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Not Quite an Argonaut ...


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Nor Am I Apollonius of Rhodes, though the mock-heroic adventure following stretches towards epic lengths.


Okay, I'm definitely partial to furskins over woolskins; be that as it may, I'm still drawn to the Greek myth of Jason and the Golden Fleece. If that guy didn't have to sweat some to bring it home!


Last time I posted about my reservations about shopping to replace the rabbit coat I wore to shreds and then, twisting it liner-side-out, turned it into a pillow. Folks who sold me the organic cotton pillow slips I use on it might howl if they knew they made something used cover what used to be a fur coat. But that's a different story.


So today I decided to shop in a neighboring city some 30 miles away. I divorced my car in 1997: I was always flirting with trains, bicycles and walking, and it had gotten so that my highest car maintenance cost was battery upkeep. I didn't drive enough to keep it charged. So where most of my compatriots wouldn't even think of choices in making such a trip, I had to make a choice. Rent a car? Put my bicycle on the train for the trip? Pedal all the way?


I decided to make it a petroleum-free purist's expedition. Headed out is upwind most of the year. That didn't bother me so much. After all if I found anything I wanted to buy there'd be those god-awful, self-conscious steps from the racks to the checkstand. Neither did the prospect of having the same wind stroke me home bother me.


By early afternoon I reached my top-priority shop, locking my cycle to a signpost and trading my wings (cleated shoes that snap into my pedals so I can power both down and upstrokes) for landing gear (sport sandals). I was somewhat disappointed in the selection. I had in mind a full-length coat. There was only one here, and it had too much leather for my taste. But I took consolation in an amazing blue fox collar. Must have been separated from a worn-out cloth coat. Then I caught sight of furs on the other side of the rack. Most of the first ones I saw were locked onto cable chains. On the other side, they weren't. Apparent value difference. Most on the new side were faux. But I wasn't so sure about one jacket. I took a careful look, wondering if it might be nutria after all. It had wiskery, straw-colored guard hairs that looked intimidating but melted to the touch. I still wasn't sure and kept looking for something that would cinch it for me. I found a tear, so I was able to peek at the reverse-from-fur side. It looked more like skin than web, so I grew convinced it was real. But it was priced as if it were faux.


Still early afternoon, and I wasn't ready to purchase, having other shops on my list. The next stop was the place I bought the angel-sweep craft cutter rabbit coat I had recently turned into my favorite pillow. There I found a stole and wasn't sure at the very first if it weren't a very fine muskrat dyed like mink or mink. I'm not absolutely sure even yet, though I found it convincing that there was a seam between each grotzen which generally isn't the case with muskrat dyed with pretend grotzens to suggest mink. Still, I couldn't find seams running crosswise which I'd expect in let-out mink. I did find a place where apparently heads of one pelt were stitched to tails of those covering the garment's shoulders. So maybe it was a shortcut to resembling let-out. Maybe the makers trimmed some of the width from flanks of the pelts to narrow them then worked them skin-on-skin. Still, I liked the way this stole had plenty of fur hanging down the front, and even with that fox collar and the nutria coat I'd already considered, would hardly break my budget.


But I had other shops and still wondering if there weren't more appealing possibilities out there. So I pedaled around to more shops, making note of what I found. It was nearing five o'clock. I found an atm (ok cash machine for those of you speaking Queen's English) that suited me, and I decided I didn't want to take my rack trunk home as empty as when I left. With a full wallet, I stopped by my day's second store, got the stole and took it to the cashier. There must have been something different to the way I looked her in the eye when I laid the stole on the counter. "I have one like that," she said, "A darker brown. I don't wear it. My husband gave it to me." Well, I don't suppose there'd be many opportunities to wear such a fifties or sixties classic around here. Climate's pretty warm. Except for trims, not too many folks wear fur around here. Still, she seemed to value the gift by keeping it around. And I enjoyed hearing from a lady who'd tell me about that.


I brought my own bag which was a huge, opaque plastic bag. When I first saw that bag and scavenged it, I thought it'd make an excellent one for such errands. So I had her put my stole in it. My next step was the riskiest. When I built my bicycle's rack trunk, I didn't make it lockable. So I planned to hurry in, get the fox collar and nutria jacket and get back out before anyone got into my trunk to find something of value. I made it! But not without another pleasant surprise. When this cashier felt the fox collar she exclaimed "ooh that's nice!" A bonus value for my day.


