CLEARANCE TIME AGAIN

It’s final clearance sale time. It may be the middle of summer according to the calendar, but in retail, summer’s over. Time to clear out and make room for the new fall fashions. Which is why I’m wearing my new orange dress from J. Jill.

Given my druthers, my entire wardrobe would be neutral. Dark, preferably black. Orange makes me feel as if I’m wearing a neon sign, though Garry thinks it looks cute. Not that he would ever wear this color. He’s even more New York than I am. His favorite color is (wait for it) … gray.

When I said I can’t go out in public in anything this bright, Garry said “This is Uxbridge.”

Uxbridge. On the way to the grocery store, we spotted her. A lovely, plump young thing. Wearing very short, tight, purple spandex shorts. With an over-sized bright yellow tee-shirt. Large bouncing breasts and obviously, no bra. But the thing that brought it all together, that made her larger than life, was her long, electric-blue hair.

She was walking while texting, the epitome of fashion in Our Town. Garry and I discussed the possibility she didn’t own a mirror, but decided she probably thought she looked really cool. I suppose that’s why Garry thinks an orange tee dress is no big deal.

The two colors you can always get at clearance sales are orange and purple.

purple and orange sweaters

End of the season shopping provides a limited choice of colors. Purple, orange. Beige. Ghostly white and unhealthy green. Also special colors which were supposed to be hot but weren’t. Named after food, you’ll find cantaloupe, mango, kiwi, aubergine, honeydew, sugarplum, pumpkin, mocha, and vanilla bean. In other words, purple, beige, and orange. Renaming does not a fashion trend make.

I shopped final sales and closeouts long before I was strapped for cash. It’s tradition. My mother raised me to hold fast to one unyielding principle: “Never pay full price.

You aren’t supposed to brag about how much you pay. You’re supposed to brag about how much you didn’t pay. The less you pay, the greater your bragging rights. I was astonished to discover some people are proud of paying a lot when they could have gotten for half off if they’d waited a couple of days. They might have had to get it in purple or orange, but think of the money they’d save!

Would I have different attitude towards shopping if I were richer? I don’t think so. To put it in perspective, in the early 1990s, I got into a tug of war with Carly Simon for possession of a 70% off final clearance silk blouse in a chi-chi shop in Oak Bluffs on Martha’s Vineyard. Neither of us was poor. It was principal. It was orange. I won. It was a fantastic blouse.

Bargain hunting is not just for people on a tight budget. For some of us, it’s a contact sport. Somewhere in the ether, Mom is smiling proudly.

IT’S YOUR FAULT. YES, YOU!

Sleepy Time – More and more of us go to bed too late because of sleep procrastination. What are the nighttime rituals that keep you up before finally dozing off?


I blame you, WordPress. Until I started blogging, I’d go to bed, read a bit, then clutch my pillow and be off to dreamland for a few restless, miserable hours. Now, I have to check (and recheck) my blog. See how today’s offerings look on three differently formatted devices (tablet, Kindle, small computer). Find the typos. There are always typos because I am The Typo Queen and no one can put more typos in a small post than I can. If typos could be made an Olympic event, I would have a gold medal — but I digress. What was I talking about?

Oh. Sleep. The whole “bedtime procrastination” thing. I don’t think we could be classified as a bedtime procrastinators because we have no schedule. As retirees, we rarely need to get up at a particular time. Unless there’s something on the calendar. The only other thing remotely time-sensitive is trying to shop for groceries on Tuesday when the supermarket gives its senior discount.

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Personally, I think they should give us a discount every day. Tuesday is a mess of scooters, walkers, and bewildered people trying to remember why they are in the bread aisle and if they are lost or truly need bread. And where’s the list? They can’t find their money at checkout and are frequently confused as to where they left the car. Since we aren’t that far behind them, mentally speaking, we wait patiently as they work their way through the equation of life. Soon that could be us. I’m willing to bet this is unrelated to the hour at which they went to bed.

