You Want To Save The World? Part Two

Okay, in Part One we got you to put a decent house in your neighbourhood and to get on in peace with the neighbours. We got you to save it, instead of trashing it for novelty. So far so good.

Now we get you to look at the things inside that dwelling…to see if they should be there or not. Start in the living room. Is it a room you live in? Or is it an isolated place that never sees visitors? Is it crammed with furniture that is never used? Have you taken to preserving it under clear plastic like a cake at a bake sale? Keep this image in mind and walk into the kitchen.

Is it clean? Is it roomy? Does it have enough space to cut up food and enough oven and stove to cook it? Is there cleaning room? If it does, you are succeeding…if it does not you are not succeeding yet, but there are many firms that can help you…

The dining room? A table, chairs, and a sideboard? Lighting? Cutlery and a tablecloth? You can eat three squares a day in there and entertain as well. No need for a breakfast nook, bar, or any other useless division of space.

Family room? Why? You have a perfectly good living room. The children are not well-behaved enough? And you need an extra room in which they can practice this behaviour? How much room would you require to teach them to be pleasant and well-behaved?

Bedroom? Is there room for  bed with room enough for you? Don’t laugh, because it may eventually involve a number higher than one. If you have cats and dogs the number may get to double digits. Do you have a clothes closet to hang your old rags in? Or is the Salvos bin a better idea?

Do you need a second bathroom? I say you might, if there is more than one of you in the house. It need not be more than a cubicle with pooper and shower, but the space you dedicate to it will pay off handsomely some day. If there is no room, spend big on air fresheners.

And is there a storage room? A big one. Big enough to take all the stuff you just can’t bear to live with nor to live without. Stuff that somehow comforts you by being stored invisibly. If you are of stern character and wise mien you will not need this room, but you’re reading this post so we need not go into that.

How has this all saved the world? Well, if you have furnished your nest wisely you need not continue to redo it every three months. The flat-pack shop will become unfamiliar territory, and you need not revise your taste every time a flyer is pushed into your letter box. It may cause consternation in the furnishing trade, but you will be putting less pressure on the rest of the planet.

 

 

 

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The Cheap Shoe Shop – Retail Clothing Part Two

Looks down. Notes what is on the feet at the present. Shudders…

There is a cheap shoe store in each of our local shopping centres – and the centres are not down-market venues. They host grocery stores, cinemas, large retail outlets, and some boutique stores, They’re not the ritziest in the town, but they’re also not the slums.

Needing new sandals ( I wear through leather and artificial-leather sandals pretty smartly. If I don’t hole them, I give them such a bacterial overload that you cannot bear to have them in the clothes closet…) I determined to spend less and try these shops. The experiment is ongoing, but the flip-flop rubber thong sandals are giving value for money so far. They are a dangerous thing to wear if you are unsteady on your feet – the sandals turn under the foot and jerk you sideways. Next version will be the enclosed sandal version and we’ll see whether that works.

The feature I most appreciate in these shops – all selling Chinese-made goods – is that they just rack them up on the shelves and let you get on with it to make your own mind up. The goods are set out in sizes and you can see the same style in several fittings by just walking down the racks. You choose a size section and look for yourself. There are seats to plop onto when you want to try something on. Wear socks and just sift through the range.

I do not decry sales knowledgable sales staff – I was one of them once myself – and for goods that have a decided technical turn like computers, electronics, and helicopters I want all the time and attention I can get. I’ll pay for it if it steers me in the right direction. But I don’t need someone to hover over my feet.

 

 

The True Christmas Of Spirit

No, it’s not dyslexia kicking in. It’s what I meant to write.

Christmas, we are told, is a season of renewal and promise and rebirth and blessed peace. Sounds good, but the rebirthing you can keep. I’ve seen what the house looked like for the next three years after a regular birth and I don’t really want to see that again. And the smell…

But renewal is fine, as long as you do not ask me to renew marriage vows or coronary arteries again. I’ll stick with the way things are at present. They would both be occasions for a party, but guess who would end up paying for it…

Promises – well we can have them in the pallet-load out of Parliament House. Fresh , new, implausible ones or old, tired, cynical ones. Or an allsorts mixture of the two. They actually keep very well on a shelf.

And blessed peace. Well, I have no grandchildren, so there is not quite the intensity of celebration that others suffer…but I do really appreciate it when the kids go off to the other rellies for family affairs and the wife and I are left to our own, quiet, devices here at home. We do not do much, but we do it in contentment.

Well, if we are to have any of these ingredients they must act upon our spirit. Here’s hoping they will raise it, rather than lower it. So far the several-weeks-before-New Year’s resolution has been adhered to, and in the face of temptation. I am lucky – I am allowed to eat and drink, unlike a friend who has recently been put on a food and drink diet…just before Christmas. All I have to do is be financially responsible.

I’ll be fine as long as the pocket money holds out…Then I will have to go out and pick more pockets.

Have a Merry Christmas anyway, diet, budget, or otherwise.

 

Bumtree

I have made use of the free selling site and app called Gumtree on several occasions in the past and have been delighted with the results.

While not everything has sold quickly, in most cases something has gone within a three week period, and if I have priced things fairly, it has all been good. But I am wondering about the thing lately.

I accept that there are some items that cannot be sold over this medium. I do not seek to sell them. Yet, when the rulemakers start to be arbitrary about the things – accepting one item and rejecting its brother – you wonder whether they are really smart enough to understand the difference between legal and illegal.

Further, while the listings are easy enough to put up, the first response to many of the careful prices is a flat 30% offer. That’s desultory and predatory at the same time, though not illegal in itself. I always thank the responder for the offer and if I can make any accommodation, I will do so…but the accommodation is a final thing.

