TWO PLUS WEEK REPORT — 21 FEBRUARY 2021

I enjoy writing. I write to remember. I write for enjoyment. And, I enjoy writing to share. This past week I have done a great deal of writing for the March issue of my CLARION newspaper, and I cannot stop the words from flowing to my fingers and the keyboard. So, here are some more words, and there is absolutely no obligation to follow from one to the next. Last I reported to you on 4 February when I had a great SERENDIPITOUS SNOWY SOJOURN, complete with lunch overlooking the West Arlington Covered Bridge. And, here are some happenings since that time.

You had better remember that LADY RAB III joined my harem in November. Impulsive – possibly. Smart – most likely in view of travels during COVID, even in 2021. But not without some trepidations. GiGi (Granite Girl) has a towing rating to tow LADY RAB III, but not much margin of error for tough pulls, and we do have some hills here in New England. Did I do the right thing? Lost sleep, concern, what should I do? Get a larger tow vehicle? A possibility that entered the back of my mind. Yes, a possibility, but where do I begin? But things just happen.

I need some groceries to fill out the cupboard for another ten days, so on Friday, 12 February I headed to Lisai’s. Always liking to see what is new in different areas, I ventured north on the east side of the river, and came home on the west side. Passing Westminster (VT) Auto (since 1989) a pick-up truck caught my eye. I checked their website once home – under $8k, new engine, wow. I went back Saturday morning. The truck parked near the road was different, but the one I read about was around on the side. Quick look, and I went inside to chat with Vernon. “It is a two-wheel drive,” he replied to my question as to why it had been on the lot so long. “Everyone now wants four-wheel drive.” I learned the history, what work had been done, and made arrangements to have it checked out at Tole’s on Monday the 15th. Short story shortened, truck checked, back to the lot, negotiations with more “fixes” included, and LADY RAB III now has a new playmate for $7,300. And, with luck our travel towing trepidations are solved. Now close to having a different vehicle for each day of the week.

So, next on the schedule was another Landmark Trust USA escape – this time to the Sugarhouse for three nights from the 16th to the 19th. This was great, and a needed respite 25 minutes and a world away from home. I love being home, but I needed to get away to isolate and read and write. How can you not love hiding out in this environment?

I cannot sing higher praises about Landmark Trust’s properties. They have done everything right, plus. Now having stayed at three of their properties, with authority I can say: impeccably clean, fantastic themed decorations for each property, the finest of kitchen equipment, bedding and linens top line, and the ambience and settings unequaled. Not being able to take images the quality they share on their website – please click on this link for a full appreciation of the Sugarhouse. Only thing missing was the young lady on the couch waiting for me.

I settled in Tuesday night, and started writing. I set up three “work areas.” The round oak table, the writing desk, and the couch. I ended up “working” most of the time at the claw-footed round oak table. Wednesday I finished up my March “Did You Know That…” article, and then headed down to pick up two luncheon specials at Panda North. Even though Landmark’s kitchens are perfect, I brought with me some frozen left-overs from various casseroles I had made. The Panda’s luncheon specials are about half the price of dinners, so I could not resist, and easy to microwave (did I say the kitchens are fully equipped? Yes, but just reiterating).  And, then it was off to Keene for my first COVID shot. Yesterday I wrote of that experience to share with others so they know what to expect. It will be in the March CLARION, but since that is a week away I posted the article on-line, and it has been read almost 200 times so far — click here for that article. Thursday was an all day of reading (THE CONNECTICUT by Walter Hard, 1947, part of the Rivers of American Series), and writing. I watched movies Wednesday and Thursday nights on my “big screen.” Gary suggested I again see 1941 — and I did with laughs all the way through.

Awaking about 6AM on Friday there had only been a light dusting of snow, but soon it got heavier. Check-out time is 10AM, I planned on reading until then, but with books to ship, decided it wisest to get out of the Dummerston hills sooner. Remember the snow when I left Kipling’s Carriage House in January? Well, now again.

I cannot wait to get back in warm weather and have a fourth “work area” inside this screened in area overlooking the apple orchards.

bye, snow and all

and, I also wish to enjoy the bucolic and historic Scott Farm – headquarters of Landmark Trust USA. Beautiful even in a snowy mist.

What is next? Each day is different, and gone before I know it, packed with projects that emerge. I do have a RLI date, was thinking of postponing, but now thinking I won’t. Did I say I enjoy writing? Ideas flash through my mind, and last week some words and problems creatively came together. Those thoughts began to ferment as I was falling asleep, but coming downstairs my fingers began to move quickly on a keyboard. The result, Peeves and Other Indignations. Sending it off to friends, they called in hysterics. Number Two Son (in birth order) emailed and said, “Awesome. 😉 You’re like the Andy Rooney of Walpole!” I have another jelling in my mind – Pillows. So, again, no obligation, but here is that bit of writing just below. Stay safe and stay well, and thank you for getting this far, as always yours, RAY

PET PEEVES, AND OTHER INDIGNATIONS

I have been accused of not being flexible – but that is not the case (except for my aging frame). But, if not being in favor of change is being inflexible, particularly at the grocery store, then I am inflexible.