Hopefully, we won’t be stuck behind them as we exit the parking lot. They drive so slowly. If we had a manual transmission, we’d never make it out of first. They have to compete with the other slow, bad drivers who are decades younger. The younger folks can’t drive because they are too busy. Texting, talking on the phone, adjusting radios, yelling at kids (husband, dogs, themselves) while swerving all over the road.

It’s a nightmare out there and it has nothing to do with getting enough sleep, although it is possible that some of the slowest drivers are taking a nap, don’t realize they are at the wheel of a car and supposed to be moving.

Have I forgotten anything? Where’s my list?

COME MONDAY, IT WILL BE ALRIGHT

Not just another day in the Life of Harold by Rich Paschall, Sunday Night Blog

Upon awakening Harold went immediately to the window to check the weather.  He was instantly aware that it was grayer than normal for that time of day. He needed to decide on his schedule for the morning.

There was no putting off decisions until later.  His orderly life demanded plans be set and executed precisely. Since rain was falling, Harold knew that he’d follow breakfast and some newspaper reading with a trip to town for some shopping. His lists were made; he was ready to go.

When it was almost 9 am, Harold grabbed his lists, a light jacket and umbrella and headed for the back door to the garage. Just as he was about to grab the door knob he was startled by the telephone ringing. He could not imagine who in the world might be calling him. There were no friends or relatives to call. There were no appointments scheduled for someone to needlessly remind him of attending. He figured it might be a telemarketer and while such calls were a total waste of time to Harold, he decided to make sure that is who it was.

“Hello,” Harold said tentatively as if he was not sure anyone would actually be on the line.  “This is Harold.”  He automatically announced his name as it was an ingrained practice from his many years on the job.

“Hello Harold,” a cheery voice responded. “This is your neighbor, Bill. You know, the guy down the street.”

When Harold had first moved to the Florida community, Bill had come by and introduced himself. Harold had stood on the walkway watching his goods being unloaded by the movers. Bill offered to help anytime Harold needed it and suggested they exchanged numbers in case of emergency.

“Us old guys have to look out for each other,” Bill declared. So Harold exchanged numbers with Bill though he thought it most unlikely they would ever use the numbers.

“Oh,” Harold said hesitantly, “I was just on the way out to the store.”

“I recall you said Monday was for shopping and I thought we could go together and then you don’t have to drive,” Bill replied.

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“I see, but I really need to go now as I have a schedule to keep today.”  Harold had a schedule to keep everyday. It was the only way he could maintain contentment in his life –and contentment was everything.

“That’s OK,” Bill told Harold in a continued bright and sunny tone which bubbled over despite the unpleasant weather, “I’ll be there in 10 minutes.”

Harold had no idea how to respond to that. It was so rare for anything to impose itself on the master scheduler’s day. “I guess,” Harold said with surprise in his voice, “But I’m really ready to go now.”

“No problem,” came the reply and Bill hung up the phone. If anyone had been present, they’d have seen a remarkable look of surprise on the face of a man who never did anything spontaneously, even when it fit perfectly into his rigid schedule.

In less than 10 minutes, Bill was in Harold’s driveway giving a quick blast on the horn of his brown Chevy Malibu.  Harold emerged from the side door and moved toward Bill’s car as the light rain fell.  “Where to?” Bill asked.

“I normally go to the Publix, but if you don’t want to go…”

“The Publix it is,” Bill said, cutting off Harold’s attempt to back out. At that Bill proceeded to talk his way to the Publix parking lot. He told Bill all about his first marriage, which ended after a few stormy years. Then he told of his long dedication to the love of his life, who was now gone but would always hold’s Bill’s affection. He talked about his dog, his friends, his family in Tennessee, his work life and a variety of topics that left Harold’s brain in a whirl.

