Friday, September 30, 2022

Sales, Self-Defense, & Shoes

I. Sales Updates

I mention thrift-store stuff here, and then I don't always report back--not that it's necessarily memorable stuff.
But just to record that it was a week before someone claimed the "Win a Free Book--Name the Novel" quiz I'd stuck up on a bookshelf:
an old man correctly named The Old Man and the Sea.

I wish I'd been at the cash register to meet him.  The least emotive cashier, Noa, checked him out, and I can never get much feeling or even information from her,
nor does she engage with customers much. I asked her, what book did he choose for free?
She didn't notice.

The vintage, eighty-dollar Lilli Ann coat sold to a woman within a couple days.
The emotive cashier, Samantha, told me about it with enthusiasm:
"I told her how we'd all tried it on, and I can report that it's going to a good home!"

[I would say these two women, who are about the same age, display classic and opposite reactions to Adverse Life Experiences.
Noa is withdrawn and doesn't talk about her troubles, though I know she has some doozies. She's wary, like wildcat Robinson was when I first met him.

Samantha, on the other hand, talks vividly about troubles ("my ex stomped on my face!"). She runs toward experience and emotion. She reminds me of the line from the movie Moonstruck:
"You run to the wolf . . . ; that don't make you no lamb."
(Clip here on youtube, with Cher & Nicholas Cage.)]

Also, all the old black-and-white photos I'd framed sold right away. I was a little sorry to see them go so fast--I like to have them around to look at. Sometimes I want to keep one for myself, but I rarely do.

II. Self-Defense

Tomorrow evening is The Wedding!
A little weirdly, I've signed up for a two-hour
Non-lethal Self-defense Training beforehand, at my old gym, from Protection Far Left of Center.
My former gym guy, Ben, sent out an email:
"The topic is non-lethal self-defense (flashlights and such), as well as firearms familiarization.  Mick is an incredibly experienced teacher and ally, as well as an intense, engaging instructor. 
The plan is to have a break between non-lethal and firearms familiarization training so anyone who is uncomfortable with firearms can split beforehand. :)"

I want to take this class because of how dangerous it is around the thrift store.
I'd like to know more about general deescalation--something I've suggested we get training in at the store. (Of course we haven't, except the hostage-negotiation tips from Chris Voss that I talked about at a meeting once.)

"Uncomfortable with firearms", however... that would be me. Not for moral reasons (though that too), but because my mother killed herself with a gun. Twenty years ago, this upcoming Winter Solstice.
I don't think about it much anymore, but I doubt it's ever going to be long-ago enough that my gorge doesn't rise when I think of a physical gun.
I appreciate they'll have a break before the guns come out, when people can leave.

More fun stuff, though:
III. Shoes

bink took me to Macy's yesterday to buy shoes for the wedding--it was the only thing I couldn't find at the thrift store.
For the sake of my feet, I don't buy used shoes for regular use. I'd have bought a pair for one-time show, if we'd had anything good that fit. But we didn't.

Macy's has a Last Chance area, and I found a new pair of "lemongrass" colored, (low-)high-heeled espadrilles, originally $90, for $30.
Now I'll have nice shoes for other (rare) dress-up events too.

has been excited to help me find accessories for the wedding. She loves fashion. She wears old clothes to work, naturally, but she shows me photos of herself going out with friends, looking stunning.
She gave me her own new tube of Revlon Super-Lustrous nude lipstick, and yesterday she helped me choose some earrings--I have several pairs to try on.

I'll post wedding photos after tomorrow.

Mr. Who's-a-Handsome-Cat Then?

Robinson gets more and more trusting. He purrs when I pet him now, and this morning he was playing with me on the kitchen floor! This from a cat who three weeks ago would disappear if he got a glimpse of me.

He's a fierce hunter, but if he engages with humans (me), he's gentle––and funny. You can see his claws  in the final panel, but he was not digging in, and he's biting my hand in the last photo with a play mouth.

He's photogenic too, that's for sure.
The home-owners return tomorrow night, so these are the last Robinson pix.
I'm extremely glad to be going home, but I'll miss
Mr. I-Am-a-Tiny-Panther.

Thursday, September 29, 2022

Meetings all the time?

Writing a bookstore diary is exercising my flabbifying memory.
I didn't write notes yesterday, and this morning my foggy brain is searching, What happened yesterday?
(I swear I never used to forget anything...)

Below: Face on the staff door, going inside from the dumpster/parking lot, made by Grateful-J from donated crafty bits

Oh! Yeah!
Yesterday after work, Asst Man (AM) called the departing manager of another indie thrift store (not a national chain like Goodwill) for an informational interview. Their store is hiring a replacement, and AM wanted to get some sense if he should apply.

AM had asked me beforehand to help him formulate some questions.
"You're really good at asking questions," he said. "I never thought about asking questions till I saw you do it all the time."

There's an art to crafting good questions, but I'm not sure what it is--I do it intuitively.
All my life, I always wanted to ask people questions.
I used to be bad at it. I'm embarrassed to remember how I'd pin people to the wall with questions:

"What kind of toothpaste do you use? What's your middle name? Do you know there is a civil war in Congo?"
And I never gave people enough empty space to answer, I was always jumping in--more like an assault than an inquiry, I'm afraid...
(I guess my genuine interest must have come through though, because I did have some interesting conversations, and make some friends.)

