Grits and Purls

Spinning yarns about the grit of life

One of the great things about writing a blog is that you can waste, uh spend, all sorts of time looking at “metrics”: What are the most popular blog entries? What day of the week do you get the most “hits” to your blog? What search strings bring people to your blog?

The last question is the most fascinating. In October I wrote a blog post “Of Square Toilets and Round Plungers” in which I relayed the chaos of my parents’ 50th anniversary party, which took place against a backdrop of a clogged square toilet in the guest bathroom. That is one of the most popular entries on my blog site because “how to plunge a square toilet” is the most popular search string that gets typed into search engines like Google to get people to my site.

If you type “how to plunge a square toilet” into the Google search engine, Cheese Grits comes up third in the organic search results (a placement for which many businesses would pay dearly). Now, I did not know that there were so many square toilets in existence. Nor did I know that so many people had the same difficultly plunging them, but those corners just make getting that seal with the plunger almost impossible, and the frustrated turn to Google. Unfortunately, I don’t provide any help (just empathy and shared experience) for the frustrated home plumber. However, at, a writer recommends using a snake or other specialty plunger.

In addition to concern over plunging square toilets, concern about toilet etiquette has brought people to my blog. One person was trying to determine if it was “polite to flush a toilet at night.” That depends. First of all: How loud is the toilet, and how close is it to other sleeping individuals? Often when I am up at night, I use the hall bathroom and not the one adjacent to our bedroom. Also, is there a likelihood that you will wake a sleeping baby? In my opinion, that is a major consideration. And, finally, will you be able to get to the toilet first thing in the morning to flush it? Nobody likes to wake to others’ waste.

Also a note: if you live in an older house or dorm where the shower plumbing hasn’t been updated to maintain hot/cold pressure when there is a sudden drain on the cold water, do not flush the toilet when someone is in the shower. Or, at least have the courtesy to yell “Flush!” before you do so that the bather can move out of the way of the hot water and avoid getting scalded.

Another top search topic is “toddler vocabulary”. It would seem that every parent wants to know what words toddlers should know, and they find their way to my “What can you learn from a toddler’s vocabulary list?” article where I discuss what parents should be learning. But, for the curious, here are some vocabulary topics that most two-year-olds know about: body parts, colors, numbers, letter names, kitchen items, rooms in the house, people’s names, things you do everyday, food, modes of transportation, prepositions (in, out, etc). Just listen to your child. You’ll learn a lot.

Although, let me give you fair warning, correcting vocabulary misuse can be difficult. When I went downstairs to play with my daughter the other day, she informed me, as she pulled out her wooden ice cream cone set, that I would be the “customer”.

So I said, “I would like a chocolate ice cream cone.”

“No. You’re the customer. You fix me a four-scoop cone.” She protested.

“No, honey, the customer asks for the cone. The store owner fixes it.

“No, You’re the customer. I want a four-scoop cone.”

“No, the customer asks for the cone.”

“No!” was the emphatic response.

Realizing that we were dangerously close to a meltdown, I decided that the battle about the definition of customer was a battle that didn’t need to be won instantly. So, I fixed her a mint, chocolate, strawberry and vanilla, four-scoop ice cream cone.

I wonder how many hits the Cheese Grits blog will get for “how to fix a four-scoop ice cream cone” when I post this article online.

© 2010 Michele Arduengo. All rights reserved.

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