Sunday, March 20, 2011

The Scent of Old Men

As the weather outside warms, the sweaters at thrift stores go on sale. In order to get felt for craft purposes I buy the 100% wool sweaters and run them through the washing machine and dryer.

Recently one of the hospice thrifts had 5 plastic totes full of sweaters priced at a dollar a sweater. Digging through the bins 6 sweaters had adequate wool content to come home with me.

Three of the darker colored sweaters were men's sweaters and went in the washer with my blue jeans and dark socks. As the machine filled with hot water, the scent of their previous owners wafted out.

The vibe and the product at hospice thrifts is a little different than Goodwill and Salvation Army. Goodwill and Sally Ann's have the cast offs of yard sales, spring cleaning and moving. They have kid stuff, aged impulse buys and plastic galore. Hospice thrifts hold the leftovers of an older demographic, often the belongings of former hospice clients. You are often buying things that once belonged to people that are no longer with us, dead people.

With that thought running through my head, thinking I may be one of the last people to smell these guys was an oddly reverent moment. I waited for the washer to fill entirely before closing the lid and walking away.


Saturday, March 12, 2011

Giving Whirled Peace

Fallout from the political situation in Wisconsin is wide ranging. Civic discourse is markedly less civil. The greenhouse and garden center near Milwaukee, where my sister works is probably a typical example. She tells tales of heated verbal arguments and subsequent tears between coworkers that would have been unthinkable a month ago.

Out running errands the other day, the clerk at the gas station convenience store voiced a wish that people could just get along again. At her next stop, my sister noted that the pharmacy was running a special on Ben and Jerry's Whirled Peace, $1.19 for a pint. She bought 6 containers.

To give away the first two ice cream cartons, she returned to the convenience and gave a carton to the store clerk and one to her coworker. The third carton went to an acquaintance entering the convenience store, a friend whose mother is a teacher.

Cartons four, five and six ended up where her son was working that day. When she needed one more ice cream, she ponied up her last ice cream carton, a Haagen Dazs Swiss Almond, figuring this remained thematically correct because the Swiss were neutral in both world wars.

My sister Lisa came home without any ice cream, but felt good at spreading a little Whirled Peace for the inexpensive cost of $7.14.

While issues still stand and tensions remain high in Wisconsin, it is good to see some unconventional efforts at bringing healing and good vibes (and ice cream) to friends and neighbors. That sister of mine sure knows how to think outside the box.