A day between the insantity of Christmas and the drudgery of normality.
Boxing Day isn’t an old tradition here, only going back a couple of hundred years or so. What’s supposed to happen today is that we give servants, postmen, errand-boys, chimney-sweeps, and milkmen their ‘Christmas Box’ of maybe a sixpence.
What actually happens is a lot of sport and a hell of a lot of shopping. The Sales start today and about twice as much money gets spent here as on the recently imported ‘Black Friday’.
I will admit that I plan to visit some of the better local stores today because I’m working on being the best version of me that I can possibly be.
So WTF has that got to do with shopping?
I want to change my look, my health, my place ~ and that means out with some of the old and in with some better new stuff. I’m trying a different, maybe more fashionable, but certainly more ‘English’ and preppier look in clothes ~ even to wear when I’m a visiting tourist in other countries. Why would I want to look like a Californian when I’m in California, or a Frenchman when I’m in France? (OK I have no objection to looking like a cool Italian guy anytime, sans the man-bag.) And, as Shakespeare said; the clothes maketh the man.
As for buying stuff to help improve my health and fitness….. I hate to admit this, and don’t tell a soul, but I want a blender because I have accepted the health benefits of the whole ‘smoothie’ thing. I know, neither manly, nor English. But sometimes a cool guy needs to bend a little. It seems that if you want to get the full benefits from spinach you need to have it in a smoothie.
My place needs some new art, lighting, and bed linen. Probably I will need to look further afield than this one-donkey town to find that stuff, but I’m used to doing that. For example, I always bought my silk ties in either Florence or Sienna, (which is also where I usually bought an annual boot-load, (trunk-load), of olive oil and wine).
So, sometimes even a cool guy should spend a little time shopping. The trick I find is to know what I want before I venture out, and never, ever get stressed.
Stress will kill you.
let others get stressed if they wish
The Healing Powers Of The Rose.
Herbalists and witches know that the rose is a very useful and powerful medicinal plant, and that one of the interesting things you can use it for at this time of year is as a remedy for coughs and colds. A very easy way to take advantage of the natural healing power of the rose is to make rose petal tea. Well, the petals do contain vitamin C, which helps combat the common cold, but the petals also hold some powerful polyphenols and antioxidants. Ideally one should use the petals of the wild dog rose, rosa canina, but I also use the petals from garden hybrid roses.
Try making rose petal tea with just a handful of fresh rose petals, and a very little sugar or honey, (don’t use a lot of sugar or honey as it will overpower the taste). Personally I just scald the petals, but some suggest simmering, (stewing), for 5 minutes. Some also suggest removing the white portion of fresh petals, although personally I wouldn’t do that. The white area does impart the tea with a slightly bitter, tannin taste, but I firmly believe that’s also where most of the good stuff is concentrated.
Scientifically, the principal qualities of rose petal tea are that it has; Laxative, Opthalmic, Diuretic, and Linthontriptic virtues. I firmly believe it’s a lot more complicated than that. For example, you should find that rose petal tea will slightly numb your mouth and ease any sore throat and cough you may be suffering from.
- anxiety, depression, and stress.
- constipation and other digestive problems.
- coughs, colds, and sore throats.
- menstrual cramps and pain.
- skin and hair problems ~ the tea is said to relieve the symptoms severe acne.
- urinary tract infections.
If that wasn’t enough, drinking rose petal tea is supposed to help ward off cancers due to its beneficial effects on the immune system. Some say that drinking rose petal tea also promotes weight loss ~ I couldn’t promise that, other than you may use much less sugar and cream than if you were drinking coffee instead of this herbal tea.
You can make rose petal tea either with fresh petals, (make certain they are pesticide free), and you can also make a green tea with dried rose petals. You can buy dried rose petals mail order from all kinds of places, including Amazon. As far as I’m concerned, I think it’s better to collect fresh rose petals, and keep a few handfuls in the refrigerator.
There are a couple of things to be careful of. Firstly, drinking more than three or four cups of this stuff a day is likely to give you diarrhea. Secondly, most really effective herbal remedies for menstrual pain are also female aphrodisiacs as they affect the production of oestrogen~ don’t say you weren’t warned.
Aphrodite’s Herbalist, jack collier
Today in America it’s all about shopping.