To help Asst Man with his informational interview, I asked him,
"What do you really want to know?"

We chose three things.
A top concern was how much freedom he'd have to do his own thing. We turned that into this question:
"Our board is very hands-off. What is interaction with your board like?"

This turned out to be the key question.
The departing manager said, "Oh, I wouldn't say our board is hands-off..."
Turns out their board meets every-other week, on the managers' day off, and the managers are expected to show up.
Plus, "We have meetings all the time. There's a committee for everything."

AM, even as a manager, doesn't know most of our store's board members, and our store almost never has staff meetings (and those are a farce, mostly). I resigned from the one committee that got set up in my early days, it was such a farce.

ONE TIME we had a great meeting:
The store had reopened after Covid, and our windows were still boarded up from the riots after George Floyd's murder. People were struggling, and I suggested to Big Boss that maybe it would help if we met and just talked about how we were feeling.

BB called an unofficial meeting in the parking lot.
Almost everyone came (not the norm for our infrequent meetings). Standing in a circle near the dumpster, we went around and everyone spoke personally.
It was incredibly helpful--not only for a sense of togetherness in a time of crisis, but because people said stuff that has continued to help me understand their motivations.

People like Mr Furniture talk all the time about their views on race and the personal experiences that formed them, but other coworkers are quiet, and I didn't know where they were coming from.

Everyone is different.
One seventy-year-old Black coworker, for instance, talked about how his father had been a cop in Cleveland, and if Black people would just respect the law, they wouldn't get in trouble.

This is not the majority view, but it helped me see why he is the way he is. I'd seen him as obsequious--annoyingly so (he called me ma'am for the longest time); but after that, I saw how his father must have trained him, his Black son, to act servile so as to be safe.
This coworker is not an imaginative man--he doesn't seem to grasp complexity--so he just keeps to his original programming.
Now I have some compassion for that.

Last night, Asst Man told me he'd gotten a very bad feeling about how managed management is at the other thrift store.
Once again we agreed that the very things that annoy us at our store are the things we benefit from.
No guidance translates to Do What You Want.
No praise also means No Interference.

Low pay? Oh, yeah.
The Other Thrift Store would pay Asst Man twice (2 times! double!) what he makes now.

But all the staff at our store set prices for items we sell to each other, and that means we make up for our low pay, somewhat, in trade.

The Other Thrift Store has strict rules--people who sort donations cannot buy anything until it's been out on the sales floor, full price.

I told Ass't Man that yesterday, Art (the volunteer who does pictures & frames) had pointed out a couple bookshelves that had just been donated.

"If you need bookshelves," Art said to me, "you should buy these. Danish-modern, teak, like your Dansk silverware."

Art and I don't exactly like each other. We are both rather controlling, and where our areas overlap, we've clashed.
But I always give him the latest issues of The New Yorker before I put them out (he returns them), and he displays art in my area that he thinks I'll especially like. (He's often right.)

I DO need bookshelves. I only have one rickety little one. My books are mostly on the floor. And these ones are just what I like. They will go not only with my silverware but with my new floor lamp.

"They're gorgeous," I said. "How much are they?"

 "Ask Mr Furniture," Art said.

Now, one of Art's main complaints is that the furniture guys have no knowledge of furniture. He knew Mr Furniture would give me an IKEA price.
And he did. (NOT just out of ignorance, Mr Furniture always gives his coworkers deals too.)

Ass't Man said that it's not just the self-pricing, it's the hunt that is a pleasure of working in thrift.
I agree.

You don't need to own an object you find; the pleasure comes simply in uncovering it. Opening a plastic Cool-Whip container to find some treasure. (I've rarely bought things until the last couple months, when I've been furnishing my new place.)

But there is also the possibility that you'll uncover a treasure you've been waiting for for years. Having a strict no-staff-purchases policy takes that pleasure away.
I get it: as a retail policy, it makes sense.

Our store doesn't have retail sense.
And while Asst Man and I rail against that, we also benefit from it, and so do our coworkers.
And so do our customers!

I worry that it sounds like we're ripping off the store, but it's not like that at all:
AM and I both thrill to set up displays of the fun treasures we uncover.
We take extra care---like how I frame old photos, to draw attention to them so they don't let lost or damaged in the shuffle of stuff.
AM will feature some cool old electronic gadget in his end-caps (he
has a special interest in audio equipment).

Anyway, at the end of our phone conversation, AM said he didn't know if he'd even apply for this other thrift store.
"Meetings ALL THE TIME?"

I said he should keep looking, but that while I supported him finding a better fit, if he left he'd be a real loss to our store.

"We shouldn't look to Big Boss for praise," I said (one of our mutual frustrations--lack of positive feedback or helpful guidance.) "That's just not his schtick, and it's never going to be. We coworkers should look to one another."

"Thanks," he said. "Gotta go feed the kids now. Love ya,
'bye, see you tomorrow."

"Love ya"?
That's a first.
AM's come a long way from when he told me I had to obey him a couple summers ago.
I trust that we've both learned a lot about each other and ourselves in the meantime. Our meetings are informal smoke breaks by the dumpster.
And I don't even smoke.

Wednesday, September 28, 2022

My True Calling

Inclined Reading (w/ animal lamp)*. If only it were an Olympic sport...

