The Writer’s COMPLETELY NORMAL Grocery List

*I’m frankly between flabbergasted at this type of fan letter and somewhat tired of having people tell me they would pay for my grocery list.  I think they’re insane and quite mistake the matter.  My grocery list is like every one else’s grocery list, but as an experiment, here it is.”

1 tube Crest cinnamon

1 bottle shampoo

Burt’s bees soap, one bar

Scale polish, one can

Furniture polish, lemon one bottle

One bottle bleach

A corn bristle broom with aerodynamic properties

One container laundry pellets

Ironing starch

2 cans leather polish

40 cans iams cat food – no poultry flavors

50 lb container dragon chow

Two heads of lettuce

One chicken

2 lbs stew beef

3 lbs of onions

5 lbs carrots

2 lbs zucchini

3 lbs frozen spinach

3 pounds cheddar cheese

2 dozen eggs

1 pint sour cream

1 container of quick lime

Outdoor windex 2 bottles

Weather stripping for back door

20 cans Nine lives cat food (for Greebo)

Now, tell me – what is so fascinating about that?

The truth is, some days you can do non fiction but fiction just won’t come, some days it feels like you’re pushing every single word uphill to do non fiction, while fiction flows fine.  I don’t know why that is.  Today’s post is the result of my going “What on Earth can I write about?”  And my husband saying “They said they would pay you for your grocery list.  Try them.”

I don’t of course expect any of you to pay for it, but I expect the analysis of the grocery list will make for very fun comments.  (Not that I know why.  It’s a perfectly normal list.)  In any case, in the immortal words of a former president, “Have at it.”

I’ll be in the corner, working on Through Fire.

156 thoughts on “The Writer’s COMPLETELY NORMAL Grocery List

      1. Actually, my dragons forage. It’s a little hard on the neighbors (not many children in our neighborhood, and one of the dragons isn’t fully mature yet… ), but we get by. 8^)

        1. Speaking of dragons…

          We saw buffalo just before dawn; hulking black shadows against a slate hillside. The frigid air turned their hot, moisture laden breath into gusts and cloudy gray billows.

          I pulled the car onto the field road, up to the fence. “Hey, kids. Look.”

          As we watched them breathe I thought of war horses silhouetted against ice crystals and moonlight. I thought of villages ransacked and burned. I thought of the origins of dragons and why ours have fire.

      2. No, since I’m here in DC Metro, I let mine feed of free-range Bureaucrats, Lawyers and Lobbyists. Keeps them from getting fat, AND insures the scales are nice and glossy. ..

        1. Man, talk about wishful thinking!
          Free-range dragons is a fun concept, eliminates the problems with fencing.

      3. Depending on store and brand, you can usually get 10-20% off on dragon chow by buying it by the pallet. At the rate dragons eat that can work out to significant savings over a year.

        1. Pallet? You buy it by the pallet? Geeze, I wish. I just have them back a 2-ton truck up to his bowl and dump the load every morning. I admit I have a deal with the guys at the local cement delivery to mix up a treat with my secret sauce every Sunday, but you don’t want to know what it costs to get their mixer hosed clean afterward.

  1. Do you want that two pounds as one zucchini? If so, I’ll just saw the ends off of one before I send it. (Yes, I failed to leave the outside lights on and a large bounty of someone else’s overgrown produce appeared on my doorstep overnight. I know better this time of year, really I do.) 😀

    Glad to see the corn-bristle broom. I’m told the modern synthetics just don’t have the same “umpf.”

      1. Just find a good, dwarf-run shop. Hobbits can do it, too, but you need to make sure they’re management and not just hired to man the counter.

        Just because a lot of really horrible, cheap brooms are made with modern synthetics doesn’t mean that the synthetics are bad– just that it’s what’s cheaply available to the con artists.

        1. For the best results you actually should make it yourself. Gather the parts during a suitable phase of the moon, leaving suitable bribes for the good folks next to the plants you took. They can cause all kinds of mischief if they don’t get paid.

          1. That is, if you use natural plant parts. If you use synthetics at least you are spared the chance of making a mistake when trading, and do not have to worry about the folks that much.

