Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Thursday Thirteen #120 -- A tribute to Miss Myrna

This Thursday 13 -- my first in years(!) -- has been inspired by the book I'm currently reading, The Help. As one of the most domestically-challenged women to ever draw breath, I was fascinated by the "Miss Myrna" housecleaning Q&A column. So here are 13 common tips I found on the Internet.

These all make sense to me, but try them at your own risk, as you cannot underestimate my knowledge of these matters.

1) Try vinegar to remove hard water stains from coffee pots.

2) Rub baking soda into your stainless steel sink with a nylon sponge to remove stubborn water stains.

3) Granite countertops will look good longer if you use a store-bought cleanser developed especially for this purpose.

4) It's important for your health to keep your refrigerator clean. Regularly remove everything from your frig and wipe the interior with a mix of baking soda and warm water. Wipe it down again, this time with plain water, and let it dry before replacing items.

5) Remember to clean the freezer once a year, too. Turn off the refrigerator and follow the directions that came with your refrigerator.

6) Vacuuming the coils keeps your refrigerator working more efficiently.

7) You can combat build up on glass shower doors with a fine mist of rubbing alcohol and water every day.

8) To reduce soap marks on your bathroom mirrors, switch from bar soap to liquid soap. The typical bar soap includes talc, which causes the residue to adhere to surfaces like tile and mirrors.

9) If you wash your clothes at a laundromat, you may wish to to use a disinfectant wipe on the tub and agitator. Wait at least 90 seconds before adding your laundry.

10) White vinegar is often successful at removing perspiration stains. Dab it directly onto the spots before tossing the garment in your washing machine.

11) Reduce the rub off from new blue jeans by washing them first, and adding a little white vinegar to the water.

12) Regular shampoo can be effective for pre-treating tomato/catsup stains.

13) Towels will remain more absorbent longer if you don't use fabric softener on them.

To find out more about Thursday Thirteen, and maybe participate yourself, click here.

I Want Wednesday

I want to focus on and appreciate the Cubs game. Garza is facing the Padres today and the score is 1-0 in the 4th. Few things lighten my mood more dependably than my heroes in Cubbie blue!

Well, that was dumb

I had the worst hiccoughs in North America this morning, and was worried about offending my fellow commuters. So I popped a Xanax. It relaxed the involuntary reflexes that caused my rhythmic "hic," but it also relaxed me. To a very great extent.

Note to self: Don't take Xanax on a morning when you'll be reviewing a deck on trends in financial marketing. This job can sometimes inspire somnambulism all on its own.

Image: Darren Robertson /

So the phone rings ...

It's my mom. At 9:00 on a Tuesday night. To tell me she's filing for bankruptcy and is worried that by being an authorized user on one of my credit cards* could have a negative impact on my own credit rating.

By filing for bankruptcy, she will have $500/month to help her meet her property taxes, utility bills, etc. My dad died in 1992 and left her with nothing but debt and a small life insurance policy (which went for the funeral). She has $20,000 equity left in the house from her reverse mortgage, social security and whatever I give her each month. That's it.

I already pay her medicare part B insurance premiums and her snow removal and help her with her little gifts -- that's $225/month over the course of a year. My kid sister and brother-in-law don't contribute anything, but they are enormously helpful driving her places and helping her keep up with the house. My older sister, who lives very well in Southern California, no longer gives my mother any gifts at all anymore -- not for her birthday, Christmas, or Mother's Day. She explains this by saying that now that she has remarried, with her new bridegroom approaching retirement, it wouldn't be fair or wise for her to spend money on her family that he doesn't spend on his.

I resent this. Not the money I give to my mother -- she gave me life -- but that my older sister can't see her way to pitching in.

My older sister is coming in to stay with my mom over Memorial Day weekend. I hope that she gets it that my mom needs help, and that my younger sister and I need help with her. My mom's house smells overwhelmingly of cat urine and she needs a new chimney. I have offered to pay my niece (a very industrious young lady) to go over there with a Rug Doctor carpet cleaner but my mom refuses. She's worried the machine will damage the rug. (As if the carpet isn't already ruined by Ethel the Cat's pee.) My brother-in-law is repairing the chimney.

But what about when my mom's refrigerator goes? Or if one of her cats gets ill? By filing for bankruptcy, my mother will be losing her credit cards and it goes without saying that she has no emergency fund.

I am so sick of worrying about money.

Remember the good old days, when the phone rang with good news?

* I had given her permission to charge $25/month on my American Airlines Citi Master Card but she kept going over so we agreed she should cut the card up and I give her gift cards instead.