Flowers in California

Flowers in California

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Halloween at the Mall

I ended up in the mall today while on an outing to buy Halloween candy.  Once inside I realized that there were many costumed children there today because they can trick or treat at the stores.  I felt a little like fleeing because it made me sad that my son and I don't do that anymore.  I bought a nice coffee though (it cures so much) and worked through my thoughts.  Then I started to enjoy seeing the many cute little people and their cute little costumes.

Having been away from this activity for a number of years now, and perhaps because it has evolved in that time, I wasn't aware of the ins and outs of mall trick or treating procedures.  I learned quickly, though, that many stores post signs indicating whether or not they welcome trick-or-treaters.  Once I knew that, I decided to take a lot at which stores fell into which category.  And to judge harshly those that were not being generous.

I won't provide the full breakdown here (please contact me if you'd like - I did take notes) but here are some highlights from what I observed:

1.  Birks was giving out candy.  I wouldn't expect a formal store like Birks to want children trotting in and out all day and I applaud them for this generosity.  Also, an art store was in a giving mood.  Or they were when I was there.  If children have since smeared candy on or fallen into pieces of art, things may have changed.

2.  Most stores had standard signs, probably given out by the mall, indicating their candy status.  Swimco had a more elaborate sign saying they were not giving out candy.  If they could go to the trouble of making a fancy sign, couldn't they just buy some candy and give it out?

3.  Telecom companies were pretty reliable.  Bell, Telus and Rogers were being kind to kids even if mobile service in Canada is somewhat overpriced.

4.  The poor little hair salon, Glamour Secrets, that's hidden away, almost under an escalator, welcomed trick-or-treaters.  I'm sure kids seeking candy would manage to find them even though their location is challenging.  Making people aware of its existence can only help that salon.

5.  I'm still not sure why the Flip Flop Shop has opened in Calgary.  Yes, they opened during the summer and flip flops are a popular footwear choice in that season.  They are significantly less popular, though, in all the other seasons.  It was nice of them to give out candy today regardless of their business strategy.  Because of this, I will seek them out for all my flip flop needs, limited though they are at this time.

6.  Shopper Drug Mart participated.  I like Shoppers Drug Mart so I'm mentioning them for no reason more exciting than that.

The people that I saw who were giving out candy looked like they were really enjoying the experience.  And why not?  The kids were cute, the costumes were adorable and it's a fun thing to do.  I don't know if every place has to participate in this event but I think it's so nice of the ones that did.

I'm glad that I stumbled into the mall today and experienced this event.  While its occurrence may help to explain why very few trick-or-treaters are coming to our door it's good to know that a lot of kids had a fun Halloween in a warm place.  And it was interesting to learn which stores were willing to help to make that happen.

I won't make all my future buying decisions based on what I saw today (and all I really buy is coffee anyways and Starbucks gave out candy) but the participating stores built up some goodwill for themselves.  Aside from all the fun of this event, that seems like a smart business thing to do.  I suppose this is especially true for businesses that try to sell things like flip flops, in Calgary, year round.  Happy Halloween!


Monday, October 22, 2012

On Not Seeking Revenge

Recently I was involved in an unpleasant interaction with someone.  It was very upsetting at the time and while it was happening and afterwards, I could have made it worse.  I could have fled from the situation.  That would have been very irresponsible.  I could have complained vehemently afterwards and pointed fingers in the direction of various people.  I could have used more subtle methods to seek revenge.  (If anyone ever needs some ideas on how to respond angrily to a situation, give me a call.  I can really be counted on to have some nasty ideas.)  In this situation, though, I calmed down, thought things through and I didn't cause any trouble.  While this really went against my natural inclinations, I am glad that I chose the path I did.

Regardless of who was right or wrong in this conflict, holding onto anger and seeking revenge would have only added more negative energy to the situation and the world.  Liking people and proceeding peacefully with them is way more pleasant than feeling hostility towards them (or wondering when they will step in their shoes and find them filled with an unidentified liquid - one of the many revenge strategies I did consider).  Forgiveness and a brief discussion of earlier concerns turned out to be the way to proceed.  People are feeling ok with each other again and I am glad.

