Footwear is a pretty boring subject unless you have ever suffered from a blister. I went to NYC last summer and, in a fit of what I think was latent insanity, wore a pair of heels. They weren’t stiletto or anything-just a pair of black pumps that I wear for the occasional funeral. Let me tell, after a day of traipsing around the city, I was ready to chuck the shoes and go barefoot, at least until I looked at the sidewalk. The blister on my heal burned like crazy and took days to heal. Miserable.

That got me to thinking about shoes (and boots) in a crisis. I live in cold, snowy, icy, muddy Massachusetts. You needs might be somewhat different.

Sneakers: Everybody needs a good walking sneaker. I have 3 identical pair. The newest are kept for going out in public. The second best pair is for everyday use. The third is a ratty pair I wear if I am doing something that is likey to ruin them like burning brush or walking over the mucky path to the compost heap. As the the best shoes wear, they will move to the the middle slot and the middle move down to the the ratty spot. The truly ratty shoes will finally be tossed. This way I always have a decent pair of shoes and I only buy new sneakers every few years.

Muck shoes: If you have a garden, you need a rubber muck shoe that can be hosed off.

Slip on hikers:  I love my slip-on wool hikers. They are the go-to shoe for running out in cold weather or taking a mild walk. My shoes were fairly expensive but they are 5 years old. They are not looking as good as new but other than faded color and scuffed toes, show no signs of real wear.

Tall rubber barn boots. If you have a barn, you need barn boots. I have 2 pair, one insulated and one not.

Hikers: We hike a fair bit and I have a good pair of hikers. I got them on sale and saved a good deal of money because they are an unfortunate shade of baby blue but my feet don’t mind.

Winter boots. Buy the best you can afford if you spend any time outside in the weather at all. I like the boots with a removable liner that can be dried out. I have a pair of Yax Trax that I swear by. It can get really icy in Massachusetts and I don’t want to risk a broken hip. These slip on right over my boots or shoes. I have never even slipped while wearing them.

It is a good idea to find a brand and style you like and stick with it but even if you have bought the same shoe for years, try them on before purchase. Lace them up and walk around for a few minutes. Companies make changes and your foot may change as well. Wear the appropriate sock when you try on a shoe or boot. If you buy at the end of the day or after a long walk your feet will be a bit swollen.

Taking proper care of your shoes and boots will extend their lives. Treat leather with a coating of mink oil before use. Dry out leather footwear away from heat. If they have gotten wet, you can stuff them with paper towels or rags that you change as they moisture is absorbed. Check over rubber footwear and sneakers for small signs of wear. Shoo Goo will patch up small tears. If you have invested a lot of money in a pair of boots, it may pay to take them to a shoe repairman for resoling.

I hate those round shoelaces that come with most sneakers and boots. I also hate laces that are too long. I store a lot of shoelaces and always get flat laces when I can as they hold better. I buy all different sizes and colors. I keep the laces, mink oil and shoe goo in my shoe repair box. I also keep a supply of moleskin just in case I do have a problem with a pressure point.

I might as well give my sock philosophy here. I buy dozens of pair at a time, all identical as it don’t like to sort socks much and it doesn’t matter if the washer eats one of a pair. I buy excellent quality for warmth and spend less on everyday cotton tube socks. I do darn my socks.

If you have some extra money, stocking up on shoes and boots might be good place to put it. I store shoes and boots in larger sizes for my kids and grandkids to grow into. Most of our footwear is manufactured overseas. If trade breaks down for while having extras will be a good thing.


If you are lucky enough to be getting a tax rebate this year, you may be thinking about what to do with it. I was speaking with two woman down at my daughter’s school today and both are planning trips to Florida over the April vacation even though money is clearly tight for both families. The rational is that they are already in so much trouble that it doesn’t really matter. They also feel that the value of their dollars is slipping so quickly that they might as well have some fun while they can.

I understand how they feel but I certainly hope you will make better choices. But what is a better choice? Alternative energy or a reliable car? A freezer or a new furnace? Pay down debt or stock up the pantry? I sure hope you aren’t expecting me to have some magic answer. I have just come into a small amount of money and Bruce and I are struggling with our many options for spending it. We are lucky in that we have no debt so we have more choices. If I owed money to anyone, I would in fact, pay that off, especially if the debt was a high-interest credit card debt. We know we will invest in our home infrastructure. We will probably put in a new double-flue chimney. This will make it possible to install a wood stove in the basement which will significantly decrease our heating bill. We have a wood lot and with proper management, we will be energy sustainable.  I just ordered a new dehydrator. Drying food  is much less energy intensive than canning and the food takes up a lot less speace in storage. We are going to build a small barn too. We need space for pigs, a couple of goats and a flock of chickens. If we build it ourselves and use a lot of salvage for materials, the cost won’t be too high. Our final spend will be  for a better cold cellar. We need a spot for the crops that like it just above freezing like the carrots, apples beets,  and cabbage. Bruce came up with a terrific plan. We have a hatchway with steps leading from the yard to the cellar. It stays really cold in that space. Bruce is going to rebuild the steps and hinge them. He will then drop insulated boxes under each step. The stuff we store there will not freeze but will be protected from the warmer temperatures of the the cellar. It was wasted space and the steps were falling apart anyway.

That’s pretty much going to eat up the money. I am writing this while I listen to the Obama press conference . I sure wish I felt better about this bailout. I am afraid that the government is doing the equivilant of taking a trip to Florida with our money. It will feel good for a bit but then the bill comes due and somebody is going to expect to get paid. With what? I know that in my house, if we got into money trouble, we would do without and suffer until we got out of trouble. I don’t know if the American people would be willing to suffer through bank and auto companies failing. He sitting there talking about credit so folks can buy RV’s. I just don’t see RV sales ramping up anytime in the near future. I’m pretty sure that the life we used to have is not coming back. I hope you spend your dwindling resources on things that will ensure your family’s ability to stay warm and fed. We have all been dancing and the fiddler is standing there with his hand out.