So I finally took some time to relax, eating some of the snacks I'd brought from home. Then I pushed off into the late afternoon. It was an amazing time to be out there, the light so perfect to take in the fields and orchards along the way. I watched a mile-long freight train pass me across almost a mile's worth of fields. Then there were the dark green canopies of walnut trees across lately plowed fields. The shade trees at farmsteads leaned in the wind, showing the silvery undersides of leaves on the sides I was coming from. I was definitely in a mood to soak it in, having done what I set out to do. I was glad I'd found a reason to be out there at that particular time, the clouds progressing from gray and white to a very quick blush, then purple.


I'd come prepared for cycling after sunset, so I switched on my lights and came home to a studio home that still held the day long warmth. I've turned on the blower of my swamp cooler and am inviting the night's cool in. My lips are chapped. I erased my mileage accidentally before I started back for home but based on one-way miles I'd judge I put in something like 80 (128 kilometers if I reckon right) including running around my destination city. I feel relaxed. My body definitely benefited from all that oxygen circulating so many hours of the day. But my butt's not sore, and I expect I'll be able to carry on routinely tomorrow without significant bodily complaints about yesterday's adventure. So Jason, my helmet's off to you. We definitely do have it easy these days, even those of us who volunteer for a more strenuous life!


So far, I haven't dug deep enough in my bicycle rack trunk to take out my new treasures. I wanted to thank the supportive folks here. Who knows if I'd worn the same clouded expression I had when I earlier bought furs I wouldn't have heard anything from the cashiers who served me this afternoon.


I didn't even spend half what I'd budgeted. I don't want to spend more on furs than will fulfill me. I don't want my love of furs to condemn me to wage slavery. So I'm considering diverting that money to pool with other recent savings for another t-bill. But for now I'm leaving it earmarked for replacing the first rabbit coat I kept long enough to wear out.

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What is the name of that song???????????? It goes a bit like this...


"From little things, big things grow...."


Edit by FLinFL (resident Bruce Springsteen super-fan) - It's "From small things, mama, big things one day come"


Frugal, your tale reminds me of my youth when I'd hop on me bike at the drop of a hat and head out... who knows where. And yes, I do mean a treadly. Someone I know would be quite pleased with your investment decisions.... and I hope that you find your replacement coat soon....


As for the comments.... it seems that any thing positive just reinforces that WE are right and doubters are definitely wrong.

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Right on, Bro!


Glad you're feeling better about fur! It's kinda' nice to finally let it all hang out. Isn't it?


You were wise not to spend all your cash on fur. That will prevent you from going on a "Fur Spree". It's a common reaction when people finally reconcile their feelings about things they previously repressed. Some people go from one extreme to another. It seems like you're staying level-headed. That's good!


Save up that cash and, like you said, use the proceeds from your saving to buy that coat you REALLY wanted!


Finally, don't feel bad about those "Bunny Hugger" types who sold you the organic cotton. I bet they are the type who drive around in huge SUVs, pretending to be "environmentalists", all the while spewing toxic fumes out their tail pipes.


Who is the more environmentally conscious person?


A) The tree hugging poser?


B) The guy who just rode his bike 80 MILES to go on a shopping trip where others would have driven their SUV?


Now, go out and unpack your shopping bag and take those well-earned furs for a spin around the house! You deserve it!

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Following on from the topic of Cinderella's glass/fur slippers, I'm fairly sure that I read somewhere that Golden Fleece of legend may have originally been a sort of fur (probably golden sable). I can't recall where I read this though.



Mr Mockle

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Great story frugalfurguy , glad it all turned out good for you. You have the satisfaction of knowing you've really earned those furs. Things have so much greater value if they are earned physically rather than just the exchange of cash.


You're right Mr B. - As kids - take packed sandwiches and a drink - head off for the day for great adventures - parents didn't know where we were until we got back at sunset - No mobile phones - only three gears on the bike - freedom! Such a shame for kids these days -what they miss eh?

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Actually FLinFL, the track I was thinking of was more like this one WEG.... cause those are the lyrics (From little things big things grow) that I was actually thinking about, although have a feeling that the ones I am after come from an even OLDER song.....




And a quick check of ITunes reveals that this is indeed the song I was athinkin' about *grin*.

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