November 30, 2006

Suddenly Scientific

How many rolls of toilet paper does a household go through in an average week?

That is the question I've set out to answer for our own household, inspired in part by the quantity of Charmin flushed away during our recent spate of company over the Thanksgiving holiday.

Yes, we had a lot of company and it was a "food" holiday. But damn. I swear we blew through a nine pack of Ultra-Charmin over those four days and five nights. I personally changed the roll four times over the course of the holiday. (That's not counting whatever happened in the downstairs bathroom. I'm not even sure anyone besides The Boy used it. I sure didn't. The last time I was down there I saw a spider. Quite near the toilet. Need I say more?)

The Boy was the only representative of the male persuasion. The other seven bodies utilizing our humble facilities were female. Isn't it a commonly known factoid that women use more toilet paper than men? Is it true? I've always assumed so. Perhaps you've never thought about it. I have. More than once. The mind, it wanders.

Suddenly I'm irresistibly interested in Typical Household Toilet Paper Usage (THTPU). For the purpose of this experiment, our household will be the control group.

The data collection began with a fresh roll of toilet paper last night. I've numbered the spare rolls stashed handily in the cabinet within arms reach of the toilet. Lest you feel I'm unduly obsessed and perhaps should use my time more wisely, the numbering took a mere moment, a worthy investment for potentially serious scientific gain.

Well. That's a stretch.
But at least I'll satisfy my curiosity.
I shall report back here in a week to satisfy yours.

Feel free to play along if you'd like.
You know your inner scientist wants to.


November 28, 2006

My Own Moral Authority

Science creates questions that can't always be answered.
Religion creates answers that can't ever be questioned.

I don't recall where I saw first those two sentences juxtaposed, but they've stuck with me.

I was reminded of them when I stumbled across this recent opinion piece entitled "When religion loses its credibility" by Oliver Thomas, a Baptist minister. The theme is Christianity and homosexuality.

In part, he writes of the pomposity of the absolute certainty with which religions avow their beliefs as fact despite contradictory scientific evidence. "What if we're wrong?" he wonders. It wouldn't be the first time.

He feels religious "moral authority" erodes as leaders and practitioners pick and choose which bits of the Bible are to be touted as supreme certainty that God is anti-gay. Nothing says hypocrisy like a little selective interpretation.

Are we homosexual types born this way? Or are we "disordered" human beings as the U.S. Roman Catholics have decreed? Not that they are alone in their zealous classification. There are plenty of other denominations tossing their derogatory verses into the fountain. Pile on, everyone! There's gay hating enough to go around!

I don't agree with Elton John that organized religion should be abolished, but maybe they could just shut the fuck up and hide like they want me to do. That doesn't seem terribly unreasonable.

Or does it?


November 27, 2006

I Even Licked the Plate

I just devoured the last of the leftover cornbread dressing and cranberry sauce. Only some turkey and creamy gravy remains. But alas, even such grand taste sensations as those pale without dressing and cranberry sauce in company.

Until next year, oh savory sweet goodness.
Worry not that I shall stray.
Nothing could ever take your place.


November 26, 2006

November 20, 2006

Food Security

According to our own USDA, hungry people are no longer hungry. They just have low food security.

There is high food security at our home right now. No, I'm not gloating. I am grateful. We will be hosting the family Thanksgiving feast. The weekend was spent planning and shopping for the event.

Changing traditions is the theme of the week. Out with the old, in with the new, saving pieces of the past as ballast.

Out with the old: no more Thanksgiving at Grandma and Grandpa's house. No more travel naps in the car for The Boy on the way to their home. No more Hal grumbling over carving the bird. No more eating off my mom's beautiful china with sterling silver utensils. No more interesting seasonal centerpiece and handcrafted tablecloth, placemats and napkins. No more playing dominoes in the evening. No more family bonding while clearing their expansive lawn of fallen leaves the day after.

