Sunday, 26 February 2017

Confessions of a Thriftaholic

Disclaimer: This blog may not be suitable for some folks. You may find it tasteless and inane. You’ve been warned.

This is the third time I’m starting this week’s blog. The other versions are in the trash bin. And I’m not sure this one is going to survive to see the light of day. Nevertheless, I persist.

The other blogs were about a very serious(with a capital S) topic: how to set priorities.

But something weird is going on in my brain. I know setting priorities is a very important task, but what I really want to write about is, “Why I go shopping at Thrift Stores.”  Apparently, this is a priority for me, because I can’t pass up the opportunity when it arises – both the shopping and the writing about it.

See, I just had an unexpected score this week on Senior Tuesday at the local Sally Ann, and I really want to share that with someone. What’s a good deal if you can’t gloat about it and have someone pump their fist for you and say, “Good one!” ? I was just cruising the aisles when I saw this:

The painted pattern on this clock (which works perfectly, by the way) is called “Boerenbont,” a china pattern quite popular in Holland. Loosely translated, it means farmer’s colourful dishware. In other words, peasant pottery for the common folk who can’t afford Royal Doulton, or the Dutch equivalent thereof. In fact this pattern was developed in the 1800s by women who handpainted their chinaware, and is still in production today.

The latest version of boerenbont is all up-to-date for the modern home.
The common folk: that was us. We did have some lovely china mom and dad had received as a wedding gift, which we hardly ever used because it was too precious, but most of the time we ate off an assortment of unmatched plates and bowls picked up here and there – gas station giveaways, supermarket coupons, etc. Boerenbont china was only something mom talked about occasionally, with a dreamy look in her eyes.

So when I saw a piece of Boerenbont, a lonely teacup on a thrift store shelf many years ago, I bought it for the nostalgia factor. Over the years I’ve picked up a few other pieces at garage sales and flea markets.

And then this clock showed up: $4.49 minus 30% because it was Senior’s Tuesday. (This is your cue to pump your fist and say, “Good one!”) It joined my collection displayed on a shelf in the front hall. Thrift store chic!

I believe that “shopping thrifty” is a genetically determined trait. I inherited it from my parents. In one of the letters my mother wrote back to her family in Holland shortly after they had immigrated to Canada, she writes that she had visited a Salvation Army store and she was amazed at all the wonderful clothes they had there. Since post-war Holland had a shortage of almost everything, she bought dresses for her younger sisters and sent them across the ocean!

And I have a memory, too, of Dad coming home from a farm auction with dressers, beds, and boxes of odds and sods to augment our furniture and knick-knacks. We slept on those beds and stored clothing in the dressers for decades. The green depression glassware that was in the random-lot box now has pride of place in my sister’s display cabinet.

Speaking of sisters, the three of us can’t let a sister-week get-together pass without at least an afternoon of thrift-storing. What can I say: it’s a bonding experience. And while I won’t name them by name, I know I have relatives who enjoy this past-time, too. Sometimes we even get notes and photos showing the latest “score”: an old quilt top, a pair of Calvin Klein jeans, a designer handbag, all for a song. You just can beat the rush you get when you know you’re wearing or using something that others have paid top dollar for.

The big question is: really, why do people pay $150 for a pair of NAOT shoes if you can get them for $12.99 (good as new, no less) at VV – and if you shop on Tuesdays, you’ll get another 30% off because you’re a senior. Okay, I know: you’d prefer them in black, but you have no choice, they’re dark brown. Big deal, in a dimly lit room, nobody will know the difference. Or, you could just cruise the aisles and find yourself a pair of dark brown dress pants, and oh, what the heck, why not a jacket too? Live life to the fullest, eh?

As I write this, I realize that some of you are rolling your eyes. I do understand that this kind of shopping is not everyone’s cup of tea (even if it is served in a Boerenbont tea cup). But if you’re eager to hear about some of my other goodies, well then, come into my boudoir, my dears. Have I got something to show you!
This collection of salt-glazed pottery, most of which came off thrift store shelves, was started when I was gifted a jug by my mother-in-law. Lucky me!   

Mom used to drink from a tea cup like this. She probably picked it up at a yard sale. I missed seeing my mom's tea cup after she was gone, so years later jumped at the opportunity to buy this one at a thrift shop. Score!

