Tuesday, July 29, 2008

How To Make Something Out Of Nothing- Part 1

In the past 5 years I've been on my own and away from home, I have learned many tricks of the trade when it comes to cooking for one, or for many, on a fixed income, or with no income at all! Here are a few tricks to making a little bit of food go a little bit further.

1) A piece of meat can be enough for a family, if you cook it down in a pan, deglaze with a bottle of beer (or water, if you have nothing else) slice it into little pieces, simmer in the liquid, add frozen veggies (doesn't matter what kind- I do not advocate using canned veggies because they tend to disintigrate), and finish it off with a packet of ramen noodles along with the seasoning packet. Voila! Soup! And the MSG in the soup will make it taste all the better. And if you have no chicken or beef, you can also use cooked bacon crumbles. Add them when you add the ramen. You can also thicken soup with a little bit of instant potato (flakes or pearls). YUM! (and lemme tell you- beer soup is FANTASTIC!)

2) A way to make one chicken breast feed a family, is by cooking the meat in a fry pan, shredding it, and the making a simple white milk gravy in the same pan using milk, adding water with flour dissolved in it. Stir constantly until it thickens. Add the shredded chicken back to it. In a bowl, add instant mix (like pancake, Jiffy, or Bisquick) with a small amount of water (adding more if needed) and stir until it is the consistency of biscuit dough. Then take a baking dish (whatever you have) and pour the chicken gravy into it. Take the biscuit dough and spread it over the top. Bake at 425 until the dough "crust" is golden brown. You can also make it even yummier by adding any veggie you like to the gravy, or serving it on the side.

3) A can of fruit can be jazzed up! Make a cobbler! Dump the can of fruit into a baking dish, add brown sugar and cinnamon, and then in a separate bowl, mix sugar, brown sugar, rolled oats (even instant flavored oatmeal packets will work), and cinnamon together. Put it over the top of the fruit. Then add 1/4 cup of melted butter (or margarine) to the top. Bake at 375 until the fruit bubbles and the topping gets brown. Serve warm with ice cream or kool whip, or as-is. :)

4) You can make a tasty omelette with eggs, cheese, and bologna. Yes, that's right. Or any kind of sandwich meat, actually. Pre-cook it in a hot fry pan. You don't need oil or anything- there's plenty in the meat to begin with. When it's browned and crispy, it's done. Then cut it up small and put it in your omelette before you add the cheese. Delicious!

5) Fear not the Spam. My grandma taught me the yummiest way to eat the stuff. Now, I have trouble digesting "pork products" so I buy the turkey spam, which tastes better, IMHO. First you hard boil 3 eggs, cool, and peel them. Then you take a cheese grater and grate the eggs and the spam into the same mixing bowl. Then add dill relish, a little mayo, and mustard to taste. Mix. Done. This stuff makes amazing filling for sandwiches for a picnic. When I was a kid, we used to make this and bring it on long road trips from CT to VT. Even my picky husband will eat the stuff.

6) Invest in a bread machine, yeast, sugar, oil, and flour. With these ingredients, you can make a simple but versatile dough for anything! I can make a loaf of bread, or pizza dough, or calzone dough, or rolls, or cake, or WHATEVER using the bread machine. Just dump the stuff in the pan according to manufacturers instructions, set it to the proper setting, and walk away. It's so easy!!! And there are some really awesome recipes online for different kinds of bread you can make using your breadmaker. It comes out to cost less that $0.30 per loaf. When it costs more than $2 at the store to buy a loaf of heavy sandwich bread, it's obvious which way is best.

7) Latkas are not just for Hannukka anymore! My husband's family makes a mashed potato breakfast cake which is good plain, or with anything you want added to it. Mix 1 cup instant potatoes, 1/2 cup flour, 2 eggs, water, and salt to taste until it resembles pancake batter. You may need to keep adding water- I always do. Then heat a pan (on medium) with 1/4 inch of oil in the bottom, until a drop of water tossed in sizzles. I use a measuring cup to add the batter to the oil. Cook each one until they are brown on both sides. You can eat them with sour cream and bacon bits, or jelly, or peanut butter, or "Heather style" as Tony calls it- I melt cheese on them, add sour cream and salsa.

8) Strapped for ideas for breakfast? Make a coffee cake out of pancake mix. Add water until it resembles cake batter, and then pour half into a greased cake pan. Then add a layer of "crumble" following the same instructions as how to make the cobbler topping. Then add the second half of batter, then the rest of the crumble on top. Pour 1/4 cup melted butter on top, bake at 425 until a fork inserted into the center comes out clean. You can serve it with a little butter on top, or make a simple frosting using warm water and confectioners sugar poured over the top. It will harden as it cools.

