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July 10, 2013



I must shower in the morning. It means running around crazily to get ready for work in the morning, and would be so much easier if I did it at night, but I MUST shower in the morning.

catriona mcpherson

Very understandable! No judgement here.

Barb Goffman

I'm sure I must have unwritten rules, but I can't think of any right now, I'm laughing so hard at yours. Flossing from the middle, really? Oh, okay, here's one: I don't throw things away until they're all used up. ALL used up. I will use pencils down to the nub. When a lipstick looks used up - it's not. I get a lipstick brush to dig out the remainder that's in the tube. And there's more. Of yeah, there's more.

catriona mcpherson

Ladies - I'm with you. Shower - yes. Using things up - oh yes. Barb, do you cut toothpaste tubes open so you can gouge out the last few blobs?

catriona mcpherson

Agree, ladies. Shower - tick. Cutting a toothpaste tube in half and gouging out the last few blobs with your toothbrush - tick. Nothing to see here; move along.

Alan Portman

I must be weird. I floss left to right, top then bottom.

"Life is uncertain. Eat desert first."

catriona mcpherson

Typepad, after storing my comments like nuts in a hamster's cheeks, has just spat them all out again. Apologies!

Donna Andrews

1. Socks and underwear . . . never heard that rule, so I've been breaking it for years. Second drawer. Fits better.

2. Yes, the middle, usually. Although my dentist says you don't have to floss ALL your teeth. . .

(wait for it)

. . . just the ones you want to keep.

3. Yeah, I tend not to call after 9, even with night owls. Curious. I sometimes email the friend to see if it's okay to call.

4. Catriona, this is the "It's a perfectly good [insert object name], so I can't possibly throw it away" rule. Now I have added a corollary. "So I will give it to charity." Or Freecycle it. Someone would love to have it. Just not you.

5. I think the U.S. equivalent might be fruitcake. I only know a handful of people who actually like the stuff, yet you used to have to practically swat them away with a stick all December. Seems to be dying out, though. Hope the Brussels sprouts thing eases so there's plenty left for people who like them.

Friend of mine grew Brussels sprouts for the first time one year. Since my dad was an expert gardener and she was under the delusion that it might be hereditary, she called me over to see why there were no sprouts.

"There are plenty of sprouts there," I said.

"Where?" She began scrabbling at the ground around the plant. Did she think Brussels sprouts grew underground, like turnips and potatoes?

"Here!" I pointed to a sprout laden plant. "They grow in the . . . the . . . the armpits of the plant's branches."


"You know," she said. "I really could have lived without that image."

catriona mcpherson

Hee-hee! Armpit cabbages - that's the trick the Brussels sprouts marketing board have been missing.

Terry Shames

What a great post! And Donna, I love your replies. The brussels sprouts image is priceless.

My secret rule is "You can't throw colored markers away no matter how seldom you use them." I have great bunches of them. The crazy things is that sometimes I bundle them up and take them to the teacher supply place. A year later, I've got twice as many. Where do they come from?


The rule in my family is no phone calls before 9am or after 9pm. Texting is totally ok though because while my mom has a cell phone, she doesn't always know where it is or hear it when it rings!

Connie Berry

I love Brussels sprouts. Oh no, does that mean I'm not normal??

catriona mcpherson

Me too, Connie. I even like them cold the next day. And I love fruit cake.

Kelly Saderholm

Sock drawer- check
phone calls-check
I don't actually cut the toothpaste tube open, but I do cut apart the wax-paper bags in boxes of cereal and use that.
I also love Brussels Sprouts.

Occasionally, my daughter and I would go somewhere for lunch (Usually the Italian restaurant that makes fabulous desserts) and just get dessert for lunch. I have never packed up on entrée to take home after eating dessert.

I have pens I still keep because they have ink in them and they are perfectly good. But I don't like using them-I have a certain kind of pen I like to use. But I haven't thrown the old ones away. I wonder if Goodwill will take pens?

Elaine Viets

I never make calls to homes before 9 AM or after 9 PM, Catriona - and if I get a call either before or after those hours, my heart is always hammering, even though it's more likely a wrong number or a drunk.

Marcia Talley

I love brussels sprouts! Making 'em tonight for dinne, in fact. Special request of my grandson ... he wants cheese sauce on top.

Marcia Talley

"You can't wear white shoes before Memorial Day or after Labor Day." My only rule about shoes is -- if they're comfortable, wear them.

