Closing out January

January on Hilton Head Island abides the same pattern of survival and revival that you’d expect anywhere else. At a plodding pace the apprehension and social imbroglios of Christmas and New Year recede. People are set adrift from obligation. Personal plans and business commitments re-engage. Preoccupation is replaced by purpose. Granted the resort atmosphere markedly diminishes as children and grandchildren abandon the southern hospitality of the older generation, no doubt a thankful deprivation. Bocce ball and frisbee on the beach are replaced by pensive solitary walkers performing their daily constitutional. A noiseless tranquillity descends, evenings are uninhibited, it’s that magic feeling with nowhere to go, nothing to do.

Poetically the dark early weeks of January were clouded by stormy weather, grey skies and chilly howling winds, echoed by treacherous Northern snow storms. But today – with February 1st in sight – the azure dome cleared, the yellow sun shone, the powdery taupe sand of the beach was miraculously wiped clean and we sailed along the shore on our bicycles, feeling the warmth and gulping the Ocean breeze.

The recent triumphs though small potatoes are worthy of celebration.  Prompted by an unanticipated need for business tools (printer, scanner and fax machine) we all but stumbled upon a local office supply store and unexpectedly discovered precisely what we sought. Initially we had thought of searching for a business room at a hotel or retaining a lawyer’s office. We were happily spared those complications and we hadn’t the necessity of imposing upon our estate agent as we have sometimes done in the past for smaller courtesies. I had heard of this service before but had never investigated until now. When I was working I was accustomed to providing a similar service for my clients and family members. The event prompted an investigation of our little scanner at the condominium.  We haven’t had much need for it lately (quite unlike previous years when so much estate administration material for my late father was coming my way) and we encountered a difficulty connecting with both WiFi and email.  After a two-day frustration (and succumbing to some research on the internet) we at least resolved the email problem.  The WiFi connection is one of those mysteries which has transpired without our knowing exactly how or why.  I should note that the business office charge was a preposterous $14 or so which included the hands-on assistance of the clerk.

I wouldn’t normally characterize myself as someone who actively seeks out a “deal” for anything. Perhaps I mistakenly camouflage the aspiration by believing you only get what you pay for.  In the past three months there have been notable exceptions.  We’re no longer avid shoppers so our exposure is limited.  The experience at Belk department store is a case in point. Golf shirts, shorts and sweaters can be had for extraordinary prices, for example a perfectly good crew-neck cotton sweater for $16.99 or less. We only wear casual clothes these days. Given the frequency of laundering our clothes and the happy consequence of avoiding sweets, some turn-over is imperative.

We also visited T. J. Maxx today in search of clothing items we couldn’t find at Belk.  While there I chanced upon the jewellery counter which looks very much like those I’ve seen at Belk and Winners, filled with glitzy stuff of predominantly inferior quality. What caught my eye in particular were two G-Shock watches by Casio.  Though this brand has some items as expensive as $750 – $1,400, mostly they are on the lower end of the scale ($130 – $200).  They are unquestionably popular because of their fashion appeal especially with young sports enthusiasts.  Obviously their attraction for me is unlikely. What however appeals to me is the rubber wrist band (suitable for what little outdoor activity I do), the technical lure of automatic time and date keeping for any time zone in the world, built-in alarm and – to a far lesser degree – the stopwatch and split-time features.

Last year I bought a watch very similar to this one.  I paid about $130 for it.  This one was being sold for $54.  I bought it.  When I subsequently researched the product on the internet the prices varied from $160 – $94.  I have no need for the watch but I amused myself this afternoon to figure out how to adjust the automatic time-keeping and alarm.  I rationalize this trivia as keeping pace with technology.  I have no doubt that the underlying themes of these so-called complicated devices are approaching universality even though the shell (casing) of the various manufacturers differs. It’s the same thesis that applies to computers and Smartphones. As technology insinuates society more and more – appliances, cars, watches, sport monitors – it helps to keep abreast of the changes and it is assured that the manufacturers know enough to maintain at least some consistency in the operation of the devices.

Post Scriptum

The end of January is not yet upon us.  Don’t ask me why but when I was on the road again this morning – en route to my appointment for a haircut, mani and pedi (also another terrific deal by the way) – I got it into my head that I wanted to buy the white model of the watch I bought yesterday.  What precipitated this apparently abrupt decision was that the blue watch almost disappeared from view when I donned a dark blue sweater this morning.  That would not happen with the white model!  Besides, the price – I mean, what’s not to like!

