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  1. #1
    MembersZone Subscriber MalahatTwo7's Avatar
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    Talking Toilet Training?

    Its not what you think LOL

    Visitors plunged into toilet talk
    Latest home product verges on bathroom humour

    Joanne Hatherly Times Colonist May 5, 2005

    The great thing about my job is that I get free samples from manufacturers. The bad thing about my job is that these samples almost always involve human or animal waste. Other reporters get CDs and DVDs. I get bathroom equipment.

    The latest product to land on my desk comes from the Toilet Tree Company. They sell a plunger hidden inside a plastic faux terra cotta pot topped with a clump of artificial ivy that they call -- you guessed it, the Toilet Tree.

    It came with a press release written by the "Spread the News" public relations firm. I had to rest my forehead on my desk as I soaked in my incredible good luck. What are the odds that a manufacturer with the word "toilet" in its name would have been short-sighted enough to hire a PR firm titled with a phrase that brings manure-spreaders to mind?

    The Toilet Tree is designed to beautify our bathrooms where, according to Todd Brabender, everybody hides their plungers. But do they?

    This is a question that begs to be taken to the public.

    I hit Victoria's Inner Harbour with the Toilet Tree and polled people who were waiting for buses, boats and friends to pick them up. In other words, people who were locked into position and couldn't get away from me.

    Guys loved the Toilet Tree. Chris Brandle, visiting from Vernon, gave the Toilet Tree the thumbs up. "I would never have thought about it, but I would buy it," said Brandle.

    Jeremy Gethun of Toronto said the Toilet Tree is "awesome," adding that he cleans his toilet three times a week. Before I could ask him if he was up for adoption, he said the Toilet Tree would look great in his kitchen.

    But women were not so impressed with the Toilet Tree.

    Marilyn Lundgren, visiting from Pennsylvannia, said she keeps her toilet bowl brush behind the toilet and she doesn't care who sees it.

    Anneke Canning of Victoria called the product's price ($29.99 US) "ridiculous."

    Shirley Hoban of Winnipeg doesn't own a toilet bowl brush and says that the looks of the Toilet Tree would not make her rush out to buy one.

    "I use a Scotchbrite sponge with latex gloves to clean my toilet," said Hoban. "Brushes don't get the toilet clean enough."

    While she spoke, her sister-in-law Verna Ardron of Comox mouthed the word "obsessive" behind Hoban's back. Sensing a lack of familial support, Hoban swung around and said, "Oh shut up."

    "I can see you're the best of friends," I remarked as they took friendly verbal jabs at one another, during which Ardron accused Hoban of using a toothbrush to clean the toilet, and Hoban shot back that Ardron's bathroom is a bio-hazard.

    It's invigorating to watch two middle-aged women scrap. Years of raising teenagers sharpens their wit, but I wanted to show them the Toilet Tree before they drew blood. With a flourish I unsheathed the Toilet Tree.

    Ardron eyed it up and down and said, "I thought you were asking about toilet brushes?"

    "I am," I said.

    "That's not a brush," said Hoban. "It's a plunger."

    I looked again. They were right. Hoban and Ardron's correction would not normally make it into a story like this, mostly because it shows that I don't pay attention to my work.

    Not to be deterred, I called upon arbiter of good taste, Victoria designer Bruce Wilson, for the final word on the Toilet Tree.

    When I lifted the plunger out from the foliage, he looked upon it blankly and said, "This is not what I was expecting."

    He wasn't kidding. I had not warned him on our interview topic, because I was worried that as a high-end designer, Wilson might balk at being in the same room as cheap plastic. But Wilson, not to be outdone, cast an appraising designer eye on the Toilet Tree.

    "Aesthetically, it falls somewhat short of its goal," said Wilson. "If it was made of real terra cotta or porcelain, it would achieve that certain quality of material we look for in the bathroom. But it could work in some themes."

    As you can see, the important thing in design work is to be unfailingly tactful.

    The Toilet Tree gets two rankings because it's appeal ran along gender lines.

    Male rating: 10 out of 10. Female rating: Minus-3.

    Check it out at www.toilettrees.com

    PHOTO CREDIT: Debra Brash, Times Colonist
    Verna Ardron, left, from Comox, and Shirley Hoban of Winnipeg take time out from visiting the Inner Harbour to try and make sense of the Toilet Tree, a plunger craftily disguised as a plant holder.

    © Times Colonist (Victoria) 2005
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    If you don't do it RIGHT today, when will you have time to do it over? (Hall of Fame basketball player/coach John Wooden)

    "I may be slow, but my work is poor." Chief Dave Balding, MVFD

    "Its not Rocket Science. Just use a LITTLE imagination." (Me)

    Get it up. Get it on. Get it done!

    impossible solved cotidie. miracles postulo viginti - quattuor hora animadverto

    IACOJ member: Cheers, Play safe y'all.


  2. #2
    MembersZone Subscriber MalahatTwo7's Avatar
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    If life's so idyllic, why are my eyes red?

    Kristin Charleton Special to Times Colonist May 1, 2005

    The trail to the outhouse is treacherous in the rain. One must cross a small slimy wooden bridge and then step down into a tiny waterfall made of stone and decorated with slippery lichens. When it rains, the toilet seat hunkers in a puddle as there is no door and the three remaining sides have large open windows.

