The color purple

Over the past few years, I’ve noticed that more and more people are using purple in their Halloween decorations and that more or more younglings are carrying plastic purple pumpkins whilst trick and/or treating. I’ve always associated purple with Easter or royalty, so this trend was a headscratcher. I’ve studied on it quite a bit and asked around, but nobody seems to care, much less have an answer.

Thankfully, I remembered I have access to a handy invention called the Internets, so I consulted the Google.

According to my research, purple represents a witch and her brew. Once I thought about it, Halloweenwise, the color usually accompanies a witch. Indeed, just the other day I saw a front door decorated with a witch flying against a purple background.

So, that’s that, right?

No.

Although I had my answer, I was not ready to conclude my investigation. Instead, I recalled all those porches, fences, and houses adorned with green lights and asked myself, “Self, what’s up with green vis-à-vis Halloween? Are folks confusing the event with Christmas or is there more to it?”

Spoiler alert: There’s more to it.

Green, as it turns out, symbolizes monsters and goblins.

Again, that makes sense. Frankenstein’s monster and the Wicked Witch of the West have green skin and the left field wall at Fenway Park is literally called the Green Monster.

I felt so much wiser, yet I also felt there was more knowledge to acquire in regards to Halloween colors. I was not wrong. Red has become connected with Halloween because it’s the color of blood while white is chosen to signify ghosts, mummies, skeletons, moonlight, and other ghastly sights.

If you count orange and black, aka the traditional Halloween colors, the holiday now claims six hues. I’m not here to hate on Halloween, but what is it going to capitalize on next? Burnt sienna?

This post originally appeared in the Appalachian News-Express.

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Toilet paper math

There a mistake in my post, “Power of the pillow.” I wrote that my great-niece and great-nephew had a Mickey and Minnie Mouse comfort pillow. It’s actually a Peppa Pig pillow. I regret this error and apologize to Mickey, Minnie, Peppa, and anyone else inconvenienced and/or offended by the mistake.

In other news, I bought a four-roll pack of toilet paper for 75 cents.

Believe it or not, my purchase had little to do with my well-documented cheapness. This saga actually began in September when I left my shopping list at home and had to rely on my memory during my monthly trip to the Supercenter.

Toilet paper was among the items I forgot to buy. When I eventually ran out, I borrowed a roll, thinking it would do until my October trip to the Supercenter. I dern-near made it. Unfortunately, I used my last sheet early last week, four days before my planned shopping spree.

I guess I could have borrowed another roll. But it’s been my experience that if you borrow more than one roll, your lender expects repayment.

That’s how I ended up in the Super Dollar’s TP aisle.

My inability to do toilet paper math is almost as well documented as my thriftiness. I don’t understand how 12 equals 24 in the TP world or if six rolls of ultra strong is a better deal than eight rolls of strong. At my advanced age, I’ll probably never figure it out.

What’s more, I was carrying only a few dollars, and I needed milk and wanted strawberries. I can do regular math, so I knew that if I bought my regular brand of TP, I wouldn’t have enough money for milk and strawberries.

Luckily, my eyes settled on the aforementioned 75 cent pack of toilet paper. Although I pride myself on my relationship with generic brands, I wasn’t familiar with this TP. But I really wanted the strawberries, so I didn’t have much of a choice.

A 75 cent pack of toilet paper is pretty much what you would expect it to be. It’s so thin that, if I so desired, I could read through it, so I have to use more than usual. It’s soft, though, so there’s that.

In fact, my biggest complaint is that, in spite of the thinness, I need a chainsaw to tear off the sheets. You know what’s so strange about that? The TP features perforations. If the perforations aren’t going to aid in the tearing of sheets, they should get rid of them. If they did so, they could pass along the savings to their customers by charging less than 70 cents for the TP. Even I can do that toilet paper math.

This post originally appeared in the Appalachian News-Express.

The power of the pillow

I think it’s safe to say that everyone has at least one comfort food. You know, that food you turn to when you have a bad case of the Mondays or when it’s rained for a week. Mine is mashed potatoes. I’ve cried many a virtual tear into heaping servings of warm mashed potatoes.

If the popularity of scented oils and candles are any indication, then folks have comfort odors as well. While I enjoy the smell of baked goods wafting through the house, I’m not sure I have a comfort odor. But I can report that my great-niece has one. Indeed, she enjoys smelling her pillow.

Make that her smelly pillow, which is what she calls it. In fact, she does not like for the pink pillow, which features Mickey and Minnie Mouse, to be washed. I’ve heard tell that she throws a fit when my niece wrests the pillow from her tiny grasp and tosses it into the washer. After all, what good is a smelly pillow if it’s clean?

