Stories that are so important I almost forgot about them

I’m writing this in a rather noisy gym, keeping half an eye on Johanna and her teammates as they go through basketball drills at practice. I’m not necessarily feeling antisocial, but I also learned last month that if I pull out my laptop and start typing, everyone assumes I’m writing a newspaper article and they leave me alone.

And it’s too convenient not to utilize. It’s been a long day.

Anyway, now that I’ve shown what a jerk I am, let me tell you a couple of minimalist / zero waste stories that I forgot to write about earlier.

Story one: Bulk aisle connection

Once upon a time, I was in the bulk aisle of my favorite grocery store. It was, I will admit, an unplanned trip, so I didn’t have any of my jars with me. I was purchasing items in paper bags, as paper can be reused, recycled AND composted. The only downside: They’re made from trees.

Anyway, OF COURSE I noticed someone filling their jars. A man had several that he was systematically filling and putting into his cart. On one hand, I was so jacked — seeing another kindred soul was rather thrilling. On the other, I’d forgotten my jars, which made me feeling like a failing failure.

Still, I couldn’t help but talk to him a bit about zero waste. I told him I was happy to see him filling his jars because usually it is only me with mine, even though I’d forgotten mine that day. He was grinning, so I decided I wasn’t being too weird. (Yes, I get the irony that I am the sort of person who will talk to a stranger in the bulk aisle, but here at basketball practice surrounded by friends, I am pretending to be working. I’m a complicated woman.)

He said that what he liked most about bringing reusables to the grocery store is that, when he gets home, he just has to put them in the cupboard — there’s no decanting. I agreed. That is definitely the best part about the whole ordeal. No packaging to deal with later is another big plus.

Spoiler alert: Just as I wrote “I agreed” above, a friend came over and told me to quit working and be social. That made me laugh. Anyway, now I’m back at home to finish this thing up.

Story two: New old dish towels

When Eric and I got married … 23 years ago … my great-aunt gave us a set of seven hand-embroidered dish towels that she’d purchased from a craft sale. They were adorable (kittens!) and I was young, so instead of using them, I stuck them in my cedar chest and forgot about them.

Last month, though, when I took all the crap out of my chest and made it into blanket storage (a dream come true, I’m still thrilled with myself, post HERE), I found those towels. And I washed them and put them in a drawer in the kitchen and we’ve been using them ever since.

A couple of them are already stained by paint because my artist in residence, aka Johanna, would apparently rather use a pristine towel than one of the thousands of rags we have when she’s creating her masterpieces. Well, kids are terrible. I’m trying to remember that we live in a house, not a museum, so who cares anyway.

Story three: Goodwill, bad vibes

Forty-six going on … 55, apparently.

I took January 2 off from work to eat up one of the vacation days I’m about to lose. I’d planned to hang out with my girls, but instead I found myself at home alone and decided what I really wanted to do was take a trip to the next town over and check out their Goodwill.

I’ve been wanting another pullover sweater because DAMN this winter has been cold. I also wanted to see what they had in the way of standing light fixtures, as I am looking to add a reading light to the living room. I never have complete luck when I go to Goodwill — I think it takes a patience and perseverance that I lack — but I was exited to try.

And lo and behold, I found a pretty awesome gray pullover that fit well and rocked my world. Feeling rather cocky with my sweater success, I took a spin around the furniture section to see if I could find a suitable lamp (and then the houseware aisles … all those homeless coffee pots make me so sad). I did not, so I made my way to the checkout line.

The girl behind the counter thanked me for my patience (the line was looooong) and asked if I’d found what I was looking for. Then our conversation took a rather interesting turn:

Checker: So do you qualify for our 55 and older discount today?

Me: Um … no.

Checker: Not yet, huh?

Me: I’m … 46.

Checker: …

Me: …

Me: … I don’t need a bag, incidentally.

Oh, lord, it was so awkward. She had no idea what to say to me after that, and it was all I could do to keep it together — not because I was angry, but because I was afraid I’d start laughing and that would make it worse. Well, that answers THAT question, I said to myself as I got into the car, and then I really did let myself laugh it out. Ah, I needed that.

Look, I do not dye my hair, so my bad, really. And I had a great time relaying that story to my coworkers, especially since I had JUST had a conversation with two of them about how, despite my graying hair, I do not look “old.”

Uh, apparently I do …

And that concludes our three thrilling tales of awe and wonder. I know. Sometimes I can’t believe this is my life, either.

The end.

