Sunday, October 18, 2009

Break the Chain - Weekly Confessional

We took a very long drive south today. Deus Ex Machina is looking for a fleshing knife.

He actually ordered one from a Maine-based online vendor, but it won't be here until Wednesday, and it's supposed to be warm(ish) and rainy for the next few days. Those three moose hides that our son-in-law gave him won't stay fresh very long, and getting them tanned quickly is kind of important. They won't fit in our freezer, or we'd have put them there already. The final solution may be to salt them really well, which will give us a little more time, but when it wasn't raining this morning, Deus Ex Machina thought it was a good sign that he should get started.

After a not-terribly-successful attempt at scraping them with a big knife, we headed down to the Kittery Trading Post, where the salesperson to whom we spoke on the phone assured us they had them. Deus Ex Machina said, "fleshing tool." The guy on the other end of the line heard "fletching tool" (which is used for repairing arrows - not quite the same thing).

Wasted trip, but it was a nice drive, and we even had some awesome doughnuts we bought at Congdon's, a locally-owned bakery/diner/coffeeshop.

The other nice part was that we simply don't go in that direction very often, and it was nice to see what's there. We took the scenic route down, which means we passed through all of the little coastal towns.

It's amazing what one notices when one's focus changes. It's like the whole local foods thing. Once I started training myself to see food in someplace oehter than the grocery store, I started really noticing it - the apple tree on the side of the highway, the blackberry brambles next to the path in the woods, the cattails in ditches just about everywhere, acorns on the lawn. Once I opened myself to recognize "wild" edibles, I see them everywhere.

The same thing has happened with local stores.

We took the scenic route down to Kittery, and along the way we passed through several lovely, coastal towns. There were lots of little Mom & Pop shops of all kinds from the Five&Dime types to cafes of every flavor, bookstores, antiques shops, consignment shops, toy stores, souvenir shops ... even a couple of stores that sold things like moccassins. The little shops and the thriving downtown areas were really nice to see. It's very different from all of the Big Box hysteria and sprawl in the communities near where I live. Despite the innundation of Big Box, the little guy does, indeed, seem to be doing well.

Mostly ....

On the way back home, we stopped at (what I thought was a local) pet store to get some dog food. Since we can't go to Hannaford, we were a little at a loss of how to feed the dogs (although they do seem to like raccoon fat and moose scrapings ... but I'm not sure we have enough to do them for the next two weeks ... and besides, that's for soap!). While we were in the store, we were talking to one of the employees, and he mentioned that one of their stores in Manchester was closing down. After we'd walked to another part of the store, Deus Ex Machina says, "So much for shopping at non-chain stores."

And we started to put the dog food back, but didn't.

I checked online when we got home, and the particular store we visited has eleven stores, which definitely makes them a chain, but of their eleven stores, three are located in New Hampshire (including the one that is closing), and the rest are in Maine. It's local, but just barely, and kind of violates the spirit of the challenge.

If I had thought a little more about our alternatives, there is a (genuine) locally owned pet store (their website says they're "family owned and operated for 61 years") that we could have gone to instead, and it wasn't really any further up the road than the one we went to.

Next time ....

We didn't find the fleshing knife at the Kittery Trading Post, and no other "hunting and fishing" stores in the local area have them - not even the Big Box ones. We checked ... their websites.

We're more than halfway through the challenge, and with the exception of my office supply fiasco and the visit to the almost chain pet store, we have managed to keep our purchases all local. Of course, we're not shopping like we usually do, especially with regard to groceries and toiletries. So far, we haven't run out of anything, but eventually, we will, and then, we'd really need to make some choices. Shopping locally certainly takes a lot more thought, and we do seem to be doing a bit more hunting around (driving, too - although most of our "searching" has been of the online variety. The problem with that is if we didn't have the Internet, how would we be able to find these things?).

I haven't decided what the best answer will be, but I know that it will have something to do with a Latin quote about virtue and middle that Deus Ex Machina is fond of repeating ;).

How's it been going for you?


  1. I filled up my gas tank at a Hess station this past week. I don't know if there are any independent gas stations anymore. I don't know of any in my area. Other than that, I picked up a couple of items for my cooking class at Wegman's, though the majority of ingredients came from an independent bulk store. The bulk store just doesn't carry certain things. I did learn of an independent grocery store, but it's almost three times the distance as Wegman's. At this point I'm done shopping for my cooking classes, so I should have nothing to confess the rest of the month. Here's hoping, anyway.

  2. This wasn't as good of a week here. We went bowling with our homeschool group (it is a local lane) but everyone wanted to go out to lunch after. That was not local (McDonalds). We also went shopping at Ingles, which is a regional store, but definitely not local. They have huge stores all over down here. The local store is much farther away and we were driving right past the Ingles. They do say they are employee owned stores.

  3. We left wee one's shoes at home when we left for Portland the other day. It was just one of those mornings. When we got to town we tried a couple of thrift stores before resorting to the Goodwill where we found just what we needed.

    Other than that we've done okay this week. I find that I have to be more intentional with my purchases. It is not so easy to run out and buy something on a whim.