Sunday, February 28, 2016
Well, I Never Thought of That!
Although I have lived in nine US States from one end of the country to the other, the majority of my life has been spent in the Deep South--all five Gulf states, as a matter of fact. So I'm a Southerner--not born but surely bred. And like any good Southerner, I love me a mess of greens. If you were to ask what I wanted for my last meal on earth, the answer would be swift and sure: turnip greens, cornbread, and vanilla pudding. Nothing is better than that!
When I stopped at the grocery yesterday on my daily journey to the Post Office, hallelujah!, pound bags of fresh, washed, chopped, ready-to-cook bags of greens were on sale for 99 cents each. I picked up two--one turnip, one mustard. The cashier was new, and she looked confused. She asked me why I had only gotten two bags and she said that most older folks (she only barely stopped herself from saying just plain "old" and I'm not old, darn it, just a little tired) bought many more than that. Why hadn't I done so? Well, I told her that's all I could keep because the freezer was pretty full right now and I only have a dorm-size fridge.
The cashier immediately expressed concern and wondered if I needed a refrigerator. (Hey, this is the South--folks chat, they help each other out. People from away don't seem to understand that we're neighborly even if we don't know you from Adam's housecat. I once called a wrong number when my car broke down, and the gentleman who picked up the phone--someone I do not know and have never met--spent ten minutes helping me figure out the problem even though I'd woken him out of dead sleep. That's Southern hospitality right there.) I told the girl, no, I don't need a refrigerator and thanked her for her kindness. My dorm fridge is a matter of choice.
I had a very nice not-very-old refrigerator. And I hated it. It had an icemaker that took up most of the minimal freezer space and the refrigerator space was vast. I'd put things in there, forget I had them, buy a replacement, stuff got wasted, money got wasted. It annoyed the socks off me. So I came up with a plan, and I determined to make some changes.
My little galley-style kitchen has a space on each side--a slightly bigger one for a refrigerator; one for a standing freezer. I did some measuring and plotting, and then I figured that if I put a small chest freezer in the fridge space it would fit perfectly and that a larger dorm-size fridge would fit fine in the freezer space. (Chest freezers are more energy-efficient than uprights.)
I committed to my plan by bartering for a just-right used chest freezer with my pawn broker friend (I watched his store while he went on vacation/he gave me the freezer)--freebie! A friend found a very nice dorm fridge for me at a church yard sale for $40, and I sold her kids my refrigerator for $150. I came out $110 ahead and spent that on groceries for the freezer. Everyone happy! Wins all around!
When I was explaining to the cashier about the refrigerator situation, I mentioned that if a regular fridge broke down, the local repairman charges more than $100 just to come have a look to see what is wrong and that doesn't include the repair. For that same amount I can go buy another used dorm fridge or even a new one so if my dorm fridge breaks down I just don't have to give a care because the expense will be a lot less. My electrical bill has also gone down more than $20 a month since I made the change. I eat more sensibly because I have to plan ahead, and now I really know exactly what is in the fridge because every square inch counts. It's just sensible.
That's when the cashier exclaimed, "Well, I never thought of that! Why doesn't anyone ever teach us this stuff?"
Truly, I don't have an answer for that. I tend to learn a lot of stuff the hard way; I guess most folks do. You just have to understand yourself and your situations so you can know what works right for you as an individual--it won't be the same as what everyone else does. And I've learned by doing without that's it's important not to take things for granted. When we get used to being too comfortable, we can be careless. We have so very much to be grateful for but we need to be mindful to remember.
I'm grateful right this minute. I can scent the turnip greens cooking in the big stewpot on the stove. And I know what's for supper this evening: turnip greens, cornbread, and vanilla pudding. There's nothing better than that!