12 thoughts on “Stories that are so important I almost forgot about them

  1. Chris N says:

    I think if I lived close to Whole Foods I’d do the jars more. But where I am Bel Air or Safeway have limited bulk foods. I used to go to Winco but now that’s still about 30 minutes away but they do have a great bulk food bin area and honey and spices. You know, maybe I should head down there soon.
    Love the 55 at Goodwill. No you don’t look 55. I’m always slightly surprised when I’m asked not because I am but because I am and sometimes forget:)


    • Trisha Walker says:

      We have a Safeway here and the bulk is almost non-existent. I’m fortunate to have a great bulk aisle right in town. I don’t know if I’d manage to make it to a store 30 minutes away very regularly.

      Eric said I should have said yes to 55 and taken the discount. I will be more prepared next time! 😉


  2. Roberta says:

    THIS HAPPENED TO ME THIS WEEK and I have been too embarrassed to share! I picked up a shirt for my son, and the man at the counter asked if I qualify for the 55 senior discount. I said no, and he gave it to me anyway! (I’m 45, and I don’t dye).

    Sorry your super-cute towels have paint. Try to think of it as part of their story? I try to think of the mend in my purse strap as part of my story — the time my rotten puppy chewed through my purse during ONE hymn at church, despite the fact that he had a toy RIGHT THERE. I will miss him when he grows up.


    • Trisha Walker says:

      HA HA HA! Actually, this should make us both feel better: It’s probably like how they have to card everyone who looks like they’re under 30 or whatever it is before selling them alcohol — Goodwill is so concerned about making sure their customers get their proper discounts that they ask everyone who looks over 30. Makes total sense! 😉


  3. sarahn says:

    So, I think the reason you talk to zero waste man is cause your supporting your values and his. Whereas at the gym, it’s just small talk? Perhaps?

    You are quite the stunner my dear! But that is funny to be asked, and she must have felt so awkward!


    • Trisha Walker says:

      That is probably why, actually — I’m no good at small talk.

      Ack, and you’re very kind … I almost didn’t post a photo, but then I decided I may as well own up to how I look. Oh, yeah, poor kid — I hope she’s had as good of a time telling that story as I have, though! Comic gold!


  4. Sara says:

    Ahhh… your stories made me laugh—thank you! I’ve been asked about the senior discount as well, and I’m 48! Other times, people assume my (slightly) older husband is my dad. Such is life… I loved your comment about living in a house and not a museum. I have loads of hand embroidered linens my grandmother made for the luncheons she used to hold. I want to enjoy them, not preserve them. Thanks for the reminder.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Jennifer C says:

    I have a question I thought you might know the answer to. I thought I remembered reading on one of your Simple Year blog posts that you composted the individuals packets that Nature’s Path oatmeal came in. I had been saving mine (Nature’s Path packets) because I wasn’t sure that I had actually read that but I was able to refind your blog post that mentioned that. When I went to tear my packet up, I noticed a “plastic” lining on the inside. For the oatmeal packet I had opened today, the lining separated easily from the paper. But once I started ripping my older packets that I had been hanging onto to put in there, I had a hard time separating the lining from the paper. Do you happen to know if this lining is actually biodegradable/compostable as well? I was wondering since it was harder to separate from the older packets, that meant it was breaking down. I usually put plastic film in with the plastic bag recycling available at my grocery store but if it a biodegrade plastic, I don’t think I’m supposed to put it in there. And it would be a lot easier to compost the packets, if I don’t need to remove the lining. I’d love to hear if you encountered this with the oatmeal packets you were competing. Thanks!


    • Trisha Walker says:

      Hey there! So admittedly I haven’t purchased packaged oatmeal in at least a year because I can no longer eat it (added sugar, etc.) but I don’t remember any plastic lining in my Natures Path packets at all. Just paper, which is why I tossed them onto the compost heap. I didn’t have to separate anything.

      I did a quick google search and it’s recommended that oatmeal packets that are lined in plastic go in the trash. Another google search found a website saying that Natures Path oatmeal has undergone a packaging “update.” That may be why there’s plastic lining them now.


      • Jennifer C. says:

        I guess I need to work on making my oatmeal from bulk at home and taking with me to work. That’s too bad that they chose to make that “update.” Thanks for the info!


      • Trisha Walker says:

        It’s SO disappointing! It seems to be a trend, though — paper on the outside, plastic on the inside.

        I’ve seen tutorials on making your own packets, although they’re all stored in mini ziplock-style bags. Let me know what you come up with if you go that route!


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