thrifting and the meaning of life

Pictured below is yesterday's haul at Book Nook in Decatur, Georgia. I almost never find anything affordable anymore at used book stores. Long gone are the days I rummaged through boxes of books on the side porch of a little thrift store in Vienna, Virginia and bought books there for a nickel a piece when I could afford the extra nickels.

I also bought my then-three-year-old daughter a nightgown for 45 cents, which stays in my mind for some reason -- even the very look of it I remember... it was soft, well-worn cotton, buttercream yellow with tiny lace trim on the sides and bottom. Oh, how A. wanted that nightgown.

It was 90 cents, and outside my very paltry budget that day, but the owner took one look at us, and especially at A., who had her hands clasped under her chin, longing for that nightgown, and said, "Today, it's half off." My daughter wore out that nightgown before she grew out of it.

I digress.
I am partial to thrifting. Years ago, it saved my life. Even though that sounds like a drastic statement, it's true, and one day I will write about that life. These days, thrifting sports a different hue, but is no less important to me. Most of my home is furnished with thrifted items, and most of the clothes I wear are thrifted.

(Another aside: I once worked in an IRA symposium with the wonderful Naomi Shahib Nye, who boasted at the microphone (because she'd been introduced this way) that she had not bought anything to wear in over 8 years. "Share with your friends!" she said. Say it, Sister!)

Ahem. To the books. I love old cookbooks and gardening books, and old, odd books about keeping house and parenting. Yesterday at Book Nook, I found so many good ones on the half-price bookcases. The entire haul cost me $11.77, with tax, which is harking back to those good old days before thrift stores really knew how much old books could bring.

Maybe these books are important only to me. That's fine. This winter I will savor The Encyclopedia of Cooking (1951), Farm Journal's Cooking for Company, The Winter Garden, and sooner than winter I will try some recipes from Our Daily Bread along with the Chocolate-Orange Meringue Pie ("Light and colorful with grated chocolate as a garnish and a surprise layer of chocolate under the orange custard filling" p. 228) from Farm Journal's Best-Ever Pies.

Wanna come for dessert? A recipe isn't complete until it's shared.

I'm thinking about cooking lately since I have time to cook these days (have made time), and because I see what a community cooking and eating together creates.

Michael Pollan was interviewed on Fresh Air yesterday. It's a 20-min. interview worth listening to. He'll have an article in the Sunday New York Times worth reading about the same topic -- we watch cooking shows, but we cook less than ever. Why is that? He posits that it may well be that it wasn't fire or even language that grew us up into human beings. It may be the act of cooking.

And thrifting. :> Finding new uses for old discards. Or repurposing what we already have. Kids do this instinctively -- the couch cushions turn into a rocket ship or a cave.

What about you? What do you thrift or repurpose, and how do you do it, and why? What's the greatest, neatest, coolest, funkiest, funniest or most amazing thing you ever scored/thrifted/yard saled/repurposed?

Write about that. Short. One seed of the pomegranate. Just one story. Beginning, middle, end. Take a snapshot, draw a picture, give it some heart, make it a song. I'd love to see it, hear it, savor it. It will enrich my life every bit as much as that Chocolate-Orange Meringue Pie. Less calories, too.

It's why we're here, to share our stories with one another.