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.

For the record

Recently, I saw merchandise at the Supercenter the likes of which I haven’t seen in a store in more years that I care to admit.

No, I’m not talking about cherry cake mix and frosting. (Actually, I found and bought that a few months ago and, unfortunately, it wasn’t nearly as good as I remembered.) I am, instead, referring to vinyl albums.

When I stumbled across albums amongst the fitness trackers, smart phones, and smart TVs, for a moment I thought I had discovered a time machine. Oh, I’ve been aware of the revival of vinyl for a while. In fact, some of my friends collect vinyl while others invest in it because they like the sound.

Apparently, they are not alone. According to Nielsen Music, more than 14 million vinyl units were purchased in 2017, marking the 12th consecutive year that vinyl had experienced a sales growth. The Beatles’ “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” and “Abbey Road” were the two top selling vinyl albums last year. Prince’s “Purple Rain” and Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” also ranked in the top 10.

This resurgence, however, is not just due to nostalgia. Millennials represent a key vinyl demographic.

Although seeing the album versions of “Thriller” and Bruce Springsteen’s “Born in the U.S.A.” made me smile, I was not tempted to so much as check out the prices. For starters, I don’t have a record player.

What’s more, why would I buy something I already have? Of course, I’m not actually in possession of “Born in the U.S.A.,” but I’ve had “Thriller” since Jackson’s death. I didn’t have a record player then, either, so I’m not sure why I insisted on digging it out of my parents’ closet just so I could put it in a closet at my house. (If you think I could sell the albums for big bucks, think again. My research indicates that used versions of these albums could yield enough for me to fill up my car with gas and maybe, just maybe, have enough left over for a Wendy’s berry burst salad.)

Anyway, I haven’t listened to the albums in more years than I care to admit. This is due to, firstly, greatest hits compilations on CD and, secondly, digital music. Indeed, I listened to the entire “Born in the U.S.A.” album just the other day on a computer. And I didn’t have to walk across the room to change sides or worry about the music skipping because of scratches.

Don’t get me wrong. I miss the hiss of vinyl and the appeal of album cover art. Yet, in an age where people (not me, though), own devices that turn on lights and lock doors at the sound of a voice, I don’t understand why oodles of folks are returning to something that’s, at best, inconvenient. What’s next, the return of 8-tracks?

This post originally appeared in the Appalachian News-Express.

Not clowning around

We’re in the midst of International Clown Week.

Although I’m not surprised that clowns have a week devoted to them, I am surprised they are still a thing. Actually, I’m surprised they were ever a thing.

Indeed, scores of folks are terrified of clowns. There’s even a word – coulrophobia – for people with an intense phobia of them. Many people credit (maybe that’s not the right word) Stephen King’s “It,” which features a demonic clown who terrorizes children, and the movie “Poltergeist,” which features a child’s clown doll who comes to life and attacks said child, with introducing anti-clown fervor. Yet my research shows that clowns have been dark and/or scary for centuries.

They’ve probably also been irritating for centuries. Clowns rank just a notch above mimes on the ability-to-annoy-me meter. I don’t understand why mimes can’t just spit out whatever they’re feeling and why clowns hide behind makeup and those outrageous wigs. Besides, if you have to rely on multiple props, then maybe your antics aren’t as funny as you think they are.

Since I’ve never understood the comedic appeal of unicycles, seltzer water, and horns, clowns have always gotten on my nerves. And the only thing worse than a clown is clown art. In fact, I find artwork of clowns to be creepier than the actual thing. Granted, I can’t draw a straight line with a ruler, so I’m not sure what moves an artist to pick up a brush. But even if I could draw, I doubt my muse would wear clown shoes and a big red nose.

According to research I alluded to earlier, even young children who have probably never seen a clown-centered horror film are terrified of them. Experts say this makes sense because kids possess an innate ability to detect when something is off, which supports my theory that clowns are inherently off. Anyway, this is true even when children can’t define exactly what is wrong.

So, that begs a few questions: If scores of people consider clowns scary and/or annoying, then how the heck did they ever gain popularity? Have kids always been scared of them? Or is this a newfangled fear that’s a result of kids picking up on adults’ trepidation? And if this unease is not newfangled, then why have we been tormenting kids at circuses and birthday parties for decades?

Wouldn’t putting them in timeout be more efficient?

This post originally appeared in the Appalachian News-Express.