Toilet paper and lecturer’s chalk, these were two essential items, which preceded our arrival in Kiev, Ukraine, nine years ago in April 2011.

Dozens of toilet paper rolls cushioned the fragile sticks of chalk, needed for the nineteen art & music performances artist Cliff would do in the public schools of Kiev and surrounding towns. The toilet tissue and chalk were packed in Jacksonville, Florida, to sail on a freighter through the Black Sea and shipped to Kiev several weeks before our arrival.




We traveled to Ukraine at the invitation of Kathy Gould, director of a charity fund, ABCLife, which ministers to children and families. Cliff volunteered to present nineteen performances as a gesture of goodwill using a 4’ x 7’ easel, with character-building and environmental themes. From the nearly dozen themes available, the principals in Kiev and Zhitomer and other venues selected these two themes: The Earth, You, and Me, and Choices, discouraging the use of drugs and tobacco. Because music accompanied the 35-minute shows, the lyrics were projected in Russian above the drawing in progress.

This specially built, portable easel was shipped with chalk and toilet tissue. Kathy’s crew were a huge help.




Students loved the shows. Kathy had told us earlier that Ukrainians are generally very artistic: we noticed exquisite paintings on classroom walls and also on the exterior of buildings.


And, everywhere we went, the students were smartly dressed: high school girls strode confidently in patent leather high heels; the boys wore suits, black and spiffy.


Though Kathy had forewarned me, I was still surprised at the state of affairs in the bathrooms.

It’s a good idea to have practiced squats before encountering this type of toilet.


In school restrooms, soap was a rarity, and I carried sections of toilet paper in my fanny pack wherever I went and made sure Cliff had a supply in his pocket before the intensive production of set-up and performance. There was absolutely no toilet paper in any of the school restrooms we visited. Strangely, however, I observed not a whiff of foul odor in the bathrooms or among students in the assembly. We were puzzled.

Isn’t toilet tissue essential?



Toilet Tissue and Covid-19

Early in the pandemic, when I visited Target in my hometown, shoppers were leaving the store with as many packs of toilet paper as the store would allow. This didn’t surprise me, as I knew early on that rolls of toilet paper were at a premium. “But why was this happening?” I wondered. Diarrhea is not a symptom of this particular virus. So why the run on toilet paper?

When I queried a store associate, he remarked, “Yes, everyone is buying toilet paper these days; I’m not sure why. And, can you believe, it’s happening globally?”

Perhaps not in Ukraine.



How do you explain the phenomenon of the possibly universal grasping for toilet paper?

What hard-to-find item or service have you particularly wished for during the pandemic?

How do you decide what is essential in this “new normal”?



Stay safe

Be well

I’ll see you in July!