9) Cookies are so easy! Cream equal parts butter and sugar together. Add a flour to make a dough. Make cookies. Bake at 325 until brown. You can frost these "shortbread cookies" with the frosting listed above. Everyone likes them!

10) Chili con carne is the easiest thing to make in the world. Soak beans overnight, and then change the water and boil for a couple hours until tender. Then drain again. In another pan, brown hamburger and pour off extra grease. Add chili powder, salt, and pepper to taste. Add a can of stewed tomatoes and let it cook down. Add the beans. Cook on low heat for a couple hours. You may need to keep adding chili powder to taste. Then you can serve it with some shredded cheese over the top and it's great to eat with saltine crackers. :)

I'll add more recipes later. Why don't you try one of these for dinner tonight and let me know how it turned out? I'd love your feedback!

Monday, May 26, 2008

In Memoriam- Memorial Day

It's sad to think about the years that pass without the ones we have lost- all the memories we create, all the funny or weird things that happen that we wish to share with them, but cannot. I miss my grandparents, great aunt and uncle, a special teacher, a couple of sweet and special friends. I don't usually grieve for anyone until July, though. Don't ask me why- to me, it is the month that my whole life cycles.

I believe that death is not a bad thing. It's not an end, it's just a transition. Yes, life goes on, but it's the little things our loved ones taught us about living life that stay with us. In our memories, they are immortal, so long as we don't forget to remember them.

This is the Samhain of Western Civilization. I think that there is a part of Memorial Day left unspoken. There are many feasts. What do most people do after they visit their loved ones' final resting places? They live- they feast- they love- and in this celebration, a subconscious desire to fulfill the cycle of life. Therein lies true beauty, for in this we fulfill our True Wills.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Thy Will

One of the most difficult conversations I've had is also the one that I continually have, and that usually takes place at the bar, regarding Thelema. Most people haven't heard of it, and since I can't give them the entire answer (being that it is how each individual interprets the law) it rather gets on my nerves.

The only time it was interesting, was when talking to a Greek, and he actually understood what I was saying, just by the the word, which is Greek. It was kind of funny that he kept crossing himself, but at least he understood me.

This post doesn't mean much, I just thought I'd get it out there.

I'm moving to Vermont this week.

Friday, January 4, 2008

Pet Peeves

1) People who make excessive, needless noise. Why do you sigh repeatedly? Why do you clear your throat 5 or 6 times in a 2 minute period? Do you talk just to hear your own voice? WHY??! I don't know! What I DO know, however, is that it makes me want slap you upside the head.

2) Being bothered while I'm doing something. Do I look busy? Did I answer you the first 3 times you tried talking to me? If I did not acknowledge you, chances are, I am not going to. Stop taking it personally, and leave me the hell alone. I'm concentrating, dammit!

3) Waking the sleeping bear. Did I get home at 3-4AM again, honey? Then why are you waking me at 10AM on my day off? If I'm not up of my own accord, I'm probably still drunk. If that is the case, you would do better to avoid a fight and make your own damn breakfast. This peeve also includes people calling me after I've gone to bed. I know that most nights, I'm awake and ready to take your call, but when you call me at 10:30PM and I happen to actually be IN my bed, I will NOT leave it to check your email for you, no matter how close we are.

4) Toilet talk. Are you so stuck to your cell phone that you just MUST talk to someone while on the crapper in a public restroom? Can't you tell them to give you 5 minutes and then call back? Why are you conducting business whilst doing your business? I've heard of multi-tasking, but this is just plain GROSS. I've been on the other end of it (in a manner of speaking), when I was a telemarketer. Nothing was worse than talking to so-and-so about their account something-or-rather and then hear the toilet flush. Thank you, John Q. Public. Thanks a lot. Why has no one any manners? I'm all for minding your Ps and Qs, but this is just ridiculous.

As it's going, this whole entry is becoming a pet peeve, so I'm going to post it and go do something else to take my mind off it.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

on Death...

My husband's grandmother is dying. She's in the hospital, Intensive Care Unit. They are unable to tell exactly what is wrong with her, but all they know is that she's fading fast. I guess that's what happens when you're 86.

I try not to think about death in a terrified or horrible way. It's natural. It's a part of life. Being a practicing Thelemite, I have found some comfort in the knowledge of death, and I will share it here, since I can't share it with my Mormon in-laws.