In with the new: Thanksgiving at our house. My sister and mother will be joining us, as will The Boy. We will eat off our ancient Corelle plates with our stainless steel flatware. Our serving dishes will not match. Luckily there will be but five of us, otherwise our glassware would not match either. I wonder who will carve the bird. Might be me. I had dreams of putting everyone to work clearing our lawn of fallen leaves, but I've tabled that fantasy. We're all more in need of rest.

Ballast: Our turkey will be lovingly smoked by Smokey Joe's as always. I will make the same cornbread dressing and asparagus casserole my mother always made. We will watch football together and perhaps play cards.

We will drink a toast to Hal's memory with cheap white wine. I will recall his crooked smile and bushy eyebrows; the wine decanter with the decorative knot collar he crafted; the way he always pouted when losing at dominoes and laughed when he won; the motion he used to push his bangs out of his face; him sitting in his recliner with his glasses on his nose and a newspaper open in his lap, peering over at the television set every now and again; and his quiet snore when he drifted off for a nap.

Yes, this year marks the start of a whole new generation of traditions. I hope you enjoy yours, whatever they may be. And may your food security always be high.


November 16, 2006

Home Sweet Home

Wendy and I have been renovating our house for three years. Three freaking years. We're not done yet. Sure, measurable progress has been made. But in recent months we have stalled to almost a complete standstill. There are several daunting projects remaining and other areas in need of fine tuning.

We've amassed a large photo library documenting our efforts. In search of motivational inspiration to get us back on track, I perused those photos. Particularly striking are the "before" pictures. Some projects I'd forgotten we'd even done. It's quite affirming to be reminded how far we've come.

I do enjoy a jaunt down memory lane. Take this project, for example.

How could I have forgotten the decrepit heating/cooling unit under the picture window in the living room? Just ignore the pink holey walls. We had bigger problems. Weighing several hundred pounds, that monstrosity dominated the living room and the brick exterior of the front of the house. The problem vexed, not only "How?" but moreso, "Then what?"

One gray Saturday not long after we moved in, a wild hair sprouted. That unit would be removed and it would be removed immediately! We'd figure out how as we went along. Formulating a rough plan, we grabbed our tools and had at it.

Ta da! I may look dismayed, but it was a triumphant moment. When all was said and done, we muscled that bitch through the wall and to the curb for trash pickup. We sheetrocked the interior and buttoned up the exterior until we could hire a mason to patch the brickwork. Today there is no sign it ever existed. And the living room is no longer pink.

At times it is helpful to remind oneself of past success in order to gird for the present. Often what seems at first impossible is solved by something as simple as a wild hair and determination.

Girding for the present.
There's something to be said for that.
Determination rocks.


November 14, 2006

One Fine Weekend

We had houseguests.

You all know what that means. The hostesses must ensure their abode is in decent shape to receive visitors. This entails not only neatening and cleaning, but also meal planning and grocery shopping. Thankfully Wendy and I work well together in that regard. We are akin to a finely tuned symphony as we prepare for guests.

Did I mention I broke the dishwasher? Well I did. About two months ago. We haven't bothered to repair it because we are lazy slobs. Really though, how many dirty dishes does a family of two create anyway? Not that many. Handwashing is perfectly adequate. Of course with company coming, I view a broken dishwasher a bit differently. Anyone got a pill to cure lazy slobitude? It was too late to fix it for our most recent company, but Thanksgiving is just around the corner. We're definitely gonna need it then.

Our weekend guests have come and gone. I wasted all sorts of energy worrying about how the visit would unfold. Why? It's what I do. I worry. I'm damned good at it. But it was wasted worry, and oh how I abhor wasting worry. I mean, really. What if I run out? What would I do if I had nothing to worry about? I'd be lost, adrift in a sea of calm. The very idea makes me cringe. I'm not meant to be calm.

