Some days it baffles me why we even bother with grocery stores. Oh, I know why they were invented, or at least I have my own personal theory. They seem to be typically American things. Like the old general store in the frontier town where everyone could find their necessities, shipped in via rail, because there weren't yet enough farmers to support the booming population. It seem like in Europe and some older American cities, the old markets still exist, the every day, all day stalls. But out here we have grocery stores and "supermarkets." They're just nowhere near as fun.
Oh, I got a haul this morning. It just makes me want to chortle with glee. It makes me feel rich, even though I only spent twenty-eight dollars. I might have even been able to get more, in terms of bulk, for that price as Russ's down the way, but I wouldn't have liked it as much. I got a bag of cherry tomatoes, three different fat croissants (the almond one is yummy!), a jar of grape jelly, a bunch of small carrots, two ears of sweet corn, two small white bell peppers, three small sweet onions, a small loaf of rye bread, and a handful of big green beans. That, combined with the granola, nuts, milk, butter, yogurt, noodles, and rice I have at home will keep me all week. They had some really big vegetables and fruits, watermelons too, but I always pick the little ones
My friends Noreen and John are coming down to visit today, so for Noreen's five small dogs I got a small bag of pet treats. A little silly, I know, but Nor will like it. And I spent an outrageous amount, three whole dollars, on a fabric cat toy. It was worth every penny in the first three minutes as Isis rolled around on the floor with that little red log with the red ribbon tassel. Now she's pleasantly stoned, drowsing on the rug upside down.
I find the key to feeling rich lies in two things: generosity and smaller boxes. It's fun to shop for other people. There's never any buyer's remorse. You don't have to get them expensive things, just cute, funny, thoughtful stuff. Sometimes you don't have to spend anything at all. I love the homemade cards I get from my mother. I keep them all, along with all the paper letters my grandmothers' ever sent me. And I don't consider three dollars for a cat toy wasteful. Animals deserve generosity, too. And the organic catnip growers and pet toy makers deserve a little generosity. That's what buying is, after all, just people giving to each other. Sometimes the "fair" deal is overrated. I paid a dollar and a quarter for the tiny bag of dog treats, but that's generosity that spreads too, from me to Nor and back, from Nor to her dogs and back again.
My fridge is on the fritz again. I spent so long finding that fridge, something close to normal sized but small enough for my pocketbook kitchen. It's a ten cubic foot model (most are eighteen to twenty two). It keeps breaking down and I've already spent as much as I paid for it to fix it once. I have a small dorm fridge to do me in the meantime. I realized, that looking in my small dorm fridge, which is full, is so much more satisfying than looking in my big fridge, which was always almost empty. Unless of course it was full of old leftovers I had yet to toss. No room for that in the little one. And for simplicity sake, I've started keeping my vegetables and dry goods on top of the little fridge, so they don't get lost in the back of my cupboards. So the top is somewhat crowded as well, dominated by a big wooden bowl full of today's haul, the potatoes I got last week, an apple and some bananas from the supermarket. Next to it are the cereal and granola, and next to that the bread and pastries. And crowding the top of my microwave are boxes of tea and coffee, tins full of nuts and noodles from the bulk section of the organic co-op, and a giant jar full of white rice. I'm very rich indeed.
A few years ago, I moved all my clothing from my walk-in closet into the little closet in my bedroom. One two-foot rail holds my suits, dresses, and costumes, the other my every day shirts, skirts, and jackets. That little closet is full to bursting, so I never feel like I need to go shopping. I got rid of my two big dressers for an old antique piece I really love and a little set of painted drawers I keep all my unmentionables in. When I had the big house in Gretna, I was always looking for the next thing to fill it up - a painting to go on this blank wall, an area rug for that room, a curio cabinet for that corner. Now I look around and wonder what I could take to Goodwill this week. Everything I have means something, beyond just what sale I picked it up at. My parents' gave me the antique map chest I use as a coffee table as a birthday gift. My 'desk' is my Mom's old gate-leg table, that she's had for longer than she's had me. The quilted flower hanging on the door is something my Aunt sent me for Christmas. Half the books in the bookshelves I stole from my Dad.
It's the best, worst-kept, get-rich-quick secret in the world: generosity and smaller boxes.