From an old crochet booklet with instructions to make the Afghan throw & pillow (donated to the thrift store, of course).

Speaking of lamps, I bought the 1950s-ish one at the thrift store yesterday. Asst Man gave me half-off the $75 price. Fair enough since it'd been out for at least a week and no one had snatched it up.
I will take it to Apartment 320 (my new place) when I go home from cat-sitting on Saturday. Yay!

*But where are the bon-bons?
Perhaps not allowed? No chocolate on the crochetwork!

The Better Story: How Dolls Lose a Limb

Several of the dolls over the years have arrived at the girlette pod here missing a foot or part of an arm--the result, they say, of various calamities.
Pearl Duquette, for instance, says she lost her forearm in a shark attack.

Being of literal mind, however, I've always suspected that domestic animals are the main culprits.
I put it to the test:
With the cooperation (
voluntary!) of Sunny Khan of the Girlette Expeditionary Forces, we are able to see how that might unfold in this 6-second documentary, starring wildcat Mr. Robinson:

 P.S. No dolls were harmed. Robinson dropped Sunny Khan on the steps outside. I guess she can't compete with a nice juicy mouse.

Speaking of small animals.
My notes for yesterday's Bookstore Diary includes Asst Man coming in from the parking lot, where he takes smoke breaks by the dumpster, and announcing:
"Hey, guys---We can't keep leaving the door to the parking lot open--I just saw a squirrel going inside."

Coworker: Yeah, once a couple of them were in here at night and set off the alarm.

Is this factual, that squirrels set off the store alarm?
Maybe, but I wouldn't put money on it.
The staff is somewhat like the Duquette family--if there's an option, they always prefer The Better Story.

Documentary proof of nefarious feline activity, should the video not play:

Tuesday, September 27, 2022

Heat On, Sitting Off

It was so chilly this morning, Robinson chose to stay inside for a while, even though I left the back door cracked open.

I saw proof that he comes inside mostly just to say hello, not for the food:
yesterday he was proceeding down the driveway
like a mini-panther, very pleased with himself, with a fat rodent dangling from his mouth. No wonder he always looks so sleek and well fed...

Temps are supposed to drop to 35ºF / 2ºC tonight. I like the cooler weather, but that's a bit cold!
I emailed the cat/hoouse owners this morning, asking how to turn on the heat. They wrote right back from their cruise ship in the North Sea.

I am not going to cat sit here again, I've decided. The owners have already asked me to sit during a couple long weekend trips they'll be taking in the coming months.

There're several reasons I don't want to, but the biggest is that I feel like a servant.
Usually the cat/home-owners trust me and leave me alone while they're gone. (I'll send photos of the pets every few days, if they want. Some do, some don't.)
But Mr House keeps emailing me instructions
(don't forget to take the garbage cans to the curb tonight)––and even chiding me from abroad (you aren't feeding Little Gray Kitty enough [I am.]).

I am touchy about being told what to do and talked down to. 
Some might say I am overly sensitive.
Maybe so, but that's how I am.
It probably stems from my professor father using information as power against me; and it only got worse living with HouseMate, who was always telling me how to handle tomatoes and so forth... (and half the time she was wrong).
Anyway, I hate it.
These owners pay well and are generous with food and drink, but I don't need the money enough that I'm willing to be ordered around.

A close second reason is that I want to be in my own home, now I have one again. I love my apartment! I've spent the afternoons there on my days off the thrift store, and it's such a relief and a pleasure to be there.

I go home in four days! Yay! The same day as bink's wedding.
That's a little tight, and I am feeling a little crabby.
I'm not super flexible and easy-going about tight turns like that. (Heh, probably not about anything, really.)

Well, this is a complaining sort of post, isn't it?
Really, everything's fine--these are minor annoyances.
House sitting has not been bad: I've enjoyed Robinson a lot; I've earned enough to pay a month of rent; and I don't have to do it again.

Bert & Ernie

Quick note re postage:
I'm sorry I've been laggardly answering comments, so I'll put the answer about overseas postage here:
I looked up shipping rates for girlette 2023 calendars from the USA to Europe.
Sadly, the calendar would cost the  $16 cost to print + $14 postage = $40.

This Bert & Ernie puzzle from 1976 was donated to the thrift store.
I added the quote marks on the photo: We're "Friends".

Bert & Ernie have no official age but appear to be adults. Officially, they are best friends and roommate who share the basement apartment at 123 Sesame Street.
In 2018, "Former Sesame Street writer Mark Saltzman said Bert and Ernie’s relationship was modeled after his own with his life partner, Arnold Glassman."

Sesame Workshop, however, said, "they remain puppets, and do not have a sexual orientation.”
That's skirting the issue: some puppets do have an active sexuality. Isn't Miss Piggie interested in Kermit the Frog sexually?

Hm--looking that up, (the answer is, yes), I saw that Google also produced the question, "Is Miss Piggy a male?"
The answer to that is, sort of?
Her voice came from film director Frank Oz, the man who also created her.

Gosh--this I didn't know:
Oz is also known for his voice and puppet work as Yoda, the Jedi sage in the Star Wars series.
So Yoda and Miss Piggy are like, cousins. That fits!

Whether Bert & Ernie are gay only matters because people think being gay is bad. As Aja Romano wrote in 2018 on Vox,
"The history of Bert and Ernie as queer icons is a history of people being incensed by their status as queer icons."

