Learning Personal Finance

We went to the farmer’s market in Hinesburg yesterday. I emptied my wallet. I didn’t even get all I could have gotten, but our bag was full and the kids were antsy. Next time I’ll bring two bags. And make the kids carry one.

This market was great. I arrived with my two children right when it opened, at 9:00. It was held in the Hinesburg Town Hall. There is a summer farmers market weekly but once the fall hits it whittles down to once per month. We missed the one in October so I was eager to be there for this one.

I purchased leeks, onions, potatoes, garlic, spinach and other stuff. I was happy enough. I was looking for food. My daughter, however, was looking to spend some money.

I had told her I would give her some money so she could buy some things herself. The space is small and I figured it wouldn’t be crowded first thing. So I gave her five bucks and told her she buy whatever she wanted. We did a lap to start us off, to see who was there selling what. We tasted a purple carrot and looped back around. At the first vendor she bought a delicata squash, a tiny one, but cute and just right for her. A couple of tables down she bought some popcorn. It was purple, still on the cob but dried, four ears for a dollar. She bought four. Then she bought some of those purple carrots. She considered a stone charm, but it was five dollars and she didn’t want to blow it all in one shot.

This was great for both of us. She felt a sense of responsibility and I felt safe with her learning some lessons in how to spend money. I really don’t think I could have said no to anything there she may have said she wanted to buy. It was a farmers market.  She wants to buy carrots and mini squash? I’m good with that. She wants to but some jewelry made by someone here in town?  I’m good with that.  She wants to buy honey, jam, hand spun yarn, fresh bread, eggs? How can I say no? It was ideal.

She is now the eager one, asking when the next market will be. There is one every Saturday somewhere around here. The next one is in Burlington, then Winooski, Shelburne, and back in Hinesburg again. And there are  others well into the winter. My daughter would gets the shakes if she saw all the vendors in Burlington compared to little old Hinesburg. I’m thinking we may have to take advantage of that. I can give up five bucks for this endeavor for several weekends if she is still into it. I have been wanting to go to these this fall and winter anyway. Fresh local food this late in the year? I can go out of my way for that.

The eggs we bought yesterday and way good, and I turned cauliflower, spinach, garlic and leeks into a fine dinner tonight. And the popcorn? Pops white, tastes great. And that was just one ear. That popcorn may have been the best deal of the lot.

Long Rainy Run

I haven’t gone on a long run in the rain in a long time. Today I broke the streak. I ran eleven miles, hills and cold and all, in rain all the way. This was fine with me. Running in the rain is peaceful, mesmerizing even, and it means I won’t get too hot. Not only did I get in eleven miles but I also hit the 30 mile mark for a week. That also has not happened for a long time. I felt good, although I did run slowly, mentally and physically. But there was one problem.

Once when I ran the Vermont City Marathon in Burlington, it rained. Not the whole time and not all that hard, but it was a wet day, rain on an off. At every aid station volunteers hand out water. At some of them they hand out snacks. On this day some volunteers were handing out Vaseline. They do this on sunny days as well, although I hadn’t really noticed it before. It helps with, well, chafing, if that happens to be a problem. I declined the oily goo. Who needs that stuff, I thought.

At the finish line that day I saw a man with a bloody shirt. He hadn’t cut himself. Nothing so easy. The rain had made his shirt wet and his nipples had rubbed against that wet shirt and there were streaks of blood originating from those two points. He had rubbed his nipples raw. That, I remember thinking, looks painful. The thing is, it has since happened to me. Not nearly to that degree, thank Jehovah, but enough that I had to be careful what I wore for a few days. It happened on a rainy day when I was out running for a long time. Kind of like today…

Look, I’m not proud to admit that I have this particular injury here. I can’t say it is embarrassing, exactly, but it does open one up to the possibility of ridicule. Being a tenderfoot is one thing, but a tendernipple? That can’t look good on a resume.

It isn’t all that bad. I’m just a wee bit sore, and I’ll need to be careful what I wear. No heavy duty work shirts on the old bare torso for me. It goes to show how long I have been out of the habit of running. I didn’t even think of the fact that I might run with a wet shirt for, I don’t know, a couple of hours. Sheesh. I’ve got to learn this stuff all over again? I thought I knew how to learn from my mistakes. Apparently not.

I don’t plan to run at all tomorrow. I need a day off and it will give me a chance to heal up, if you know what I’m saying. At least I’m not really injured. I feel pretty dang good, actually. I could run tomorrow if that felt like the right thing to do. As it is, I will stay away from my chosen fitness activity for at least one day. And even if I don’t sleep in later than usual, I may just hang out in pajamas well into the morning. I mean, it will be Sunday, right?

Not So Selfish

I watched our neighbor this morning drive along the road and pick up all the cans and bottles that my children and I gathered and placed by the roadside yesterday.  I had mixed feelings about this:

1. I was excited that someone else would take the time to clean up.  We were planning to head out shortly to pick all of those up.  The children, in fact, were looking forward to it.  But someone else beat us to that.  I don’t know if they were happy we had gotten things started, or upset that we had dug the ugliness from hiding under the winter’s layers.  I hope the former.

2. I was disappointed because the children really were excited to follow up on our previous day’s project.  When I told them what was happening, and they looked out the window to see for themselves, they were disappointed as well.  But I told them we could head up the road in the other direction and they got fired up again.

Today’s haul was a lot bigger.  We walked a lot farther, for one, but there were just a lot more items to collect.  We could not carry them all there were so many, so we left another batch to be picked up by someone.  My wife walked the kids up the road while I went for a run.  I met them on my way back and she ran herself.  I carried most of the load for most of the way.  The children wanted to carry everything they collected–they each had a bag–but the bags got too heavy for the longish walk.

We picked up three dozen beverage containers and left about ten to collect later.  Over 50 empty containers.  That is just way too many.  That was in a not-quite-a-mile stretch of road.  The nutty thing is how many I saw while I was running, farther up the road–at least as many.  The idea of that many containers getting tossed makes me squinch up my forehead.

I have tossed empties out the window myself.  I am not proud to admit that.  It happened only once, when I was a teenager.  There were a few of us in a Chevy Suburban drinking beer in the back on a long drive.  The driver was clean and we were being responsible–just a couple apiece over a couple of hours.  But we were underage.  We were afraid we would get pulled over by the police for some reason, I don’t remember why, so we tossed the “evidence” to the roadside.

The thing is, that memory still haunts me.  It wasn’t my idea and I was not the one to do the tossing, but i rue my abetting that act.  I don’t even have the consolation that we were pulled over.  I try to make it up now.  I imagine who tossed these glass bottles and aluminum cans and create my own stories.  I am proud that my children are so excited to clean things up.  They do not creat such stories.  They trust my answer to their question of who would toss their trash out the window.  Sometimes it is a mistake, I tell them, and sometimes people do things we would not do ourselves.  They have entered the world of trying to understand the array of human motivations.

I can’t imagine they will ever solve that mystery.  No one ever has.  But I hope they pursue it their whole lives.  It is a mystery that offers many questions worth asking.  Those questions make the mystery worthwhile.  As a parent, I will do what I can to engage them in the mysteries of the world.  I hope all of them are not as dirty as this on