Charlaine Harris

Marcia, I'm sorry, you'll go to hell if you break the white shoes rule. The white pants rule, too.

The Tamil pots and pans resonated, though. I kept a saucepan that tipped unless you positioned it just right on the burner, and everything stuck to the bottom of it. Because it was my pan. And because I loved the lady who gave it to me for my first wedding, forty years ago. I finally realized she would be first to tell me to get rid of it, and I did, but it felt really wrong.


Cat, you have way more rules than I do. I start flossing any old place and go from there. Never thought about the underwear/sock rule - I do have my underwear in the top drawer, but my socks go in the bottom drawer, which seems more logical to me. I've never had dessert first, but I've had it in lieu of dinner at times. Once I had Cinnabon cinnamon rolls for dinner. I got such a sugar buzz that I couldn't sleep that night, but it seemed worth it.

However, I do usually observe the 9/9 rule about making calls just because it seems considerate. And like Barb, I also need to use absolutely all of things. I do cut tubes to get out the last of the lotion or conditioner or whatnot. There's always loads more in there. I thought that was not that I follow unwritten rules, but because I'm cheap.

Susan Shea

What's bothering me right now is that I pretty much adhere to all the rules everyone's mentioned...except when I don't. My rule-free self emerges somewhat more often than a 17-year cicada but less predictably. I have, however, never stolen a library book. That is so against the rules of civilized society!

Catherine Lepreux

Yep, check to all of these. Also, cutting the tube of moisturiser in half to get the dregs and saving all the elastic bands that the postie puts round our bundle of mail. I blame our parents!

catriona mcpherson

Christmas cards in three piles on 12th night. A: pesky friends covered the inside with writing - recycle. B: back of picture bit is clear - shopping list. C: Back of picture bit is clear and picture is small - next year's gift label after some work with the pinking shears and a hole punch.

Sue Cox

I'm laughing because I follow most of 'em, but you left out an important one-- surely no one leaves their mail in the mailbox for more than a day before opening it, right?

Molly MacRae

We were given a complete set of unbreakable dishes for our wedding 35 years ago. We hated them then and we hate them now. We use them every day because we have them and they're unbreakable. We can't get rid of them because they were a present. There's no point in buying others because these are perfectly good. And unbreakable.

Deb Romano

Well, I LOVE Brussels Sprouts, I floss top to bottom and right to left, I do it in front of the mirror before bedtime, I nearly always take in Saturday's mail on Sunday afternoon, I squeeze as much as I can out of the toothpaste tube, I take pens apart to make sure there is no ink left before I throw them away, I wait until my house plants wilt before I water them because I like to watch them spring back to life, I back into parking spaces whenever possible because I like to make quick getaways. when I receive those discount coupons in the mail to use at local businesses I frequently use the blank backs of them for scrap paper...I am perfectly normal in every way; right? RIGHT??!

catriona mcpherson

Oh, Molly! That did make me laugh. At least I love my black cooking pots.

Mailboxes are still such a novelty that I always get the mail as soon as I can.

And I LOVE the coloured paper fliers. The local Winco uses very snazzy colours for its pizza news and I use the blank backs to write notes I'm going to want to refer to a lot during the first draft - the date-line, character's names, map of location etc. I can always find the bright colours no matter how big a guddle my desk gets in.

Dean James

Here's one no one else has mentioned. I don't untie my shoes before I take them off. So when I am getting dressed, I must untie both shoes before I will put one on. I must put the right one on first. Same thing with the socks. Right one first. I am cavalier sometimes and will put right sock on, then right shoe, then left sock and left shoe, but mostly it's both socks first, then the shoes...

Hank Phillippi Ryan

WHite shoes, I know its okay, but I still can't do it until after Memorial day.

I floss from the back, hmm... but I could not, under any circumstances, eat dessert first.

No toothpaste scouring, but I save the little black plastic carry-out containers with those perfectly fitting plastic lids. I have so many of them--but how can you throw them away? And glossy paper shopping bags.

And you can't throw away liquid soap without at least one or two fill-it-up -with- water and swish-it- arounds.


I have been known on more than one occasion to order an appetizer and dessert for dining and box my entrée to go. A yummy meal. I love Donna’s description of brussels sprouts. While I despise them my hubby loves them so I cook them for him (sautéed in garlic and oil).

catriona mcpherson

Dean . . . how can you have one sock and one shoe on and one bare foot? That's just so wrong.

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