Bert & Ernie certainly love each other. Here, they exchange their very own Gift of the Magi:

See also "Bert & Ernie Make The New Yorker"

Bert & Ernie make The [2013] New Yorker.

Michael reminded me on my earlier post today of the Bert & Ernie New Yorker cover from 2013.
I had made a Kirk/Spock version of it at the time!

Here's a REPOST from this blog:

"Moment of Joy" by Jack Hunter {"Cover Story"}:
Sesame Street's Bert and Ernie watch the Supreme Court of the United States strike down the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) as disparaging and injuring same-sex couples.

 Of course, to Kirk and Spock, this is an ancient, historical document:
My first-ever ^ photoshop! (with help from bink)

From the Supreme Court decision striking down the Defense of Marriage Act, Justice Anthony M. Kennedy writing for the majority:

DOMA singles out a class of persons deemed by a State entitled to recognition and protection to enhance their own liberty.
It imposes a disability on the class by refusing to acknowledge a status the State finds to be dignified and proper.
DOMA instructs all federal officials, and indeed all persons with whom same-sex couples interact, including their own children, that their marriage is less worthy than the marriages of others.

The federal statute is invalid, for no legitimate purpose overcomes the purpose and effect to disparage and to injure those whom the State, by its marriage laws, sought to protect in personhood and dignity.
By seeking to displace this protection and treating those persons as living in marriages less respected than others, the federal statute is in violation of the Fifth Amendment.
from "Supreme Court Bolsters Gay Marriage With Two Major Rulings" (New York Times, June 26, 2013)

Sunday, September 25, 2022

Sunday Homework

(Ergh—posting on my phone…)
Shall I buy this vintage lamp table that got donated?  Can you see the cool texture of the lampshade? It’s what I want, but it’s $75… 

Day off.  The store is closed on Sundays—mercifully—couldn’t work if I wanted to.

Keeping a bookstore diary is bringing home to me how intense my workplace is! 

Did I not know? I guess I did, but jotting it down day after day brings it home, how relentless it is. Always something fun, always something not fun. 

Yesterday, not-fun: 

Mr Furniture [sort of amazed]: I just saw my  grand-baby’s daddy.

Me: Were you happy to see him? You’ve always said he’s a nice guy. 

Mr Furniture: Yeah, that’s why I’m surprised. He’s out there slinging drugs.

The other day here on the blog, I’d flippantly said we’d do better selling drugs (because of our poor mainstream retail management). That was wrong of me.
My coworkers vehemently HATE drugs. (Weed is not drugs.) They have seen what they do and would never joke about them like that.


Fun thing: I was musing about buying the lamp with a coworker. 

“Get it!” she said. “You know Mr Furniture would knock it down for you.”

He would. He’d never have priced it so high in the first place—he doesn’t care about Mid-century modern, and neither do most of our customers—they pay more for IKEA (looks nice, falls apart—no one’s going to be selling 60-, 70-year old “vintage IKEA”.) I’m pretty sure Asst Man priced this, but he’d give me a break too.

Also fun—more vintage photos! I’m framing some of them to display better at work—no names, no dates…
Here’s your Sunday homework, blog friends, should you choose to accept it:  go jot dates, places, and names on the back of your photos. Start today!

Saturday, September 24, 2022

Happy Harvest

 Sorting donated old photos at work—I can hardly believe how great this one is—and timely for 2023 autumn equinox! 

No date, but looks like early 1900s, don’t you think?

The Coat Catwalk

Not rescued from textile recycling, this time--Manageress recognized this coat was special, and she pulled it from the incoming donations bin to show me.
I looked up the brand--Lilli Ann:
"Iconic post-1940s American fashion, started in San Francisco in 1933 by Adolph Schuman, naming his company for his wife, Lillian."
Their coats sell for 100 and up (up, up) online. I printed out the company history and priced the coat 80.

The coat is in perfect shape, and it looks fantastic in motion. (The fabric has sparkles that don't show up in the photo.)

The new cashier, Samantha, was game to model--most of my coworkers won't––but warned me that she "always looks terrible in photos."
I doubt anyone who saw them would agree.

I barely know Samantha--she's been here two weeks--but she's pretty terrific so far.
She described herself to me:
"I'm part twelve-and-a-half-year boy and part ninety-eight-year-old woman."
I see that.
Seemingly fearless? That works well at the store, with its wildness. "Show no fear."

Asst Man modeled the coat. It looks good on everybody.

He's a good sport--I'd bet none of my other male coworkers would model a woman's coat.

How would AM describe himself?

He say things like "big ol' nerd" about himself.
to reduce him to this, but he's a record collector; if you know the type, he does fit it.

Unlike Samantha, when he started at the store, AM had no street smarts, and that's gotten him into trouble. He's confronted shoplifters, for instance, gotten too close, and they've hit or threatened him a couple few times.
Not to blame him! It can happen to anyone, and the people who do it are almost feral.

I don't mean "feral" as an insult, or even an exaggeration. It means "
an animal (or plant) that lives in the wild but is descended from domesticated individuals."

Some of the store customers survive without social supports, including shelter, running water, and trustworthy companions.
It's a dangerous way to live, exposed to the elements––and predators. As with feral cats, the life expectancy is shorter than for domesticated members of the species.
Every so often, we'll hear bad news. "That girl who always used to shoplift from us? She got stabbed."