            Natural can be stronger, synthetic is less risky. Both have their advantages and disadvantages. Maybe the biggest problem with synthetic stuff is disposing of it properly. If you just throw something like that on a dumpster you may get repercussions, and burning or burying works well, but you can’t do that as easily with a synthetic because of those folks again, they can get pissed if they think you have messed up some of their property (and that can be found everywhere, they are not completely restricted to ‘nature’ nowadays). 🙂

            1. ‘s why I say go for the Dwarves, or the Hobbits– they’ve got enough pride-of-craft that they’ll be sure to do a better job than you can do without being an expert, and the gremlins don’t feel honor bound to fight them. Rumor has it that half their suppliers are gremlin, which elbows out any over-reaching Nature Fairy.

            2. “That is, if you use natural plant parts. If you use synthetics at least you are spared the chance of making a mistake when trading, and do not have to worry about the folks that much.”

              DO NOT anger gremlins. They communicate, work together, and have really long memories. Failure to leave a can of Spam or a roll of duct tape at the petrochemical plant could make your broom, car, and oven unreliable for the rest of your life.

              Alternatively you could invest in gremlin hunters:

              1. If you trust the supplies you get from Gremlins, you deserve what you get. They feed on schadenfreude.

                1. Bah, my unspoken assumptions bork communication again– I automatically discounted any Gremlin suppliers that wouldn’t find supplying you to be a good, rather than supplying you with questionable stuff as the reward.

                  Part of why I prefer dwarf suppliers, again. They’re really good at pissing off people who piss of the gremlins.

    1. Large zucchinis are great for making the noodle portion of a low-carb lasagna… I once didn’t turn over all the leaves on a zucchini, and when I finally saw the one that I missed, it was the size of two footballs. Probably weighed 10 lbs. I was surprised that it was still good eating, and only needed to be peeled and seeded.

      1. Crest comes in cinnamon? I’ve been getting the frou frou stuff because it comes in cinnamon-clove.

        I only got one bag of cucumbers and squash last summer. Maybe I need to put a sign in the car window? I could use more!

          1. Tom’s of Maine Whole Care Fluoride Toothpaste – it comes in cinnamon-clove. Also is an Amazon add-on item for a 2-pack, so it takes a little planning to make a whole $25 order instead of picking up prime items as needed.

      2. You actually like that zucchini lasagna? I think I would rather eat week old, August roadkill.

        Now you can make zucchini bread with those big zucchinis, but I’m not sure how you make low-carb zucchini bread.

        1. Zucchini lasagna can be awesome or awful, depending on the prep and the recipe used. I’ve made great zucchini – and great – eggplant lasagna. I’ve also had experimental failures that were a waste of meat and went into the trash.

          1.) make sure your meat is seared, to get the richness of flavor.
          2.) remember zucchini / eggplant will add juice to the dish, whereas wheat pasta will soak up juice. Therefore, like adapting a stovetop dish to crockpot, you need to make sure it’s much drier – use tomato paste instead of tomato sauce, etc.
          3.) to cut down on the boiled-not-baked effect, slice the “noodles” beforehand, salt, weight, and let the juice get squeezed out.

          1. The first time I had it, it was vegetarian zucchini lasagna, not sure I’ve ever tasted a fouler pseudo-food. I later had it twice more by two different cooks, both times with meat. This was better for certain values of better, kind of like getting shot through the heart is better than getting shot through the guts. On the other hand it was a horrible waste of meat and cheese, and still has to rate in the top five most disgusting pseudo-foods I’ve ever tasted.

            Others may like it, but as for me the third time is the charm, I’ll never try it again unless I am well past the beginning stages of starvation.

            1. I understand completely – three times is plenty enough to ask you to try, and I wouldn’t expect you to face it down on my promises that it can be good, especially as I’m not physically present to tempt you with the lovely smell of a well done dish. Many’s the person that forms their opinion on only one taste, and refuses to even try a second; thank you for not being among them.

          2. This past month I experimented with “pizza zucchini”–baked zucchini with pizza toppings on top. The first time was good, but I decided that we needed to cut the zucchini into smaller pieces (we used a large zucchini from the garden) and that we needed to cut down on the moisture.

            The second time was at a reunion at a ranch in the mountains, prepared in a dutch oven. We decided to try couscous. A box of plain couscous seemed to work nicely to absorb all the moisture. Granted, it also adds carbs, but if you want a touch of carbs in the dish, that might not be a bad thing.