I am the flame that burns in every heart of man, and in the core of every star. I am Life, and the giver of Life, yet therefore is the knowledge of me the knowledge of death.

I am the Magician and the Exorcist. I am the axle of the wheel, and the cube in the circle. "Come unto me" is a foolish word: for it is I that go.

Who worshipped Heru-pa-kraath have worshipped me; ill, for I am the worshipper.

Remember all ye that existence is pure joy; that all the sorrows are but as shadows; they pass & are done; but there is that which remains.


But ye, o my people, rise up & awake!

Let the rituals be rightly performed with joy & beauty!

There are rituals of the elements and feasts of the times.

A feast for the first night of the Prophet and his Bride!

A feast for the three days of the writing of the Book of the Law.

A feast for Tahuti and the child of the Prophet--secret, O Prophet!

A feast for the Supreme Ritual, and a feast for the Equinox of the Gods.

A feast for fire and a feast for water; a feast for life and a greater feast for death!

A feast every day in your hearts in the joy of my rapture!

A feast every night unto Nu, and the pleasure of uttermost delight!

Aye! feast! rejoice! there is no dread hereafter. There is the dissolution, and eternal ecstasy in the kisses of Nu.


There is a veil: that veil is black. It is the veil of the modest woman; it is the veil of sorrow, & the pall of death: this is none of me. Tear down that lying spectre of the centuries: veil not your vices in virtuous words: these vices are my service; ye do well, & I will reward you here and hereafter.

--The Book of the Law

I think that The Book of the Law is the most beautiful, and most intelligent piece of literature written in the 20th century. Why fear death? It's just the shedding of our gross, earthly bodies, and the next step in the path we take to fulfill our true Will.

I will also post a piece called "Concerning Death" which is beautiful, full of hope, and perhaps will make those of you out there who fear its coming, rest a little more easily.

AN EPISTLE OF BAPHOMET to the Illustrious Dame Anna Wright, Companion of the Holy Graal, shining like the moon, concerning Death, that she and her sisters may bring comfort to all them that are nigh death, and unto such as love them.

Beloved Daughter and Sister,

Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law.

Let it be thy will and the will of all them that tend upon the sick, to comfort and to fortify them with these words following.


IT IS WRITTEN in The Book of the Law: Every man and every woman is a Star. It is Our Lady of the Stars that speaketh to thee, O thou that art a star, a member of the Body of Nuith! Listen, for thine ears become dulled to the mean noises of the earth; the infinite silence of the Stars woos thee with subtile musick. Behold her bending down above thee, a flame of blue, all-touching, all-penetrant, her lovely hands upon the black earth, and her lithe body arched for love, and her soft feet not hurting the little flowers, and think that all thy grossness shall presently fall from thee as thou leapest to her embrace, caught up into her love as a dewdrop into the kisses of the sunrise. Is not the ecstasy of Nuit the consciousness of the continuity of existence, the omnipresence of her body? All that hath hurt thee was that thou knewest it not, and as that fadeth from thee thou shalt know as never yet how all is one. Again She saith: I give unimaginable joys upon earth, certainty, not faith, while in life, upon death. This thou hast known. Time that eateth his children hath not power on them that would not be children of Time. To them that think themselves immortal, that dwell alway in eternity, conscious of Nuit, throned upon the chariot of the sun, there is no death that men call death. In all the universe darkness is only to be found in the shadow of a gross and opaque planet, as it were for a moment; the universe itself is a flood of light eternal. So also death is but through accident; thou hast hidden thyself in the shadow of thy gross body, and taking it for reality, thou hast trembled. But the orb revolveth anon; the shadow passeth away from thee. There is the dissolution, and the eternal ecstasy in the kisses of Nu! For inasmuch as thou hast made the Law of Freedom thine, as thou hast lived in Light and Liberty and Love, thou hast become a Free-man of the City of the Stars.


LISTEN AGAIN to thine own voice within thee. Is not Hadit the flame that burns in every heart of man, and in the core of every star? Is not He Life, and the giver of Life? And is not therefore the knowledge of Him the knowledge of Death? For it hath been shown unto thee in many other places how Death and Love be twins. Now art thou the hunter, and Death rideth beside thee with his horse and spear as thou chasest thy Will through the forests of Eternity, whose trees are the hair of Nuit thy mistress! Thrill with the joy of life and death! Know, hunter mighty and swift, the quarry turns to bay! Thou hast but to make one sharp thrust, and thou hast won. The Virgin of Eternity lies supine at thy mercy, and thou art Pan! Thy death shall be the seal of the promise of our agelong love. Hast thou not striven to the inmost in thee? Death is the crown of all. Harden! Hold up thyself! Lift thine head! breathe not so deep--die!