Then it starts to get interesting. As soon as the accommodation is suggested, a series of barriers or extra demands are raised. Can the item be sent to the other side of the country at the accommodation price ( ignoring shipping costs ) and is there a vast range of accessories included free with it? Can a friend pick it up and pay by cheque? The odour of fish grows stronger with each text message.

The only saving grace with this is the fact that the advertisement is free in the first place and no goods ever have to be handed over without cash being exchanged on the spot. On all occasions when this has been the case, the deal has been good.

Well caveat emptor et vendor. It is the sort of activity that can be carried out while other things are going on, and no-one can force a sale either way. But if the buyers really do want to do business, they’ll have to do it with dignity. It ain’t a verge collection.

Snapping To Attention

I surprise myself occasionally with my practical determination. Yesterday I weeded my underwear drawer. I feel proud.

Modesty forbids me showing you what I found. Oh, there was nothing salacious, darn it, but I had not realised to just what a state my nether garments had descended until I noted that they were starting to head for my knees while I was still wearing them. It is a daunting feeling on a railway platform if you are the sort of person who has been taught by Mother not to dig round inside your trousers in public.

Now logic tells you that once the elastic goes in your jocks that they cannot actually get to your ankles  – unless you are a Scot in a kilt and in that case you may not have the problem in the first place… But trouser wearers, while saved from the ultimate horror, still feel as if they are making a public spectacle nevertheless. The waddling gait is the worst.

Logic again tells us to test the elastic of the garment each day before it is put on ( and here I am assuming that the wise man has more than one pair in the cupboard. If you only have enough for one week, the weekly wash will see you either sitting in bed until it is done and dried or going warily regimental. Not a prospect of comfort with woolen trousers or uncertain zips.

Better to keep two week’s supply and best to keep three – in case of inclement weather with no washing possible. I have counted my supply – together with fresh packs received as presents at Christmas and Father’s Day, I have 30 pairs. I could nearly clothe a centipede…

But back to the weeding. You draw the underwear through the fingers from side to side. If there is no elasticity, it must be discarded. If the bulk of the cloth has become so thin as to enable you to read a newspaper through the bum – it must go. Anything with a green stain is out, and you can spend time later pondering where you got the stain from. I need not discuss tooth marks…

And put aside any thought of further using garment for household purposes. You do not want it as a dishcloth or polishing rag, considering what it has been polishing all these years.

Years? I found that the discards had been purchased in 2014. I like to get value.

Home One – Food

I live at home.

Unlike many people who live at hotels, nightclubs, bars, restaurants, sports stadiums, airports, or overseas resorts…I live at home. I do it because I can, and because it does me far more good than the other choices.

The first major attraction for me is the food at home. It comes out of our pantry, freezer, refrigerator, and mysterious boxes that a kid brings to the door. Nearly all of it, save the mysterious flat boxes, passes through my hands via utensils that I use to boil, fry, broil, bake, and steam. I aim to produce one meal a day that can keep the family healthy, and sometimes I can even extend to two – if one of these is simple fare.

I prepare food that tastes good, and has vitamins, fibre, carbs, protein, and pepper. A lot of the recipes are derived from those used by my mother, but adapted to my lesser skills. I am pleased to say that we rarely have a failure so gross that it needs to be buried.

Home food has another great advantage – price. Admittedly we pay metro supermarket prices for the ingredients that come into the house, but the cost of a good dinner at our table is very much less – in some cases 1/6th – of that at a local restaurant. The cost of a bad dinner – the fast food burger – is about the same but the home-cooked one has nutrition and taste.

And the other kitchen factors? Well, I have two arms and two hands and can wash dishes. We have a brand-new oven, grill, and stove, so there is no technical reason we cannot have good food. And when we eat at home, I do not have to keep reassuring a hovering waiter that the dinner is alright.

Plus there is no surcharge on weekends and public holidays.

Leftovers, Bless Them

We had leftovers last night.

Each plate had a bit of lasagna, a bit of chilli hamburger and potato hash, and a bit of salad. There was the last half of a bottle of wine to drink. I am grateful for this because:

a. there was enough on each plate to feed us well.

b. It tasted great.

c. The fact that it was left over was because we had more than enough on two other nights as well.

d. We have a good refrigerator that kept it cold and safe for three days.

e. We were all home to eat it.

f. The new oven heated it up without me having to turn things over and shift them around.

g. Australia makes great wine. It can be surprisingly inexpensive.

h. We were all hungry. We’d been doing things all day and worked up an appetite.

When I was a kid I used to think leftovers was a punishment. Why couldn’t we have new food every night? I never realised how lucky I was. I never realised how much my taste was being shaped by the careful re-serving that my mother did. Of course she was being frugal in this – just as I am now. And she knew what I now know as well – some foods improve overnight or over several days in storage. Spaghetti, lasagna, chili beans, some casseroles, etc.

Some things not so much, but I have been encouraged by experimentation to find out how one can re-prepare the leftovers that come our way. Most casseroles respond to gentle re-heating and even soups can be fine if you run them through the microwave. Potatoes soften in storage, and you cannot expect French Fries or chips to be as good the second time as the first…or can you?

We always seem to over-estimate the amount of chips when we get fish and chips and end up with a big packet of them after the meal is finished. Up until now we’ve put them in the paper wrapping into the icebox and tried to heat them up next day in the microwave. They’ve been soggy, tasteless, and sad.

But this last time the penny dropped – the microwave was the culprit. Whatever it can do for stews it was also doing for chips. So this time I used the new oven at a hot setting, spread the chips out on a shallow tray, and left them in there long enough to get through the wet stage and to start cooking again. If you are watchful and swoop at just the right moment you can get them when they are crisp and crunchy without being dead and dry. I also found that sprinkling savoury salt or steak seasoning added to the flavour in a good way.

No more dumping the chips – hello to savoury fries.