I don't have "street smarts" either--but I treat the customers like I treat Robinson: don't confront them, let them come to you.
Try to be kind, don't pre-judge...
Give people stuff!

The other day AM asked me to show jewelry to a customer because the last time, the customer (a man) had thrown something at him.
The customer wanted to see a tray of rosaries.
"How much is this one?" he asked of one without a price tag.

"It's free!" I said.

(I often give away the rosaries because we shouldn't even be selling religious items like those that I KNOW [longer story] are donated with the intention of being given away for free.)

The customer then turned to AM who was still standing nearby and said, "You wouldn't even help me."

AM: "Well, guy, last time I did, you threw something at me."

Customer: "Oh... Was I drunk?"

AM: "I don't know. Maybe."

Customer: "I'm sorry, man."

Robinson has it good--maybe the best of both worlds. Mr House says he will continue to let the cat go outside when he wants.
In my experience, Robinson always wants to go outside after he eats. He always positions himself by the open door.
But he really likes being rubbed, and he's started lying down to get rubs, and last night he even gave me his paw for a moment.

Toy Bridge

Grateful-D mounted this metal bridge above a bookshelf for me, and I display little toys 'n' things there. They usually sell really quickly. Of course that's the idea, but it also makes me sad because I like seeing them playing in the fields of BOOK's.
(Can you see? the shopper in the backgrouns is carrying a handful of silverware.)

Friday, September 23, 2022

Calendar? Girlettes' Fall Equinox: Apples & Honey

Will anyone be wanting another Girlette Calendar?
I wasn't sure I would, having made them two years in a row, but as the calendar-making time approaches, I do!

The computer volunteer at the store, Totter, recovered my photos from my almost-dead old laptop--now I can put together one for 2023.
I contacted the printer and their calendar price has gone up to $19 each (that's the discount price, if I order ten or more), so each would be about $25 with shipping...

No need to commit now. I'll put the calendar together in the next month or so and post the results and people can order one if they want.

Apples & Honey are for Rosh Hashanah (this Sunday), but the girlettes were eager to celebrate fall (they like their fall clothes best), so they transported the tradition to last night's autumn equinox.
Also, they were sooooo eager to use the tiny forks I borrowed from the store for the event.
The apples are from the farmers market I bike past on my way home--some Urban Farm project for youth.

May you have a happy and sweet season!

Cat under Bridge

Marmelade in her backyard (pond), and my toes. I'm here another week.

Thursday, September 22, 2022

All the Shocks

Side-by-side books ^ I set up at work yesterday

 Future Shock (1970), by Alvin Toffler:
Future shock is a certain psychological state of individuals and entire societies that arises from a perception of "too much change in too short a period of time". [per Wikipedia]

Looking this up, I came across a discussion on Future Times from 2022: "We Live in the Future: Post things that give you future shock!
Replies included killer drones. I had no idea, though I'm not surprised:

"Switchblade drones the US is sending to Ukraine are designed to attack personnel and light vehicles--they are carried in a soldier's backpack and used to take out targets from above instantly" [via]
. . . Also,
robots made of magnetic slime! (to repair electronics in tight places, and even to find magnetic things inside people's bodies--like accidentally swallowed mini-batteries).

One of the users had this sign-off quote:
"To know is essentially the same as not knowing.
The only thing that occurs is the rearrangement of atoms in your brain."


Which reminds me of this conversation between coworkers [CW] that I overheard yesterday:

CW1: All that king shit, queen shit, is over. I'm so glad. Every time I turned on the TV, that's all there was.
Why do we care?
But she was their queen for seventy years, so...
Seventy years! We get a new president maybe every four years.

CW2: We're the only ones that do that. Every four years. No other country does that.

CW1: That's right.

CW2: The president of Ukraine, he's been in power a looooong time.

[Ed.: Volodymyr Zelenskyy, president of Ukraine since May, 2019]

And Putin! Way longer! He's been there since Hitler!

Vladimir  Putin, b. 1952; president or p.m. of Russia since 1999]

His daddy handed it to him.

Ed.: Putin's father only a conscript in the Soviet Navy; but Putin's grandfather, Spiridon Putin, was a personal cook to Vladimir Lenin and Joseph Stalin. (So, . . .maybe?) ]

CW 1: Imagine if we had Ronald Reagan for seventy years!

Me: Or Trump!

Coworkers: laugh and groan, nooooo!
I'm not pulling on that dangling thread, it's attached to a whole garment. I pretty much never correct my coworkers' facts--they're interwoven with and arise from a whole, coherent world view, same way mine are.

Also, geez--it's complicated! Like, is Ukraine a democracy?
(And are we, the United States?) What does that even mean?

Washington Post, "Is Ukraine a democracy?", (
February 24, 2022)
Their verdict:
"Ukraine is a flawed democracy — though one with aspirations to improve its standing if it is allowed to break free of Russian meddling in its affairs."
And in this case, what difference would it make anyway? Given our level of power, "To know is essentially the same as not knowing".

What is useful? What is smart?
It depends, eh?

Biking home on the Greenway path, I passed this clever contraption: the shell of an air conditioner used as a fireplace—all set for the collapse of western civilization!