OR ART THOU STILL ENTANGLED with the thorny plaits of wild briar rose that thou hast woven in thy magick dance on earth? Art not thine eyes strong enough to bear the starlight? Must thou linger yet awhile in the valley? Must thou dally with the shadows in the dusk? Then if it be Thy Will, thou hast no right but to do Thy Will! Love still these phantoms of the earth; thou hast made thyself a King; if it please thee to play with toys of matter, were they not made to serve thy pleasure? Then follow in thy mind the wondrous word of the Steele of Revealing itself. Return if thou wilt from the abode of the Stars; dwell with mortality, and feast thereon. For thou art this day Lord of Heaven and of Earth.

``The dead man Ankh-f-na-Khonsu
Saith with his voice of truth and calm:
O thou that hast a single arm!
O thou that glitterest in the moon!
I weave thee in the spinning charm
I lure thee with the billowy tune.

The dead man Ankh-f-na-Khonsu
Hath parted from the darkling crowds
Hath joined the dwellers of the light
Opening Duant, the star-abodes,
Their keys receiving.
The dead man Ankh-f-na-Khonsu
Hath made his passage into night
His pleasure on the earth to do
Among the living.''

Love is the law, love under will.

The Benediction of the All-Begetter, All-Devourer be upon thee.

Baphomet X° O.T.O.

Given under Our hand and seal this day of An XII the Sun our Father being in Leo, and the Moon in Pisces, from the throne of Ireland, Iona and all the Britains that is in the Sanctuary of the Gnosis.

There is very little comment I need to add to this, except that there is no need for you to fear the inevitable.

EDIT Monday, September 3rd, 2007 (Labor Day): Early this morning, Rocena died. Cry not that she is gone, but rejoice that she had lived!

Friday, August 24, 2007

Poop, or Something Similar...

Okay, enough with the foreplay. I will freely admit now that I started this blog to talk about poop. There, I said it.

There is so much about poop that gives it a bad rep. Kind of like that relative that we all have, who we don't care for, who seems to think that we're best friends: Poop is smelly, Poop sometimes shows up at the most inconvenient times, you can't avoid Pooping, Pooping can be painful, Poop is messy, and once we've pooped, we want to be rid of it as soon as possible.

But everyone and every living thing poops. I don't know why we all like to pretend that we don't. Why, up until a few years ago, I would get stage fright in the bathroom, and have to wait for it to clear out before I could drop a load. Nowadays, I have given up trying to pretend that I don't poop. In fact, it's one of the most enjoyable things I do all day long. How many things that we can do make us feel so great, without involving drugs, alcohol, eating junk food, or too much exercise?

There is one thing I can think of that makes me feel such relief. Sex. When my mother had "the talk" with me back in the 3rd grade, we talked frankly about sex. She informed me that it isn't always pleasant, but it is necessary, and makes you feel relief. Kind of like using the bathroom. For a long time, I always was slightly confused by that statement. Now that I'm old, married, and have a husband with relatively no libido, I can TOTALLY relate, but in a completely different way. I don't get off on pooping, but really, it certainly has become the one sense of physical relief that I can have every day, short of masturbation. Don't get me wrong- pooping is great. But if I had to choose between taking a leisurely shit and sex, sex wins!

Let's go back to childhood a little bit. I was raised in a family that felt it was okay to talk about BMs. In fact, it was my grandmother's favorite topic of conversation! "Gram, I don't feel so good." "Have you had your BM today?" "Grandma, I'm tired." "Did you BM?" "Hey, I have to get into the bathroom sometime today!" "Do you have to BM?" "Grandma, I'm home from school. How was your day?" "Did you take a BM yet?" She firmly believed, with that New English, phlegmatic fashion, that all the health in your body relates to the frequency and amount of BM left behind each and every day. Feeling sick? "Have some Milk o' Mag! It'll clean the sick out o' you!" I think, back in the day of the hackney sawbones, she would have been a very successful quack doctor because her methods did not involve bloodletting or leeches. "Jus' let me make you a glass of milk wi' some molasses. It'll clean you right out."

My mother, however, was raised in a very stoic, quiet family. You never mentioned poop or farting, and when bodily functions happened, they were ignored. I guess they considered it to be a polite virtue. Not I! Mom always made us refer to body functions with cutesy names, to disguise the vulgar. I always had to make caca, and when I farted, it was referred to as poop or toot. I believe I was around 9 years old when I rejected those terms. It just wasn't funny! Also, Dad always said fart and crap, why couldn't I? Being the eldest child, I incited a riot, and won, and it's been fart and crap ever since. My mother's mother tried to give my youngest sister some cutesy term, which I believe was breaking wind, but for some reason, my sister referred to it as bookwind. Now it's a family joke, that Holly didn't just fart- she bookwinded.

