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.

 

 

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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.

The Little World – How To Survive A Hobby Shop

We are all in danger at some time in the day. We drive a car, fly in an airplane, eat servo sandwiches, tell our spouse that they are wrong…and for the most part we get away with it. No-one hits us on the road or in the kitchen, we do not get food poisoning, we do not crash. We have learned that the dangers are manageable.

Such is not the case for the hobbyist who goes to the hobby shop. There the dangers are multiplied a thousand-fold…few escape. Wallets and credit cards are seen crashed and burning everywhere you look. Survivors are staggering out of the wrecks with armloads of kits. Painters lie in the aisles overcome by fumes – their partners beside them, overcome by the prices of the paint. It is not a pretty sight.

Shoppers in Bunnings, Home Depot, and Spotlight will also know these distressing sights…with the additional horror in the gardening section of bodies sticking up out of the loam. Whatever can be done to arrest the carnage?

Here is a list of precautions:

a. Do not take more than you can afford to lose. Like the casino, the hobby hell will consume every bit of funding that you can find. Leave your credit and debit cards at home. And don’t go to the counter with a child’s piggy bank and a hammer – it just looks pathetic.

b. Wear dark sunglasses in the shop. Hobby goods are marketed on bright colours – particularly the toy cars and R/C aircraft. If you can’t see them very well you won’t be tempted. You might pick up some dodgy paint choices in the finishing aisle if you’re wearing sunnies but use it up anyway and tell people that it is a special camo scheme.

c. Do not sniff the glues. They are addictive. Likewise, do not sniff the kits. If you have to sniff anything, sniff the owner of the shop. They get little enough love as it is.

d. Learn to make a specific list of what you need and go directly to the place it is stored. Select only as much as you need, pay for it at the counter, and run. Do not browse the cabinets. That way madness lies.

Once you are outside you have proved to yourself that you are strong, moral, and not self-indulgent. Celebrate the fact with a double martini and a glazed doughnut.

e. Never give in to the temptation to stock up on anything. If you add just that extra kit or bag of parts you are starting down the slippery pathway that will lead eventually to an intervention. No-one wants to be the person on television with the garage full of Airfix Spitfires and a sneering relative.

f. Know the signs of addiction before you get there. Is the grocery store refusing to exchange balsa wood strips for bread? Has your bank cut up your credit card, ATM card, cheque book, statement, and half the teatowels in the house? Is the bathtub full of glue? You are in need of treatment. You can get a 1:35th scale treatment kit by Trumpeter for a little under $ 40. Where’s the piggy bank and the hammer?

g. Do not sneak kits into the house. Do not sneak empty boxes up into the attic space. One day the plasterwork on the ceiling will give way and your secret will be out.

h. Do not lie to your spouse. Don’t say that you will be going off to have a night of squalid sex with your lover and then sneak around to the workshop and glue things. The plastic smell and the dried glue on your fingers will give you away, no matter how much you douse yourself in perfume.