Grandma’s house had a cesspool in the backyard.
Grandpa or Grandma had cut a hole in the top of an orange construction cone and stuck a second cone upside-down into it (like an ice cream cone), creating a plastic portable toilet. This toilet sat in a shed-like room away from the main part of the house.
Petra and I were instructed to pour water into the cone after use, shake and swirl the contents around, and dump everything into the swamp.
The backyard was pretty, with close-cropped green grass, guava and loquat trees, and subtropical flowers. You carried the cone out to the cesspool, moved the corrugated tin lid aside, poured the cone’s contents into the pit, dragged the lid back in place, and took the cone inside for a rinse.
Petra usually told me to swirl, empty and wash her cone for her, so I did.
The cones were actually a pleasant alternative to the indoor toilets, which were housed in narrow wooden stalls in the hallway. When you went in and closed the door, you felt like you were inside a square, claustrophobic, unsanitary tree.
Both bathrooms were much nicer than public Taiwanese restrooms.
I recently asked Petra if she remembered making me swirl and wash her cone for her.
"Yes," she said, with a satisfied smirk.
“If you die, I get your Vitamix,” Piper said.
“I get your All-Clad skillets,” Akela replied.
“Doesn’t anyone want any of my stuff?” I asked.
“I’ll take your trash cans,” Piper said after a while.
I own a bunch of attractive Japanese trash cans made from ayous wood. One of them cost me $70.
“What about my laptop?”
“I’d prefer your trash cans.”
“Uh . . . I’ll . . . " She couldn’t think of anything.
For Christmas, I gave Mom several presents, including a set of artisan felted wool coasters. The set consisted of two mustard yellow coasters and two royal blue coasters, with an artsy silkscreened design on the top of each coaster.
After a few months, I noticed that Mom consistently used the blue coasters on the correct side and the yellow coasters turned over to wrong side.
"You don’t like the yellow coasters?" I asked her one day.
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