Tuesday, October 20, 2015

OT: Domestic Affairs

Well, the charger came from Los Angeles -- still waiting on the one from China, and figure it's best to have two anyway since the one that died was destroyed by my heavy foot getting caught in the cord over and over again... so I have my computer back and can start to get caught up, but at the same time, I have so many more domestic chores to take care of since Ms Ché started back to school, and there are routine fall things to do -- bulb planting, garden clearing, etc -- and (or maybe that's AND) I'm still doing a lot of sketching, etc. Days are more than full. Nearly forgot, the skunk man is coming tomorrow. Have to get ready for him, too. Ah, the skunks. So beautiful they are, but so stinky!

Domestically, well.

It's 2-2 1/2 miles to the post office; we don't get mail delivery out here, have to pick it up at the PO. Some of our neighbors walk, which is fine if you're up for it or into it, but I can't -- still struggling with aftermath of sciatic lameness from a couple of years ago, and now the onset of arthritis (boo!) has given me additional joint issues to deal with. Actually, when I joined the march against the Killer Kop Kompetition in Albuquerque last month, it was the first time I'd attempted that kind of extended hike since before my left side gave out and laid me up a couple of Januaries ago. Didn't quite make it -- many thanks to the kind soul who picked me up and drove the last few hundred yards -- but almost did. That was about 2 1/2 - 3 miles round trip. Good gauge of what I can/can't do.

It's about the same distance to the nearest grocery store. Maybe a little farther. It's a nice little independent store, though selection is somewhat limited. It's not fancy or high-end-foodie, not at all, but they have a real butcher, decent prices -- though much higher than we were used to in California -- friendly staff, and are open early and late. Since I have to get the groceries these days, it's nice to know there's someplace that close.

There's a Smith's and a WalMart the next town over, and I sometimes go to one or the other if there's something the local market doesn't have. I boycotted the WalMart for years until the local Pick-n-Choose closed (it was called Alco). Then, certain gardening, household items, clothing, and such like were simply not available locally. Actually, quite a lot of things weren't available locally any more. Some we could do without, but others....

So, it was off to WalMart now and then. Gaa. Not only is the store far larger than is necessary in this area (fewer than 5,000 people live in the store's shopping area -- say within 15 miles or so) but it's got some really... interesting... ways of doing business. For example, items are frequently (routinely?) shelved in the wrong slots so that it appears from the shelf price that such-and-such will cost X-amount, but no. Get to the check out and it's -- whoops! Oh, but it's worse than mere mis-shelving. In too many cases to count now, the items are shelved correctly, but the item rings up at a different -- sometimes much higher -- price than the shelf price, and unless you're eagle-eyed you're probably not going to know. In fact, it's pretty much impossible to keep track of the prices being scanned and rung up because you're still unloading your cart as the checker does his/her job. So the only way to know whether you've been overcharged is to scrutinize your receipt after the fact. And have a sharp memory for the shelf-price.

Alco used to do it too, but they closed. Smith's has taken to doing the same thing. They take it a step further, not pricing certain items on the shelf at all. One doesn't know until one gets to the checkout what the price is. Sometimes the surprise is a shock.

WalMart also has these bagging carousels, and by golly, how often is one (or more) of the customer's bags conveniently left behind? Oh, if my own experience is any guide, fairly often. One is not likely to notice one is missing a bag or two until one is home and unpacking one's things and notices that something one thought one bought is not there. Hm. Wha? In my dottage, it's not unusual for me to forget this or that, so I'm likely to be puzzled about missing items rather than certain that I left them behind. Maybe I didn't pick them up to begin with? But one time, I was sure, and I went back (another 10 miles from home, 20 round trip) and found the items had been re-shelved already. They gave them to me without objection, but still...

I figure these fairly common merchant practices can easily add 15%-20% to a customer's charges every time they shop. Quite lucrative, so lucrative merchants can happily refund overcharges brought to their attention and replace missing items the customer complains about because so often overcharges aren't noticed and missing items are "just forgotten" especially by the elderly... clever.

I wonder just how common this practice really is? I hadn't noticed it before, but it seems to be widespread in these parts nowadays. Initially, I thought I was imagining things but not any more. Now I think it really is a commonplace merchant policy.

I would have had no idea were it not for the fact that I have to take care of a lot more domestic chores now that Ms Ché has gone back to school. Oh, by the way, she got her midterm grades the other day. All "A" -- except for the two "A+". My my!

There is still much fall planting and year-end outside clean up to do. I managed to clear out the gutters and get those on the front of the house to work for the first time (they were installed wrong to begin with but I hadn't been able to tackle the project to fix...) I'm trying to clear out one of the sheds so I can bring the stuff we still have in storage in California. BUT as I was doing that chore, I saw the news about the mudslides closing highways in Southern CA. Thought little of it until I saw that one of the highways was Highway 58 that I take from Bakersfield to  I15-I40 in Barstow. 6 feet of mud for a mile or more outside of Tehachapi(e). Oh. Brother. I would have taken the plane in November, then rented a truck to bring the stuff in California back to New Mexico, but Highway 58 is my route to get from there to there (the alternatives are much longer) so... maybe not. Better wait till spring.

They say this El Nino is shaping up to be the most intense since 1988. There have been certain signs of course. Our local drought is broken (thankfully. It went on way too long...) We've had plenty of rain and they say there will be pretty heavy snow this winter, but so far temps have been mild, balmy, even warm. No frost at all. May not be any till mid-November... wow.

Of course the situation in California becomes more and more Apocalyptic, seemingly by the day. Our friends who still live there insist things are not really as bad as the news is making it out to be, but I'm somewhat less Panglossian about it. The fires were terrible and raged through areas we're pretty familiar with around Clear Lake and in the Gold Country. No one we know was directly harmed, but still... Floods and mudslides of course will be more widespread than ever. The persistence of drought in the midst of these catastrophes compounds the misery. After a while, it becomes too much to bear...

Though I will probably always be a Californian deep-down, I realized I had become a "real" New Mexican the other day when it occurred to me that I routinely get offended by the most unlikely or innocent things that people say or do. This is a very New Mexican trait I've discovered, taking offense being something of a core value it would seem. It doesn't usually last more than a little while, but it's pretty frequent, and sometimes it makes me laugh at the pettiness and silliness of it.

Now to get back to getting stuff done...

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