A Thomas Crapper Original

I’m not sure if the power of finding beauty in the humblest things makes home happy and life lovely, as Louisa May Alcott once opined, but I know some of the simplest things make me happy. Like the hand painted picture of three little pink piggys trying to nose their way out the barn door that I have hanging in my kitchen. Matching towels and pretty commodes. It may just be my way of making up for the chamber pots and outdoor privies suffered in my youth in the unplumbed south. This was originally posted exactly 10 years ago. I still like it. Hope you do too.


Over the years while traveling, I taught my daughters the cardinal traveler’s rule, “you go” when you have the chance.” I was reminded of that rule often during our recent road trip. In fact, that rule led me to a discovery of sorts that now makes me almost want to re-do my bathroom at home.

We were in Seattle and had decided to walk from our hotel to the waterfront and downtown, taking public transportation as and when needed. They have a great public transport system and even offer free bus rides to everyone within a designated area of old downtown, and a transfer pass can get you in and out within a certain period for $1.50 or $1.75, depending on whether it’s “peak rush hour” or not. Our onfoot foray was to turn into a daylong adventure, and I was often reminded of my traveler’s rule.

Since we’d read drastically conflicting reviews on the underground tour of Seattle, we were resting our tootsies sitting on a bench in Pioneer Square and trying to decide if the underground tour of Seattle was worth the ticket price of $12 for seniors. Anyone who knows me also knows my seriously weird, some might say “warped,” sense of history. The more ridiculous or seedier it is the better I like it, and my head is full of useless facts about various things. I was very curious to learn more about the seedier side of the old underground city destroyed by the fire in 1889 that gave Pioneer Square the reputation that eventually gave rise to the expression “skid row.”

We more or less had decided to give it a go and learned that there would be no sitting down for this tour. Turns out we’d be on our feet for a full hour and a half or more–depending on the verbosity of our actor guide–so we decided we weren’t quite up to it after walking all those blocks already. Since we were already inside and nobody seemed to be kicking us out, we opted to have a look around first in the attached Rogue’s Museum and antique shop instead.

Soon I noticed the sign that pointed to “Women’s” and automatically turned to go in since all I’d seen so far were signs in every storefront saying “wash rooms are for customers only.”

The “facilities” were so pretty that I just had to take a picture to remember. Even the wash basin and the matching backsplash were pretty.

Back outside in the museum, one of the first exhibits I saw was either “the” or “an” original toilet designed by Thomas Crapper. While propriety or a certain sense of decorum prevented me from photographing the interior of the toilet above, this one was fair game.

Aren’t they pretty? I found you can order one for your own bathroom from the U.K. at a ballpoint figure of $1,000 American dollars. Guess I’ll be keeping our old crapper toilet instead. By the way, in doing all the research about Thomas Crapper, I found out that he really wasn’t the “inventor” of the modern flush toilet after all. I just may flush out this story more fully in a future post, but for now I hope you like the pretty toilets.

making wise choices . . .

Every once in awhile, Hubby does or says something that confirms the validity of the life altering decision I made all those years ago when I decided to cast my lot with him “from this day forward, ’til death do we part.” I saw an email he’d written, and was so proud I told him I was going to steal it and post it as “my” blog. He gave full permission:

What the hell is wrong with India? I just finished reading a book called Pink Sari Revolution: A tale of women and power in India and I was beginning to think that some changes may be possible. And then I read this article in today’s news on the internet. I hate to think that this case makes India as bad as [terrorist organization] regime or worse. It seems that the police or the politicians don’t care.  Why aren’t the general public outraged by this?

He was referring of course to two prominent and recent headlines from around the world:  Indian Woman Gang-Raped By 13 Men On Orders Of Village Court In West Bengal: Police  and Danish Tourist Gang-Raped, Robbed And Beaten Near Connaught Place, Indian Police Say . . . . It was enough that he was concerned enough and cared enough to defend these women, but when challenged that it wasn’t  India but the fact that women were afraid to report these incidents (until recently of course), thereby implying that the fault lies with the victims (now where have I heard that before?!), and that in reality–and especially when or if you considered the population numbers, percentage wise India was doing much better than the U.S. in such matters–his reply was:

I am sorry, I don’t agree with your statement “there is nothing wrong with India”. Even if there is one incident of gang rape of a woman or a young girl, it is one too many. When you read that the local panchayat ordered the gang rape because she was seen with someone from another tribe, this borders on barbarian practices. The Taliban routinely kill the women in these cases. I am surprised that the elders did not order stoning to go with it.

Population sizes, the reporting frequencies, and we are no worse  than other places etc are totally irrelevant.  In fact, I believe that the number of cases reported to police are miniscule as the police usually blame the victims. For a country that brags about being an ancient civilization and more civilized than the Islamic fundamentalists, assault and gang rapes on women should not be acceptable at any level. Add to this the so called “honor killing of women”, it gets worse.

