Shithouse rat

I'm a bipolar writer in the Naked City. I'm not playing with a full deck. I don't have all my dots on the dice. My cheese is sliding off my cracker. I don't have both oars in the water. I'm a bubble off plum. In other words, I'm crazier than a shithouse rat. These are my stories. Comments--short or long, nasty or nice--always welcome!

Friday, May 20, 2005

Cheap thrills

Ok, Henry, this one's for you. You may be one of the only bipolars in existence who does not go on wild spending sprees while in a manic/hypommanic state of mind, due to your inborn, hard-wired frugality...

Today is Friday; by far the very best day of the week. Why, you ask? Is it because the weekend is here? Well, no, not exactly. My boyfriend BG and I have an entirely different reason to say TGIF.

You see, Friday is when the new sales flyers come out at BG's local Associated/Morton Williams supermarket. As we enter the automatic doors of the store, our hearts flutter in anticipation. Our breathing is rapid and shallow. Silently, as I fetch a cart, BG solemnly removes two new flyers from the pile above the ATM machine. I take a long, deep breath, trying to maintain my composure for a moment. But the two of us are instantly transported by the thrilling novelty of it all, maniacally scanning the hot-off-the-presses flyer for sales, sales, sales! while careening crazily down each aisle with our cart.

Generic instant coffee, 8 ounce jar, $1.99--normally 5.99! OK, grab about 10 of those babies. If anyone comes near you when you're plundering the aisle, just shove them out of the way.

Name brand toilet paper, normally 69 cents a roll, now five for 2 dollars--or 40 cents each! Yes, we're on a roll now, too, baby...

Brand name ice cream of the week, typically 6 bucks regular price, now 2.99 a half gallon. Tuna fish--generic for the cat, two for a dollar. Name brand for us: 99 cents each. Stock up, boys...

Let's see, we need some soda or something. How about the 2-liter Pepsi, on sale this week for 99 cents? (Coke and Pepsi usually take turns each week being the sale item). Nah, f#uck that noise--look here! This brand-name canister of ice tea mix makes 28 quarts and is on sale for four dollars off the regular price! That's gotta be the coup of the week!

Exhausted and sated, we shlep our treasures home. But we are still hungry for more bargains; fresh, undiscovered sales. So for another hit of immediate bargain-hunting gratification, the next day it's off to the local 99 cent store.

The Bronx has more 99 cent stores and cell-phone storefronts than probably anywhere else in the known universe. Problem is, some of those 99 cent stores are deceptive--they're 99 cents AND UP. At our fave, though, almost everything is 99 cents or less--excluding milk and frozen goods, which are usually $1.19. And the selection! For a mere twenty bucks, we can come out of there with enough food and provisions to amply prepare ourselves for nuclear Armageddon.

At this wondrous store, you can find everyday items for 99 cents that you would pay way more for on the "outside"--and some things you can't even find anywhere else. Every week or so, the stock guys are busily unloading floor to ceiling cartons of new goodies--and you're never sure what's going to be on the shelves next. Delicious pies, pound packages of bologia, Brie, cookies, bags of hard candy, beans in sauce, salsa, pickles, Dijon mustard. (No tofu or fresh veggies, but after all, this ain't no health food store). Plus for a dollar, you can get a perfectly wonderful birthday card, a can opener, a set of steak knives, paint rollers and brushes, food containers, night lights, brand name soaps, toothpastes, shampoos, conditioners, and oh so much more.

Shortly after BG and I met, we went grocery shopping together for the first time. I noted how carefully he scanned the sale sheet and only bought sale items. Meanwhile I heedlessly went for the stuff I wanted, regardless of price. "Don't buy it just because it's on sale," I reprimanded him. Oh, what a naieve, untutored fool I was.

The Bronx definitely doesn't have the cachet of Manhattan, and does have its hazards (see, for example, "The Crackhead Next Door," ) but the cost of living is a heck of a lot lower. The stores don't have to pay those fancy-schmancy Manhattan rents, and they pass the savings on to you. Plus, the demographics of this working class 'hood don't lend themselves to Starbucks, Barnes and Nobles, Bloomies, or Piaget. There are, however, many many jewelry stores, cell phone distributors, cheap clothing outlets, dirt cheap fruit and vegetable stands, and weird appliance places. The closest thing to a department store is a place called El Mundo (The World) which has rock-bottom clothing, furniture, appliances, and home furnishings.