From there the two proceeded to shop their way around the giant supermarket. While Harold worked on a shopping list laid out according to the design of the store, Bill seemed to wander aimlessly, picking up items at random. When Harold was finished and through the check out line, Bill was just getting to a cashier.

Harold looked at Bill’s cart and wondered how anyone could spend so much time shopping for so few items. Unless Bill had a good supply of food items at home already, he would certainly have to go shopping a second time this same week. To Harold, that seemed awfully wasteful.

On the trip home, Bill continued telling Harold the story of his life. Harold, on the other hand, couldn’t imagine he had anything significant to add to the conversation. Mostly he confined himself to monosyllabic responses to Bill’s stories.

Harold took his groceries into his kitchen with an assist from Bill, after which the neighbor was quickly on his way.  “Perhaps we can do this again next week,” Bill said as he left. Harold had no idea what to say. He couldn’t imagine another such trip, though there was nothing wrong with the shopping adventure. It was just … different.

After putting away his supplies, Harold looked at the clock and to his surprise, he was right on schedule. It really didn’t seem possible, but Harold’s clock never lied.


The character of Harold previously appeared in “Soup and Sandwich” and “The Case With The Missing Egg.”

CALIFORNIA IS FOREIGN SOIL … NO REALLY. IT IS.

Cee’s Share Your World – 2014 Week 19

Do you prefer shopping or going to a park?

Being poor has taken the sparkle out of shopping. I do most of it online. Shopping excursions are limited to buying groceries and other things that require putting in a personal appearance. If I had my druthers (whatever they are), I’d never go shopping.

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So park it is. I can take pretty pictures in a park and most shopping doesn’t offer photo ops.

What is the highest score you’ve ever made in bowling? Actual or virtually played.

Bowling? Like what I last did more than 40 years ago? I think it was around 150 and that was a fluke. Never tried virtual bowling. I wasn’t that fond of the real thing.

Name the foreign countries you’ve been to.

  • Canada
  • Mexico
  • St. Martin
  • Nassau (Bahamas)
  • San Francisco
  • Hollywood
  • Disney World
  • Haiti
  • Jamaica
  • Aruba
  • Anguilla
  • Israel
  • England
  • Wales
  • Ireland

IrishSigns

Do stopovers at airports count? If so, add France, Italy, Belgium and Greece. Also Las Vegas and Texas which are pretty foreign to me.

Describe your own outlook on life in seven words or less.

We are all doomed, so let’s party!

SHADES OF PURPLE AND ORANGE, 50% OFF!

I have a lot of sweaters. Winters are long; this one is endless. Heating oil is expensive. Sweaters fill the gap. I like sweaters anyhow. These are cuddly, warm, soft garments into which I can snuggle when the north wind blows. Most of my sweaters are purple. I’ve got a few in black, a handful in red, but purple rules. Until recently, all my sweaters were black. I’m from New York where women wear black. It’s a right coast thing.

The purpling of my wardrobe occurred gradually. It crept up on me, a sweater at a time … a lavender cashmere here, a dark purple merino there.  Seasons passed until my wardrobe was awash in purple.

purple and orange sweaters

Purple sweaters scream “final mark-down.” One of the perils of waiting until the end of the season is the selection of colors and sizes is limited. As a habitue of end-of-the-season sales, I know what to expect. Lots of purple, white, orange and some nasty shades of green in which no one looks healthy.

Leftovers also include the “specialty colors” designers were sure would be the next big things. They never sell well, so there are plenty of whatever it was in the clearance bins. All normal, neutral colors are gone, but you’ll find fruit salad: cantaloupe , mango, kiwi, aubergine, honeydew, sugarplum, pumpkin, mocha and vanilla bean. But we all knew they were tan, and orange and coral and lavender. No one was tricked and the new names didn’t make old colors the next big anything.