When women are treated as less than equals and this is socially and culturally accepted, there is something wrong with the country.  See the following headline from the Hindu:
Hundreds of Indian election candidates accused of sexual violence – Figures released by the Association for Democratic Reforms show that hundreds of election candidates had allegations against them – as had scores of those in power.

When politicians get elected in spite of their sexual crimes against women, it says that there will be no laws created to address the problems.

Yes we know that rape happens in all places, but no where else [do] the village elders order it.

By the way, a “panchayat” is an elective village council in India, usually made up of five “wise and respected” elders chosen and accepted by the community who traditionally settle disputes between individuals and villages. The response from one of our daughters to her dad said simply “that was awesome. you’re the best.” The other followed with, “Ditto!” So as not to be outdone, or left out of the conversation, I responded to both daughters with this simple truth: “You may thank me for choosing your papa wisely! Mom” Young single women should take heed and remember the man they’re thinking of choosing to marry will (likely) be the father of their future children.

what does a woman want?

What a great question. What would women answer?  They’d be as varied as the woman you talk to at any given moment.

Since 2007 I’ve been nursing my little Wintersong along, trying to figure out what–if anything–I want to accomplish with it. It’s no secret that I’ve been posting less and less these days. Lord knows I’ve probably broken every rule in the blogasphere, beginning with “post often” and “write well.”

Earlier today as I was doing my fat burning workout at the gym, I was hooked into my trusty old I-pod and heard a “little story” under just this title on a Modern Stories podcast and it led to a completely different post than the one that I’d planned. For several days I’ve been half planning to write a completely different piece–in effect “hanging up the keyboard.” What I was having trouble with was deciding whether for good or just for the summer. After I’d thought on it for awhile I decided that I may still not know what this woman wants other than balance in my life, but I sure know what I don’t want. That is to feel trapped in a routine I can’t keep up with. To have figured out what I DON’T want is half the battle I figure.

We’ll be leaving soon for a little rest and recreation in Florida, my old home state. I’m looking forward to showing my “southern estate–all 25 acres of it–to my grandchildren. We’ll also be taking them through Disney world, and I can’t honestly say I’m looking forward to the lines, but it’ll be a great experience for them to remember. We’re lucky to have the opportunity while we can still get around well. Younger daughter (#2) and her significant other will be joining us from NYC to spend a day with the kids at Universal Studios in the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. (Their parents will be having a high old time at a Conference while it’ll take all four of the other of us–grownups–to keep the kids from killing eac safe. It’ll be fun even though I’m sure it will not be a tear- nor line-free day. In the evenings we’ll all be together and I look forward to some of my old haunts–or as many as we can fit in–and lots of seafood and southern cooking–lots of sweetened iced tea and grits cooked like only a southerner knows how to do it–in the evenings.

After we come back, we may do a dash-over to see a new vacation property in Oregon that daughter #1 and her SO recently purchased–just to check it out. Then as fall approaches we’ll be heading off to Italy. The last three days we’ll be concentrating on a vespa tour of Rome featuring a hands-on cooking class experience at a private home. We’re looking forward to eating what we cook.

The summer is barely beginning and I’m already seeing it disappear before me. So little time. All those words just to say what my readers already know. I’ve decided I’m not quite ready to hang up the old keyboard after all, but for the rest of the summer posting will be sporadic as and when I decide there’s something I want to remember. This is a good place to file those memories. I hope I’ll still have a few readers left when I have more time. I hope by then I’ll have a good answer to the question posed. In the meantime, I invite you to share your wants, either here or on your own blogs if you crazy enough to still be doing it.

when I’m an old woman I shall wear purple

So much has been going on I hardly know where to start. Last Friday the hubby disappeared–he does that a lot since it must be a great challenge to live with an older woman (he’s exactly 10 months younger, you see).    I was in the office because there had been a telephone call a few moments before that I expected Hubby would answer, as I was sure he knew I was busy catching up on my ironing in the bedroom. But he didn’t. After four rings, the answering service picks up. I wondered why he hadn’t answered–so I went looking for him, deciding first to check to see if the missed call had been important or if there was a message. The doorbell rang. I waited a moment for Hubby to appear because I was still in my pajamas even though it was nearing 11:00. Then it rang again, this time more urgently.

What to do? First I called out to Hubby. No answer. Where was that man this time? I can see the front stoop from my office window, so I glanced out and saw the back of a young man’s head, but I could tell from the voices there was at least one other person with him. My first thought was missionaries. Or Jehovah’s witness.  Now I have nothing against either group, but I was so behind on seasonal switching out chores I truly didn’t have time to chat. The doorbell chimed again, then the banging began. I started to the bedroom to find a robe, but when I saw the heavy winter fuzzy hanging there, I thought it would look sillier than the white tee-shirt with blue fish (yes, the very one I was forced to wear in Edinburgh in September when the heat wave hit) and the blue plaid pajama bottoms I had on.