My great-niece sleeps on the pillow at night, resting her little head on the Minnie side. Thus, she prefers to bury her nose into that side of the pillow. What’s more, sometimes when she’s playing, she’ll spring up and race to her room, announcing, “I’m going to smell my pillow.”

She loves visiting us and she’s been known to throw a fit when it’s time to leave. (Can you blame her?) To calm her on some occasions, her parents have explained that she can smell her pillow when she goes home. As you might expect, this psychology works.

Although I’m aware of the power scents have on our memories and emotions, I’ve wondered what she gets from sniffing a pillow that reeks of a sweaty child. To be more specific, that reeks of her sweaty head. I have no answer, but I can now report that her brother is also a fan of the pillow.

It appears, however, that he simply enjoys lying on the pillow. But he’s only 14 months old, so how do we know that for sure? How do we know that he wallows on it not because it’s comfy, but because it’s comforting? Could he prefer the pillow because it smells like his sister? Or is there something about this pillow that reassures the kids?

If so, then I might need to get me one of those comfort pillows. It would be less fattening than mashed potatoes.

This post originally appeared in the Appalachian News-Express.

A (Gypsie) Rose by any other name

gypsieApproximately one month ago, my mom called with the glorious news that a kitten had hopped a ride from town in my sister’s car. Before I ever met the kitty, I fell in love with her determination. After all, it takes a tremendous amount of intelligence and grit to navigate your way to a safe place under the hood of a car and hang on for a 20-plus minute trek.

Indeed, the kitten, an all-black beauty, must have considered the car a place of safety because she had to be coaxed from her hiding place. She eventually came out, though, and my sister eventually decided to keep her, installing the kitten in an out building.

My sister considered several names, finally deciding on Gypsie Rose due to the kitten’s traveling spirit. Gypsie also displayed a fighting spirit in a melee with my sister’s dog. A melee, I might add, that Gypsie won.

Gypsie’s addition to the family brought the number of members of our collective cat army – mine, my siblings’, and my nieces’ – to 10. What can I say? We’re a cat-centric family.

Anyway, Gypsie’s a ball of energy who slides across the floors when she comes to the house for a visit. She plays with her toy mice and darts around the room, hopping from lap to lap. This past weekend, she took a power nap in my arms, purring the entire time. In the words of my great-niece, Gypsie’s really cute.

But on a recent visit, I learned a secret about my lively new feline niece – she’s actually my nephew.

Or at least that’s what they tell me. As I am not a pervert or an ob/gyn, I don’t go around sneaking peeks at cats’ private parts.

Looking back, though, I should have deduced that Gypsie was a boy when she didn’t immediately take to the litter box. If living amongst a cat army has taught me anything, it’s that male cats are harder to house train that are females. Trust me on that.

Regardless, Gypsie’s shifting gender created a pronoun problem. We said to ourselves, “Selves, do we continue to use ‘she’ and ‘her’ when referring to the kitten? And what about that name? Gypsie Rose doesn’t exactly ooze masculinity.”

In the end, my sister decided to stick with the name Gypsie and we decided to continue using “she” and “her.” Sure, this could lead to gender confusion, but if living amongst a cat army has taught me anything, it’s that all cats are confused about something. For Gypsie, it might as well be that she’s a he.

This post originally appeared in the Appalachian News-Express.

A penny earned

One day this week, I spotted something glinting in the early morning sun as I drove through the parking garage. It looked like a bright penny, so I checked my rearview mirror to see if anybody was behind me. There wasn’t, so I put the car in park, hopped out, and scampered toward the shining treasure.

Smiling, I snatched up the penny and returned to my car, happy that I hadn’t allowed a one-cent opportunity to pass.

Later that day, I had the chance to share the news of my good fortune with a group of co-workers. Their reactions weren’t as positive as I would have liked. A couple folks mused that we’re only supposed to pick up pennies if they’re on heads. You know, because they allegedly bring good luck.

After they finished speaking, I explained that I don’t believe in luck. But if I did, I continued, I would consider it good luck to find any penny, regardless of whether it showed heads or tails. Or even if it was so used and worn that I could no longer distinguish head from tail.

Anyway, another co-worker then revealed that she tosses pennies into the trash.

Upon hearing this, I believe I lost consciousness. However, I did rebound and tell her that, in the future, she could start tossing pennies to me.

Seriously, although it doesn’t surprise me, I do not understand the general antipathy toward pennies. Whilst standing in checkout lines, I’ve witnessed folks drop change, only to look to the floor, wave, and say, “It’s just a penny.”

