Sunday, October 26, 2008

Sunday Shopping and Worries

We had our usual Sunday today, almost. Smudgie was craving beef the last two days so we finally gave in and headed to the vegetarian’s nightmare. A BBQ restaurant. A mound of smoked, barbecued beef and fries later, and he was a happy little camper. Of course “mound” is a relative term since he’s now pushing up on mommies tummy and it doesn’t take much to fill it up. Same with the bladder.

(These are his first toys, sitting in his crib waiting for Smudgie to arrive.)

After lunch we stopped by the thrift store. It’s a regular routine for us and has been since we discovered we were pregnant. We started looking for cheap baby things. We’ve not bought anything other than the little hooded snuggle towels and some clothes there, but it’s been a wonderful bargain. The clothes they put out are clean and in good repair, unlike some of the more well known thrift stores. We started with newborn and 0-3 month clothes. We’ve filled two dresser drawers with onesies, sleepers and the like. We now have two full drawers of 3-6 month clothes as well.

We figure Smudgie won’t care where his clothes come from and he’ll only be wearing them a matter of weeks before he outgrows them. Why on earth pay $20 an outfit for new clothes? For that matter why pay $5.00 for a onesie when we can get five of them for that cost that are in good condition. Wash them up and they’re good as new. In fact, we found several outfits there that still had the original tags on them. The baby they’d belonged to never even wore them.

I’m a rummage and thrift shop kinda girl. We grew up very poor. Sometimes we didn’t have electricity or running water. A lot of the times we didn’t have much food to go around. I don’t think we actually had a telephone until I was 13 or 14. A lot of our clothes were either made by my great-grandmother or purchased from rummage sales. Our clothes often had patches. I remember my great-grandmother once telling me I had more patch than pants left on a pair of old jeans. That was the way it was.

And it seems as if more and more that’s the way it is today. While at the thrift shop I looked around at some of the people. I saw families shopping for clothes for their children and kids playing with the toys that had been cast off by others and begging their parents for just one. There were young college students and young couples sifting through the pots, pans, beddings and linens trying to outfit a first apartment. And in the rows was a lovely young woman trying on formal dresses for homecoming, a wedding or perhaps her quinceañera.

More and more it seems as if the gap between the “haves” and the “have-nots” is growing. There seem to be relatively few of us “have just enoughs”. Still even those few of us clinging to the middle can only stay there by being careful. Have you looked at your retirement fund lately? Even the state operated funds are in trouble. In GA, our teacher’s retirement board is voting to change the language from “will be given an annual cost of living increase” to “may be given an annual cost of living increase”. This means that the board could vote to hold pension payments at their current rates. When I retire in 20 years or around 2028, I could theoretically be retiring to a pension check that meets the standard of living for 2008. And personal retirement funds? Don’t let them fool you into thinking it’s only the wealthy that are taking a hit. Those are the folks that are so insulated it won’t hurt them.

When I last peeked, my retirement fund had lost 13% over the last 6 months. I’m lucky. I have years ahead to ride it out and for the market to climb back up. But what about those who are facing retirement in the next 5 years? What about the baby boomers who will be flooding into Social Security while those of us in the younger generations are fewer in number and operating on hard economic times?

I think the lessons we need to learn, and that I hope our generation is learning, is one my grandparents taught me. They were the Depression Era children. When you got a job as young as you could and a portion of your wages helped the family. When you pitched in as a family, not just you and your parents but your extended family, and you pulled together. When communities helped each other. Because folks, if we don’t internalize those lessons now, we and our children are facing a hard road ahead.

Wow, lots of serious stuff. How about an excerpt? Soul Stone, due out November 19th is the story of Tarris, an incubus. Tarris makes his first appearance in Mating Stone, the first book in the Jewels of Ursus trilogy.

Excerpt from Mating Stone, available from Ellora's Cave:

Her eyes widened as a man stood up and looked at them. Holy hell! Mark was gorgeous. She adored Mark. Mark made her toes curl and her insides melt. But this man was beyond anything she’d ever seen before. He was desire, he was sex.

His long blond hair hung almost to his waist, flowing loosely around his shoulders. It wasn’t a brash platinum blond but shone like polished gold in the reflected firelight. His eyes were the most blue she’d ever seen, they almost glowed. No one had eyes like that unless they were retouched by special effects experts. It must be a trick of the light, she decided.

He was inches taller than Mark and wore only a neat pair of black slacks. His feet and chest were bare. Sarah felt something very warm begin deep inside her as she looked at that chest. It was tanned and smooth. The way the flicker firelight cast shadows highlighted the definition of the abs and tempted Sarah. The sharply etched muscles seemed to demand she trace them. With hands, lips, tongue, whatever was handy. He didn’t speak but watched her for a minute before smiling. Her body reacted to that smile shamelessly. He broke eye contact and shifted his gaze to Mark.

