Saturday, June 26, 2010

legal tender

Having recently returned from two June weeks in Idaho, I'm remembering my February visit and finally writing a post that dropped through the cracks at that time.

When we come back from separate trips, Steve and I generally bring small gifts for each other. My February gift to Steve was a bottle of Idaho wine. I told him about it in the car on our way home from LAX. He grinned cryptically and said he had something for me, too. A gift for the returnee has never been standard operating procedure, so I was really curious.

While I was in Idaho, Steve had taken his stash of coins* to a Coinstar machine when he learned that they don't deduct a percentage if you use your coins to buy a gift card or make a donation. He had converted his coins into an gift card which he proudly presented to me.

In a community-property state such as California or Idaho, gifts of money between spouses seem a little redundant if not downright strange, but the gift card made it seem festive. I immediately bought the immersion blender I'd been wanting, and was delighted that it was on sale and took only half the money.

A couple of weeks later, I was complaining about my ancient Sunset Western Garden Book. Steve suggested buying one at They didn't carry it, but I was able to buy the Sunset Western Garden Book of Edibles: The Complete A-Z Guide to Growing Your Own Vegetables, Herbs, and Fruits, with small change left over in the virtual coffee can of my Overstock account.

So now I can make better cream-style soups and prune our boysenberries correctly, thanks to purchases I might not have made in my normal mode of thriftiness. You might say Steve's thriftiness and mine had merged and morphed into a wonderful illusion of  largesse, adumbrated in Steve's giving of the Idaho wine as a birthday gift to a good friend.

As Steve often says, "It's the good life," in a frugal enough form for us pre-boomers to identify and accept

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*Steve is a saver and a coin collector. He goes through his change regularly to pull out anything of numismatic interest. The 'rejects' go into various categories, including a parking-meter fund of quarters.. He used to roll all the pennies and spend them at the 99 Cent Store, but they're not as gratefully accepted as they used to be, so he started throwing all his coins in a big coffee can.

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POSToccupations by Frances Talbott-White is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License