February 26, 2008, Cornwall On Hudson, New York

Random thoughts are all I have to share with you today.

There are a pile of Post-It Notes on my desk with scribbled ideas for stories, step counts from my pedometer for the past couple of weeks and reminders of things to do and of things I have seen.

First, no more step counts for you. I am still getting in what I can at work and am up to 8,591 for today, but no need to bore you with every single day’s worth. If I ever hit 10,000 though, I’ll let you know.

Secondly, a rather odd entry on one of the Post-It Notes simply says “deer squatting.” Well, as you know from either the blog or photos, I have quite a herd of deer that traipse across the lawn in front of the cottage heading toward Joe & Magda’s for some bakery-discount-store bread or burrowing into the snow looking for a quick meal of grass hiding on top of the permafrost here in the shadow of the mountain. I counted 14 in all yesterday. I see their hoofprints everywhere and every now and then a big pile of their pellets.

Deer poop looks like rabbit poop, only bigger. It’s bigger than raisins but not quite as big as a dried cherry. Closer to blueberries in size. Well, anyway, the other day, while driving home, I came across the herd a little ways down the road from 23 Maple Road. There were several deer sort of looking at the road, others rummaging for food, and one, half squatting like a dog doing its business and looking very strangely at me as I drove past. It had an almost “Why don’t you take a picture” look in its face.

Sorry for the mental picture that might conjure up, but I had never even thought about a deer having to squat before. I know dogs do and am sure other animals do. But I have seen horses basically stand upright and lift their tails to drop a pile in the stable. I don’t know why I assumed deer were more closely related to horses in this respect than canines.

Life in the country without a TV is starting to take its toll …

Anyway, I went to the Laundromat the other week. I am sure I mentioned it. I only bring it up again because this week, as I did not go home over the weekend, I was due for a return engagement. There is no limit to what some people will do to avoid going to the Laundromat, and that is what this little tale will focus on.

The first trip to the Laundromat here was only slightly traumatic. I had been planning on going to “Steve’s Laundry” in the Target plaza in Newburgh or New Windsor. I had seen it and even walked passed it while shopping at the Target and it looked nice, big and clean. The sign on the window said dryers were 25 cents and if that were true (for an entire drying cycle) it would be well worth any inconveniences to go there.

When I arrived at Steve’s that Saturday, the place was packed with about a dozen round-faced Hispanic children and several taxis were dropping off or picking up people with bags of laundry out front. I decided to look at some of the other places I had seen as this was going to be much too chaotic for me. I ended up at the Laundromat in Vails Gate in the Price Chopper plaza. It’s tucked away in the corner of the plaza and was not too busy when I arrived.

There was a lanky oriental gentleman doing his laundry, a nice Hispanic couple doing their laundry and an elderly gentleman doing his laundry as well. Several people came and went dropping off and picking up their laundry from the cleaning service there (for 85 cents a pound – minimum charge of $8.50 – they’ll do your laundry). They had a television there with a really old western movie on and I walked over to the Price Chopper to get a newspaper after I started the wash. When I got back to the Laundromat, the elderly gentleman was sitting on the seats with a basket of damp clothes next to him. I took a seat and started reading my paper. When a couple of dryers became available, I asked him if he was waiting for one. I realized there was such a thing as Laundromat etiquette and did not want to breach it.

“No, I’m waiting for my wife to pick me up,” he said. “Go ahead.” I guess it is good to have at least a dryer. The washers were $3 a load (two loads) and the dryers were about $1.50 or so. If Steve’s dryers were only a quarter for a full cycle, as I said, it would be worth it. As it was Super Bowl weekend and I do not have a television, I thought I might come back to watch the game and do my laundry a second time. It would have been cheaper than going to a bar and probably less noisy. With my luck the TV only picked up the channel with old westerns. I ended up listening to the game over the Internet on a radio station.

So, in order to avoid the Laundromat this week, since I did not go home this weekend, I decided to take a new approach. I generally have enough underwear and dress clothes to last two weeks, barely, but run short on t-shirts and black socks. So, my quandary the other day at the Target, as I watched the stream of taxis heading toward Steve’s, was head to the Laundromat or pad my wardrobe with sufficient necessities to make it through two weeks here. I have vowed to never even think about going three weeks here without a trip home. So, I left the Target that day with a bag of Haynes black crew socks and stopped by the Wal-Mart for a 5-pack of fresh Fruit of the Loom tees.

So, while I have enough clothes to keep me away from the Laundromat this week, I suddenly have an urge to watch on old western movie …

Anyway, when I was finally done with laundry the week I opted not to buy clothes, I went over to the Price Chopper to shop for some groceries. When I bought the paper earlier, I picked up some Dasani lemon water for my lunches. I realized later that the price I was charged was a little higher than it was listed on the shelf. I went back to check the price and noticed it had a little “with card” caveat on the sign. I realized they, like every supermarket now, had their own “savings card.”

After finding the customer service desk, I quickly procured a savings card for myself – they offer fuel perks at the same rate as Giant Eagle – and started looking for bargains. Luckily I got my Healthy Choice Steamers on sale. Only $2.50 away from my first dime off of gas, so I’ll use that this weekend for the trip home.

So, what have I learned lately … well, it might be cheaper in the long run to buy clothes and make less trips to the Laundromat, but think of all the social interactions you are potentially missing out on. Oh, and never, I mean never, waste your money on South Beach Diet chicken ranch wraps (or something like that). As a microwave food aficionado, trust me on this one. You’d get more nutrition and flavor out of a pile of deer pellets.

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