Catalog season is coming up fast. A lot of them used to come in the mail around this time of year, but not many companies send them any more. Those companies have apparently cottoned on to the idea that we never buy anything.
At least, we never buy anything that those holiday-season catalogs sell, like clothing, kitchenware, and home furnishings. A few months back, Restoration Hardware made the inexplicable and expensive mistake of sending us their 17-pound behemoth, a choice I assume they made because we bought two lamps ten years ago, but the mail has been all but catalog-free since then.
You know all those internet quizzes that tell you which animal, color, state, or food you are, based on a few questions? (The kind you see on Buzzfeed, recently revealed to be the only news source distrusted by liberals, moderates, and conservatives alike.) Forget those quizzes. I have the world’s cheapest and most accurate way to assess your personality: the catalog test.
Here’s how it works. You take the amount of time between spotting the catalog in the mail and picking it up to leaf through. You divide that into the amount of time you spend leafing through. The higher the number, the more compelling the catalog. You don’t even have to buy anything to have your entire system of values and priorities laid bare.
That’s what happened yesterday, when I got an unfamiliar catalog. It’s called “QC Supply,” and the picture on the front is of four large feed hoppers and a pick-up truck. So, naturally, I opened it right away. I don’t know how long I spent with it, because time compresses when you’re doing that kind of thing.
There’s a table of contents on the front of the 346-page catalog, and it’s got sections like “Livestock,” “Pest Control,” “Water Handling,” and my personal favorite, “Temp/Ventilation.” You don’t have to keep chickens all that long before you recognize just how important ventilation is.
There’s also a section on “Clothing,” and I did take a look. It’s got all the standard-issue Carhartt and Dickies farmwear, as well as sweats and scrubs, boots and bibs. And, surprisingly, underwear, including three kinds of no-nonsense bras. Two come only in white, and one, the Low Impact Sports Bra, comes in a package of two, one white and one gray. (This is redundant in my book, since every white sports bra I’ve ever bought has ended up gray anyway.)
Most of the QC Supply catalog, though, is geared toward things we don’t do. There are industrial-strength products for feeding, watering, medicating, and moving livestock. There’s everything you need to keep a farm operating efficiently and safely. This is a catalog for professionals.
And here’s the thing. I’ve gotten to the point where feed hoppers make me open a catalog, but I’m not at the point, and I never will be, where I actually need the items in that catalog. So there’s a mismatch between my catalog personality and my lifestyle. I’ve fallen between two stools, and I never have the right clothes to go anywhere.
October 2, 2014 By Tamar
The subject of the e-mail was ‘“soon”???’ The e-mail itself went like this: “Your definition of "soon" must be waaaay different from mine. Since Aug 11, virtually every day, I go to "Starving", to see the new post, and it's never there. I'm aware that you also write to make a living, but it seems to me that a nice person [emphasis hers] could spare a few free words for a harmless (voyeuristic) old lady.” Helen, my correspondent, added one of those sideways winking smiley faces to … [Read More...]
August 11, 2014 By Tamar
I know a lot of you have a fondness for my husband. In fact, I harbor a suspicion that, if Kevin weren't a big part of Starving, I'd have almost no readers at all. His projects -- particularly the ill-fated chicken-plucker -- seem to be the most interesting part of what we do here. So you'll be happy to know that he is, as we speak, installing a new, automated, home-made chicken waterer. It is from parts scrounged from the garage, picked up at yard sales, and repurposed from other … [Read More...]
July 29, 2014 By Tamar
I have had, until now, a rule that I never apologize for absences. Apologizing for being gone assumes that somebody, somewhere, is waiting breathlessly for your return. I assume no such thing, but at least a couple of you have been good enough to miss me, and so I break my rule and apologize. My only excuse is that Kevin and I have been bubonically busy. At about the time of my last post, our oyster farm was ramping up for the year. We were preparing the boat for the fishing season, just … [Read More...]
April 20, 2014 By Tamar
I have a theory about spring. Spring is a con. Sure, there’s all this wonderful stuff going on as the world comes to life. Renewed perennials are peeking through warming soil. Chickens are scratching up bugs and the year’s first weeds. And, every day, you’re just grateful that it isn’t quite so cold. But it’s all misdirection. The point of spring isn’t to renew the world. The point of spring is to get you to do week after week of backbreaking labor. McCormick, the God of … [Read More...]
April 1, 2014 By Tamar
If you listen to Tennyson, you know that spring is the time when a young man’s fancy turns to thoughts of love. It was smart of Tennyson to focus on the young when it comes to the thinking that happens in spring, because we older folk have much less poetic concerns. For starters, there’s the giant mud pit in the driveway, created by a combination of the weekend’s downfall and the snow melt from last week’s blizzard. There are seeds to be started, fig trees to be unwrapped, and a … [Read More...]