            1. Huh. When I did something like that, I just halved the zucchini, scooped out the seeds and some of the meat so there would be a bigger trench, then filled it with the toppings and sauce, covered with cheese, and baked until brown on top.

  2. You buy your laundry in pellet form? ‘Round heah mos’ folk just produce their own laundry the old-fashion way, by wearing it, playing in it, working in it an’ sleeping in it.

    1. Have you tried Amazon’s subscription service? Bulk quicklime delivered at regular intervals to serve all your quicklime needs. For Amazon Prime members the savings in shipping are significant and it is far more convenient that driving to Sam’s Club or Costco whenever supplies run low.

        1. Oh, you mean you don’t already have an extensive labyrinth of false identities, shell corporations and cut-outs established? Well, if you aren’t going to practice routine basic hygiene I don’t see much point trying to help you. I suppose your posts here aren’t routed through at least seventeen layers of international routings and false IP addresses?

        1. And there’s this lovely little gorge that lets out into marshland, waaaay back in the sticks of Southern Appalachia I know about… In a few years, all that would be left is some fat scavengers in the swamp.

          1. Most of Kansas is silly flat with approximately a mile of limestone underfoot but not enough water to form caves, and the only mining is in the far southeast corner, and the lead mines there are hardly abandoned.

            Fortunately, every landscape has its advantages. There’s no shortage of silage trenches. After running through a silage shredder and deposited over the top of silage, and the top restored, after a couple of weeks top forensics labs would be hard pressed to find any trace in the fermented stuff.

            Even in the early spring when the trenches are mostly empty, a thin layer of “ick” on the bottom will never be noticed as the first bursts of alfalfa or Sorghum are sprayed in.

            Of course, if you’re lucky enough to have access to a VERTICAL silo, all this discussion is moot.

            Grain elevators can work well too as long as you’re quite certain that the entire elevator will be turned through the over-turning screw a time or two before it gets sold and moved into a rail car. The primary purpose of the overturning screw in an elevator, of course, is to keep the grain dry and to kill any insects or vermin, but really, for larger protein masses disposal it’s perfectly effective.

            You do have to remember to rinse off the shredder, or the entry to the overturning screw… but then, every method has its things you have to remember.

        2. No need for that here in Colorado. There are enough abandoned mines all you have to do is find one. No need even for quicklime — it’s usually dry enough to mummify them. The hole the icepick makes through the eardrum is almost unnoticeable after a few years. Cause of death: “stroke”.

          1. Must be nice. Where I am, you have to dig through a few layers of limestone. At least it means you don’t have to go so deep to keep them from resurfacing. Just a layer of 100-200lb stones after the first foot or so, and they ain’t coming up any time soon.

            Have to fill in the sinkhole after a year or so, though.

        3. Large roving bands of feral hogs here in the metroplex, just have to keep things out of view until the midnight snack. Bobcats and coyotes will scatter the bones…

          1. Lucky people. Here, with the winter and all, corpses, or at least bones, can keep for years in the forest. And centuries in the swamps.

            Although there are a lot of forest and swamp around. So as long as you manage to get it there without leaving any proof that you dragged something in there it, and the previous alive version can’t be connected to you before the disappearance, it will probably not matter that sooner or later somebody finds it.

            Years ago I nearly stepped on something shallowly buried in a forest. At the time I assumed an animal – getting rid of large dead animals was a bit difficult even back then, disposing of them legally can be rather expensive so just burying the carcass quietly in the forest has been the preferred method on the countryside for a long time. But I have started to wonder afterwards. What I saw was one bloated side mostly covered in dirt, with a little bit of bare skin which could have been that of a pig showing. Or it could have been that of a human. Didn’t try to check (it was bloated…), never told anybody because I just automatically assumed pig. I have seen enough of those, piglets and adults as well as dead calves and cow remains during the years.

            Most likely it was a pig. I hope.

            1. If it had been human, you would have known from the smell.

              Human smells a lot like pig, but it is a giant kick in lizard-brain.

              (My folks found a guy who’d died in his sleep in Nevada…a few weeks earlier. We got sent back to the car as soon as a whiff came to mom’s nose.)