BG comes from a proud line of frugal folk. He grew up poor, and his parents made him get a paper route when he was about 7, to help with the bills. He worked as a bag boy or clerk in high school so he could buy his own clothes. The usual dinner fare was hot dogs or peanut butter sandwiches--even those cheapo TV dinners were only for "rich people." The favorite phrases in the BG household were "wasteful" and "perfectly good" (as in "two dollar sneakers in a day glo color? Perfectly good." ) At nineteen, he became the youngest manager of a fast food chicken chain ever. He always held down a job which involved hard work and modest pay. And though for many years, he didn't even have a bank account due in large part to his drug habit, he never considered stealing or borrowing large sums of money or anything else underhanded. He told one therapist who asked him how much he stole to support his heroin use, "Doc, let me put it to you this way. Some people work for nice clothes. Some work for a big house, or to send their kids to college, or for a big fancy car, or to join the local country club. I worked for drugs. When I ran out of money, I didn't do the drugs. End of story." The therapist looked at him as if he had two heads.

My spending habits, on the other hand, were more up and down. When my father died, his savings and life insurance policy left me with about 50 or sixty grand. When I graduated college, I had access to all that dough. When my ex-boyfriend and I moved in together to a modest one-bedroom walkup on the Upper East Side, we did the town right. Restaurants, clubs, cabs, coke (including freebase), clothing, a trip to London. After years of this, my savings were tapped out, and we moved on to credit cards to sustain us in the lifestyle to which we had become accustomed.

Before we knew it, we had run up about 60 grand of debt between us. We had multiple credit cards, including joint accounts. We had credit cards that included a checking account line where you could pay other bills. Before the end came, we were borrowing from Peter to pay Paul: sending a check from one credit card line to pay the minimum on another credit card. Finally, just before we could no longer sustain this juggling act, we came to our senses and went to a budget/credit counseling service.

For fifty bucks a month, the service did up a budget for us, and determined how much of our paychecks we would give to them each month to distribute to each of our creditors. They negotiated with them to eliminate or lower the crippling interest rates.

Once our monthly payment was made, we had the very bare minimum to live on. In order to survive, I cooked constantly--making us dinners and leftovers to bring in for lunch. Instead of soda, we bought packets of Kool Aid at 10 for a dollar and made up gallons of the stuff. No money for movies, clubs, or restaurants. It took us about 5 years to pay it all off, and unlike bankruptcy, our credit was not completely ruined for seven years.

Before we got into that mess, I also went through some hypomanic periods where I spent quite recklessly. I laid down a 3 grand deposit towards a lavish wedding reception in a fancy Union Square restaurant (the wedding was off as soon as I descended into a severe depression). I made my would-be bridesmaids buy hundred-buck gowns that they later couldn't get reimbursed for. More recently, I almost purchased a second coop I couldn't really afford.

After this last credit card fiasco, I learned my lesson. I had secretly come to enjoy the weekend schleps to several supermarkets, cooking a 99 cent bag of beans by soaking them overnight, sorting out the rocks, and making huge pots of red beans and rice which could last for days. I chopped fresh carrots and potatoes, and got the Purdue Oven Stuffers when they were on sale, or cheap chicken legs. For the first time in my life, I really got the inkling of what the value of a dollar was.

Not long after the debt was cancelled, I met BG. Thanks to his cheapster ways, my bank account and wallet soon plumped up quite nicely.

But my ex never learned his lesson, which is why as I write this he has blown a 30 grand inheritance from his parents he got a few years back, and has accrued an additional 30 grand in debt. He lost his job awhile back, his unemployment has expired,he has not found a new job yet, and is totally broke. The coop is piled floor to ceiling with DVD's which he compulsively orders from E-bay but never watches, in large part because trying to pull one of them out from the middle of the stack would set off an avalanche. He already injured an eye when a pile of DVD's "attacked" him one night. I am currently paying the entire coop maintenance each month, as well as giving him some money for food, his phone/cable/internet, and other "necessities."

When I met BG, I still loved going to different restaurants--Chinese, Japanese, Mexican, Thai, you name it, I ate it. But BG, who worked as a saute cook in restaruants for many years, refused to go to these places in part because his tastes were simple and also because he knew what went on behind the scenes in those kitchens. So the only acceptable places to "dine out" were the two of the uber-fast food emporiums--Mickey D's or Wendy's--and occasionally a diner, but only for special occasions. Considering the huge amount of money I've saved as a result of all this, I am grateful, although I sometimes still long, , as someone on Roseanne said, to be occasionally taken out to a restaurant that doesn't have napkin dispensers.