Sara drew in a sharp breath. What is wrong with you? Mark is standing right behind you and you’re ogling some strange guy. She groaned inwardly. You’re ogling his friend, a guy he called more than a brother.

Mark’s hands came up to rest on her shoulders. She turned to steal a glance at him and saw him smiling down at her. “It’s okay Sarah. Tarris often has that effect on people, men and women. He’s one of the most beautiful beings you’ll ever see.”

She flushed bright red and covered her face with her hands. Mark’s voice came from close to her ear. “He says you are beautiful too.”

Looking up she saw the smile had widened on Tarris’ face. He nodded his agreement with Mark’s words. “But you didn’t speak.” Sarah frowned.

Tarris shook his head, his lips parting to show her straight white teeth. A shiver ran through her and sank deep into the pit of her stomach.

Mark stepped around her. He grabbed his friend in a firm embrace and the two exchanged the manliest hug Sarah had ever seen. Arm still draped around Tarris, Mark turned to her. “Tarris doesn’t speak like you or I.”

“You’re mute?” she asked and he nodded in reply. “But you can hear?”

Tarris nodded again.

“Do you use sign language?” Sarah had learned a bit of finger spelling at summer camp.

The long hair caught the firelight and shimmered as the handsome head shook, the blue eyes crinkling with amusement.

“Don’t worry, he gets his point across,” Mark said wryly, tightening his arm around his friend’s shoulders. A silent laugh shook the blond man’s shoulders. Mark turned to him. “Sarah’s head is feeling funny.” The tone of his voice was as odd as the look he gave his friend. The blue eyes opened wide as if in innocent surprise but his grin twisted up his face revealing a single dimpled cheek. “Right,” Mark said. “Sarah, why don’t you lie down. Tarris and I will have a little talk while you rest.”

“Mark it’s okay, My head will be fine.”

Tarris looked at her intently and gestured toward the bed. She didn’t need Mark to interpret. He too thought she should lie down.

“I can’t just take a nap,” she reasoned with them. “In the middle of your family’s party.”

“Sarah this “party” will go on for hours. No one will notice. Lie down, my love and rest.”

"I don’t…” She was halted by Tarris coming toward her quickly. He reached out and touched her hand. The world swayed and she found herself being swept up into two strong arms. The scent of his skin swirled in her head. He smelt overwhelmingly masculine. An indistinct combination of sandalwood, odd spices, a burning fire and the musky smell of a man’s neck as a woman curled her face into it in the afterglow of hot, passionate sex.

“Show off,” Mark snorted from where he’d already taken a seat in one of the chairs. “It’s probably the heat of the room, Sarah. Tarzan here thinks it should feel like Miami in August. Thankfully it’s winter or he’d be wearing even less.” Tarris smiled down at her gently and shook his head. His expression was playful and said clearly that Mark was positively silly and was not to be believed. He laid her carefully on the bed and slipped off her shoes before pulling a soft blanket from the foot of the bed over her. A charming curve to his lips, he reached out to brush a strand of hair from her forehead. His touch corresponded inexplicably with the thickening of the fogginess in her brain and her eyes felt heavy.

“Sweet dreams, Sarah-mine,” Mark’s voice sounded far away as she drifted off to sleep.
And dreams can be a lot of fun when there's an incubus around...
Now, run off and see what the more interesting folks have in mind. Sandra Cox has a wonderful Halloween contest running with some other great authors. Anny Cook always has great things to say. And check out Kelly Marstad for a little inspirational thought.


Jenny Beans said...

I think that even if I had a lot of money, I would still want to bargain and thrift shop. There is something about things that last, durability I guess, that is appealing. Though with how cheaply everything seems to be made these days, it's a wonder you can even find much worth passing on to others.

I bet you're really excited about Soul Stone. :D I know I am!!

Anny Cook said...

When we married, our entire apartment--two rooms--was outfitted from the thrift store. I grew up with the clothes from the "missionary barrel" and yes, I lived in places with no running water and no electricity. My children know how to pinch pennies until they scream. Sigh. And so do I if I have to.

Molly Daniels said...

I too cannot fathom paying more than $5-10 for a child who will outgrow the darn thing in a few weeks! My mom saved all our onezies, socks, and favorite outfits. I had a boy first, but he wore the onezies, and later my daughter wore them as well, and some of my old outfits. And it drives hubby crazy when he sees the tubs full of clothes that I've saved...but each child has their own 'tub' for their own kids. Hopefully in no less than 10 years:)

Anonymous said...

Have you been in "Once Upon a Child" yet?? They are AMAZING for clothes. Most times they are selling brand new items brought in from people who never had a chance to use an outfit before their kid outgrew it. Look em up. You won't be sorry.