Failing Minimalism

Our recent move from a huge home to an apartment seemed like a good time to embrace the ‘only keep what you need and love’ movement. The cynic in me is sure that once enough people have discarded their excess clothing and general stuff the culture will encourage a resurgence of the ‘you deserve a little extra’ movement, but the downsizing we needed to do did fit the current mood of the times. 

Truthfully, I enjoyed holding each book we own and donating the (very) few that I could part with; passing on our arts and crafts supplies to a friend with young children was fun; leaving behind some excessively well-used towels and other household goods was a relief. 

Problems did arise, however. I can’t say that dozens of new rolls of paper towels spark joy (to use a term from a popular decluttering book for those items you should keep), but not having a new roll available when needed sparks annoyance. In our old house there was always plenty of room for the Costco sized paper towel packages–as well as toilet paper, tissues, fabric softener and myriad other supplies.  The same extravagant storage area is conspicuously absent from our apartment. To be fair, with seven children grown and out of our home, we don’t plow through food or paper goods at anywhere near the same rate as we used to do. Whether or not we need to buy eight boxes of spaghetti at a time or 25 pounds of flour in one go avoids an important issue. While I may not love the item, I have been in love with Costco for years.

Almost without exception, everything I have bought at Costco over the past few decades has been good quality at a good price. Just as importantly, the stores in Issaquah and Kirkland, WA that I frequented were fun places. I invariably ran into friends, saw unusual offerings that made me smile, had pleasant interactions with staff and emerged grateful and appreciative of the abundance this country offers. Moving to the East coast diminished some of the enjoyment. Sadly, the stores near our new apartment were not as well run or as well stocked. With my need for bulk items reduced and the store not as much of an experience, I even downgraded my executive membership to an ordinary one with an eye to wondering whether we needed to belong anymore. 

This week, my enthusiasm was reignited. Maybe it was snagging the parking spot right near the entrance, maybe it was a warehouse stocked to the brim as Thanksgiving and Christmas near, maybe they have instituted better employee training for my local store, but this trip reached the old levels of fun. Along with the cranberries and shampoo from my shopping list, I came home with an irresistible present for a grandchild, priced almost absurdly low and sure to come in handy. 

                      Tummy rub
 Tummy rub 

                         Time for a drink
                               Learning to Beg

The grandchild gift has been appropriated. We certainly don’t need it, but my husband immediately reserved it for our Noddy room, aka our guest room and/or grandchild playroom. He thought it was too good to give to just one grandchild; this way it is available for all. In the meantime, he is having a grand time setting up photo shots and sending them to our children. My husband grew up with dogs and misses having one while my canine enthusiasm is well in check, so I’m delighted with this solution. 

I hope this blog doesn’t seem akin to the “I’m having tuna fish on whole wheat for lunch” posts sometimes seen on Facebook. For me, the shopping expedition and my husband’s joy in his fluffy new friend are a welcome respite from the serious issues of the day. Concerns for the future shouldn’t drown out pleasure in the present. I hope you find it a refreshing time-out as well. 

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22 thoughts on “Failing Minimalism”

  1. There is a town in Colorado named, No Name. Hope your contest is successful and doesn’t leave your poor little pooch with that as his moniker!

  2. Nor should you, as I likely came to that conclusion illogically. I looked up “Benny”, saw the connection on Wikipedia and ran with it, going against all I have been taught about scholarly research and making assertions. Even so, your light-heart musing was a delightful and welcome break from this ten page paper sue, which factored into my getting carried away, and yet another lesson for me. God bless.

  3. I became overwhelmed with emotion at Dr Carson’s reference to the Constitution. He regarded it as if it were sacred.
    It is interesting to me though, that you did not stray that far off your intended subject, as Bernard is a variation of Benjamin, although it means “gentle bear.”

  4. Nancy, I hope I don’t disappoint you when I tell you that I don’t speak Yiddish. I know a few random words but I don’t know what ‘verklempt’ means. In the positive news, the dog is a St. Bernard -though still unnamed.

  5. I’m sure next week will be a better week to write about Dr. Carson. He is certainly in my prayers. Looking forward to your sharp insight on how he is being devoured by a media with no conscience or backbone.
    But as for your Costco excursion! We have SAMs Club here but they are pretty much the same and my husband and I do the very same thing! How funny that so many of us find warehouse shopping source of our entertainment! We have a real live little dog so I’ll pass on the stuffed one for now. I like the care instructions on yours better than mine! My husband is pretty attached to our little guy but I’m pretty sure that when this little guy goes to doggy heaven we will follow your example!
    It’s been a busy week! We welcomed to our world another granddaughter. Oh the wonder of it! This grandma is feeling so blessed and I have a folder on Pinterest called “Nana Camp” so in a couple of years I will be able to steal all my little girls for a week and just enjoy!
    I am just praying that our world holds together long enough for that to happen. Blessings Susan!

  6. Life is multi-faceted. In the midst of crisis we still need to move the wet clothes to the dryer. The rain comes and blows red and yellow leaves all around the yard. My daughter & I send N.C. Wyeth postcards to a bunch of friends just for the heck of it. The small gems are just as worthy of our attention as the larger ones. Last weekend we lost power to half the house- my husband took a couple days figuring it out, spent all of $35, and had everything up and running… which disappointed the kids because the internet came back and they had to do their school!)That was a big thing. Then we played a game of Mousetrap. That was a small thing.

