Two Shopping Adventures – Part 1

I’m not much of one for spending a lot of money and I love books so when I heard about the Border’s half off one item coupon, it was a pretty sure thing that I would find some way to get to Border’s! The facts:

1. I love to browse in bookstores and libraries.

2. I love to take my time when doing so.

3. Having children along in any capacity makes those two things virtually impossible.

4. I had not been in a bookstore sans children for a good 5 years.

So, when Phred suggested that I go to the bookstore, without the children, I should’ve immediately flown out of my seat and been in the van heading to the store before he could blink. Instead, I hemmed and hawed about the matter. Should I really go? “Yes, I should,” he insisted. But I was tired and maybe I should just stay home. “No. Go to the bookstore,” my husband insisted once more.

“Oh, okay, I’ll go!” Joyfully, but with a bit of trepidation (after all, this was now the unknown), I gathered my things – no baby things, just mine – and headed out the door. Of course, we’d just bought a new (to us) mini-van, the epitome of mom-dom, and our CDs had not yet been moved into it. The radio had nothing good on so I drove in silence while pondering the madness that was going shopping without anyone but myself for company.

When I got to the store, it was a very exciting feeling. Here I was! At a bookstore! By myself! Wow! What a novelty. Of course I’ve been without my children from time to time since becoming a mother. I don’t stay with them 24/7, but usually when we find a sitter, it’s because I’m going somewhere with my husband or somewhere for my midwifery apprenticeship. I don’t think I’ve ever had a sitter just for me to go out and do something for me which probably sounds a little sad, but it just hasn’t been a priority. I enjoy my children and being with them. They’re only this small once and for a short time. But yes, that’s why this was such a novel experience.

So, I walked into the bookstore trying not to talk to myself out loud because I’m so used to talking to… someone… a child, my husband, my mom… I’m unaccustomed to being completely alone in public. Then I wandered around aimlessly for a good 20 minutes while I tried to remember how to focus all my attention on book-browsing without my attention being divided between browsing and keeping small children safe and within my line of vision at all times.

Eventually, I remembered – it’s so cliche, but yes, it was like riding a bike. Next, to figure out what I wanted! I had no idea. I tried the sci-fi section, but that didn’t seem quite right. I tried the history and biography section, but no, again, I was looking at books that I felt I ought to want to buy (and some were awfully tempting, like that brand new book about alcohol prohibition! I must get that one from the library one of these days…) instead of trying to find the one perfect book that “spoke” to me in just the right way.

I thought of a book that I’ve been wanting to buy for a while so I searched for it on the store’s computer. No luck. They didn’t even carry it new anywhere – just used – and I wanted to buy something that day. My goal, you see, was to buy a book that I could read a bit of while relaxing in the cafe and sipping a lovely, hot chai tea latte before heading home.

Thwarted, I wandered off again and found myself in the gardening section. Cool! Books about native trees and birds and landscaping for my region… they even had Joel Salatin’s book You Can Farm which is one I’d eventually like to buy. Interspersed between all the regular gardening books were more books about marijuana cultivation than I had ever seen before and I used to work at a store that sold hemp products and had a goodly selection of marijuana cultivation and “idea” books. This was endlessly amusing to me, given that I live in a fairly conservative part of the southern United States.

So I browsed through the gardening section for a while. Checking out all the titles and pulling out a few to look at more closely. Finally I chose an Audubon guide to plants and animals and birds in my region. I thought that it would be nice for the children and for Phred and myself to be able to identify those things when we go on walks.

But… I wasn’t totally sure. Because I had planned to buy a reading book, not just a reference book and I wanted to buy a book just for me because that really never happens anymore. So I regretfully put the book back on the shelf.

The next book I chose was a great one! It was all about landscaping and good plants to use in our state. Which ones were native and which ones were good at attracting butterflies and other creatures… most importantly, which ones could grow in mostly shade because that’s what our yard mostly has. But… no… this wasn’t a book to sit down and read. It was a reference book! “Stop picking up reference books and find a book that ‘speaks’ to you!”