When this happens, I always wait for the penny-dismissing customer to leave before retrieving said cent for myself. After all, I am not a thief. For some reason, though, people frequently direct weird stares toward me when they spot me scooping up lost change. It’s like they’ve never seen a grown woman crawling on a floor to pick up a penny. But what am I supposed to do? Walk away from free money? I don’t think so.

Sure, I’ll grant you that a penny doesn’t go far by itself. But if you pair it with only 99 of its friends, plus tax, you can feast on the dollar menu or buy a box of Milk Duds.

And that’s assuming you only find pennies. Take it from me, when you’re down there scrounging around, you also run across nickels and dimes. Pair them with enough of their friends and you can upgrade to a value meal or two boxes of Milk Duds.

This post originally appeared in the Appalachian News-Express.

Wash day

Recently, my mom reminisced about wash days of yore. I don’t know how that topic wound its way into our conversation, but I can share this semi-verbatim account of her monologue.

“People talk about how hard wash day is now,” she began, “well, I had to walk up the hill, get the water, and carry it down the hill in buckets. Then, I had to do the washing in a wringer washer and hang it out on the line to dry.”

Firstly, let me say that she makes an excellent point. If washing were more taxing than throwing some clothes and detergent into a machine and, later, throwing the clean clothes into another machine, then I would probably just wear dirty clothes.

Secondly, I studied on Mom’s monologue for days, asking myself, “Self, why did she have to go up the hill to fetch the pails of water?”

So, I asked her a semi-verbatim version of that question, to which she answered, “When me and your daddy set up housekeeping here, we didn’t have a well. We had to use the well that was on the hill.”

You might be wondering why there was a well on a hill but not one in the valley. As it turns out, a great-great-great uncle of mine (and so many others) had once lived on the hill across from our house. Hence, the well.

Anyway, Mom also explained that after she and the water made their way down the hill, she had to heat said water on a cook stove before finally getting around to washing.

By this point in her story, I was so tired thinking about all the work she had to do just to wash a few clothes that I was ready for a nap. I had other questions, though, so I soldiered on.

“What did you do in the winter?” I asked next.

“We had our own well by then.”

“So, you only had to retrieve the water from the hill for a few months?”

Although Mom agreed with my assessment of the situation, my smarty-pants sister said, “Did you hear that? Michelle’s like, ‘Oh, it wasn’t that bad.’”

If you’re reading this, smarty-pants sister, I have two words for you – shut up.

Of course, as Mom explained, even after they had their own well near the house, she still had to lug the water inside, heat it on the cook stove, etc. She maintained, however, that her experiences mean that in the event we lose indoor plumbing, she’ll be able to instruct us on how to manage wash day.

I already know what I’d do. I’d wear dirty clothes.

This post originally appeared in the Appalachian News-Express.

Sigh of relief

As I’ve mentioned before, I suffer from migraines. Last week, I experienced the worst one I’ve had in five years. It lingered for days, beginning with pain in my left shoulder and neck. Fortunately, the pain in my neck (and shoulder) abated around the time my migraine eased up.

And then it came back with an excruciating vengeance. Indeed, for a couple days, I couldn’t turn my head or neck to the left. And turning to the right didn’t feel so hot, either. When I laid my head on my pillow at night, pain shot from the base of my head and down the back of my neck. I applied so much of one of those smelly sprays that the scent made me sick to my stomach and made my cat army high. I also spent a lot of time with the heating pad on my neck and shoulder.

Still, I could get no relief. So, I called a doctor who advised me to take Epsom salt baths. When I told him I had taken oodles of the baths last year yet had not experienced positive results, he asked if I had any magnesium oil. His question reminded me of the time I stopped by the courthouse to renew my driver’s license and the clerk asked if I had my birth certificate. As it turns out, I don’t carry my birth certificate with me and I don’t stock magnesium oil, either.

Well, at least I didn’t. But after the doctor advised me to stop what I was doing and obtain magnesium oil posthaste, I acquired some.

As I noted in the Epsom salts post, studies have linked magnesium to migraine relief. And whilst the magnesium in the salts didn’t give me relief, it appears that the magnesium oil has eased my pain. Every day I’ve noticed a better range of motion in my neck and shoulder. It’s been so beneficial that I’ve started applying the oil to the right side of my neck and shoulder as well. Somehow, the oil has helped me to locate pressure points in my muscles. Pressure points that I’ve massaged.

Anyway, I’m not at the point where I’m ready to describe magnesium oil as a miracle cure. But I am at the point where I’m ready to share my experience with others.

This post originally appeared in the Appalachian News-Express.