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TJ to the Maxx

I meant to get up early but another evening of Buffy and Company robbed me of that opportunity. But an afternoon call from Jen and Christoph led to a TJ Maxx trip supplemented by Half-Price Books and Pasquel's.

About a quarter after three we headed on our way, and for the second time in a week I made my way toward Westgate.

It is impossible, I have discovered, to find pants that fit at a normal store, be it JC Penny, Walmart, or TJ Maxx. When Jen and I drove out there in the fall I found one pair of 36x36 slacks, but upon trying them on I discovered that they in no way fit and had an extremely low waist. I've given up looking for pants at TJ Maxx, but they tend to have normally cut long-sleeve shirts available, often for a reasonable price, and I found one this time that, while fitted, was worth the $10 sale price. The sleeves are a bit short, but the shoulders are okay, and I'll roll the sleeves in any case.

I found a four-bottle set of pepper sauces for $5 or so and it seemed like a good deal. The cashier asked if there were any more sets like it, and I had to respond that there were no more four-packs, but a number of three-bottle sets from a different manufacturer were available. Just peppers and vinegar.

Over at Half-Price I restrained myself. I found a copy of Anna Karenina for $6.99, all 1000 paperback pages of it, and what almost made it worth buying was the DVD of the 1948 Vivien Leigh movie that came with it. I think it was part of the Signet Classics or similar line. They also had Cyrano ... and The Scarlet Letter as similar deals. I likewise held back on a Philip Pullman book for kids for $2.98 ... while I love his stuff, buying it would have just felt like a symptom of completism, a desire to possess everything he has written.

I do, however, plan on getting the edition of Paradise Lost for which he wrote the introduction. At $25 for the hardcover, though, I'm in no hurry.

I remember when big hardcovers were only $12 ... now they are all over $20, generally closer to $28, and while I know there has been general inflation in the course of twenty years, and I can understand that paperbacks that used to be $2.50–$3.50 are now $6.99–$8.99, I haven't seen this level of price inflation across all markets. I suspect that part of the increase might be due to increased paper costs, perhaps a result of lumber prices, but I also wonder to what extent there is an Amazon effect—sticker prices have gone up more than would be expected because as soon as a massive merchant like amazon.com gets hold of them, they provide a discount of 30% or so. Would the price on the side or back or inner flap of the book be high as it is now if the large retailers weren't providing such (seeimingly) large discounts?

After the bookfest we drove back toward downtown and enjoyed tasty food at Pasquel's on Monroe. I once visited the Atwood location years ago before it closed. This time I got a burrito sandwich, which was really just a giant, cold tortilla wrap. Quite tasty, though. We followed that up by a trip across the way to Michael's Frozen Custard, the best known (in these parts) of the frozen custard franchises.

Frozen custard, the warmer, denser, egg-infested cousin of ice cream, was practically unknown in my part of Idaho when I was growing up, and only once I moved to this dairy state did I encounter it; it's not a specialty here, the way it is in some places. In fact, Boise now has a place (Donnie Mac's) that makes and serves the stuff, a bit west of downtown around Grove and 16th. They specialize in trailer park cuisine they say.

One large coffee-chocolate-chip malt shake later I was quite satisfied. So much for responsible eating.

—January 6 2007