That’s when I looked again at the very first shelf I had checked out – the one that had the Joel Salatin book on it – and I found it. A book about a doctor who only makes $11,000 a year for tax evasion purposes. She, this doctor, also lives in a 12’x12′ house which absolutely fascinated me! I knew at once that it was the right book. One that I can learn from and enjoy. One that I don’t agree with completely, but that I agree with enough. One that is a true story, but flows nicely like a novel.

I purchased my book for about $7 total (with the half of coupon) and headed to the cafe where I was able to sit in one of the cushy arm chairs and revel in the first chapter of my book before heading home, rejuvenated, to be engrossed for a time by the needs of my three little people.

And, yes, this trip happened several days ago. And no, I haven’t been able to read any more chapters, but I will, and I am looking forward to it!

Never, before becoming a parent, would I have dreamed that a simple trip to the bookstore could be so wonderfully intoxicating. I love my children more than I can express and I love being with them – all the more so because their needs that I fulfill make something so seemingly commonplace as a trip to the store by myself into a wondrous adventure.

The next adventure involves the children and I’ll write about it later. I hadn’t expected this post to end up being so long 🙂

~B.

The Augusta Downtown

Saturday was a very enjoyable day. The day started off with a lovely breakfast of eggs and bacon wrapped in tortillas and then we hit a great children’s rummage sale at a local church. Nayna got her heart’s desire of a new bathing suit ($2) and each girl got one summer outfit consisting of a tank top and shorts ($3 total). Not bad.

Then we headed to downtown Augusta, GA to get some seeds and soap from the organic gardening store. After we parked (a little ways away since our reverse lights aren’t hooked up so we can’t really park right off the street in front of the store itself) and crossed the street, we passed by a little booth with a bunch of reusable bags and coupon books on it. A nice gentleman on a bike asked us if we’d like to buy a coupon book ($5) and/or a bag ($1) and we decided on one of each.

The coupon book deal was pretty nice! In the book were at least 25 coupons for free or reduced items from participating downtown businesses. It was wonderful for us in particular because, being new to town and not having much money at the moment, we were able to actually check out some of  the locally owned businesses without having to spend any money immediately.

We first checked out a lovely coffee shop called the New Moon Cafe and sampled some of their delicious scones. My husband sampled some of their coffee and pronounced it to be quite decent. He’s very much a coffee snob so that’s saying a lot.

Our next stop was the Book Tavern which is a place in which I could easily spend a million dollars or countless hours perusing. They sell some new books, some used books, and some rare books. They also sell the awesome little moleskin notebooks that are so handy to carry around in a purse or pocket. We found a book we liked for free and my husband also bought a book he’d been thinking about ordering off the internet. Saving on shipping while supporting a local business for the win!

Next we stopped by T-Boys Po-Boys for a free sample of Jambalaya. Oh man… it was heavenly! Pork and rice with just the right amount of spice. We savored it while it lasted, which wasn’t very long…

Then we were off to Oasis Garden next door to pick up our nasturtium seeds, Dr. Bronners soap bar, fresh salad mix, and free basil start! The owner of Oasis Garden is a wonderful lady who is extremely friendly and knowledgeable. We were able to meet her fiance that day who runs an organic garden in the Hammonds’ Ferry development in North Augusta, SC. He gave us some pointers about the climate and garden pests in the area and was also just a very nice person.

At this point, the children began to run a little amok since it was getting very close to their naptime. So we exited Oasis Garden and quickly stopped by Cloud 9 which is a soap, jewelry, and other nice scented things store. We picked out a free sample of handmade travel soap and my husband got some pointers for shaving with soap – both the hows and the whys – from the soap-maker/owner.

Nayna was very hungry at this point so before heading back to our VW bus, we stopped by one of the bars for a free hotdog. The girls and I had to wait outside in the cold, but it was worth it! The bun was a little stale and there weren’t any condiments, but the hotdog itself was delicious! The four of us shared it and then headed back to the bus.

All in all, it was a great time! We met so many nice store owners and the shops themselves were just incredible and very reasonably priced even. Augusta has more to it than meets the eye at first glance – there’s a lovely stretch of Broad Street where all the cool stores hang out. We didn’t even get to go to all the stores we wanted to visit so we’ll definitely be going back! Next time we’ll be armed with some spending money and will arrive well before naptime.

~B.

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