Gratitude Sunday: Who Gives A Sheet?

Gratitude * Sunday

Quote of the Week – “You know, young actors say all the time, ‘Should I use my own life experience?’ And my response is, ‘What choice do you have?’” David Mamet

Sunday Haiku
Cold dry air wind-chaps
my sensitive aging skin,
coconut oil soothes.

Sunday Musings
What a difference a sheet makes! And what a luxury choice is.

I am the voice of intelligent poverty. I will remind you, I don’t live in grinding poverty. I have the safety of a warm home with an intact roof and walls, no rats or other pests other than sugar ants and a skunk under the shed, and mostly we are able to have enough to eat. It’s true, one eats less as we age. My poverty includes not being able to care for my home as it needs (I’m in need of both electrical and plumbing repairs, plus my roof and gutters need attention along with carpets, and paint inside and out), and our transportation is old, getting older, and disintegrating as we speak.

Financial security gives the comfort of knowing one can handle any needed repairs, or replace stuff that breaks beyond fixing, or not get behind on the mortgage because one chooses to pay the property tax to get the three percent discount when the tax is due. Knowing one has unlimited choices, and doesn’t have to scrimp to be able to afford simple pleasures, like a movie out, or new sheets, is a major stress reliever. Ah yes, stress. The bane of America.

Credit is such a tease. With the swipe of a few purchases one can be in enough debt that, with interest and minimum payments, one might never get out of debt. Even when one stops purchasing, the interest charges feed the debt and unless one can somehow pay the debt off in full, it may take thirty years to pay off the interest charges on old debt. If one charges food purchases, one is paying interest charges for years after the food is long gone. Banks love that kind of debt.

In the 1950s and 60s when I was growing up, my grandpa repeated the mantra: If you can’t pay cash, you can’t afford it. It is an interesting way to go, and if one applies appropriate budgeting it can work very well. However, times and bank and mortgage processes have changed such that one needs a credit score in many cases. Because I have always paid for most things in cash, or inherited used items, when it comes to qualifying for a standard bank loan for a car or a house I am out of luck because of a lack of credit score. Fortunately I don’t have to care. My home is on a personal contract, and so far so good; I escaped damage from the 2008 crash because of the contract not being a bank loan.

Interestingly, this poverty of fluid cash flow prevents my identity being stolen, or so far at least. I received a denial notice for a new card, and a bank loan in my name from a place I knew I had not applied to. I called and got it straightened out, blocking my name from being used with them again. I wondered who had bothered to dig through what trash to get my information. Now I routinely cut out name, address, and any bar-coding around my information, and you have to look through all parts of mail as sometimes the same information is hidden on a page inside. Even being poor requires diligence.

It also requires resourcefulness. Along with whining, which I am so good at, I like to find solutions. I entertain the thought as one of the elements of being Libra born, how to balance one side with the other. It’s only now in the older days of my life I am beginning to be comfortable with the unbalanced part of things never being equal.

I was a Merit Badge Counselor for Boy Scouts when I volunteered to work with them. One of the merit badges I counseled for was Personal Management, how to manage both time and money. I probably learned more than the boys. Counseling merit badges is easy as long as you remember it’s black and white. The question or requirement is exactly as written: if it says tell, the scout must tell (talk to you with words), if it says “discuss” the scout must be able to have a conversation with the counselor, and if it says keep a record in writing the scout must show the record to the counselor. The counselor cannot require any more or less than what is written in black and white in the requirements; no assigning extra reading or writing or research or application beyond what is written as requirements. When done properly in black and white the counselor signs off on the achievement. Only once did I send a scout back for a re-do. I didn’t require the scouts to do all the extra reading I did about budgeting and money management, because it wasn’t in the requirements, but all that extra reading helped me in having ideas for suggestions when the scouts would ask how to do the requirement.