I can't guarantee that I will always act admirably when confronted with unpleasantness in the future.  I hope this incident has helped me learn, though, that knee-jerk reactions aren't the best ones to employ.  Looking like a jerk would be the most likely result of them.  I prefer to avoid that if I can.  Yes, it's a shame that so many creative revenge ideas will go to waste.  But I can have fun with them in my head and I am always willing to share them with others.  I advise against using them but they can be a lot of fun to consider.


Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Opening A Door

Yesterday I enjoyed a nice bus ride.  I had a seat, the bus went along a street I enjoy (lots of Arts and Crafts style homes) and I had some peaceful thinking time.  As well, an accident with a truck was avoided (very narrowly) so there was that for which to be grateful.

At some point during the ride, a young man entered the bus.  From his clothes, demeanour and the way he sat in a heap at the back of the bus, he seemed like he might be troublesome.  He did nothing wrong but I remained aware that he was there.

When we got to our common destination, I got off the bus first.  I managed to open the door (I am never quite sure about Calgary bus doors so this was an accomplishment) and held it for this man. For me, this was a very simple act.  I'm glad I carried it out though.  For one thing, it meant I didn't get squashed in it as it snapped shut.  More importantly though, the man said "Thank you."

While neither of us did anything big in this situation, I think that we both did things that are worthwhile.  By holding the door open, I suggested that this man as worthy of courtesy.  By saying "Thank you" he confirmed that this is true.

He brightened my day by reminding me that there's so much more to people than sometimes meets the eye.  I don't know if I made any difference to him but my action didn't hurt.  I wish him well and hope he reveals some more of the good inside him.  And I hope that he has better luck with bus doors than I do.  Those things can be scary.


Thursday, October 4, 2012

The Woman in the Cape

While at the mall today, I crossed paths with a woman who was wearing a cape (or cape-like garment; let's go with cape).  Initially I looked at her because she resembled a neighbour.  My neighbour is always impeccably dressed; she might wear a cape well.  This woman was not my neighbour.  And I might not have given her much thought, despite the cape, if it were not for the look she gave me as we passed by.  It was a look that seemed to say, and I'm paraphrasing, "You're not fit to walk the same planet, much less in the same mall, as me.  And look,  I have a cape."  It wasn't a friendly look.

Admittedly, I was not looking my loveliest today.  My clothes were in a changing seasons state of confusion and didn't match my running shoes.  I was wearing the running shoes because I have recently lost a nicer pair of shoes (I know; how does anyone lose shoes?  Did I come home barefoot from somewhere?)  It was, at best, a casual approach to fashion that I was projecting.  I would understand if the caped woman was disappointed.  I don't know if it was my fashion sense that bothered her though.

While, of course, I can't be sure of anything that this woman was thinking, what I sensed from her was that she thought she was better than me.  On that, I beg to disagree.  She was dressed more formally and I suspect that she may have a lot of money.  I'm not sure where "better than me" could possibly enter the picture though.  And if she thought in any way that I'm envious of her, I'm not.  I was and am having quite a happy, energetic and creative day.  I wasn't walking along thinking that I'd like to be anyone else or have anything else in the world (although I would like to find my shoes).  It would be nice to have more money but I hope that having it doesn't mean one has to wander around trying to look superior to other people.  If so, I don't need it.

I don't know a lot about this woman and she doesn't know a lot about me.  On both our parts, snap judgments seem to have been made.  Her look upset me a little though and I worked to figure out why.  I even looked at a cape.  I don't know that I could carry off such an unstructured piece - I knocked it off the hanger in the store; that wasn't a good start - and I don't feel a need to copy that woman.  I may try to dress a little bit better when I appear in public though.  And I'll try not to lose any more shoes.


The Truth, The Lie and a Clean Kitchen Drawer

Recently I posted a picture on Facebook of a beautifully arranged drawer.  Indeed, it deserved all the attention it got.  With a cutlery tray in it to keep various tools and tape and batteries rigidly held in place, it's an example of organizational perfection rarely found in my house.

