared into the tall foliage as if it had never been there at all.

We waited. Sometimes the deer’s head popped up to look at us. We stared back. Sometimes we saw a bit of brown between the leaves, but mostly we saw nothing.

After about two hours of waiting, with assurances that the tow truck driver was “almost there”, we went to pick up my father-in-law’s big truck to tow the Jeep ourselves.

The day was long, but I felt my hope for humanity restored by Scruffyman and his generosity of spirit.

It was a reminder that our outsides do not reflect our insides.

 

 

 

Beyond Stories One Through Five

13 Jun

Several years ago my father made some comment along the lines of “There are only about five different movies in the world.” An exaggeration, of course, but when he explained what he meant I had to agree. Nothing new under the sun, as the saying goes. A handful of plots and some variations. Over and over. Sometimes blatant imitation.

The older I get, the more I feel like I have already watched what I am watching.

I read quite a bit, but television is very good for certain times and moods. When my husband and I married we agreed on using a particular streaming program/disc service that starts with an N, and avoiding cable or dish service. No commercials, so we save time and plenty of money, plus we control our own programing to a large extent. Nine years have passed, and frankly I don’t think we have missed much.

Recently, I have been enjoying Switched at Birth, a family oriented show. A portion of the main characters are deaf/hearing impaired and there are whole sections of the show that are performed in signed dialog, sometimes without speech or background noise of any kind. This makes it harder to go to the kitchen for a snack because I must watch the screen for subtitles, but I am thrilled to see something NEW on television.

I also like the BBC show Sherlock. It is odd and sometimes confusing. I feel challenged. How refreshing. Also, I like that one of the stars is named Benedict Cumberbatch. Best actor name since Randolph Mantooth.

If you have any favorite shows or films that don’t make you feel like you have already seen them, and are possibly even original, please share!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Quality Across Time

1 Jun

Material possessions are not on my list of What is Important in Life. However, I like things made with care and quality, things that last.

There have been times in my life when I have bought “disposable” clothing or furniture, and I have always regretted it.

Thrifty as I am, I need to know that what I buy will continue to serve its purpose for many years, and hopefully look beautiful doing it.

NOTE:  I wrote these words many months ago and saved the draft, waiting until I had more to say. I have not been writing on this site, due to having less time and energy to write the kind of posts I want to write. I have decided to go ahead and post my occasional thoughts, however brief they may be.

In this case, I am writing about things made with care and quality and then telling you that I will publish writing with a little bit less care and quality. I do see the irony.

I think, right now, it is more important to bring some care and quality into my Real Life. I care about writing…and so, actually doing it– even in smaller pieces– improves the quality of my Life, if not my Blog.

 

 

 

 

 

Ah, to Be Young and Talented

1 Feb

I feel very inspired by this young makeup artist, Stephanie Fernandez, who uses her own face as a surface for her unique creativity.

Some of her work is dark–think zombie film–and some is more abstract or flowery…but all of it is stunning.

http://www.stephaniefernandezart.com/about-me

The Soundtrack Matters

14 Aug

Recently I watched a 2011 New Zealand film called Love Birds. Frankly, I had low expectations. The title was dumb and the summary was even dumber.

The star rating implied that it was better than it looked, so I gave it a chance.

The best thing about this film, aside from the duck (which, according to a bird expert in the film, isn’t technically a duck at all) is the soundtrack. Queen songs were used so frequently and affectionately that the band felt like a supporting character.

This is not intended to be a movie review, although it is beginning to sound suspiciously similar to one, I will admit.

I felt compelled to point to this film as an example of how much of a difference a soundtrack can make.

Music can ruin a film when it is poorly chosen, heavy-handed, manipulative, or disconnected.

When film scores and soundtracks win awards we don’t always pay much attention.

We should.

Sound matters in film.

The people who made this film understood that… and so, what could have been a silly, forgettable cliché of a film became something else: an endearing, uplifting, and flat-out FUN film. It left me grinning.

I might even watch it again someday.

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