Now that I spend a lot of time in the Bronx, life is indeed more simple. Everyone dresses in the same two-dollar El Mundo's sweats and T-shirts. You probably couldn't find caviar, filet mignon, or even a no foam Vanilla double latte even if you wanted to.

One source of anxiety, however, is the dreaded overcharge. This is the kind of thing that makes BG wake from a sound sleep screaming from a horrible nightmare about being shortchanged at the store. Our ritual at Associated is as follows: he hands me the sales sheet and has me get in front of him while he unloads the cart, silently adding up the prices in his head. Although the electronic scanners are usually accurate, occasionally a sales item will ring up wrong, and trouble ensues. He also maniacally double checks the receipt after we leave the store, and frets if he can't figure out where that extra 30 cents went. I guess that's just the price you have to pay for nabbing the sales price.

Well, now it's time to put on my shopping shoes and see what's in store for us at the supermarket this week. Attention, Associated shoppers--clear a wide path for this insane pair of supermarket-sweep cheapos!


At 8:27 AM, Blogger Henry said...

Thank you, Elvira, for the tribute(?).

My wife and I love the sale papers that come in the Sunday paper; it's the first thing we look at (we just love that fat Sunday paper). However, we hardly ever buy anything (well, we get stuff we need like blank DVD's and CD's and extra-cheap coffee).

We don't just buy anything that's on sale; we wait until what we want is on sale. Sometimes, this makes life kinda difficult, like when you're out of toilet paper, but the brand you want is not on sale....

The funny thing is my wife is an attorney, and while I won't say we're rich, we do have plenty of money.

Go figure.

Maybe I'll have a future post on watching the cycle of sales, the random fluctuation of shelf prices at the supermarket, and/or the illogic of the anti-bulk pricing scheme.

At 1:17 PM, Blogger elvira black said...

The anti-bulk pricing scheme? Is there a conspiracy abroad? I knew it! (Um, what the heck is that, anyway?)

I saw a show recently where they did a "taste test" with people who refused to buy the store brand for various foods 'cuz they thought it must suck, since the commercials said theirs was the best ever. Most of them either couldn't tell the diff or preferred the generic to their regular fancy-schmancy peanut butter, coffee, cereal, etc. And whoa, Nelly! What a difference in price!

For awhile when she was a kitten, our cat adored the Associated Brand "seafood surprise" that we dubbed "malodorous chum." But she soon tired of that low-rent garbage and now we have to ply her with only certain specific flavors of Fancy Feast or people-brand tuna fish. Luckily, she can still tolerate the store brand, but she'll doubtless soon turn her nose up at that as well. After all, kitty watches those dastardly Chicken of the Sea commercials too!

At 8:02 PM, Blogger Shalla de Guzman said...

Cool blog, like the color :)


At 3:47 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yes, let me tell you about the familty affliction of checking the sales receipt. This habit was passed on by BG's dad-FMcM.

He too had to check all costs completely, and reverently. His keen mind could sniff out a mistake very quickly. He already added the total up before the sales clerk could. Before lightning fast computers, there was my dad-the human adding machine! I too check all receipts many times. (Gulp-I'm like those two). BLLB

At 12:48 AM, Anonymous socraticspirit said...

