Wednesday, November 26, 2014


Black Friday—or Black Hole?

 When Black Friday comes,

I’m gonna dig myself a hole,

Gonna lay down in it

Till I satisfy my soul.

                Steely Dan

For the past few weeks, when I open my email in the morning, I see a long, long list of messages with subject lines containing the words “Black Friday”—from department stores I shop in, from online businesses I’ve bought from, even from nonprofits (e.g. the Metropolitan Museum). No one, it seems, is above the hucksterism that’s taken over the day after Thanksgiving. To me this has become second only to (the month of) Halloween in overhyped, excessive, self-indulgent manufactured pseudo-“holidays” for the sole purpose of making money. The day has become a black hole that sucks the gentle gratitude of Thanksgiving and the good feeling of Christmas into it and grinds it into sawdust.

It has not always been like this. There was a time when most people—anyone remember?—actually worked on the Friday of Thanksgiving week. Even people who didn’t work in retail.

And truth be told, I was an early adopter of this shopping day—way back when, before it was given a name and an almost religious status.


When I was growing up, we usually had company for Thanksgiving. One or another set of aunts, uncles, cousins would drive up from New York or New Jersey to stay with us here in Rhode Island over the Thanksgiving weekend. On Friday my father went to work; school was out; and my mother, brother, and I would go shopping with our guests. My aunts especially enjoyed seeing stores they weren’t familiar with (before the days of cookie-cutter malls).

The day was a little busier than ordinary weekdays, but nothing like the near Gotterdammerung it is now. We browsed, maybe got some ideas for gifts but bought very little, looked at the decorations (which back then were not put up at the beginning of November), had lunch, visited another store or two, and went home to hot turkey sandwiches. It was a pleasant day and part of our own Thanksgiving tradition.

So what’s happened? When did this day explode into chaos? Was it the Cabbage Patch doll craze that first got people standing on lines through the night? Was that the first falling domino that led to stores opening earlier and earlier, until now many are opening on Thanksgiving itself? Is that what led to the crazy onslaught of advertising starting around Halloween?

I don’t know. Not having children, I was never under overwhelming pressure to be sure they got the absolute newest and most popular (i.e., most heavily advertised) toy every year. I never felt the “need” to stand sleepless and shivering in a line for hours before dawn. I remember a few other fads like that one, if not as crazy. I don’t think there’s been one in a long time, but the genie is out of the bottle now and can’t be put back.

I can’t help but imagine what people in other, poorer countries think of us when they hear about this insanity. Wonder why they don’t like us? Here’s one good reason. While they struggle every day for food, we fight each other to throw our money away on the latest completely unnecessary luxury item. They wait in lines for something to eat; we wait in lines for the newest tech gadget.

I’m afraid there’s no way to turn the clock back on this. “Buy-Nothing Day” has barely made a blip on the radar. I hope at least that people will listen to the message of “Small-Business Saturday” and save some of their money to spend in local shops. For my part I intend to stay right here in my warm, comfortable home, going nowhere, just crawling into that hole with Steely Dan and finding other ways to satisfy my soul.




Monday, November 24, 2014

Microblog Monday: Aid for the Injured Crocheter

I want to share this little tool that has helped me get back into crocheting after my wrist surgery:


This is a Boye ergonomic crochet hook handle. It’s soft and easy to hold and work with. It opens up so that you can insert several sizes of crochet hooks, each with a washer to match its size. I can hold it lightly and it keeps me from having to close my fingers tightly around a thin hook. I got this from Annie’s catalogue, but I’ve also seen them in Michael’s and Jo-Ann’s. If your fingers tend to cramp or ache when you crochet, this is a perfect tool!

Note: This is simply my own opinion. I have no connection with Annie’s or Boye. Just sharing what might be a helpful tip for others based on my experience.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

My First Colored Zentangle

Since I mentioned my interest in coloring my Zentangles yesterday, I'll share the only one I've colored so far.
This is actually a ZIA (Zentangle-inspired art), as true Zentangles don't use color and I put in some lines that aren't part of any official tangles. I'm sharing the black-and-white version and the colored one.
The coloring was done with pencils. I had already shaded the original tile, so that affected the color somewhat. Also, if I had done this originally in color, I would've used blocks of color instead of those of black.
I really enjoy doing the color and hope to get better at it and try different methods!

Monday, November 3, 2014

Gratitude and Happiness List—November 3, 2014

My gratitude list this week is all about beauty and poetry, and who could not be grateful for those things in our lives? Linking up with Laurel Regan’s AlphabetSalad today to share gratitude and happiness.

That an old, abandoned amusement park from my youth has been opened as a city park on 120 acres on the shore of Narragansett Bay.


For local arts programs like the one we saw at a historic mill: poetry readings from Poe and Tennyson interspersed with chamber music from a live group.


Finishing the first work project I took on since my wrist surgery.


Having not one but two of my haiku published online on the same day.


Lunch with a friend and a tea date at a lovely tearoom with two other friends.


Joining a couple of Zentangle groups on Facebook and feasting on the beautiful work posted there.


Buying some colored pens and pencils so I can try coloring my Zentangles!


Rediscovering my love for poetry. While my husband was bowling the other night, I read Louise Gluck’s Averno and half of a collection by Mary Oliver; now I want to go back to my poetry collection and read more!


Spending a cold, rainy/snowy Sunday afternoon practicing and learning some new tangles.


Buying prepared lasagna at Whole Foods and having an easy dinner in front of the TV and watching “Columbo” and one of my favorite “Man from U.N.C.L.E.” episodes on MeTV.