    Beneath the wet toilet seat is a bucket, which we empty as required. As I prepared to lower myself, a flash of movement from the white bucket caught my eye. A small brown mouse is jumping up and down in an attempt to escape what must have been one dreadful night. I shove a stick in the bucket and humbly stand back until my guest has departed. This has become my standard of living.

    Last summer my boyfriend Marvin (his name has been changed to protect the innocent) was asked if he would like to house-sit on one of B.C.'s more remote Gulf Islands for the upcoming winter. It was an illusion come true. In a flash I saw myself curled up in a red overstuffed velvet chair sipping a steaming cup of cocoa and listening to the rain pound the roof.

    Occasionally I would type profound thoughts on the keyboard, as there is no better time to begin a writing career than in a cabin in the woods.

    Little-known Lasqueti is one of the less accessible of the Gulf Islands as it is not served by a car ferry. Many of the islands are known for their cute little bed and breakfasts, artsy, pseudo-quaint communities, eco-recreation and the cultivation of marijuana (and not for medicinal purposes). The island, reached by a passenger ferry from Parksville, was known only for the latter. The Encyclopedia of British Columbia notes Lasqueti's population as 350. Significant economic activity: growing the ganja. Utilities serving Lasqueti: zero, except for telephone.

    The cabin, with outhouse, was at the back of a 50-acre parcel, high on a hill overlooking Sabine Channel and Texada Island to the north. Its three rooms included a living area, library with futon, and a bathroom with shower and pee shoot. The wood floors have been painted lemon yellow and the external walls doubled as glass doors. The living room had six sets of French doors and high ceilings while the library had four sliding doors and eight bookcases.

    Gravity brought us rainwater collected from a cistern -- two covered 2,000-litre tanks -- high on a hill behind the house. From the roof, rain was fed into the eaves and down through a pipe, filling the cistern. When we arrived, no rain had fallen for almost a month and water levels were dangerously low. During the fall we took showers where we hardly got wet. And even those were few and far between.

    And then it rained. It rained so hard for a week on British Columbia's south coast that dams overflowed and towns were flooded. The resort community of Whistler was an island. My response was to jump into the shower to enjoy a good five-minute, indulgent, spirit-lifting, zenning shower. In the middle of my lathering the water stopped. As I stood shivering, Marvin ran up the hill to our cistern and confirmed that we had officially run out of water. Somehow the pipe that fed the tanks had been disconnected. We had missed out on the biggest rainstorm of the year -- perhaps of the century.

    I resolved to clean the pipe and reconnect it. I did a darn good job, too; cleaned the eaves, replaced the beige nylon business-woman's sock that acted as a filter for pine needles, and attached the pipe to the cistern. For the next three days it rained. Finally, Marvin walked up to check on my handiness. He came back holding what appeared to be a beige water balloon. My makeshift filter was nearly impenetrable and we had lost out on another storm.

    Then winter came. The notion of an ocean-view house made of windows on top of a hill, like a treehouse perched above the canopy, sounds like a grand idea. The downside is that it's also a great location to catch the wind as it pierces the gaps between windows and doors.

    Even though the floor and high ceiling were insulated, we couldn't keep the house warm. It seemed the warm air rose and became trapped in the top two metres of the ceiling, two metres above my head.

    Our woodstove was a top-loader, meaning that when the lid was lifted the smoke flooded into the room. By January my eyes were swollen red. I wasn't sure whether it was due to staring at the computer screen, the excessive amount of wood smoke that leaked out of the stove every time we put new wood in, or the sad condition of our bed. When we moved in at the end of summer, I was warned that the futon was slightly mouldy and it was in my best interest to purchase a new one.

    I gave it a quick check and it looked fine. By January the bed was damp, and our solution was to drag it into the main room beside the wood stove. The mould, obviously flourishing in the damp environment, became upset and blew up like ashes from a volcano. We chose to sleep on the air mattress with a tiny leak for the month before we left.

    My social schedule included a two-hour yoga session each week. And nothing else. As much as I smiled encouragingly at people (that pathetic meek smile that says "like me") my overtures were in vain. By December we had made friends with the couple across the street that in turn left us for the hot dry desert sun. I was getting desperate.

    In January things began to look up. We had met some great neighbours who invited us to take part in the polar bear swim. On New Year's Day I stood with five naked bodies while the winter winds thrashed around my goose-pimpled limbs. At last I felt accepted, baptized as a Lasqueti local. Soon people were stopping to talk to me at the post office and introducing themselves on the ferry.

    I have just finished my second winter on Lasqueti Island, house-sitting. Marvin has put up clear plastic around the outhouse and although the mice still get stuck in the bucket, I just chuckle and stand back until they jump out. We had ample water this winter and my eyes did not turn into red spider-webs with a little blue dot in the middle. Our social schedule is better than in the city, with enough potlucks of fresh clams with garlic butter and plum wine that I need to invest in a big jar of Tums.

    I am now looking to buy land.

    Kristin Charleton will soon become a Lasqueti Island resident, once the banks learn to trust a gypsy with a low credit rating.

    © Times Colonist (Victoria) 2005
    If you don't do it RIGHT today, when will you have time to do it over? (Hall of Fame basketball player/coach John Wooden)

    "I may be slow, but my work is poor." Chief Dave Balding, MVFD

    "Its not Rocket Science. Just use a LITTLE imagination." (Me)

    Get it up. Get it on. Get it done!

    impossible solved cotidie. miracles postulo viginti - quattuor hora animadverto

    IACOJ member: Cheers, Play safe y'all.

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