Facts do matter, yeah, of course, if we're citizens of the world.
But as citizens of our neighborhood, actions matter more:
Later, one of the coworkers came into the back and asked
Ms Linens for a blanket for a customer.

She gave him one, and he said, "Naw, not like this. It's for a lady sleeping outside."

And he went and found a polyester sleeping bag.

Brain Shocks

bink & Sophie share a birthday-- we went out for breakfast yesterday to celebrate.
It was the Breakfast of the Brain-Injured, since Sophie had a stroke six weeks ago.
LUCKILY her brain has already rerouted itself in significant ways, though her docs say she still has a year of road work ahead. But she can read again--whew!

bink brought her newly started Eyes-Closed Sketchbook of the Concussed and sketched me and Sophie.
Penny Cooper came along too, and she invited herself to stay as a sort of Visiting Nurse with Sophie, who accepted!

bink dropped me off at work, so I took the bus home.
Frankcolumbo had come along too---she was very interested in the police technology at the blighted bus stop. That pole with the coils around to Fc's right is a ... I don't know what you call it, but it's a mobile gunshot detector.
Oh--it's a ShotSpotter to "
enable rapid response to gunfire, 80% of which is not reported to 911".
Happy Shock

The new cashier---what shall I call her here?


Samantha is now doing Housewares (sorting, cleaning,  pricing, displaying donated dishware, kitchen goods, knick knacks, etc.), along with cashiering.

This is fantastic--she's a scruffy-hip local girl, used to work in a vintage store, and has an eye for cool old stuff.

"This is my wheelhouse," she said.


Also, she reads. She told me, "Your books are one of the reasons I applied here."

Samantha also said that a customer had told her they've started reading because of my BOOK's:
"They said they never read, but the books looked so good, they started buying them."

Happy shock!

Oh--hey, it's autumn equinox tonight.
HAPPY DARK & LIGHT, you all!!!

Wednesday, September 21, 2022

A Book That Made You Laugh Out Loud

Tororo and Michael both left their answers to the Book Reading Questionairre---you can read them in the comments, if you're interested--and it's not too late to add your own...
ESPECIALLY if you have an answer to
Question #2: A Book That Made You Laugh Out Loud.

I couldn't think of anything that had made me laugh recently.

Last night I laughed out loud at Paul Collins, and American, contrasting American and British showers--in his memoir Sixpence House, about living in Hay-on-Wye, Wales.

This is probably predictably the sort of thing Americans always think is so funny? because it makes us seem superior?
But, in fact, HouseMate's shower was just a dribble--I used to take baths instead: I'd turn on the tap and go away for ten minutes while the tub filled. And that's another thing I love about my new place: great water pressure!
So maybe this is unfair?
But I still think his description is funny.

Click to embiggen:


I'd originally responded to "
A Book That Made You Laugh Out Loud

When I was eleven, with my family taking turns reading out loud My Family and Other Animals by Gerald Durrell.

The scene in Lucky Jim (by Kingsley Amis) when Jim is staying at the home of wealthy people he's trying to impress, and he burns a cigarette hole in his blanket.

There must be a more current one, but I can't think of it.

MICHAEL's answer:

Tristram Shandy.

Fresca: Tristram Shandy was one of my mother's favorite books, but it didn't hold me... Maybe I should try it again.

TORORO's response: 
As a kid, the Jennings books by British author Anthony Buckeridge used to make me burst out in laughter every time I opened one (there are many). I have no idea if these are as popular in the US as they are in UK and in France (written 50 years ago, they are still in print).

Lately (like, last month) a book by Eduardo Mendoza made me laugh out loud: I read it in French as Les Aventures miraculeuses de Pomponius Flatus (original title is El asombroso viaje de Pomponio Flato) sadly it seems it as not been translated in English so far."
Fresca:  I'd never heard of the Jennings books. I looked them up and see they are about Jennings's adventures in prep school--maybe they don't translate to American children's experience?

Sadly, I can't find in English
[what google translates into] The Amazing Voyage of Pomponius Flatus.

Tuesday, September 20, 2022

binky's brain's birthday: Life is bad... Life Is an Adventure!

Today is bink's birthday: Happy Birthday bink!

It's a Celebration!

I sketched her (left) and Marz, out for birthday coffee yesterday.
(Those are Adidas stripes on Marz's shoulder, from the thrift-rescue T-shirt.)

bink sketched me too--below--with her eyes closed. Hilarious!
Not hilarious: bink's still too concussed to focus her eyes for long.
Marz added the words.

"And that's actually the point, right?! Life *IS* bad, and that's why we should buy Christmas trees for Godssake!"
I was telling them both what I'd already told Marz:
that I'd stopped to ask advice from a young woman sitting on the sidewalk with a sign:
good advice $1
bad advice $2
Irrelevant advice free"

I'd biked past her and then actually (I guess I do say "actually" a lot) turned around to go ask for advice on what to say in my Best Bridesmaid Speech at bink's wedding.

(I've never been in a wedding, and not attended many either.
When I was young, I was an ardent Lesbian-Feminist, and my people didn't do weddings. The L-F line at the time was, marriage was a vestige of the oppression of the Patriarchy.
Also, it was illegal.) 

This young woman--who looked pretty rough--said,
"Life is bad. It's good to find someone to walk with."