I’m a fan of neutral colors. I’m conservative about color having I spent decades working. Dressing had to be fast, mindless. Neutral colors are the backbone of a working woman’s wardrobe. If your clothing is all black, grey, off-white, taupe, brown, or khaki, putting together an outfit is a piece of cake. Grab a top, a bottom, attach earrings and voilà. It’s a go-anywhere wardrobe for the fashion-challenged. Me.

The years rolled on. I stopped working and had no money or legitimate need for new clothing — except the usual gaining weight so nothing fit (oops). Our persistent lack of money elevated and honed my bargain hunting skills, but … I have always been a bargain hunter.

As far back as I can remember, I’ve hunted down final sales and closeouts, even when I wasn’t strapped for cash. It’s a family tradition. My mother raised me to hold fast to one unyielding principle: “Never pay full price,” or rephrased, “Only fools pay full price.”

I take great pride in scoring really great buys. You aren’t supposed to brag about how much you pay. You’re supposed to brag about how much you didn’t pay. The less you pay, the greater your bragging rights. I was astonished to discover some people are proud of paying a lot for something for which they could have gotten half off if they’d waited a couple of days. That’s weird, don’t you think? Okay, they might have had to buy it in purple or orange, but think of all the money they’d save!

Would I have different attitude towards shopping if I were rich? I don’t think so. To put it in perspective, back in the early 1990s, I got into a tug of war with Carly Simon for possession of a 70% off final clearance silk blouse in a chi-chi shop in Oak Bluffs on Martha’s Vineyard. Neither of us was poor. It was principal. The blouse was orange. I won. It was a fantastic blouse.

Bargain hunting is not just for people on a tight budget. For many of us, it’s a contact sport. Somewhere, in Heaven, Mom is smiling proudly.

WHEN CHRISTMAS KILLS YOUR CHRISTMAS SPIRIT

For twenty Decembers in a row, I maxed out my credit and emptied my bank account buying gifts. A lot of the gifts were items no one really needed or wanted, stuff that just caught my eye. Or because anything the recipient wanted or needed, I couldn’t afford. And worse, they didn’t want the stuff I gave them either. I also got a lot of junk gifts, stuff I didn’t want, had no use for. Felt obliged to keep anyhow, so it cluttered up my house and made me feel obligated to keep the giving and getting cycle going against all logic and reason.

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After Garry and I had to stop working in 2001, our financial situation went downhill. At some point in that long, painful slide, I realized I had to do something to stop the hemorrhaging. Christmas was killing us.

It was 2007 when I finally stopped exchanging gifts with everyone except my best friend and her husband, and my immediate family. Immediate family was defined as my son, his wife, my granddaughter, my husband and his brothers.

I tried to think of a subtle approach to handling this, but there wasn’t any. Finally, I simply called everyone. I told them I wanted to stop exchanging gifts. Explained I couldn’t afford it and in any case, anything they really wanted or needed was outside my means. We all wound up buying junk, so what was the point?

At first there were a lot of objections. In the end, though, everyone agreed I had a point and I think they were relieved. Because unless you have unlimited resources, Christmas can wipe you out. After initial objections were overcome, everyone settled down and the idea began to gain traction.

Now, especially with so many of my friends retired and living on fixed incomes, most of the people I know limit gift exchanges. There’s no viable alternative. If Christmas spending is killing your Christmas spirit, you have to talk about it. People will understand.

Set spending limits even (maybe especially) with close family. Even with your spouse. Garry and I have a $50-75 “under the tree” limit for each other. After Christmas, if we have a bit of money, we go shopping together. We hit the post-holiday clearance sales where we each get stuff we really want. I know a lot of couples who do the same thing. It works and it’s fun.

There’s no law that says you have to bankrupt yourself every December. I used to do it because I love buying presents. As much as I had to set limits for everyone else, I had to discipline myself too. I’ve learned to stick to my own rules —  a lot harder than I thought it would be.

The end result has been good all the way around. If Christmas has become something you dread rather than look forward to, you might want to restructure your holiday. Try a new approach. More celebration and less shopping. It might save Christmas for you.