              1. Yep. Thanks. That is pretty much what I have told myself. The ‘pig’ came so automatically. I presume I would have felt at least some doubts on the scene if it had been something else.

              2. If it’s cold enough, or if the body was only put there when it was rather cold and hadn’t warmed up, the decomposition process slows. Bacterial and microbial growth, the stuff that makes the stinky smell, can be pretty close to stopped if the freeze is long and hard enough. It’s got to be pretty freakin’ cold to *completely* cover the smell, though.

                Yes, human does smell a lot like pig, even burnt ones (that sickly sweet odor tends to overpower *everything*). Bloat is still early in the decomposition stage, and marbling effect can make it look a little more like pig… But more than likely it *was* pig. Dead human, like Foxfier said, is pretty distinctive. It’s not something anyone who’s smelled it likely to ever forget.

              3. My dad found the body of a teenage girl while he was out hunting (Louisiana, 1964). It really disturbed me when I found out, because she was someone I’d met, and remembered. Really upset him, too. Mom said he had nightmares a couple of times a week for months afterwards (PTSD — Dad was in Europe during WWII, including being trapped in Bastogne).

                Louisiana is an easy place to dispose of bodies. Just dump ’em in the nearest bayou you KNOW has gators, and don’t worry about it.

                1. Oh good heavens, Mike, my adopted Grandfather was at Bastogne. 501st Airborne. To this day he can’t stand snow. Small world.

  3. TXRD: Oddly, you need to learn from rural Michiganders. You go to the grocery. You find the the car that’s unlocked, and stuff the poor souls automobile with as much zucchini as you can manage. Then you run away, and hope they don’t have a forensics team. Who knows, maybe they were hungry.

    This is why people locked their doors in my grandmother’s neighborhood. Because this tragedy could happen to you. Don’t get me wrong, I love zucchini bread, cookies, pancakes, omelets, tomatoes and zucchini side dishes, etc… but there is only so much room in the chest freezer. I need room for the bodies*. 🙂 You understand.

    *even if they are the dissected bodies of chickens, turkeys, deer, ducks, lambs, etc.

      1. I admit, I haven’t seen this happen in less than seriously rural areas. City slickers.. for shame! This is not a cultural improvement. I have been tempted to try a baba ganouj treatment of zucchini. Oh, a spaghetti squash wouldn’t be amiss either. That stuff us awesome.

          1. A phenomenon common among Midwest gardeners? You grow two zucchini plants, you inevitably have too many. It takes over your garden too– even invades the crabgrass. NO joke.

            I swear they self-seed on the first generation. Sarah, if you want excess zucchini next year, go ahead and get some seed and dump it in a corner of the yard you aren’t using. Water it when you remember– it largely grows itself.

            Maybe they are genetically related to kudzu. The hardest part is to bury the ripe ones before they rot.

            1. Maybe in the midwest. And in Alaska… but when I tried that in Tennessee, the plants molded. Fixed the mold, they got aphids. Fixed the aphids, they got “squash bugs” and no insecticide helped. I barely got anything out of those plants.

              1. Dorthy– that sounds like growing corn in Las Cruces, except the molds look like something out of Wes Craven’s bag of tricks. Oh yes, and the birds find the seed and run off with them moments after being planted. My job was to chase the birds away while she was planting. I thought the coons going after the fressh milk-ears were bad.

            2. When we moved into our first post-marriage garden-possible home (come to think of it, we still live here), I finally got to set up a vegetable garden.

              It was great, all things considered, except that in the mix I put in seven zucchini plants. All survived infancy.

              Think you’ve collected all the squash on all the plants and go away for a week-long vacation.

              And come back to several baseball bat-sized, and dozens of smaller, squash ready to pick. Still have the recipes.

              Including the mock apple pie. Thirty years later we dust off the recipe and make a couple of pies for church potlucks. If we don’t tell ’em, they don’t know it’s not apple.

      2. It happened around the college I went to (the first time), which was (at the time) on the outskirts of a large Southern city. Zucchini and tomatoes, and up in Iowa, one year there were also potatoes and a few pumpkins. As I said, I really should know better. I locked the doors on my vehicle, but should have left the porch light on, too.