The Friday after Thanksgiving, is the start of the Christmas shopping season in the United States. Some say the reason it’s called Black Friday is because this is the day retailers in the USA start to turn a profit for the year. All I know is that if I was made to go shopping to Macy’s, JC Penney, Saks, Sears, or Wal-Mart, or anywhere else come to that, at some unearthly hour the day after Thanksgiving, then I’d be in a pretty black mood by the close of play. Most manly men don’t go for the frenzy of naked consumerism and implausible bargains on offer today.
Even though we don’t have Thanksgiving in England, most retail outlets here are trying to introduce the idea of ‘Black Friday Shopping’ to the English. Like most things which cross the Atlantic from West to East, (American cars, American Halloween, American humor, American Presidents), the materialism of Black Friday doesn’t really work well here.
For a start, unlike a lot of people in a lot of US states, nobody here has today as vacation, so we don’t have to find something to do with our time. Secondly, we English are a cynical and untrusting lot, and generally think the Black Friday hype is just an attempt by retailers to increase sales volume while at the same time offloading all the crap they can’t sell at any other time of the year. (Black Friday ‘deals’ are almost inevitably at the rip-off end of the spectrum.) On top of that, November really is a little too early to be the start of the ‘Christmas Season’.
And, what the average American may not know is that we English have had our very own Black Friday for centuries. In England Black Friday is any Friday the 13th, and that is a day on which bad things happen. Nothing good ever happens on any Friday 13th, and it’s become a day to be dreaded; ladders, mirrors, and black cats especially. There’s even a name for the fear of Friday 13th paraskevidekatriaphobia.
I’m pretty certain that a lot of American men also dread their very own version of Black Friday. This is a time when all good men really need their urban survival skills. They could always say they can’t go shopping because they suffer from paraskevidekatriaphobia. Maybe not, it’s a very long word.
Governments, Big Business, Small Businesses, You, Me, Them, Everybody…
Everywhere I look there seems to be a casual disregard for the sanctity of this planet and everything that lives upon it. And yet, for the forseeable future this is the only planet we have to live upon. Why is it that so many seem to care nothing for the Earth, and so few try to preserve and repair this place we call home?
Forget the big stuff for a while, and take one small piece of casual waste, one tiny instance of wilful vandalism ~ the damned abandoned shopping trolley, or as the Americans would have it shopping cart / shopping buggy.
All over this one-donkey town there exist randomly littered and abandoned shopping carts.
Why do people take them out of the store car parks in the first place, and why don’t they return them?
Do these morons think that shopping carts can find their own way home?
Are there jerks on this planet who actually believe that shopping trolleys can swim? If not, why do some wassocks chuck shopping carts into the sea?
This is just a metaphor for the total disregard some / many / most people have for the environment. I could ask if these people would treat their homes like this, but what’s the point? The answer is that some jerks do treat their homes like dumps / tips / dumpsters / skips…
Then there’s my role in this. I take lost trollies back to the store they came from. Not as a crusade, and I don’t go looking for abandoned shopping carts, but when I find one on my daily stroll, I do take them back.
Does that make me public-spirited, or a damn fool, or both?
When I first ran away from real life and came to my seaside apartment I was a broken man. The thought of friendships and relationships made me feel physically ill. I also began to relearn who I really was. The true Jack Collier cannot abide clutter, untidiness, dust, dirt, and mess. Neither physical, mental, and emotional muddle sit well with me.
Nor do I seem to be particularly acquisitive. The pleasures of collecting things; pictures, ornaments, and the like, largely passes me by. Although I have been, and still am, guilty of having far too many books and too much recorded music, (in its multifarious forms), than can be good for one person.
Fashion does not particularly interest me. My sheepskin ‘flying’ jacket is more than 20 years old, and I am still wearing dress shoes almost as old as that. ~ but then I’m a man.
Without any planning or conscious thought I began the process of decluttering my life.
Some of this was easier than you would think, because there are only three little rules;
- Do not buy anything that does not have an immediate and specific purpose in your life.
- If you have things which do not have a specific purpose in your life, then either sell them, give them away, or dump them in the trash.
- Never, ever, leave anything out in the open, cluttering up table-tops, counter tops, bedside cabinets, dressers, sinks, the sides of the bath… If you are not actually using something right now, then always put everything away. If there’s nowhere to keep whatever it is ~ say clothes you haven’t worn for years, then follow rule #2.
What I did not realise until very recently is that living attracts clutter like a dog attracts fleas. Decluttering your life is not a one-off event, it’s an ongoing process which requires vigilance and effort. Consequently I am still selling stuff through eBay and Amazon, I am still a regular visitor to my local thrift / charity / goodwill stores, and I still find myself tossing things into the trash.