Gulp, I’m not sure if this belongs here or in a place all it’s own but I guess I’ll drop it here.
They say that the third is the charm,
so let’s see if it’s true. I like the way you write, it’s honest and clear, it’s funny. Your blogger is fun, thank you for sharing making us so much more. About the comments,
First time I didn’t know where to place a comment
and ended e-mailing you a 2 piece comment, Maximum 300 characters.
The second time, pc fried on me creating a mini dump with a humongous stench(always does it when I’m up to something interesting). And this third will be it!
Thrift in New York, you gotta ask my mom who’s an expert in cheap-good restaurants in lower Manhattan and Brooklyn, me, I was all for 2 hotdogs for a buck, Push Cart turned Odd Job - Odd lot, then Amazing Savings and suddenly a fold. I miss the cafeteria at any Woolworths, Phantom’s good clothes on Church st, cheapo street on 32nd between 6th and 7th av. I used to work at a school inside penta hotel across from Madison and the square garden and this was my area of influence. There was cheapo drugs (discount drugstore) odd lot, webber’s (crap but also some good stuff if you know what you’re looking for) and then came jack’s 99cents. A real everything 99. I’d stock up on hypo-allergenic soap, 99 ¢ big chips, pita bread, and kosher chocolate milk, hot dogs and sour kraut, everything 99¢, yes. My kids’ parties’ stuff always came from jack’s, theme plates napkins, cups and goody bags. Then Woolworth was between 33rd and 32nd , my nephew’s first nointiendo came from there together with my son’s stroller and shirts, cheap perfume for my brother-in-law in Mexico. Cheap make-up sets and clothes for my mother in law to sell in Mx too. Then, suddenly, an epidemic stroke, 99 ¢ stores started vanishing. Cheapo Drugs was gone, woolworth folded, odd gone weird, replaced by 99 ¢ and up... lotta crappola. My wife, Edith and I spent a lot of time cutting out Sunday cupons that would languish in a little purse by the fridge, then we would sit down and sift through the cupons and discard the ones that had expired .... needless to say we always ended going shopping without the cupons. We’re a little more honest now, we don’t cut them out at all. I’m the kind of guy who likes instant or at least quick gratification, so give me the sales anyday. I see it, it’s on sale, make 10 - 15% off an we’re in business. I’m always on the look for 9lives catfood (what ziggy and milky like), give me four for a dollar or better, I’ll stock up for about a year. Well, I think there must be a place I can cut this short 8X short X8
lend me your ears and I’ll give you a load. Be well, rob

At 7:40 AM, Blogger elvira black said...

Thanks, everyone, for the comments. As BG, BLLB, and the whole BG clan like to say: "Cheap is good; free is better." That's why I like the internet--so many cheap goodies!

Henry, keep an eye on that toilet paper situation. In emergencies, for heaven's sake, man, throw caution to the winds and go for the 69 cent stuff!

Shallade, thank you for visiting and for your kind comment. Hope you come back again.

BLLB: The sacred ceremony of the receipt perusal, though perhaps an hereditary trait, has now been passed on to me via osmosis. I used to mock BG--oh what a fool I was back then--about this "affliction," as you call it. But boy oh boy--you gotta watch these supermarkets--they like to reel you in with their promises of sales, sales, sales. But then, if they even have the sale item in stock at all, one must be hyper-vigilant about making sure the discount comes through on their scanners. One time, we got charged twice for a seven dollar steak, which nearly led to fisticuffs, mayhem, and assorted bloodshed.

Socratic spirit: Ahh, you do take me back. I'd forgotten about the good old days when one could live and eat in Manhattan for almost nothing. Most of the cheapo stores have closed down, replaced by the ubiquitous Duane Reades and Starbucks. Although BG was very excited about Wal Mart when we visited his folks out in the hinterlands, I have read enough about them to know that they are sucking the life blood out of mom-and-pop businesses all over the country.

Yes, looks like both Woolworth's and Lamston's (I think that was the name; it was a Woolworth clone) have bittten the dust too.

And the instant gratification thing? Tell me about it! The newest trend is those slick "rebate" scams, where you have to send in the proof of purchase, multiple forms, and all the names of your firstborn to (maybe) get a check months and months later, long after you might have forgotten abou the whole thing. These guys know that a lot of people just won't bother to go through the process. As a matter of fact, I'm due a fat $100 rebate on my Epson printer, but though I keep meaning to, I just never seem to have the wherewithal to follow up on it. But I will, I will...

Furthermore, some "sales" are just totally bogus, I think. Macy's, for example, will have a 40 or 50 percent off sale on a coat, but the full price is so outrageous that no one in their right mind would pay for it at "retail." So even though the "sale" price makes you think you are getting quite the bargain, the final price will still put quite a dent in the old credit card.

The Duane Reade shopping experience, despite their fab Price Club card, is often so stressful that I want to tear my hair out in despair. You really have to watch those guys but good.

Thanks again, you guys!

At 9:41 AM, Blogger Henry said...


Yes, it's is true that I exhibit almost every BP sign and symptom, except for the excessive, detrimental spending.

However, I have realized that I will buy certain things, like high-tech gear or books about the Freemasons, without question; I just keep a sharp eye out for the sales, or use mom's credit card at the college bookstore.