      3. I didn’t plant any this year, and I still ended up with as much as I wanted. I love sliced zucchini, chilled and covered with a light sprinkling of oil and vinegar dressing. Timmy and I will plant plenty next year, just for you, Sarah.

  4. Do you think you’ve gone a little light on the stew beef? There’s four of you, and two of them are young men. Be it stew, pot roast, or roast beef, however much beef I get and however many friends I have over, there never seems to be much in the way of leftover beef. Vegetables and gravy, sometimes, but never meat.

  5. Darnit – you distracted me JUST long enough to get hungry. Thank you very much. I WAS wondering about the quick lime – do you mean Drano? What DO you use it for? ‘Quick lime’ pie?

    BTW, get Purina directly from manufacturer? If they will ship in bulk. I get the chinchilla food directly from Mazzuri, and, if I get 5 lbs at a time (she weighs 1.5 pounds), they don’t charge you shipping costs. Lovely. You pay the smaller bag price per pound – I’d have to get 25 lbs. otherwise, and I think it might outlast her lifespan of 15 years (they tell me) – but the food is reasonably fresh – and fresher than you can buy it anywhere else?

    Who knows. She’s eating it.

    Does anyone know if hay loses its nutritious properties if it’s a couple of years old? You rural folk? Maybe rabbit owners? I bought in bulk – pet store fees were getting ridiculous and their quality stunk – but now I’m wondering how long it is still ‘good.’ Alfalfa, Western Timothy hay, oat mix. Thanks.

    1. To my knowledge, it should be good as long as it hasn’t gotten moldy. Horses regularly wind up getting fed old hay in winters that come after poor summers, and it seems fine for them.

      1. Thanks you SO much, Wayne – it is dry, well aerated, not at all moldy, and in good shape – but of course getting older by the day. I give her the best bits – even if I throw 3/4 of the alfalfa out, for example, it will STILL have been far cheaper than buying the $5 bags – which don’t last and are mostly sticks (she eats just the leaves).

        I know, I know – tiny spoiled chinchilla. But she requires about 5 min of human company a day – does tricks during those minutes for her treats (ie, non-hay stuff), and that’s about as much energy as I have for a pet.

    2. Hay goes bad same as any other organic material, fats go rancid, proteins decompose, etc. Think of the difference between coffee grounds sitting out for years vs fresh roasted.

      Really, I hate feeding small animals (rabbits and etc…) anything much over a year old. I certainly wouldn’t feed two year old hay. Even at current prices a broken bale is just too cheap. You ought to be able to get a chilchilla’s worth of

      And, of course, it dries out and becomes less palatable. The worst things are excessive handling and moisture. Avoid that, and you’re certainly good for a year if it was fresh and soft when you got it.

      You ought to be able to buy a chinchilla’s worth of fresh late-spring mixed hay from anyone who keeps horses (go find a stable near you) for a buck or two by pulling a cubic foot or so off a fresh broken bale. Heck, bring the rodent and you might get it for free.

      1. I’ve tried finding easy places nearby – we always stop and ask when we go somewhere. I don’t get out much because of the energy it requires. I asked a friend who keeps rabbits (kept), and other small rodents – no dice yet.

        I will keep in mind what you said – and not give her the stuff that’s TOO old. At least the alfalfa pellets are always fresh with the way I buy them.

        You are confirming my suspicions – wish I COULD get just a small portion of a horse’s bale. They charge $20 for the bales of Timothy and alfalfa at the local agricultural store – gets a bit expensive if you have to keep buying them, but the store bought is more.

        Thanks for the advice.

    3. Yes, it will lose some nutritional value, but since she’s eating other stuff as well I don’t think it will be an issue. I know with our rabbits we made sure to have a salt block for ’em, and otherwise it was pellets and hay.

  6. I can figure out almost all the items on the list … but these are giving me difficulty:

    One container laundry pellets….
    2 cans leather polish

    Who is eating those?

    1. And only a single can of scale polish. Makes one wonder, you know? More boots than dragons to polish? Maybe she needs a really big leather couch for the dragons?

      1. They don’t sell those long lasting cakes of polish for leather anymore. Maybe Chicagoans are too hip for them.:(

        Besides, she never specified color.

        For all we know, the scale polish comes in oil drums per unit.