  7. Just as I begin to question whether it was providence that brought me under Rabbi & Rabbanit Lapin’s tutelage, or my own vain imagination, I am delighted to see God had strategically placed a Saint Bernard within your path and drew you to him. I think it’s a Saint Bernard anyway(could be a beagle?), the university’s mascot that I attend, and so just as dear to me and a symbol of “higher” learning. It’s true, and now verified, you ARE my Rabbi and Rebbetzin!
    This revelation makes up for the disappointment of not having a Costco anywhere near us.
    I would also like to say of Ben Carson, (and please excuse my clumsy attempts to utilize yiddish) listening to his responses during the North Texas Presidential forum caused me to become verklempt, although I cannot say exactly why except maybe in hope that our next potus displays this level of sincerity, especially in regard to the US Constitution. At least it seemed heartfelt to me, although, now, that is under scrutiny per the media in relation to his statements made in his book. Nevertheless, perhaps it was from a semblance of hope that welled up in me in light of the evidence of a standard being championed once again. Hopefully, once and for all. However unsure if Carson is the right candidate (my preferred candidate was booted from the next debate, so I obviously am not any expert in choosing), I do appreciate what he represents. Whatever may be said, by nature, the truth cannot be fabricated.

  8. We’ve also run into trouble with moving companies who ask how many TVs we have (none), about pianos and major furniture but don’t ask how many books we have, which is the bulk of our belongings. (Along with a kosher kitchen for a large family which is also way more pots, pans, and plates than the average household.)

  9. Once upon a time in the company of Russians I paused at the store register to purchase a book. The Russian, who had seen my library of 5000+ books, quipped the standard Russian joke: ‘Why? You have one!’ [AUDIENCE APPLAUSE]. Like you, I do love my books. Once we had to move some 850 miles and I rented a 5-ton U-Haul truck. One poor devil whose task it was to help me unload that truck said bitterly: ’You could have moved in the back of a pick-up truck, if not for all those books.’ But then again, in high school I once got into trouble with the principal when he found out I was skipping cafeteria lunch to hang out in the library. At this point, I sincerely believe that you and I must have been bitten by the same book bug or contracted the same bibliophilia virus. Or else you are descended from school teachers, yes, the old kind who did not attack your spiritual beliefs, but encouraged and fertilized them.
    Post scriptum: YES! Please do write about Dr. Ben Carson.

  10. With all the seriousness in the world, a bit of laughter is precious. If we don’t enjoy the little moments, we will miss most of the good in life. Thanks for the fun post, Susan. Love the new member of the family. 😀

  11. Hi Susan:
    Your Musing was a blessing to read, bringing back fond memories of my garden style apartment (condo really) on the outskirts of Baltimore back in the early 1990s. At that time, I shopped at Price Club which hadn’t yet merged into Costco. Although I’ve lived in the garden city of the south, Charlotte, for over 21 years now, I still have and use some of the great quality “basics” that I bought at Price Club in Baltimore.
    It’s interesting that Price Club was founded by the son of early 20th century Jewish immigrants from Belarus. Sol Price is considered a pioneer of the “warehouse store” retail business model, and he founded Price Club at the age of 60 – kind of like Colonel Sanders founding Kentucky Fried Chicken at the age of 65; never discount the value of the wisdom that comes with years of experience.
    My wife and I shop at our favorite Costco about once a month, and we virtually always do it together because we, too, enjoy the experience. There’s an 8×10” white board on our refrigerator with a heading “Costco” – in fact, I just wiped the list clean this morning since we’re good on Don Pablo coffee and all those other “essentials”.
    We became empty nesters exactly one year and three days ago and as of course, nature abhors a vacuum. These days, Costco paper towels are stashed in some newly acquired real estate. In fact, upon returning from our most recent trip, Marsha discovered half a dozen boxes of Kleenex in one of those new storage spots (oops! – guess we could have held off on that purchase).
    But I never cease to marvel at the blessing of abundance that we Americans enjoy. And for sure I never tire of a good deal — and Costco is the best! In July, we went there on one of our routine trips and came home with a full sized Traeger Wood Pellet Grill – a brand I’d never even heard of when I walked into the store that day. OK, I’ll admit it — it was an impulse buy, but I have to say: four months of barbecuing later, it has turned out to be perhaps the best impulse buy I think I’ve ever made.
    And please do tell your husband (and my rabbi) that the pictures of his fluffy new K-9 companion are priceless, as I hope and pray are the hours of enjoyment his acquisition will bring to your grandchildren and you.
    May God bless you,

  12. I feel the same about paper towels. They make me smile. I might even do a happy dance when I next buy them. 🙂
    And, I’d even ask for them for my birthday present if it was the only way I could acquire them!

  13. Oh my goodness! I love this post! I really enjoy your mussings. It makes me feel like “I know” you and a close friend! Today’s was very funny because I just got home from MY favorite place…Costco! I saw that puppy and loved him too! So fun to see the pictures! God Bless y’all! Y’all have had a big impact on us! Thanks 🙂

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