Before the blog proper, here’s an aside:
On the 29th of March, I was scheduled to do an appearance in Tucson at the international convention of FMCA—a gathering of RVers from all over the world. Obviously the convention was canceled, but they asked afterwards if it would be possible for me to do a digital version of my talk. We’ve all become accustomed to people speaking to us via our TV sets from the comfort of their living rooms. It seemed to me that it wouldn’t be all that difficult, but it took us the better part of three days to pull it together. For one thing, I’m used to speaking in front of living breathing audiences, so the idea of speaking into a camera was … well … terrifying.
But we got it done—all 58 minutes worth—with me in front of the camera and Bill behind it. During a break between filming sessions, I checked a newsfeed and saw a video of a news reporter in Sacramento showing a video of a self-administered haircut filmed in the privacy of her family bathroom. Unfortunately, through the magic of mirrors, she also offered us an unintended view of her naked husband taking what he thought was a private shower. I can assure you that no nude photos of Bill show up on our video, but at one point you can see Jojo intrude on the filming via the mirrored box on the table behind me. Also visible in the background is the carved wooden bowl I brought home to my mother from a Girl Scout trip to Disneyland when I was in high school.
FMCA just sent me a link to their website which includes the video presentation. Here’s a link to their newsletter: https://fmcadventure.com/fmca-digital-convention/. You’ll need to scroll down to find my presentation. If you’ve never been able to attend one of my events, this will give you some idea of the flavor, even if it happens to be about two of my older books. They happen to be two of my favorites. Enjoy.
And now, speaking of entertainment in this era of Covid 19, my grandson just sent me a collection of YouTube videos filled with pandemic humor. Unsurprisingly, several of the sketches had to do with toilet paper, or the scarcity thereof. Who would’ve thunk that some day in the future that we’d be ll be looking back fondly on the good old days when you could wake up in the morning and discover that the neighborhood kids had TPed your house overnight? Those were the days, right?
Also not surprisingly, watching the video with all the discussions of TP ended up sparking some long ago memories for me. After all since my head is full of what Professor Higgins would call “cotton, hay, and rags”, that’s exactly how my mind works.
The house I grew up in on Yuma Trail in Bisbee featured seven kids, two adults, and one bathroom—one only—that came complete with a clawfoot tub. Yes, you read that right. Nine people and only one bathroom. By the way, that clawfoot tub was original equipment in a house that was originally built in the 1920s. As a result of that bit of family history, I’m always astonished when people doing home renovations on Home and Garden TV go out of their way to install clawfoot tubs in their newly redone bathrooms. I’m always left with only one question about that: Why on earth would they?
Having only one bathroom in the house required some strategic planning in terms of scheduling. Fortunately, our mother operated on what our family refers to as a “drill-sergeantish” style of mothering. When it came to bathroom visits, we were encouraged to get in and get out—in a hurry! Except when it came to one thing—braiding hair. I wore my hair in braids for years. Once the braids came down, I always thought the waves looked exceptionally fetching. “Yes,” I remember my mother saying, “just like the waves on a slop-pail.” My mother had seven kids to raise, and ego-damage be damned. She didn’t encourage people getting “too big for their britches.”
In retrospect, it seems to me that I spent years of my life seated backwards on the closed toilet like in the bathroom while my mother braided my hair. When my locks grew too long, my mother would take me to Endicott’s Barber Shop on Arizona Street in Warren. Mr. Endicott operated his barber shop in the front of the store while Mrs. Endicott ran her beauty shop in the back. When braids needed to be trimmed, she would fasten a rubber band around the upper end of the braid and then use her scissors to lop off the rest, cutting just above the rubber band. The results were pretty much what you’d expect which is to say, not exactly beautiful. I believe Mrs. Endicott is one of the reasons I often refer to business establishments of that ilk as “adequate” shops rather than “beauty shops,” but I digress.
For years I carried those four foot-long chunks of braids around in a maroon tin container that probably once held cookies. I lost that container and the braids somewhere along the way, most likely during one or the other of my sojourns between Arizona and Seattle. As I remember them, all four braids were pretty much the same color as my hair is now—white. In that case the hair was bleached white by the sun. The color I have right now has far more to with being north of seventy than it does being out in the sun. But I digress, Again, and a digression from a digression is something of a record even for me.
My mother believed in French-braiding. After parting my hair down the middle, front to back, she braided the part above my ears into a braid that laid flat on on my skull, pulling it so tightly that I felt like it it put my eyes into a permanent squint. Once she hit ear level, any leftover hair from the top section got worked into the braids that reached down to my shoulders. Let me just say, that this procedure took TIME, three days a week. So as I sat there, facing the blank wall over the flushing tank, the only thing there was to see was the shadow of the toilet paper holder next to me.
I started telling myself stories very early on in life, so as I sat there, I made up stories about the ever-changing shadow there on the wall beside me. Sometimes, when the paper roll was full, the shadow reminded me of a Santa Claus with a very fat beard. When the roll was almost empty, it looked like … well … a skull, as in a skull and crossbones. And thus began my long checkered history with toilet paper holders.
I spent 18 years of my life with a man who never changed a toilet paper roll in his life! I’ve spent another 35 years of my life, this time with a perfect man, one who not only changes toilet paper rolls as needed, he also PUTS THE SEAT DOWN EVERY SINGLE TIME!!! Husband number one? Not so much on that score, either! Husband number two is the clear winner!
When my first husband and I moved to the hill west of Three Points in the late sixties, the first time I tried to change the spring-loaded toilet paper holder in the bathroom, the spring shot straight out and into … well … the toilet. Where else would it go? And guess who got to fish it out?
When Bill and I moved to this house in 2005, we chose it primarily because it had a ground floor master, a major requirement back then because Bill had not yet had his bilateral knee-replacement miracle. But one of the small and much appreciated side benefits of this house is that it came complete with bar-style toilet-paper holders. You slide the roll on and off a stationary bar with no potential for inadvertently sending something where it definitely shouldn’t be.
So here’s the deal. Buying this house was a good decision. Buying a house with the right kind of toilet paper holders? Well, that pretty much made it perfect.
So let’s just file this one under the heading of another old song from the Fifties, because little things really do mean a lot.