Poop stories have become a staple in my family. Even thought I live 2200 miles from the rest of my family, we still hit each other up on LiveJournal to extol each other with some tale of a freakishly large or messy BM. one of my best friends here in Salt Lake knows ALL the classic family poop jokes. He was there, in this particular incident, and I am proud to share it, as well as a few more, with you all.

Mom's a writer, and she was reading one of her books to Jay and I. Jay went to close the door, to stop my sisters from coming in and interrupting the flow of Mom's reading out loud. When he did, he saw a can of Pringles behind the door. No one can resist the delights of a chip in a can! Well, to make a long story short, he opened it up and we were all nasally-assaulted by the contents of the can. Poop. Thanks, to Holly, Jay has not been able to bring himself to eat Pringles since! But we still wonder HOW did she do it? Did she squat, hovering her butt over the can? Or did she do something more disgusting and sinister, the end of which involving her hands? We will never know, and she refuses to part with the secret.

We had a clubhouse out back of our Vermont home, which was located about an acre from the house. We had, what we called, "the bathroom" there, since any self-respecting home has a place to deposit ones leavings. Ours was a delightfully soft patch of moss. We sometimes also referred to it as "our science experiments" because after dropping a log, it was fun to go back and see flies on it. I digress. One day, my father was taking one of his epic crap dumps w/long shower, so it got to the point where I just couldn't wait any longer! We had only the one bathroom, and time was of the essence! I waddled out of the house, intending to make it for the clubhouse, but as I descended the deck stairs, I knew it was not going to hold any longer. So I made my way, I know not how, to the driveway. I squatted, and dropped quite the substantial log. Afraid that he'd know it for what it was, I kicked some gravel over it, and forgot about it. About two hours later I hear "Heathhhherrrr!" And I ran to see what the trouble was. Dad's standing over the pile. "What is the meaning of this??!" I looked at him innocently, "Did Kitty-Cat poop in the driveway?" "NO! My daughter did!" And I was made to scoop the poop with a shovel and throw it over the embankment beside the house. The whole time I did it, I cried "It was the cat! It was the cat!" But of course, I wasn't fooling anyone. "If the cat made that huge turd, Heather Anne, he'd be dead!"

My brother, at 6, was disconcerted when my Dad had to remove the toilet to run one of those snakes through the plumbing. Seems my sister's flushing whole bars of soap, and Mom's makeup, in addition to a family's worth of poop, finally caught up with the pipes. My poor brother, however, could not figure out why the potty was on the porch, but that wasn't stopping him. Up he jumped, down the poop went, and the poor wooden porch was stained. I believe Dad had to hoze it off. But it was winter, if I remember correctly, or maybe he just kicked the frozen turd off into the snow.

My other sister, Melissa, was a big one for always doing the right thing. She never got flack for pooping where she wasn't supposed to. Except that ONE time... She was sleepwalking and stepped into the bathub. Mom caught her just in time before she pooped there. She was dreaming that she was at camp, and had to go outdoors.

For years, Holly refused to eat corn, because of one fateful day when she got the runs upstairs, and pooped corn on the carpet. In fact, I don't know if she even now eats corn. I suppose with braces, she wouldn't. She always had an excuse! Holly is just as bad as I am, regarding pooping weird places. There was that paper plate we found in the bathroom garbage can, with that decidedly greasy smear in the direct middle, and we never could figure out who did it. I have my suspicions! There was also the time that she put a note on the toilet lid that said "Merry Christmas, look inside!" And my stepfather, upon opening the lid, was so horrifically disgusted, he insisted on waking her up from a sound sleep to rail on her. "We don't leave poop in the toilet, Holly!!!" While the rest of us snickered behind our hands at his prudish reaction to a pretty amusing prank.

My siblings aren't the only ones with poop stories to haunt them! Everyone poops! Our pets were no exception to the rule. Ah, I remember the good ol' days, when eating dinner at the table as a family, we were subjected to the sight of our lovely black Maine coon cat, Kitty, treating us to a bum-revealing display of pooping. He got the angle perfectly, we all saw the poop leave his butt. But that was not all! We then got to watch him turn to sniff it, get a disgusted expression, and try unsuccessfully to kick dirt over it, before running off in a tiff, with his ears back and his tail high in the air. Mom insisted on keeping the shades closed after that.