Here's a little sample of one of Henry's recent Hypomanic High-Tech Spending Sprees:

80 GB Hard Drive (to quell technophobia):
Full Retail = $95.00; I paid $20.00 after rebates.

New Cordless Optical Keyboard Set (my keys are sticking on my filthy, old Mac keyboard):
Full Retail = $50.00; I paid $20.00 during 12-hour sale.

Spindle of 100 blank DVD-R discs (always got to have these on hand):
Full Retail = $70.00; I paid $20.00 on closeout.

Optical Drive/Computer Cleaning Accessories (it's dusty in Ventura):
Full Retail = $25.00; I paid $20.00 with $5-off coupon.

Box of 1000 blank, micro-perf business cards (E, you know what these are for...)
Full Retail = $50.00; I paid $30.00 on sale

Team America: World Police DVD (Fuck Yeah; gotta support Matt and Trey);
Full Retail = $20.00; I paid $20.00

Full Retail Cost = $310.00; I paid $130.00
Total Savings = $170; 58.06% off full retail.

How'd I do, BG?

No, I haven't seen National Treasure yet; I'm kinda holding off to make sure my head doesn't spin too hard when watching it.

I don't really pour over the receipts too much; I just watch the price display like a hawk as each item is zipped by the laser scanner. I correct the cashier on the spot if there is an error. These things have a reported error rate of almost 5%.

The wife and I don't use the coupons too much. It's kinda like Rob pointed out: the sales are easier to deal with. I just can't keep track of which coupons we have for what, so the sales are great. I can make my decision right then and there. Rebates carry a lot of baggage, but they are totally worth it. It's getting easier, as the stores are starting to switch over to online fulfillment of the rebates.

Beware of the "Club" cards; always use an alias. It's scary what those guys will use the data they gather for....

I'd also like to point out the Time vs. Money factor: Don't waste several hours to save a dollar or two. After all, Time is Money.

At 7:30 PM, Blogger elvira black said...


Yes, the time vs. money factor--you're right! If you're late for a job interview, best spend an extra 7 bucks on a cab to get there on time.

There are also some "off" brands that just are not acceptable substitutes for the "real thing." Store-brand toilet paper? Perfectly good. But I draw the line at the Associated brand tuna fish. It may be fine, but I just can't handle the concept. The cat's ok with it, but she often winds up with the name brand stuff anyway when there's a big sale. BG keeps telling me to take it easy on the tuna--that's for the kitty! Well, excuse me...

I'm dangerous in Barnes and Noble sometimes. I just can't get enough, but I try to control myself. When I'm feeling virtuous, I just take a trip to the local library's new books section, and there's usually enough there to keep me busy for awhile.

At 8:19 AM, Blogger Henry said...


Total Savings = $180; 58.06% off full retail

At 5:10 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh Blackie,

I must comment on your reply to socratic spirit about Wal Mart. Maybe I missed the point, but I thought you and BG had a "whale of a time" at WM in the big, scary, dangerous city of Tomah, no?

You guys hit that place daily for a week straight, while coming back each time with all those bargains. Clyde even found those 75 lb weights to occupy his time there didn't he?

I figure our family motto of
"cheap is good, free is better",
came somewhere from inside the boardroom of WM exec's, or old Sam Walton himself.

Yes, the old family-run store is mostly gone. But, we still have one in our little bedroom town.
And, let me tell you, it's nothing but a hassle the few times I've gone in there to buy something.

It's sort of a Hardware-True Value type place, run by a man and his wife. They are both in their 80's. In the 3-4 times I've been in there, they hardly ever had what I was looking for. Or, the price of the 2nd choice was always much higher than I would ever have paid at WM.

Besides, look at all the mothers, young brothers, and post-teens working there who have either their 1st paying job, or a secondary paycheck used to help bring home the bacon.

I can tell you, local mom/pop never employed hundreds of folks like our local WM does. Mind you, I only would want to be a greeter there, never a cashier, listening to those countless people trying to ensure they got their discounts.
S wants me to get that job after I retire from here to keep me out of her hair at home.

LONG LIVE MEGA-LIFE AT WM's! I'm living the dream.


At 12:30 AM, Blogger Judith said...

Take a vacation while you shop, hit Edwards in New Jersey! When I lived on Staten Island (5 years ago) they took double coupons.

