One For Every Taste

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I love catalogs.

I know receiving them in the mail is not green and that I am supposed to look online but the companies keep sending them to me long after I have requested they cease and desist.

What On Earth? and Crate and Barrel are fun to tuck into my purse, while Fingerhut and Montgomery Ward hit the trash sight unseen.

I window-shop through catalogs since we don't have what city-dwellers define as a "real mall."

I could use a "kitchen counter herb garden" or a shirt that says: "Sarcasm, just one more service I offer." If I had an unlimited supply of dollars, I could buy "The Dragon of Upminster Castle Throne Chair."

However, some things just make me smile and shake my head. It's a Mad Hatter world.

Catalogs are full of rocks and minerals, mostly polished ones set in jewelry.

Recently, two items made me laugh out loud.

(If I laugh and nobody hears, is the joke funny or just on me?)

Signals catalog advertised a "reflexology rug."

I was a massage therapist in a former career and I know a bit about reflexology. It is the ancient practice of applying pressure to different areas on the feet thought to correspond to different organs in the body.

Signals' round, earth-toned rug has pebbles sewn into the weave.

It sells for $199.95 and is proof that some people will buy anything in their search for health without exercise.

"Spend 15 minutes a day slowly walking barefoot across it to reduce stress, improve circulation, and enjoy a fabulous foot massage," the slick copy says.

Riiiiight.

Small granite rocks keep the worst of the mud from my driveway and therefore my house when it rains.

When it is dry, these little stones cleave to the bottom of my sneakers, only to release themselves en masse on the floorboard of my truck.

Worse yet, these sharp little devils escape one at a time from my shoes to the floor of my home.

As a member of the ‘barefoot sole' society, I can tell you granite stones hurt when you step on them.

This fleece, oops, I mean reflexology rug, can't possibly make its creator a millionaire, but it will probably turn a pretty penny or three.

I doubt if I glued pieces of granite from my driveway to carpet circles, I'd have any buyers, even with glossy marketing ...

... until I turned a few more pages of the catalog and found a rock cairn for sale, at a tenth the price of the rug.

Just who, pray tell, do the fine folk at Signals believe will buy an 11-inch tall cairn made out of seven real stones with a metal rod holding them together for $19.95 plus shipping?

Gardeners.

My green-thumb is capable of killing lilacs, my favorite flower, but I own "Gardening for Dummies" and I think real gardeners find real stones when they turn the real soil of their real gardens and make their own real cairns.

The challenge of a cairn is balancing the rocks so they do not fall down, so drilling a hole for a metal rod defeats the purpose.

Many of you may remember the "pet rock" craze circa 1970. My aunt still has her "rock concert" -- a bunch of painted pebbles with googley eyes glued to a larger stone.

Back to Basics has had a rock on their counter for years. It reads, "Turn me over." I shan't spoil the surprise by revealing what is on the other side. If you don't already know, you will just have to look for yourself.

I admit there are rocks (no, not in my head), in my home in addition to those trekked in from my driveway. A friend gave me Utah opals. They sit on the shelves next to my books and sparkle with the sunshine.

In a capitalist system, the consumer is king, and like the fabled Emperor With No Clothes, taste and common sense are optional.

Barrett-Jackson auctioned off, in addition to their pristine vehicles, decoratively rusted cars and trucks for $10K each.

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