While the drawer still looks as good as it did when the picture was taken, it's a bit of an illusion.  Maybe even a lie.  Even as the picture was being taken, there were items sitting on the counter that I had taken from the drawer and not yet replaced.  The drawer had been a frightening mess and if I put everything back in it, cutlery tray or not, there would still be clutter.  So I took a plastic box, dumped a bunch of stuff in it and put it away.  Now it's the linen closet's problem.

I don't foresee a need to open the box anytime soon.  Every item in it must have a use but we don't know what those uses are.  There are brackets capable of holding substantial items on walls.  Items are not falling off the walls though - things seem secure.  I've seen ends of flashlights but I don't see flashlights lying around the house, fully functional if only they had their ends.  There are two pointy pieces that look they belong on the bottom of furniture.  How did we end up with two pieces?  And what looks like a vacuum cleaner filter is clean and new but I don't think we have its vacuum anymore.  We don't need these things in a drawer in the kitchen.  It's possible we don't need these things at all.

The problem is that while we might not need any of these things, we might need some of them.   Maybe we'll need only one of them.  It'd be nice to have whatever we need and frustrating to know we'd thrown something out.  So, I'm keeping it all, just in case.

I'm glad it's only one plastic box of unknown pieces that I have and not a whole house of things we might need some day and can't throw it.  That's hoarding and that's sad.  It's strange though that things collect as they do and amazing that, these days, our belongings seem to come with their own belongings.  It's really easy for clutter to build up.

I'll be pretty happy, I suppose, if one day soon things start falling off the walls and I come across flashlights without ends, furniture that needs pointy things and the vacuum that would use that filter.  Until that glorious day, my box and I will wait.  And I hope the kitchen drawer stays camera-ready.  Sure, I just shuffled elsewhere to get it like that but it really does like nice.  And I hope the box and linen closet can work things out.


Monday, October 1, 2012

The Towel of Imperfection

While folding laundry recently, I noticed that one towel had holes in it.  Immediately I started to consider what to do with it.  I still folded it (I like folding laundry.  I'm pretty good at it too and there's usually lots of evidence to see my work as I 'm not as good at putting it away) but its future had become very uncertain.

I wondered whether my rabbits would enjoy playing with it.  They might.  They're kind of like kids with new toys though - the fascination with things wears off quickly.  And there might never be a lot of fascination with a towel.  Maybe it could go in the rag container.  We have a lot of rags though.  And we don't use that many as we also have micro-fibre cloths that work better.  I could start a bag of towels to go to the Humane Society.  I've done that before.  I even made it out of there without adopting a new rabbit one time but I can't guarantee I could do that again.  At some point, I started to consider if this towel had to stop being a towel.  Really, why can't we use a towel with a few holes?

As this is a hand towel and it can still hang in a bathroom and be used to dry hands, it can still serve its primary purpose.  And this morning when I spilled coffee on the newsaper, myself and the floor as I sat in the living room (and how did your day start?) and called to my husband to bring a towel, it would have served another purpose.  The holes wouldn't have bothered me at all.

Because the towel is still in good shape except for the holes, I could arrange it so that no one would even know.   Does that matter?  Should it?  Would it be terrible for people to see a towel with holes?  Would people think differently of me because I put such an item out for use?  Is it bordering on the really weird to do this?  If we do consider this really weird, should we?

I like attractive things for my house and buying them can be fun.  I don't like waste though.  Recently we had to dispose of a five year old washing machine.  People who work with appliances didn't seem too surprised.  Aside from the cost, it's horrible that such a large, relatively new piece of equipment is now scrap.

When things don't work or when they've become unsafe, they have to go.  When something only has aesthetic imperfections but is still useful, I'm not sure that we should immediately toss it away.  Our new washing machine has scratches and, because of them, it was sold in the clearance section of the store at a significantly reduced price.  I don't notice the scratches; I'm really glad to have a machine that washes clothes again.

I'm not sure what I'll do with the towel.  I think I'll keep it for a while at least to remind myself that imperfect items can still be perfectly useful.  And they can even make us stop and think.