Although I had intended to frequent T. J. Maxx immediately upon my departure from the salon to fulfill my latest retail ambition, I detoured first to Low Country Produce where I wanted to collect six southern biscuits homemade by Chef Robert.  Even the accomplishment of that particular exploit was derailed when I encountered the Juice Lady who informed me that she and her financée are enduring more complications than they care to have in the attempt to negotiate a new house purchase.  I wouldn’t think of disclosing the details of the transaction which subsequently unfolded except to say that I freely dissuaded her from buying real estate period. I assured her that this was the succinct advice of  40-year veteran of the real estate industry which I unreservedly characterized as a deceit unless of course one insists upon saying, “Look what I bought!” without concern for the financial propriety of doing so. Interestingly the topic of real estate had previously surfaced that same morning at Le Spa with my Nails Lady who advised that she had just ordered on-line new blonde-streaked walnut hardwood which we both freely agreed was proof of my unmitigated assertion that real estate is a money pit. The subject of real estate was further dilated when I prepared to pay for my southern biscuits and it surfaced that one of the regular servers there has like me set herself adrift from real estate ownership, committed to renting only. She naturally shared with me many of the same predominant features of carefree living, mobility and financial manageability.

You would think that after having exhausted this animated analysis of real estate ownership I would have been content to head to T. J. Maxx to conclude the purchase of the white Casio watch.  But it was not to be.  At least not for the moment.  Instead, as I passed by The Joint (a chiropractic office in the mall) and having discovered a parking space conveniently at the front of the storefront, I ventured into the office to make enquiries.  For some time (that is, during the past six months) I have debated the value of reinstating regular visits to a chiropractor.  I had given up the practice about a year ago when I didn’t see any noticeable results (I had been going routinely every 3rd or 4th day). Chiropractic is like any other pain; viz., its significance fades commensurately as the pain evaporates. The incremental benefits of chiropractic are – after the first few visits – less noticeable and it therefore becomes typical to consider the undertaking can be abandoned.  Then, like putting on weight, the afflictions return gradually.  Eventually – as I did today – I admitted that some chiropractic attention might be a good idea.  And it was.  To the everlasting credit of The Joint I was able to get immediate attention and for a very reasonable price:

$59.00 for 4 sessions per Month (minimum two months)
Additional visits just $10

While the doctor exercised slightly more reserve in the administration of her medicine than I would have preferred (relying as she did primarily upon the jabbing device which is now apparently an industry standard instead of upon the twisting and rotation to which I am accustomed) I did nonetheless experience some of those welcome “cracks” which signalled the relief of knotted muscles.  Given the very affordable fee I am prepared to give this a whirl.

My last stop (after having done my in-and-out at T. J. Maxx) was the Cadillac dealership where I arranged to have routine maintenance done and a check of a rear window that acted up lately. I mention this rendezvous only because the service clerk at the dealership poo-pooed my concern that the oil change was possibly premature (and therefore not in line with the scripted maintenance plan for the vehicle).  I stressed that I didn’t expect the service to be gratuitous if it were not in line with the Cadillac plan.  Arrangements were made to see me tomorrow and to get on with business.  I like that.

And one final note.  We went across the street the following evening to the Salty Dog Café for dinner.  The main dining room was closed and we were redirected to a smaller bar/restaurant just steps away, still on the main wharf overlooking Braddock Cove.

It is one of the advantages of dining out at this time of year (during low season) that the staff are invariably well disposed to customers and one is normally assured an affable greeting as we were on this occasion.  The surprise was that we were hitting the tail-end of Chamber Week which afforded an unexpected “special” – a three-course dinner and dessert for $19.87.  It was a terrific deal, excellent She Crab soup or Caesar salad; we both had the flounder and chips and then Key Lime pie for dessert.  The meal came with warm dinner rolls as well.  We drank unsweetened ice tea.  Thanks to having a single-parent (conscientious) server, we were treated to an animated discussion of what her 14-year old son was doing at ROTC (and afterwards with his seemingly numerous girlfriends).  As always I made a point of interjecting my own views of raising other people’s children which – though possibly laughable – I have reason to believe provided her a degree of solace.