I gave her five dollars.  When I'd told Marz, she'd said, "You cannot say that. Weddings are celebratory."

"What if I changed bad to hard: 'Life is hard...'?"

"No!" Marz said. "Wedding are celebratory, and ONLY celebratory."

Oh, yeah. Okay. I actually agree, when I think about it.
Saying grim stuff at a wedding would be like HouseMate not buying an Xmas tree because people are suffering, which had infuriated me!
People are always suffering--life is hard--
giving up your joy just adds to the overall sum of misery.

I wrote a different Best Bunny speech, a celebratory one, and pretty good, too, I think. (I'll share it here after the wedding on Oct 1.)

Be like this:


Close Your Eyes

Yesterday bink was feeling miserable about her brain-injured life, now heading into its SIXTH month...
She hasn't been making art, when normally she'd do every day, even if just a doodle.

"You are like a bat without its sonar," I said to her, "so you are lost in space. Maybe it'd help to draw an Eyes-Closed Sketchbook, to record the final weeks [months?] of your recovery?"

And this morning, she did!
She just sent me a couple quick sketches. She always renders things accurately--I like these differences:
"Mistakes" can make even breakfast bakery amusing.

A dog, even more so.

Linda Sue did a bunch of closed-eye drawings--some here--and they were so funny! I also told bink about Linda Sue's artist friend with Parkinson's, who'd made art by blowing paint through a straw and using his thumb.

"You are on an adventure. Pay attention."

Marz has been feeling kinda like a bat without sonar too.
Her job at the bakery café is pleasant (spot the Adidas T-shirt, below?).

It's a clean, well lighted place; the owner is an amazing baker who studied in France--she does most of the baking herself--works all night.

Maybe best of all, there is no political mission.
It's just a place to enjoy a cider and a pain aux raisins in which the raisins float, moist but not sodden, in flaky pastry. That's a mission I can get behind: perfect pasty.  So good.

But what to do next? Marz is looking into things...
We talked for a couple hours about various options the other evening.

At the end of the night, I said,
"You are on an adventure. Pay attention."

"That's maybe the best thing you've ever said to me," she said.

Okay, then.

Take an Imprint

It must be cider season. (Of course it's cider season.) I had one yesterday on my day off.
See, I look just like bink's drawing.

I'm liking Paul Collins's Sixpence House: Lost in a Town of Books very much--for a time, he works in a used bookstore.

I'm thinking about how I want to record my BOOK's Store Diary.
The other day I was ranting/analyzing the management here on the blog.
I don't want to do that. Writing it helps me make sense of the workplace, so that's fine, but that's not what I want to keep on record. (I deleted the rant.)

I want the diary to be more like a brass rubbing--- an imprint, not an analysis. (The old "show, don't tell.")

Like, instead of writing about how Big Boss is overly critical of Ass't Man, I can show you an image:

Last week, Ass't Man spent a couple hours making a rack for hanging up Hallowe'en costumes.  (
We rarely have the right custom-built retail displays.)

He cleverly turned a bike's water-bottle cage upside down, to make a sturdy hook. He hung a wire rack on it, and mounted the contraption on the end of some shelves.
It's not perfect, but, hey! it works--and there's no other place to display costumes.

All Big Boss said was, "It's wobbly."

(I wonder if or how much Shaun Bythell edited his daily journals to publish Diary/Confessions of a Bookseller.
His third year of diaries––the wonderfully titled Remainders of the Day––comes out in the US in December.)

Robinson Update

Mr. Smokey Robinson the Cat now comes inside and expects to be rubbed in the mornings, when I feed him and the other cats.

Robinson is smart: he trusts me to rub him, but he keeps himself in-between me and the door I prop open every morning, so I can't shut the door and trap him inside.

In fact, I wouldn't do that to him again--it was just the once, to reassure the owner. Since then, the owner is happy--he just needed to know (fair enough) that Robinson still sees this as his home. Which he does!

Sunday, September 18, 2022

Ornate Plate

A new Community Service worker started doing his court-ordered  hours at the store yesterday. As a non-profit, we host these "volunteers" pretty regularly.

Often they work other jobs during the week and can only get their hours in on Saturdays. This guy was telling Manageress that's the case with him.
"And it's my first job too," he said. "I never had a job before."
(He looks like he's about thirty.)

"Oh, why is that?" Manageress asked.

"Selling drugs," he said.

"That's all behind you now, right?"

"Yes, ma'am."

This sort of conversation is more or less normal in the world around the store.

Another find at the store:
Royal Worcester square salad/dessert plates.

From what I could find online, they're hand-painted enamel, porcelain plates, c. 1930s.
The little orangey dots in the center are raised.

The pattern is a bit ornate for me, but the girlettes set up a racket, "It's our colors!" (pink & green)
 So I got the four.
I'll be serving bink scones on them this Sunday morning.

$1.99 each--another off-the-mark estimate on the part of the Housewares crew.

Yesterday Ass't Man stopped by the store with his little girl, who is almost the same age as Penny Cooper. (Penny is eight and a half.) They were just there to pick something up.

I was showing the plates to Ass't Man, and his daughter was just as attracted to them as the dolls were! 
"Would you like to have one?" I asked. "They would look nice with cake."
And she did, so I gave her one.

(Wouldn't it be fun to have a parent working in thrift?)