These visitors were like cotton candy: a sweet treat that left us wishing for more. I can't make up my mind if they were pink or blue or maybe even green cotton candy. I don't think it matters. I dare you to experience cotton candy and not smile, riding the comfortable wave of silliness that accompanies a high dose of sugar. Yes, that's it: our guests were pure sugar.

What do you get when you mix two California bloggers and two Virginia bloggers with a bowl of gummy eyes left over from Halloween?


Frankly, I don't quite know what to make of these.

Yeah. It was a mighty fine weekend.
Y'all shoulda been here too.


November 8, 2006

On Thin Lines and Being Easy

I crossed a line.
It's one I never thought I'd ever cross again.
I did it anyway.

Having traded my easy wash-n-go hair for a quasi-Medusa-like mass of long curls, it no longer dries automati- cally between when I exit the shower and my arrival at work. A hair dryer is now part of my mandatory morning routine. It's a good thing Wendy doesn't mind sharing her toys.

I waffle about my hair incessantly. Each time I'm certain I've decided to get it all chopped off, I receive affirmation for my new look. It happened again yester- day on my way to vote.

In our neck of the woods, elementary schools serve as polling places. I secured a parking spot in the crowded lot and followed the signs to the designated entrance. I passed a woman and her teenage daughter heading back to their car and smiled a greeting. The woman and I simultaneously realized we knew each other.

I hadn't seen her in at least three years, possibly four. We had worked together during my five-year stint as the treasurer of our local chamber of commerce; she had also been on the board. While our politics are at divergent ends of the spectrum, I appreciated her work ethic and follow-through. Plus she always had responded generously to solicitations for support of the theatre program where The Boy attended high school.

She and her daughter proudly sported George Allen campaign stickers on their jackets. We stood in the sun and chatted a bit, talking about her three children and my one. Then she said, "I really like your hair. It's such a softer look. You look years younger."

Alrighty then. That waffled me right back to leaving it long. The need to blow it dry every morning suddenly didn't seem so odious. I'm so easy.

By next week, of course, I'll have waffled back.

Meanwhile, I bask in the results of the elections. Sure, the Virginia marriage amendment passed along with similar measures in seven other states. I'm not basking in that. But the House? And the Senate? I'm basking. For the first time in a long while, I have hope for America.


November 6, 2006

Mine Eyes

I gave in. I had to. I'd resisted far too long for no reason other than what I guess is vanity.

The last straw landed softly on a recent weekend. I spent the better part of a Saturday curled up on the couch, a fire in the fireplace and college football on the TV. In my hands was a book I'd been meaning to read for months. Reading is fundamental, dontcha know.

So there I curled, reading. Or trying to.

I'm stubborn yes, but an eventual realist.
Now look at me.

It seems for vanity and middle age to peacefully co-exist, one must make concessions.

At least the book did not disappoint.
Five stars!


November 2, 2006

Just a Little Pinprick

*tap tap*
Is this thing on?
The cobwebs concern me.

I wonder if I seem as different as everything I see around me. Like the burning bushes in our front yard. Each morning when I roll down the driveway, the brilliant blotches of red catch my eye. This time next week, the leaves will be brown and on the ground.

I've been home for five days. The show was amazing, The Boy's voice pure honey. There's more I'd like to share about the trip, but other circumstances have me paralyzed. I screwed up, and in the process learned who has my back, or, more precisely, who doesn't. I wonder at times how I can be so obtuse.

The first anniversary of my stepfather's death is approaching. Aware only of the numbness, I've not delved deeply into my feelings. Not much anyway. In that regard, I'm grateful to have my mom to look after. Playing caretaker leaves little opportunity to examine oneself.

I poke at the numbness, prodding it gently. My eyes flood with tears and my body feels like lead. I can even get a rhythm going: poke, tears, stop poking, breathe deeply. What a cool party trick. I'm doing it right now. Can you tell?

It's almost been a year. I wonder if he knows how much I miss him.