I was so rattled, maybe startled is a better word, as I opened the door and saw the black haired young man was Ben, my NY daughter’s Significant Other, and two women. Time seemed to stop! What in heaven’s name was Ben doing here? It was when shouts of “Happy Birthday” or “Surprise” or something like that it hit me! The next day I would be having a significant birthday–the big seven and O! Hubby has always said that’s an important birthday in India, but he usually had such trouble keeping secrets and he gets so excited that I always know something’s afoot. I’d already figured out that he and the daughter who lives down the street were possibly planning something bigger than the usual dinner and cake she usually prepared. I even told him please don’t throw a surprise party or making a big deal out of it. Particularly this one! His answer was Don’t worry. You know we aren’t party people! Suddenly Hubby appears out of nowhere, and chores and everything else were forgotten. For this birthday and Mother’s Day, the whole family would be here; they’d all been planning it for months! It was the first time I ever remember being totally taken by surprise in almost my whole life.

Of course everyone came bearing gifts–themselves for the festivities (dinner out at our favorite Indian restaurant that evening and dinner with favorite cake at daughter’s house onn Saturday), books, a new linen blouse, and lime green sandals with such pizazz I’ve hardly taken them off my feet since. I am one hot mama–or grandmama–as the case may be! I’m planning to post a picture of my feet in the new shoes just as soon as I can get to the store and buy some nail polish and paint my toenails! Crimson or Cerise. Or how about Hot pink?

As for birthdays, I think 70 is a good time to start getting funky. You probably remember the book and cards from the 70s, so you know the drill. When I’m an old woman I shall wear purple! I’ve even begun to plan a new color scheme for the big room of our house that we plan to have repainted next year. One purple accent wall–with a natural gray or light charcoal walls all around with white wooden trim! (Let’s see if I still have the gut nerve next year when the time comes!) I got the idea from the new Community Center (gym, library, cafe) that opened in our township just a few weeks ago. Just in case it’s clear what that artwork is made of, here’s a close-up:

As for birthdays, especially the really really big ones, I think 70 is a good time to start counting backwards. Next year I’m going to be 69. Again. And I’m really looking forward to 21!

granddaughter’s first book

THE POOP MISTAKE – a book in progress

by Vimmy (age 6 years old)

[final version to be] illustrated completely by Mom

















NO!  NO!  NO!  NO!  NO!  NO!  NO!











Notes from the editor:  Vimmy’s book was produced just as originally written. I didn’t have the opportunity to ask Klay (or Clay) how he preferred to spell his name, but Vimmy chose a K so I did it her way. She always like that. Exited means Klay was acting with “high energy.” Lesh is that thing attached to a dog’s collar, and Apachey (probably Apache) is an Airedale Terrior who lives in the neighborhood. I hope you enjoyed this “rough” draft  of Vimmy’s very first picture book as much as I’ve enjoyed posting it.

granddaughter turns on to poetry

I’ve always said that re-discovering the world through younger eyes is one of the best things about having children around. Yesterday afternoon when our six-year-old granddaughter came for a sleepover, she discovered the children’s book section of my “library” and I re-discovered one of my favorite children’s authors, Shel Silverstein. She wasn’t a very enthusiastic reader last year but we were happy her older brother was and decided one out of two (voracious readers in the family) ain’t bad. It seems quite recently that things have changed. Not only has her fervor for reading been ignited, her reading skills have developed to what I like to think of as phenomenal–just the right inflection, dramatic pauses, etc.–and of course I’m not at all prejudiced.

I’m such an admirer of Silverstein’s quirky, laid-back style, and defy anyone–no matter the age–NOT to find something they can identify with in one of his poetry books. His books have been translated into 30 languages, and have sold over 20 million copies and it’s so easy to see why. Silverstein died in 1999 at age 68. Too bad he couldn’t have gone on forever.

That’s Vimmy (ABOVE) preparing to read aloud to me from WHERE THE SIDEWALK ENDS, but her favorite poem of his–at least as of yesterday–was from A LIGHT IN THE ATTIC. When she read it to me, I understood perfectly that she had found herself in this one I’d like to share with you here. Perhaps through it you can re-discover the child that (probably) still lives in you.