It cost $7 to cross the Gothels Bridge, but I would save like $30, even after stopping to get the ceremonial Dunkin' Donut. I also shopped for 2 adults, and 3 under 5s.

Plus, it was like hunting for buried treasure. You can even call coporate and request a flyer in your mailbox every week, so you're not just wasting time and/or money if there's nothing you want!

At 6:27 PM, Blogger elvira black said...


Yes, yes, I confess: we love Wal Mart! Are you happy now that you made me say such a non-pc thing, esp for a Manhattanite who would not normally know from this mega-treasure?

Yes, it was awe-inspiring. The biggest store I've ever seen. Total suburban bliss: park the old SUV as close as possible to one of the several entrances to the store, and wander around endlessly in a blissed out consumer's trance (BG would have stayed there all day, but you guys cruelly hounded him out after awhile).

Now, you've got your Pathmarks. You've got your K-Marts. You've got your Barnes and Noble. You've got your Duane Reade's. You've got your Macy's (aka "the largest store in the world.") But nothing, and I mean nothing I've ever beheld matches the majesty of WalMart.

Think of virtually anything you might need or want to buy. Steaks and burgers? This one had the freshest, most beautiful meat I'd ever seen, along with a complete huge grocery store. A pair of glasses? No prob: store right there for your eyecare needs. Clothing? BG cleaned out the cut rate Fruit of the Loom multicolored selection of "oops!" tees, had for a song. Electronics? No prob. Pharmacy? Why of course. And if they didn't have it, you'd probably find it elsewhere in the self-same mall.

Thing is, the suburban life is not for me. I can't drive, and so that eliminates my 'burb options right off the bat. Public trans? Not so great--you're like a pariah if you use it, if it's available at all. And walking? Some towns have no sidewalks. There's "big boned" people in NYC, but in the burbs, legs and feet are almost useless appendages, that could figuratively just be attached only when you needed them to browse at the mall.

BLLB, I think you'd make a superb WalMart greeter: you'd do the whole family proud. What a noble post-retirement profession--welcoming all and sundry to the palatial paradise that is WM!

Judith: Not familiar with Edwards in NJ, again in part because of my car-challenged lifestyle. I have heard tell of many other suburban super stores and clothing factory outlets, as well as vast warehouses where you can find off-brand "goumet" treasures of exotic origin. And IKEA in New Jersey and Long Island? Those I've been to. The NJ chain can be reached by special shuttle bus to Elizabeth. I've bought from IKEA, and adore it. Those clever Swedes have designed the most ingenious layout--like a rat's maze where you basically have to go through the whole vast maze of a store before you can exit. And what a long, strange trip into furniture wonderland it is. And talk about cheap! I love the simple style. Just have to be willing to assemble it at home using those little diagrams, and hope you get enough of the little pegs and screws and the always necessary Allen wrench in your little assembly kit.

The Bronx, where BG lives, has very few of the amenities of either the burbs or Manhattan. The one bookstore in the 'hood closed down. The one Starbucks that opened for awhile closed down. No big department stores anymore that I know of--I think there used to be an Alexander's on Fordham road about a half a century ago. I've heard that in the Parkchester section they may actually have a K-Mart and a Barnes and Noble, though. The legendary movie theater on 183rd Street that closed decades ago is being refurbished, though, for concerts and such, and there is a multiplex near Yankee Stadium. But all in all, it's pretty low-rent territory. And that's really ok. Really.

At 9:45 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear Blackie,

You really are my literary hero! Your habitat is on the paper (even if it is in the cyberworld). To be able to explain the "experience" of WM, and still be able to "walk away" from it in the same blog... truly amazing!

Yes, most of us realize our limits, whether physical (car-challanged), spiritual (mitzvah-starved), or mental (B-clan trapped).

For me, I've tried to think of ways to get a great feeling w/o heading towards the super-store. I'll simply try to wean myself slowly away from the addiction. It will be difficult, but I hope to "master" the escape plan with some dignity and grace...NOT!

I'm hopelessly hooked like a small-mouthed bass on the end of BG's fishing pole. (Has he told you of his theraputic fishing trips with our dad?) They used to fish together on many occasions when BG was staying at the "hut in the woods". I think they enjoyed each other's compamny.

I digress... anyway, stay the good course and continue to put your treasured thoughts down on this written path. Those who read it will benefit greatly.



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