Often scouts and the rest of us struggle with finding the item that best suits our needs (choosing what I want), budgeting for the item (maybe choosing to forgo other purchases for a while or taking an extra job), saving for the item (choosing how to acquire the money, and where to save it) , and waiting until the item goes on sale at the best price; choosing delayed gratification is usually the hardest part at least until one becomes accustomed to paying the least amount of money. Knowing your numbers puts you in control of them, and when shit happens as it always does, no matter how much money you have, at least you know what your current numbers are, and where you might be able to recover from the latest warm pile of poo. A scout is thrifty and prepared.

All this to say, patience is sometimes rewarded. I enjoyed spending a night at my brother’s home a few years back, and my gracious sister-in-law provided the best sheets ever. They were so soft it was like water (if water could be felt dry) on one’s skin; you couldn’t really feel them they were so smooth, but you could really really feel them because they were so smooth and soft. It was a skin comfort I have desired ever since.

I had already heard about the comfort of luxury sheets, and I’d done some research. After the experience at my brother’s I began research in earnest: the best recommended brands; differences between threads, thread counts, and types of material; what brands luxury hotels use; the most popular brands with wealthy people; reviews by people who had spent the money; and I’d begun researching availability and watching for sales. I’ve been doing that for several years now holding out on the possibility I might come into a freak bit of “extra” money or the random gift card to Bed, Bath, and Beyond might come my way. I’ve loved textiles for years, but I would not purchase any textile without feeling it first. BB&B is not going to let you open brand new packages and let you feel the material. Perhaps they have samples out, but I was afraid to shop for fear of falling prey to the omg-I-love-it-I-have-to-have-it-now feeling. That’s precisely why I had to stop garage sale-ing. There is always something to want, always something to spend money on. FYI, my favorite book on budgeting is Elizabeth Warren’s book All Your Worth: The Ultimate Lifetime Money Plan (2005, personal economics), because her 20/30/50 budget was easy to understand and allowed for everything: immediate living expenses, contingent expenses, retirement savings, and play money. This life hardly seems worth it without some play time.

I was gifted a new queen sized bed last summer, with sheets. The sheets were fine, they fit, but I started thinking (not always a good thing, ha) maybe this was the bed I would die with and now would be the time for fine sheets while I can still enjoy them. Don’t get all morbid now, everybody dies. It’s part of life. We’re talking about enjoying while we can.

Goodwill to the rescue. Our local is close and on my regular shopping circuit. Since it is so convenient, and their items change so often, I’ve been taking a few minutes on shopping days or library days to stop in. I feel the sheets, I compare prices and textures, I look at edges and edging, the quality of the elastic, I look for stains and worn spots. The best part is feeling the material. The hardest part is being willing to choose NOT to spend money. I found several flat sheets that would work. There’s one of the signal phrases to watch for: “it will work”, “I don’t love it, but it fits”, “maybe I can fake it”, “it’s almost right, I can alter it to make it fit”. All those thoughts are Big Red Flags to say NO to the purchase. If your brain does that to you, make it a habit of getting receipts and knowing return policies. Sometimes you can recoup wasted money. Every one of those thoughts is wasted money, also it’s settling for less than what you truly want. One does not wear what one does not love, nor what does not fit; not using an item one purchased is the definition of wasted money. One can end up with piles of stuff that could have worked “if”, if one was craftier than one is. Truly crafty people might not have this challenge as they re-craft stuff and it works.

Occasionally, patience and persistence finds a treasure. Sorting through the sheet section recently, my hands found this lovely material and revealed a queen set in 100% Egyptian cotton, and there was a pillow case too. I had a budget of twenty dollars for sheets tucked into my purse, saved from a birthday gift. From the tags, I could afford the sheets on my budget, and even better, when I got to the register they rang as five bucks. I washed the Goodwill smell from them (I’m not creeped out by used sheets after I’ve run them through my detergent a few times). I am in sheet heaven. Now I desire a second set for the ease of trading out on washing day. I admit to being as spoiled as Martha Stewart; I would love fresh sheets every day, but I don’t want to do that much laundry, so I settle for twice a week. I will find a new set. For today, though, today I have a bit of luxury around my skin every night.