When I lived in Connecticut, we got a dog. Her name was Casey. She was some kind of yellow lab mixed with something else- we assumed German Shepherd. She was so smart and very well trained. She would always bow down before us and moan "Oouuut!" when she had to go. It was very effective. However, in the first week we had her, we had no idea she would have such a finicky reaction to the canned food we got her. I woke in the middle of the night, to walk down the stairs in the dark, to get a glass of milk. As I stepped off the last stair, my right foot went *squelch* into a big, soggy, COLD pile of dog diarrhea. Disgusted, but determined to make it to the kitchen to wash my foot, I tried to hobble through the dining room when *squelch* it happened AGAIN and this time to my other foot! I ruined one of Mom's kitchen towels cleaning my feet that night, but I will never, ever forget the feeling of cold dog droppings oozing between my toes. It also was the beginning of the "First one who finds it, cleans it" rule of my house. Damn dog.

One of my high school boyfriends' cat was a strange creature. One night we were watching a dramatic movie in the dark, and right at the climax, where everything is revealed, we hear the cat in his box, scratching and crying. Thanks, Toon. I've never been able to watch Double Jeopardy since, without thinking about it.

Poop and me, me and poop. Poop and my family. We all do it. We all laugh about it. Why can't more people just take a casual and humorous attitude involving poop? I guess it all boils down to insecurity, and the inability for many people to admit that they too, have a vulnerable, private moment, in the stall at work. Or after a big Mexican meal. Or even right when they wake up, coffee on the sink, newspaper in hand. Everybody poops. Everyone!

And on and on it goes. I'll leave you with one more flashback: One day, I really had to go at Grandpa's house. I did my duty, flushed, and moved on. Some time later, Dad shows up, and after going into the bathroom, I hear my name being called, "Heathhherrrrr!" So I go to see what he was on about. "Heather, the toilet's flooded over, and you'd better get to mopping!" I looked at him with all the dignity a 15 year old can muster, and said to him, "Dad, this was NOT me! Why is every time the word shit mentioned in this family, MY name comes up??!!!"

Dad did the mopping.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007


As I have previously stated in the last blog, I really enjoy spending time in the bathroom. Being a mother of a rambunctious 2 year old, and a very needy, clingy husband, sometimes bathroom time is the only real private time I have.

I really enjoy the atmosphere in a bathroom. Mine, at home, is pretty messy, I'll admit. My kitten thinks it's fun to kick his litter onto the floor and spread it out all over my throw rugs. I also habitually forget to take out the trash in there, but that's neither here nor there. It's bigger than the bathrooms I used to frequent in Provo, but space isn't the determining factor to me regarding how I feel about a bathroom. No, as long as I can stand before the mirror and make funny faces at myself, and so long as I have plenty of room to move about whilst utilizing the can, can enjoy a good book, and I have plenty of space in my shower, I really could care less about the bathroom's appearance.

Smell is something while at home that I tend to ignore. It's going to stink once in awhile! Besides, my husband can't help the fact that his bowels rival the bog of eternal stench. I grew up with a brother who had the same issue, so I can hold my breath, breathe through my shirt, invest in some odor-reducing spray, and deal. No, smell does not determine my happiness with my personal loo.

Toilet paper is the deciding factor. T.P., otherwise called Bathroom/toilet tissue, loo paper, lavatory paper, shit tickets, mountain money, TP, toilet roll, striking paper, loo roll, bumf, bumfodder, bog roll, date roll, and arse wipe. The lovely, modern invention that serves to make our lives just a little bit better. As Hamlet stated, Aye, there's the rub.

There are so many kinds, brands, and varieties. Each boasts they can get the job done. Some boast softness, others strength, some brands even put out wet wipes! In this blog, I will discuss with you my feelings regarding the use of this modern convenience.

Growing up in America, I believe we are raised to think that T.P. grows on trees. Cavemen, way back in the day, used leaves, and now-a-days we are advanced enough to make soft, gentle paper to baby our behinds. For a little history, T.P. was invented, as says Wikipedia, in China. Growing up, specifically in the state of Vermont, the state of the true public outhouse, we know the truth. Before there was paper, there was the almighty stick.

The Shit Stick was community property- an entire family utilizing the same contraption. Its basic composition was a piece of wood long enough to scrape the poo from your brown eye. This is similar to the Bottom Wiper.