“Little Abigail and the Beautiful Pony”

There was a girl named Abigail
Who was taking a drive
Through the country
With her parents
When she spied a beautiful sad-eyed
Grey and white pony.
And next to it was a sign
That said,
“Oh,” said Abigail,
“May I have that pony?
May I please?”
And her parents said,
“No you may not.”
And Abigail said,
“But I MUST have that pony.”
And her parents said,
“Well, you can’t have that pony,
But you can have a nice butter pecan
Ice cream cone when we get home.”
And Abigail said,
“I don’t want a butter pecan
Ice cream cone,
And her parents said,
“Be quiet and stop nagging–
You’re not getting that pony.”
And Abigail began to cry and said,
“If I don’t get that pony I’ll die.”
And her parents said, “You won’t die.
No child ever died yet from not getting a pony.”
And Abigail felt so bad
That when they got home she went to bed,
And she couldn’t eat,
And she couldn’t sleep,
And her heart was broken,
And she DID die–
All because of a pony
That her parents wouldn’t buy.

(This is a good story
To read to your folks
When they won’t buy
You something you want.)

In spite of poor Abigail’s unhappy demise and her parent’s (deserved?) comeuppance–for which they must have forever been woefully sorry–I’m here to assure you and other girls like Abigail who may be reading this that no, you probably won’t die if you don’t get absolutely everything you want. Vimmy’s mother, who also wanted a pony when she was young is still around to this very day, and she finally understands why we didn’t buy her pony all those years ago. For my next poetry share I’ll have to tell you the poem I chose as an identifier for Vimmy’s older brother.

resetting the biological clock…is it possible?

If the collapse on a trail that I’d hiked at least twice before in my previous life (before cancer) wasn’t enough to convince me I was in bad physical shape, the emergency room, overnight hospital stay and exhaustive stress tests last July, certainly did. As if all that wasn’t enough, the nearly constant media bombardment–that the loss of strength and stamina attributed to aging is in part caused by reduced physical activity–started to slowly sink in. Knowing how stubborn I am, the family dug in too, bullying, lecturing, uh . . . gently pushing me to get a physical trainer to design a fitness program that would work for me, factoring in all my physical limitations and age . I finally took advantage of the physical training program the Huntsman provides for free for all their cancer patients–former and current–because apparently the gym time I’d been halfheartedly putting in for nearly a year after chemo hadn’t gotten me to the fitness level I wanted to be. Thank goodness stubbornness works in more than one direction.

The beautiful yo-yo weather (the day before it had snowed all day) was putting the spring back in our steps around here, so when our daughter invited her father to come along with her and the kids for a bike ride, I heard myself saying to Hubby if he’d air up my tires I might come along too. Well. After a series of failures that included a hard fall in our daughter’s driveway, they were still able to talk me into coming along. As long as I can take some reading material along in case I changed my mind, I’d go I said. Hubby loaded the bikes onto the back of the Honda and off we all headed to a flat road with little traffic out near Salt Lake Airport, just off Interstate 80. It’s an access road that takes you to the marina and a social club, and the scenery is really special as long as you like water birds of all kinds, blue skies, blue lakes, and salt flats you can practically walk on. That’s the whole story of how Hubby and I–weeks away from birthday #70–came to be out this weekend on a bicycle.

Several times I came this close to giving up. My balance was shot to hell. The seat was too high. The gears were set wrong. I hadn’t been on a bicycle since I was in my early fifties in Las Vegas. Patiently Hubby tested and made all the necessary adjustments. Finally, when my legs could reach out and touch the pavement any time I felt vulnerable or needed to stop, I decide to have a go at it. I was really nervous every time a car or another biker approached and my fingers inched close to the brake gear, but I gradually got used to it. I knew I could stop anytime I wanted and probably wouldn’t kill myself doing it. I only went into a near-panic once–when that damn motorcycle passed me in the same lane I was in without going around me. I decided I should have pinned a sign on my back like a driving instructor puts on the windshield for student drivers. Beware! Old lady bicycling for the first time in more than 15 years!

Getting back to all the hype about the new approach to aging, this study and that, plus my noticeably increased stamina and agility, I doubt that I’ve done enough to significantly reset my biologic clock. I decided that early the next morning when I woke up feeling young and rested after a good night’s sleep, pleased as punch with myself for not giving up on the bicycle thing but feeling pretty stiff. When I started to get out of bed I wasn’t sure if I could even lift my head because of my sore neck muscles due to tension I guess, or the fall on the driveway. Today I’m almost back to normal. Reversing my biologic clock? Not sure. I only know for awhile there I felt more like I had been born in the days of this contraption. If I had though, I guess I wouldn’t have even had to peddle. Hubby would have done all the work and I could’ve just sat there looking pretty!

I wish I had taken my camera along to capture this momentous occasion, but I plumb forgot–another age related phenomena that may also be reversed as long as we stay physically and mentally active. Bonafide photographs of all of us would have been so much nicer, and you would have proof instead of having to take my word for it. On second thought, I was holding on so tight to the handle bars I’m not sure how I would have managed a camera anyhow. Instead, my gratitude goes to the Flickr Commons Collection for these vintage prints, presented under the fair use “no known restrictions” designation.