Worst of all, I still sometimes buy things I don’t really need, or even want. And, like all men, I am terrible at returning things to the store.
Money makes the world go around…
Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure nineteen pounds, nineteen shillings and sixpence, result happiness. Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure twenty pounds ought and six, result misery. ~ Mr. Micawber
I was a broken man when I eventually moved into the waterside apartment I call the garret. Broken in body, mind, and spirit. I was also flat broke. Which is likely to happen when your business partner is stealing you blind. (Given how much money she took from me she was probably the most expensive
sex I have ever had.)
I was used to having more money than a money-pit, trophy-wife could spend on clothes, jewelry, shoes…, so being penniless came as something of a shock. I had two choices, make some more money, or spend less. Given that there was no way I was going to take a regular job I had only 1 choice…
I had to learn how to live on less. Thanks to synchronicity, my time as a Banker had tought me how to manage money. Here are some
guidelines I followed / still follow:
- Pay my debts. Debt is an insidious trap. Debts incur interest, and if you don’t pay the debt and interest in good time, you risk serious consequences. The debts I had were a small mortgage on the garret, and some credit card balances. Of the two, it was most important that I cleared the debt on my plastic ~ credit cards carry a ruinous rate of interest. Even if I had to live on white-label canned goods for the rest of my life, the first thing I did, (and still do), with any money I had coming in was reduce my debts.
- Pay the local taxes and utilities bills. I had tried living without water, gas, electricity, telephone, internet, a roof over my head, (maybe you should read Alternative Living # 3), and believe you me, it’s no picnic. In fact, living without modern conveniences is a short way to illness and death for the modern man.
- Learn how to say No. I stopped accepting invitations to go out to bars / restaurants / coffee shops / cinemas. I stopped giving to charities. I would not lend or give any cash to anyone. Salespeople still get very short shrift from me, as in; ‘what part of
fuck-offno don’t you understand?’
- I stay away from shopping malls, and I don’t buy things from the internet’s virtual mall. As it goes, that isn’t strictly true. If it’s raining I take my daily walk in the local shopping mall.
- Write lists. I am terrible for going into a supermarket and coming out with stuff I did not really want or need. Supermarkets are very good at getting us to buy stuff… So, work out what I need, write a list, and buy what’s on the list, and don’t buy anything else.
- Shop differently. Use discount stores and thrift shops, look in the bargains sections, look for and use coupons, and never go shopping when you are hungry, thirsty, angry, depressed, drunk…
- Sell the stuff I no longer want or need. When I lived in a 5 bedroom home, I had a huge study, full of books, music, and man-junk. I am still using Amazon to sell vinyl, cd’s and books. Yet the garret still has heaps stuff stored in all kinds of unlikely places…
- Rethink what I want and need. I don’t need the latest and most expensive car, newest television, most expensive cable service, most up to fate cellphone, tablet, the latest fashions…
- Stay away from booze. Given the amount I could drink, if once I started drinking, I could spend a hell of a lot of money on booze. Added to that I do stupid and expensive things when I have been drinking.
- Keep away from other vices. I am very lucky, the only addictive weaknesses I have ever suffered from are women and booze. I have never smoked or taken street drugs ~ the people who do those things disgust me. If you read my Alternative Living # 4 you will know how I came to cope with the whole women / relationships / sex thing.
How does endless sunshine, stylish bars and restaurants, great shopping, fantastic attractions, and a totally cool, (weird), nightlife sound to you? For someone brought up in a North of England coal mining town it sounds fabulous.
From the Pacific coast find the Christopher Columbus Transcontinental Highway, (aka Interstate 10), and before you get to Whitewater look for route 111 and head south-east into Palm Springs.
(Picture by the girl riding shotgun)
Palm Springs is a one street town. Almost everything cool is either on or just off Palm Canyon Drive. Baristo Road is east west and crosses Palm Canyon Drive, (for those who don’t know how street signs work in the USA).
To be more truthful, central Palm Springs is a two street town, because Palm Canyon Drive is one-way, heading south. To double back on oneself, take Indian Canyon Drive, heading North. If you’re searching for a classic car for your next road trip, then check out the auction lots on Indian Canyon Drive. But, take my advice, don’t buy an Edsel.
If you are in Southern California, Palm Springs is a place which just oozes sexual energy, of whatever flavour you like. Don’t forget, this town is both close enough and far enough away from Hollywood to have made it one of the illicit meeting places of choice for the stars of the silver screen. The restaurant in the picture is called Lulu.
pictures by jack collier