Those with limited mobility, or those with unusually short arms, such as commonly seen on people with achondroplasia, often find it helpful to wrap the toilet paper around a bottom wiper, which is a plastic instrument with a tong-like clasp at one end to accommodate the toilet paper and a long handle at the other to allow the person to reach his bottom. The person wraps the toilet paper several times around the clasp, and after wiping, can easily eject the toilet paper into the toilet without having to touch the paper. Folding bottom wipers are available, and can be easily stored or carried in a purse.

And yet, The Shit Stick is nothing more than a smooth stick with the bark removed. The bark must be removed, unless you like that kind of thing, and who does? I would not want to walk around with a piece of bark giving me rectal splinters. It was stored inside the outhouse, in a small bucket of water when one was finished scraping. A common joke among Vermonters was to store the stick, poo end up, which has led to the common phrase Getting the short end of the stick.

As you can imagine, use of the shit stick was not the most sanitary practice. Anal infections were common, but at least it's cleaner than the whole family reusing the same old rag. Using paper for wiping ones arse was not unheard of, but expensive for most people, in the day where paper was expensive to make, and often reused as much as was possible.

The more widespread use of toilet paper came into practice in the United States around the same time as The Old Farmer's Almanac, which was around 1792. It even came with a hole in the book, so as to hang on a hook. People would read about what was going on in the world of farming, and then wipe up. The availability of newspaper also made it easier to have a clean bottom.

Enough on the history of toilet paper. If you really care, you'll read the whole Wikipedia article. Anywho, what I was getting to is that there are many different kinds of toilet paper. This has sparked some serious sociological, as well as amazing anthropological debate, with many questions such as what kind of t.p. do you use?

I was raised on Scotts. It's rough, tough, and still 1000 sheets per roll. Give me the old-fashioned anal pleasure of Scotts regular toilet paper. It lasts forever. It's durable. It's relatively absorbent. It's very cheap. I may gallivant around with the sophisticated swagger of The Modern Girl, but I am an old fashioned girl at heart. Scotts toilet paper is second to none, excepting sandpaper, of course, which would be great, too.

I have tried the soft stuff. It just doesn't cut it! I can't stand that fruity quilted crap... it doesn't get it clean at all, and leaves lint in my buttcrack. How can you call yourself clean when you're walking around with bits of T.P. stuck to those weirdly wiry bum-hairs?

The price is a strong factor in my decision to choose specific brands of T.P. Why would I pay $8-$12 a pack, for some "soft" toilet paper? It is a rip off in and of itself because the softer and thicker the paper, the less of it there really is on the roll. And don't fall for those "extender" kits that Charmin advertises... there is LESS on that roll than on a roll of Scotts, and more empty space between each go-round because of the texture. Also, keep in mind that the bulkier the paper, the harder it is to store in your home until needed.

Choosing your toilet paper also depends on your personal bowel functions for any given day. I will never know in advance if I come down with a case of Montezuma's revenge! I never know the shape, size, color, or consistancy on any given day. I'm not a Shit Psychic. I've found, for the predictable as well as the surprise, the hard, lightly-waxed, un-marked, plain old white stuff functions just fine.

One thing people tend to put out of mind, regarding ones choice of T.P. is the impact of the use of said roll on ones plumbing. My sister once remarked to me about these terrors, stating that the plumbing at our Aunt's house was such that she could use a very small amount of the crappy, soft T.P. before stopping up the potty. There, of course, can be exceptions to that. My brother once related to me the personal satisfaction he gained from flushing our grandparents' toilet, which was like a rocket no matter how much arse wipe one used to get the job done.

Then again, you could be in the backwoods of redneckville somewhere, and your concern could be the environmental impact of the decision as to what kind of loo roll to use for your ablutions. Does it dissolve? Is it septic-tank, RV, or outhouse friendly? These are all questions you should ask yourself if you care about that sort of thing. Along the same lines, bum fodder made of virgin tree pulp is worse for the environment. Has anyone tried the recycled kind? If it's rough-textured, I may well invest in some. The only mental image I can conjure is of wiping my arse with an egg carton.

In summary, when it comes to what kind of toilet paper I choose, it comes down to style, price, and value. I would rather save a little money on the paper, and instead, use those extra pennies to buy some better reading material. I made the mistake of leaving a 1-800-FLOWERS catalog in there one day, and my husband used the page of rose arrangements to clog the can. Nothing says "I love you" more than plunging the hole clear of someone else's toilet blunder.

Nothing could be more humiliating or distressing than being stranded, alone in a public bathroom, having to use the empty cardboard roller to scrape your bum clean. It's too close an approximation of The Shit Stick for me. The following has become my personal mantra: Make sure you check the roll before doing your business.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Bathroom Time

I am interested to know if I'm the only person in the world who enjoys using the restroom.

