2012.12.22 Good gravy! It's time for Christmas shopping

Written by David Green.

By COLLEEN LEDDY

I’m getting a really late start on Christmas shopping this year. Actually, I think that’s been the case for the last several years. I used to shop throughout the year and store my finds in my big purple box. But my kids have voiced such vigorous opposition to purple box presents that it’s started to sink in: It’s not much of a gift if the recipient doesn’t really want it.

I have a really hard time accepting that; when I find something delightful, I think everybody else will, too. Wouldn’t everyone want a Chinese Fan Brush or a dozen Pocket Screwdrivers?

These screwdrivers are one inch in diameter, flat, washer-like steel things with a range of edge thickness from .030 inch to .090 inch. The catalog description notes that it “replaces dimes, quarters and table knives, all of which have width and strength limitations.”

The fan brushes (used for furniture finishes—so, really, their purple box use is limited: not too many of my friends and family are finishing furniture these days)  have fine bristles that make a smooth finish, and paddle-style handles that are the real attraction. I figure they would probably work well for painting trim, but the Chinese Conical Brush is featured for that purpose.

The Detroit Free Press carries the Detroit News Homestyle section on Fridays and there’s always something interesting in there. A few weeks ago, Nancy Szerlag’s gardening column featured a few catalog websites, one of which was Lee Valley Tool.

Nancy said their catalog contained “an eclectic collection of gifts for all” and recommended it as a source for quality yet inexpensive stocking stuffers. The fan brushes and screwdrivers are only two of some of the most intriguing items gathered in one place.

I didn’t find my way to Lee Valley until late Saturday night, but I quickly amassed more than $160 worth of stuff and I was just getting started. I don’t know how I’ve lived this long without a spurtle, but I’m getting one now—and one for each of my kids.

The spurtle is a traditional Scottish stir stick that dates from the 16th century. According to the website, it’s typically used for stirring porridge, where its small-diameter shaft easily cuts through the thick material to keep lumps to a minimum, and is equally useful for stirring thick sauces, soups or stews.

Shopping online is a huge time-sucker. I opted for it Saturday when I realized if I drove to Ann Arbor or Toledo, I’d be facing big crowds, limited parking, long waits in line, overheated stores (or, rather, I’d get overheated since I can’t leave town in the winter without wearing my heavy longjohns), and a spooky solo drive home late at night.

So I stayed home and did four loads of laundry while I spent endless hours trying to glean whether this site’s merchandise was better and cheaper than another’s, and if this color shirt would really look that pink when it arrived at my doorstep. Like I said, internet shopping: huge time-sucker.

After spending way too much time at Lee Valley, I was perusing another site, Isabella, when I noticed a Neti pot for sale. It was never a purple-box item, but my Neti pot purchase is one of the reasons I know that my kids aren’t being rude, ungrateful or obnoxious when they tell me purple box presents are not desirable. I know I tend toward the nutty when presented with an array of merchandise.

The Neti pot looks sort of like my gravy boat, only with a small hole instead of an open spout, and the overall goal is totally different. Both are designed for pleasurable purposes, though. Gravy, of course, is a culinary delight on mashed potatoes, and Neti pot snorting is theoretically a delight for the nostrils.

Fill the Neti pot with water, put the spout in one nostril, tilt your head and a stream of water flows through your nose, washing away pollens, viruses, mucus and bacteria. New to nasal irrigation? There’s a video on the Isabella site that shows how to do it.

I tried it only once. Or, I should say I once tried to try it. I must have done something wrong because it made me want to gag and left me with that horrible water-up-your-nose feeling you sometimes get when swimming—or when snorkeling and you forget to breathe through your mouth. I think you have to get the right angle to make the water stream out one nostril when you send it through the other.

Anyway, I watched the video and the gal makes it look simple as pie. When I do it, it feels like I’m trying to send gravy through my nostrils. And that’s even less pleasurable than shopping online.

  • Homecoming Court
    HOMECOMING—One senior candidate will be chosen Morenci’s fall homecoming queen during half-time ceremonies Friday at the football field. In the back row are seniors Mikayla Price, who will be escorted by Mason Vaughn; Madison Bachman, escorted by Kiegan Merillat, and Mikayla Reinke, escorted by Griffin Grieder. Senior Ariana Roseman is absent from the photo. Her escort is Garrett Smith. In the front is sophomore Abbie White, who will be escorted by Ryder Price; junior Madysen Schmitz, escorted by Harley McCaskey and freshman Madison Keller, escorted by Jarett Cook.
  • Front.cross
    HUDSON RUNNER Jacob Morgan looks toward the top of the hill with dismay during the tough finish at Harrison Lake State Park. Fayette runner Jacob Garrow focuses on the summit, also, during the Eagle Invitational cross country run Saturday morning. Continuing rain and drizzle made the course even more challenging. Results of the race are in this week’s Observer.
  • Front.bear
    HOLDEN HUTCHISON gives a hug to a black bear cub—the product of a taxidermist’s skills—at the Michigan DNR’s Great Youth Jamboree. The event on Sunday marked the fourth year of the Jamboree. Additional photos are on page 12.
  • Front.crossing
    Crossing over—Jim Heiney was given a U.S. flag to carry by George Vereecke (behind Jim in the hat), turning him into the leader of the parade. Bridge Walk participants cross over Bean Creek while, in the background, members of the Morenci Legion Riders cross the main traffic bridge on East Street South. Additional photos appear on the back page of this week’s Observer.
  • Front.hose Testing
    HOSE safety—The FireCatt hose testing company from Troy put Morenci Fire Department hose to the test Monday morning when Mill Street was closed to traffic. The company also checks nozzles and ladders for wear in an effort to keep fire fighters safe while on calls.
  • Front.starting
    BIKE-A-THON—Children in Morenci’s Summer Recreation Program brought their bikes last Tuesday to participate in a bike-a-thon. Riders await the start of the event at the elementary school before being led on a course through town by organizer Leonie Leahy.
  • Front.train
    WRECKAGE—Morenci Fire Department member Taylor Schisler walks past the smoking wreckage of a semi-truck tractor on the north side of the Norfolk and Southern Railroad tracks on Ranger Highway. The truck trailer was on the south side of the tracks

Weekly newspaper serving SE Michigan and NW Ohio - State Line Observer ©2006-2016