The price was way too low, and likely some thrift shopper would know that.
But, in fact, I can imagine them not selling at the store at all. We are not the target market.

I used to sell stuff for the store on eBay, but it takes too much time, and most things do sell in-house.
Big Boss brought in some guy who lists stuff online for thrift stores, to talk with us.
I was going to meet with them too, but it was the day after I got the Covid shot.

Ass't Man went to the meeting.
He said the service wouldn't save us much work:
we'd still have to
research and write original listings for things that aren't bar-coded. (Royal Worcester is not bar coded.) And house and ship the stuff.
All that, not the listing, is the laborious part.

It's not a bad idea, but also, we have no staff to do it. It's not just staff hours, it's staff expertise.
Obviously our HouseWares dept. misses a lot of valuable stuff. 

I'd been worried Big Boss would insist we do this--but Ass't Man said he saw the problems too.
We'd do better selling drugs!

Saturday, September 17, 2022

Here's to you, Mr. Robinson. Also, Ass't Man.

Cat Breakthrough

Wildcat Robinson came inside for breakfast this morning, as he usually does; then, for the second time, he rubbed against my leg; and then he rubbed against my hand . . . and let me crouch and pet him. A first.
He is very soft, like a plush toy.

Robinson is maybe only a year old. The fur coats of the two girl cats here are not so soft, as the cats are old and have some health issues.
My gray hair, too, is crispier than the dark hair of my younger years.

The husband of the house is eager--insistent even--that I try to make Robinson stay inside. He keeps emailing me about it.
So today while Robinson was eating, I snuck around (something he wouldn't let me do before), shut the outside door, took a photo of Robinson with the closed-door behind him, and emailed it off.

Then I opened the door, and Robinson immediately ran outside. "Don't fence me in!"

Now I am sitting outside with my coffee, and I've put the cat food out too. Robinson doesn't eat much cat food, but he's looking sleek--I think he is living on chippies (chipmunks).)
Here, he is playing with a leaf under the tree nearby--below, to the left.


I disagree with the home-owner's ideas for how I should interact with Robinson, and yet I understand that he is very worried about the cat and wants reassurance.
(I even wonder if he mightn't have gone on this trip, except it was planned pre-Robinson. )

Actually, the wife of the house agrees with me too--she's not worried and told me to feed Robinson outside if he doesn't want to come in; however it's the husband's project. He saved Robinson's life--found him near to death from a wound.

ccording to everything I've been reading about domesticating feral cats, I'm doing the right thing by the cat :
it's all about going slowly, building trust, and letting the cat come to you.
Which Robinson is doing! 

I'm only here a couple more weeks--then the owner can resume his relationship with the cat and do what he thinks is best.
He has told me that Robinson is
too wild to stay inside all the time, and he will be an outdoor as well as an indoor cat.
That relieves me.

I'm... bending the truth.

What I said: I kept Robinson inside!

What I didn't say: ... for a minute.

Miss Marmelade has just come outside too. (She also doesn't want Robinson inside, because she hates him.)
"Is that for me?"

Back to Work

By yesterday evening, I was completely over my reaction to the Covid Omicron booster.
Back to work today. Saturdays are often more relaxed than weekdays, even if the store is very busy, because Big Boss is never there.

I think this Saturday, it's Ass't Man's shift. 
We have become
work buddies. I wouldn't have predicted it, that's for sure, when he was first made manager and was all 'I Am the King of the Forest'.
is now acting like the guy I first recruited as a volunteer three years ago: someone who, like me, LOVES old stuff.
And he's dropped the I Am the Man [-ager] act. Thankgod.

He knows thrift, too. We are both always pulling stuff out of recycling and saying, "OMG, look at this!"

The other day I pulled a vintage Adidas woman's T-shirt out of textile baling. Like this one:

"I bet that's from the '80s", he said.

 "Starsky & Hutch!" I said.

Another one of those ethical quandaries.
The store rule is, if you pull it from baling, you can have it for 50 cents. But if you know it's a lot worth more, shouldn't you price it for the store?

Almost always, I do, and Ass't Man does too. (
Either of us could be buying that stuff for low store prices, and reselling it online ourselves.)
He recently brought me a box of Ninja Turtle toys that had just been donated and told me to research them, they were probably worth a lot. I might have double-checked? But with toys, I don't have the same Spidey Sense.
And--wow--one of them sold online for $500!
I priced it $100 and put it and the others (less, but still spendy) in the jewelry case.

In this case, I paid my 50 cents and
gave the Adidas t-shirt to Marz, who looks like Starsky's sister in it. (Well, maybe Hutch's sister, being a blondie.)

I looked it up, and, yep--the '80s. Sells for around $20 online. (We’d price it a fraction of that—maybe $4.99.)
Ass't Man told me he'd bought a vintage Nirvana T-shirt off the rack the other day, priced $2.99. 

Of course that's what shoppers are hoping for too.

I probably haven't given AM credit here because he was such a jerk, but from the start, his organizational skills have helped the store immensely. (I mean organization of stuff, not people. He's still not great with people, though he is arguable better.)

First thing, he moved the hardware section so customers no longer had to climb over furniture to reach it. Before, it had been a heap in a corner (
literally behind couches), and hardware sales had averaged $89/month.
Now they are ten times that, or more.
His endcaps and other design improvements have increased sales in other departments too.