The cool, dank interior of the bathroom here at my office building fascinates me. Not only do we have the usual row of stalls along one wall, and sinks opposite, we also have a separate door inside that leads to a shower and lockers. It always smells very nice, thanks to the intermittent squelch of the automatic air freshener, and it is always very clean.

First of all... this is probably the nicest bathroom I've ever come across in my career as a desk jockey. Most places I have worked had loos that smelled of old crap, of piss, and despair. This one has a lovely black marble sink counter, and the water is automatic, and always at the perfect, warm temperature. The toilet flushes without my having to do some karate kick to a handle, in fact, the toilets are automatic.

The bathrooms I have chanced to encounter, in my years since moving to Utah, have been hovels. The one in Provo always smelled of bowels, even though I was the first one there in the morning. I was always slightly worried for my personal safety when I stepped inside, because heaven knows what kind of sordid affair had occurred before my entering therein. Were I to rank it, it was a D, ranking above such loos as one will find in public parks, or truck stops in the middle of nowhere.

The one in West Valley City was very nice, taking second-place to the one here in Sandy. I was fortunate to be located on the top, executive floor, and I referred the the restroom, affectionately, as My Office. The stalls were dark, atmospheric, the floor was always rather clean. It was so nice, I took to eating my lunches in there, contemplating the meaning of the universe. And, my favorite part was that the tampon machine was busted, so I got those for free. All in all, it ranked a solid B in terms of cleanliness and overall atmosphere.

The one at the office out near the airport was putrid. All the T.P. dispensers had been broken, and one had to navigate around the discarded toilet tissue and sanitary napkin wrappers on the floor. It smelled of urine, and there was some distinct substance smeared on the tile walls, which I was loath to give more than a transitory glance. I could not avoid that restroom, however, because I was pregnant, and had to slash more often than not. It was distressing in the lack of hand soap, and paper towels. I had to avoid any surface for fear of hepatitis. The only redeeming factor was the interesting, racist, and vulgar graffiti I found on the walls. I took a picture of some, the sage-like advise can apply to anyone in any social class or circumstance, and will remember it always: Remember To Flush The Toilet! This restroom ranks a solid F.

After that, we move on to the office in Murray. The building was large, multi-floored, and the bathrooms were a sad attempt at comfort. The stalls were too narrow, the floor a disgrace, and the room itself frigid. I would like to meet whomever designed that monstrosity and give him a good slap with a dead trout. It's bad enough to be a female, having to pee, but when lowering one's pants in desperation, to be struck with the cold air on one's rear-end is positively painful. Bathroom gets a C, because at least there was enough soap and paper towels.

After that, I moved on to the office in Draper. The building was lovely, multi-colored, and well cared-for. The bathrooms were an entirely different matter. Same old stall wall, same old sink wall, same old bathroom style, and same old hospital sterility. The air freshener was this odd mix of mint and apple, and it was quite nauseating, but at least it worked. The one thing I did enjoy about this bathroom, as opposed to any other of which I have come into contact, was the fact that there was an extra stall on the far wall, with nothing beside it. The stall was made in such a way that it was long rather than wide, and there was no way for anyone who was washing up, or adjusting their makeup, to see through the cracks. They also had a lotion dispenser, which was handy, as their soap tended to dry out one's skin. The major drawback was that the tampon machine was never stocked, and never worked. Very bad for someone, such as myself, who was experiencing quite a liberal soaking so far as menstrual cycles go. B-.

Last, but certainly not least, is the office in Sandy. Certainly, the reason why this one is better is because this is a better job than the others I have had in the past. That it's located in a tower further adds to the loveliness of the interior. But the bathroom, the bathroom is built for comfort. Nice little shelves above the T.P. to set my Zune or novel, wide, comfortable stall width, plenty of T.P. along with an extra roll wrapped in paper "just in case" and two hooks on the back of the door for one's jacket, and purse. The soap dispensers whips the soap into lovely foam as you dispense it, to aid in the cleaning process. There is a lotion dispenser here too, with much nicer lotion than the one at the other office. The only drawback that I can see is that the bathroom was not designed for one to tarry; just as a little stop along the way as you run through your corporate rat race career. No, when I spend too long cozying up to the toilet seat, reading my lovely book, and listening to some New Order on my Zune, the lights shut off. And so I have to jump up, pants around my ankles, open the door, and wave emphatically in the hopes that the motion sensor will see me. Throwing the spare roll of T.P. just does not work like I thought it would.

--HA Green