        It’s also possible that it’s the, ahem, elder gentlemanly dragons who use scale polish. Sorta like moustache wax. But we have to ask if said dragon speaks with a Prussian accent… I’m sure he will fight to preserve this material from being raided by the hipster dragons in his midst.

        *facepalm* Save us from the hipster dragons. *runs*

          1. Oh yeah, because I just had a little story appear. Dragon, in hoodie, with Buddy Holly glasses, who hordes 33 1/3 records and smokes Galois. “Yeah, I eat knights, but only for the irony.”

              1. You know you want to… The voices won’t stop until you do… You sleep schedule will suffer, your other projects will be mad… Write it… You know you want to…

                1. Yeah, because under the hoodie, the dragon is wearing a plaid bow tie and a New Kids on the Block tour shirt. I’m so going to get even with y’all.

                  1. Revenge is sweet, you can put it in your coffee!

                    Or, bring it on I can (probably) take it!

                    Whichever one gets you to write it…

                  2. Yes, well, dragons hoard things, right? What a pain it would be to a young one, whose hoard has *just* gone out of style… *chuckle*

                    Get even? Now why would a nice girl like you want to lower yourself to *our* level? Muahahaha….

          2. Read this story. It takes a bit to get to the hipsters — not dragons! — but it’s worth it.

            Indeed, I would say starting at the beginning is worth it. But if you’re after hipsters —

        1. I have noticed that some dragons employ scale polish sparingly, applying it only around the eyes and (ahem) certain other areas to focus attention. Indeed, I have heard them sniff dismissively at those deemed too profligate in their polish application and deride them as sluts.

            1. Does that involve a sort of rolling gait with a tail twitch or maybe a hips thrust back tail rigidly high inviting strut?

              How can you be sure a come hither look from a dragon is an invitation to dalliance and not to lunch?

              1. There was a you-tube a while back of a female-ish toy robot that had the slutwalk wired. The dragon in Shrek is pretty cute too when it trots off with Donkey in its mouth..

              2. You have to know whether the dragon species in question eats its mates afterward, cannibalizes smaller males most of the time, or preserves a strictly non-cannibalism policy at all times.

              3. Shoulda known after Sarah brought up that whole dino porn thing that it would devolve into this.
                Dragon porn, sheeesh!
                Excuse me, I have to go wax my lance.

                  1. Tell me Mr. Blackburn, are these fears of skewering a recurring nightmare?

                    Seems like a wax might be a bit viscous. Or are we talking hot wax? (Yipe!)

                    1. Vorpal wax, good for swords, lances, arrows, and any other piercing implement. Not for edible applications though. For that use Burt’s Beeswax.
                      Both available over the counter in Diagon Alley, or from any reputable magician’s supply web site.

        1. Silly man. All I have to do is throw the switch, and the landmines are re-activated. (And they call ME old-fashioned!)

  7. So you are stocking up on quick lime by buying a single container at a time. Smart. Looks less suspicious than buying large amounts all at once. For disposing of what the dragon didn’t eat, once it graduates from the baby food and takes up its duties?

  8. Sarah, move to Grand Junction. Used to be the only reason anybody locked their cars in G j was to keep folks from throwing in zucchini and tomatoes

      1. Saw it on Instapundit. Voted. He’s still in third place as of right now, but trailing second by a LOT less than when I first voted.

        1. He’s in the lead (slim) after my vote. I don’t have any friends that I can bribe/extort or threaten, so its up to the rest of you.

          1. Oooh, good, maybe they went through and purged the other votes! I can’t imagine that the chiropractor guy actually had hundreds of times the fans of Heinlein.

  9. I sense a new card game — a version of _Uno_, but using fresh vegetables….

    (“Dragon Twerking.” You’re welcome. >:) )

  10. Wow! ! ! That is the finest shopping list I’ve ever read. It even compares favorably with some of Gogol’s short stories.

    Naturally, it invokes the Quest theme. The tension builds up to the sour cream, then the final resolution comes in the third act at the weather stripping and the cat food (an oblique reference to a supposed cat-door).

  11. Almost forgot. I can get you just about as many of these as you might like, for about $5 each. Not corn, but they probably would fly just as well. And they are great for chasing neighbors!

    Of course, shipping would add a bit. Unless you can get them to fly over on their own? Should I get you a dozen or so?

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