Saturday, 11 February 2017

How to deal with *@!#

“Move to the Island,” they said. “Vancouver Island is Canada’s tropics," they said. "Sure, it rains a lot, but at least you don’t have to shovel the rain.”

Oh, really? Fake news. Alternative facts. That’s what those encouraging words were. 

The truth – and this is the best, the very best truth, you can count on it –  almost every winter we get at least one snowstorm that turns us into the wimpy drivers that everyone else in Canada sniggers at, the ones slip-sliding around on the streets, spinning our wheels.
And yes, we do have a little red car, as a matter of fact.
Fortunately, usually the snow disappears after a few days. Not this year, however. As I write, it has been snowing steadily for 6 days; trees are coated, roofs are buried, cars drive down the street with a foot of snow on the roof.

This amount of snow is so unusual, I have come up with a theory about it. The beginning of our very bad – the worst, in fact, you’d better believe it – very bad winter began roughly about the time that a certain man was elected – #45, I believe his name is. This White House Wizard, like the White Queen of Narnia, has cast a spell upon our land; we will have 4 years of winter, with no Christmas, if this keeps up. 

So how do you deal with something you just don’t like at all -- like snow, for instance? And make no mistake: we don’t like it. You too may be struggling with something that makes you feel mad or sad, and may be wondering how to handle it. Well, good news: today I read a post on Bernice King’s Facebook page. She’s the daughter of Martin Luther King, and she has advice for dealing with a difficult situation. In her case, it’s #45. But I think it also applies to the snow situation we are in right now. Perhaps lumping #45 and snow into the same category belittles and insults one of them, but it's good advice, so I wanted to share.

First, she advises us, don’t repeat the name of the thing you dislike over and over again. It only distracts you from the issues that underlie it. (Henceforth, the unwelcome thing will be known as *@!#).  *@!# is a fact, a true fact. No lie. The issue is the crappy situation we find ourselves in, and the bad feelings the situation arouse. If we keep bemoaning  *@!#, we will neglect the work that could make our deplorable conditions better. Thus, the RS and I cleared away as much *@!# as we could – and we feel good about that. We discovered that the energy we put into that is much more enjoyable than the energy we put into whining and complaining.

Also, remember that it’s not just  *@!#  that’s causing our discomfort and distress. There’s a whole complex of issues behind that: climate change (literal and metaphorical), for instance. If there’s something we can do to address those issues, we may change our lives for the better.

Don’t argue with people who love *@!# . Accept that some people get excited by all the ways  *@!# might possibly benefit us. “We’ve been waiting for this for a long time,” they say. “Now it’s our turn.” There is no way you can convince them otherwise. So save your breath to ... shovel.

Sometimes,  *@!#-lovers like to get us all riled up by saying outrageous things that make us mad. Getting all worked up creates a bad atmosphere – clouds up the sky, you could say. And cloudy conditions just lead to more  *@!#. So stay positive – after all  *@!# is not the only thing in your life. Think about sunshine. Family. Love. Create beautiful things – beautiful things are an antidote to  *@!#-sickness. Surround yourself with people who make beautiful things so you’ll be inspired and encouraged.

No more hopeless and helpless talk, either. Give it up.  *@!# won’t last forever. After winter, spring will come. We need to believe that.

Sometimes,  *@!#-lovers will make outrageous claims – “ *@!#, and only  *@!#, will make this world great again. We really need it. ” Sometimes we’re tempted to believe what we hear, and we might even pass it on to others. That’s called fake news. Check it out. Don’t pass it on.

Here's an example of fake news: the original photo, taken at Roger's Pass, didn't have the goats on the train. Nice job of photoshopping. Too bad it isn't true, but it is making its way around FB anyway!
We may be tempted to think that  *@!# has the upper hand – it’s such a powerful force, moving into our streets and towns, creating turmoil and chaos by its unexpected appearances. But  *@!# is powerless against humour. It is powerless against a smile and laughter. It cannot dampen our spirits. So indulge in these often.

When it comes to  *@!#, knuckling under is not an option. Holing up in your house and hiding your head under the blankets won’t, in the long run, solve the problem of *@!#.  It  may seem insurmountable; nevertheless, persist.

You’ll be glad – really, really glad, I guarantee it – that you did.

You can find  Bernice King’s Facebook page, with a compilation of advice re the political situation at: