Sunday, June 21, 2009

money games

Last week I sorted receipts from shopping long past. Someone, somewhere once told me to keep receipts as a safety net against inevitable banking errors. Ten years of receipt collection later and I've found one or two mistakes, both of which occurred in the UK, one having nothing to do with a receipt, instead being the incorrect withdrawal of money from my account and its subsequent quiet return. It was sorted out well before I received the statement in the mail and my only lasting concern was that, since the 'withdrawal' was made in a foreign country, the volatile exchange rate left me a few pence short.

My receipt pile was getting beyond a joke, taking over its file, the drawer... the house. I decided to sort, cross check and chuck. It took all day, during which I found one receipt from Jesmond BigW dated 27/10/96, a letter with an email address I've been hunting for for a couple of years and a Chickenfeed receipt for 50 cent wrapping paper. They made a big difference to the bank statements...

Rustling through the papers I couldn't help observing the way my shopping habits have changed recently. No longer do I visit the discount meat store, choosing instead to pay a bit more for meat I know the source of. There were Spotlight receipts, where now I support several fantastic locally owned craft stores. I found a reminder of how much sugar I used to consume with the receipt for two dollar jelly babies - another Chickenfeed special. Some shops no longer exist, others like the Christian bookstore have been taken over. There was a receipt for antrid, from the time our kitchen benches were infested and one for the beautiful cashmere jumper I bought on a trip to Hobart. I'd even kept the receipt from a money order to pay for my visas to the Philippines in 2005 and China in 2006, plus the Tamar River Cruise work Christmas dinner in 2005. Some items weren't even receipts! There was a list of all the cartons and items moved from Newcastle to Tasmania by a local removalist company, a lease agreement and a referee report from a previous landlady. What a trip down memory lane!

The receipts matched up with the bank statements well enough, though there were several gaps where some were missing... and after five years of elapsed time I don't care about that, leave alone the bank! They joined the others in the bin.

I'll probably go on keeping receipts - old habits die hard - but perhaps now my motivation will be posterity rather than good book keeping! Tedious as it was, there was some fun in remembering the past and musing over how life used to be, even just five years ago!

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Wednesday, June 17, 2009

i think i've kicked the sugar habit

I broke the cardinal rule and went to the supermarket hungry this evening. It wasn't intentional.

I was improvising for a recipe I was a few ingredients short on when Frank arrived home. He'd had a crazy busy day and hadn't been able to purchase the milk and yoghurt as planned, so I thought I may as well pop down to the shop, get the milk and yoghurt and pick up some tomato paste for the pasta mince bake. (Good, hearty winter fare)

While I was there I remembered the group I am running at school tomorrow with pre-adolescent girls. To introduce the topic of value and worth we play a mini game of 'The Price is Right'. Usually I rush to the supermarket on the way to school and select the tastiest, most inexpensive, nut-free, ethical chocolates available. Nut free, inexpensive and tasty I can usually do but ethical is out of the question so I resort to cadbury or nestle and salve my conscience with the 'it's for a good cause' euphemism.

And there tonight, were the kit kats in all their glory. And I was hungry. And they said 'new creamy recipe' on the front and 'it's all about balance' on the back. So I succumbed and went against my fair trade, no crap additives, cut-out-the-sugar ideals and bought one.

And when I got home I tore open the packaging and bit into it... and it tasted disgusting. I remembered too late that the 'new creamy' claim was misleading, I much prefer the old recipe. And sweet? Awful, sickly sweet. Almost put me off my tea.

I guess going to the naturopath and detoxing for a month was worth it after all. I had my doubts about her at the time. She seemed to be prescribing supplements to get more money out of me, and when I questioned this she side stepped by claiming she would rather not prescribe and only does so when absolutely necessary. After three visits valued at over $500 I opted out. But I can't deny my skin has improved, I have new energy and enthusiasm, my hideous abdo-pain-for-a-week PMT has disappeared and I don't crave sugar anymore. (Unless I go to the supermarket hungry it would seem) I grudgingly cede to the healing power of her naturopathic supplements - I have been freed from the grip of sugar-laden, crap filled sweets. I might even go back for the liver cleanse she said would free me from debilitating dysmenorrhoea.

She was a little odd.

Naturopathic dilemmas aside, I will never eat another kit kat in my life.
Well most likely not.
Unless I dash to the supermarket with an empty stomach.

It just isn't worth it. Urgh.

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Friday, June 12, 2009

what the dentist pulled out

My dentist draws some strange things from me. Not teeth... you'd maybe expect that at the dentist but thankfully I received the all clear this visit. No fillings, no removal, no need to even clean them. My teeth are in tip top shape. (Having said that, I am realising teeth tell an interesting tale of aging. My face may be unmarked, but my un-whitened, un-capped teeth are starting to give me away. I've taken to peering hard into other people's mouths to test my aging teeth theory)

No, my dentist draws strange, almost sardonic lines from out my mouth. He's a rather abrupt, jocular English fellow, quick with a quip and full of witticism about life. Perhaps that's his way of putting clients at ease, maybe it sustains him through the halitosis and decay confronting him every day, or quite possibly it is the only way to cut straight to meaningful conversation in the course of a ten minute checkup. Whatever it is, I find myself unable to give a simple, straight answer to his searching one-liners. Instead derisive snorts (it's hard to talk with your mouth full of steel implements) or wry reflections burst out of me.

Take the other day as an example. I had just picked up three counselling text books from the post office and was flipping through one while I waited for my appointment. 'Don't you like our magazines? Have to bring your own reading material?' he said as we walked through to his room. I sheepishly admitted to wanting to get into my study early.

Between forays into the gaps between my teeth he asked me why I was studying counselling. That's when I snorted derisively and said I couldn't remember now. What I didn't say was that I feel rather disgruntled with the whole affair and seriously don't know if I will ever pursue counselling as a career.

As I sat on the edge of the dentist chair, regaining my composer, wiping the last of the dribble from my chin and breathing a sigh of relief at my dental reprieve, the dentist supposed that counselling is only worth it if people want to change. And that's just it. What if people don't want to change? What if people can't change? What if the structures and systems of our society keep them stuck where they are and no amount of trying on their part will change things? Counselling is just too individual in its focus for me now.

So there you have it. I went to the dentist and, instead of discovering dental caries, my current thinking on counselling crystalised clearly in my mind. I have one semester, one enormous semester of study to go. I'll finish the course, get my Grad Dip... but I have a feeling I might not ever use it again. We'll see. Right now my thinking has moved on and I see more benefit in helping people by working on the systems that trap them in self defeating cycles. It's not all wasted though... I'll be really good at listening to you next time we talk!

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Saturday, June 06, 2009

this puts day to day life into perspective!

Just found this story on the abc website and decided to stop complaining about menial problems.

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Wednesday, June 03, 2009

well that backfired a little!

It's coming up to two years since I went through the whole dentist saga and I've been thinking I should do the right thing and make another appointment for a check up. I don't subscribe to six monthly or even yearly check ups... they seem to just be a way for dentists to make lots of money. Besides, I proved with ten years of drastic avoidance measures, that no matter how many times you might dream it is happening, your teeth will not suddenly start falling out if you don't check in with the dentist all the time.

Two years seems a reasonable gap to me, so I finally plucked up the courage to phone for an appointment this morning. There aren't enough dentists in this part of the world, so I thought if I phone now, I'll get an appointment in July and can gradually prepare myself for the jaw-aching onslaught.

Ha. That one backfired! Two dentists are on leave so my dentist has picked up extra days to fill the space. He had a spare appointment next Wednesday... and I'm now booked into it.

Excellent service. Far too good.
Seriously, I would rather have waited two months!