Patience, Grasshopper. And persistence. Be prepared. Keep looking.

Color Watch – colorful attractions in my neighborhoods this week – My neighbors have caught pictures of some pretty pathways locally. Early morning late autumn yellow and orange light and leaves at a local rural bus stop.

Photo by Lindsey Swan

A fog-grayed pathway at a local wetland.

Photo by Sherri Mead

The pathway changes to dirt as you walk along the trails at the wetlands; here some orange leaves delight beside the path.

Photo by Sherri Mead

The path leads to silhouettes of brown teasel beside a foggy pond.

Photo by Sherri Mead

Chiaroscuro view of heron and saplings.

Photo by Sherri Mead

Another neighbor grounded his view with a shot of amanita muscaria, a red/orange/or yellow mushroom with a classic shape; beautiful, but not generally recommended for eating.

Photo by Jason Vandehey

Current View – {These are only my opinions about movies and books, but don’t let me stop you from trying these reviewed items yourself; your opinion may differ.} Discovered a couple of series I had watched had new seasons out, but when I started watching season two I had only the vaguest memory of the series. So back to season one and a quick re-binge and onto season two. Which series? From Netflix: The Kominski Method (2018, rated TV – MA) with Michael Douglas, Alan Arkin, and Nancy Travis, about an actor who teaches acting. * And from BBC Killing Eve (2018, rated TV – MA) with Sandra Oh as Eve, the detective who discovers a female psychopathic serial killer, and the killer turns her sights on Eve.

Currently ReadingThe Butterfly Girl (2019, mystery fiction) by Portland’s own Rene Denfeld. How delighted I was to find the author using characters from one of her other books, The Child Finder (2017, mystery fiction). This novel has its own merits but it is Denfeld’s standard, provocative writing, a plot with a twist, and compelling simply written characters. * Blowout (2019, non-fiction world politics and the oil industry) by Rachel Maddow. I’m a slow reader when it comes to history and economics, especially if there is any greed involved which makes me angry. I don’t mind people making a profit but greed at the expense of others is annoying. I like to understand what I read but sometimes I am so angry after understanding what happened and why, it makes it that much harder to read. This is one of those books where I just have to be patient and take my time reading for absorption. So much greed goes on in the oil industry. I’ve known that since I was seventeen and pumped gas for 25 cents a gallon, and then waiting in line during the gas “shortages” in the 1970s. Maddow is skilled at putting the pieces together.

This week I have been grateful for:

  • Not having to go any where in the cold that I don’t want to.
  • A no-incident, safe journey over to Costco when I wanted to.
  • My son enjoying Thanksgiving dinner with friends and coming home early enough to spend a little time conversing with me.
  • No longer having any excuse to keep me from watching The Christmas Chronicles (2018, rated TV – PG), a new favorite movie.
  • Looking forward to my sheets every night. As if I didn’t already like my bed enough.
  • Knowing a friend who is going through a tough time has some family to help as well.
  • T-day dinner with the hubster was a simple, quiet meal. He is not fond of turkey; instead, we had rotisserie chicken, hand smashed potatoes, box stuffing, hubster’s famous gravy (to this day I cannot make gravy to save my life), jellied cranberry sauce, and some reheated artisan rolls from the freezer. Not a green or a yellow to be found in the food groups.
  • Leftovers.
  • Fresh chicken stock. And the bits of chicken I recovered from the carcass for soup.
  • A mysterious secret well-wisher who sent me cash inside a lovely card with a handwritten note but no signature. The amateur detective I am has not revealed the donor. It’s rather delightful just knowing somebody was thinking about me.
  • Surprise cash!
  • Creamy juicy Comice pears.
  • Little baby bananas, just the right size for me. Regular sized bananas upset my stomach.
  • Water.

Hoping you have a lovely week.

Namaste. Peace. Blessings.

Floral ribbon border by Laurel Burch

This entry was posted in abundance, Aging, Education, GRATITUDE, Grief, Health, History, Homemaking, Nature, Photography, Poetry, Psychology and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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