When did you last push your cart down the aisle 12 feet, stop, turn left and reach for a 64 ounce jug of V-8 Juice, only to find it not there? It has always been there – just below eye level, swing your arm out, open fingers, clamp down, and move to cart. Scanning the shelves left to right, up and down begins. Tears well up. Finally, hidden on the bottom shelf paces away, I see it. I guess they aren’t paying up for shelf space, I ponder. Decades ago I ran the Navy Commissary Program with 89 grocery stores around the world, so I know something about the business, enough “to be dangerous.” But it gets worse. Trying to be flexible (the body remember) to get down to the bottom shelf, I discover: 100% Vegetable Juice (now ‘original’); 100% Vegetable Juice Low Sodium; Spicy Hot; High Fiber; Low Sodium Spicy Hot; Hint of Black Pepper Vegetable Juice. It is hard work making sure you transfer only your customary ‘original’ into your cart. And, then being careful that someone has not messed up the shelves, and the second jug you pluck is “spicy hot.” By experience, not my choice.

Forget the fact that a product has been relocated on another shelf. Add to that a change in packaging and I am lost. Don’t they realize, if I cannot see the package I have trudged home for years, that equates to lost sales? With luck, I may see the “new and improved” (their words) packaging, but is it really? And is it the same product inside? And is the price the same, but for less product? Maybe I am not flexible. This is not a one-time occurrence. Just think of your own frustrating grocery searches.

But not just the grocery. I wanted some more Tylenol to help my not so flexible body. I carefully wrote down all the detailed information on my bottle: 500mg, Coated, Extra Strength, 225 tablets — it is the red tablets I like as they go down easily (maybe I am not flexible). Trip to Walgreens, needed refill prescriptions anyway. Maybe eight feet of shelf space devoted to Tylenol just below eye level with more choices on the shelves below. I have trouble if I have to choose between chocolate and vanilla. This was too much. I assumed the hole on the shelf was where my choice (and that of everyone else) was. Have you ever counted up the time wasted scanning shelves and repeated trips to the store? Looking for Tylenol on Amazon once home was no easier, and did not result in an addition to cart and purchase.

Latest indignation? I have been “short sheeted.” You have probably been as well. Manufacturers, always opportunists, have utilized the pandemic to line their coffers. Actually, now having spent hours pondering this problem and comparing packages, although still an adequate “comfort level” I have been “short sheeted” with my latest toilet tissue paper procurement.

Starting a year ago you could not find a sliver of tissue, but I was in a good stock position. There was no choice on those shelves for months – no decision has to be made when there is nothing there. One visit there was a sleeve of an off brand – it went home with me. Each rare visit (I live alone) to the big city (Keene) store I check the shelves, and recently there was one small package of Angel Soft. It flew into my cart. Yesterday a roll needed replenishing. I opened the package. Something did not seem right. I went to replace the roll, and it struck me — the new roll was 1/8 of an inch shorter (I have what I call “a printer’s eye” and can spot small dimension problems). Those cheapskates. Still enough cover to do the job, but I feel cheated. I pulled the old wrapper of what I have purchased for years out of the recycling bag to compare all the stats – Angel Soft 2-Ply, 36 Double, 4 inch by 4 inch. On the new package, there it was, fine print, 3.8 inch by 4.0 inch. It just adds up to more confusion and frustration. Maybe I am getting too old. But I guess if it gives me more to write about I want to get frustrated and old.

On 22 February, one of my faithful readers, Lauren, emailed saying — Haha! I enjoyed your update. And your story at the end reminded me of when they completely rearranged the layout of our Target about a year and a half ago. I knew where everything was in the store, and how to get in and out as quickly as possible before my toddler lost patience with her temporary shopping cart prison. I was so upset when they literally rearranged the entire store, scrambling all the departments into a different order for who knows what reason. New shelving, new flooring, new layout…it was a construction zone mess for a good while, and then on top of that I couldn’t find anything anymore! In commiserating with the employees who also had to figure everything out all over again, I found out they were just as annoyed as we the shoppers were!

To which, I had to reply, more words and chuckles flowing — Yesterday I visited “… Lisai’s in Bellows Falls – a nice (almost 100 year old) family food market. I first stopped at their earlier Chester location, to get some cans while camping in Vermont in 1963 in my Model A Ford.

Well, a tad more expensive for routine stuff, but the best meats, and great people in the store, and I get to avoid the “big city” stores. Yesterday I get to the deli corner and reach for the home made cookies — but no, where are they? And there is a floor case there now rather than shelves. The young deli girl walks by, “where are my cookies?”  “We moved a few things around for a change, they are right at the front door when you enter,” she replied.

I go back to the front – there are the shelves with those baked goods – right where you should stumble into them. But, with focused shopping knowing where everything is supposed to be, I would never have seen them. I wonder where they will be next month? First product relocation there that I am aware of. I guess every couple decades it is alright, but not during my shopping experience.”

Who is next to share their tale of woe, frustration and hysterics (both good laughs and tears of hysteria)?

 

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3 Responses to TWO PLUS WEEK REPORT — 21 FEBRUARY 2021

  1. George Lush says:

    Ray, The last time I bought a “pound” of bacon, when I got home I discovered it weighed 12 oz. And why is it breadcrumbs are in the baking aisle and not with the bread? Don’t even get me started on trying to find horseradish. George

  2. Gary says:

    Excellent. So I’m not the only one who has issues with pillows?

    • Ray Boas says:

      wait for this one — liked the pillows at the Sugarhouse – ordered on Amazon – it is easier to select thread count in sheets.
      New pillows arrived today – not what I ordered – will this one be fun to write. I see a book coming

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