Updated: Ha! Replenishing my "Panty" --- ha! Spell check sure didn't catch *that* one, did it??? Although that reminds me, I do need some new underwear .....
You know, the thing about moving is that not only is it a lot of work, but parts of it can be expensive. Curtains never seem to fit, bathroom rugs and accessories are always the wrong size and/or color, decorative and organizational needs can change from house to house. The kitchen island that was perfect in your last house is six inches too long for your new kitchen. Or you suddenly have an entryway that requires some kind of table or hutch or bench or something, for goodness’ sake. Luckily for me, I like to shop, so it works out ok.
I also like to grocery shop (WAY unlike Blaine, who would rather submit to a full body waxing than go to the store) which is good, because re-stocking the pantry and fridge and freezer is always a big project whenever we move. The movers will always pack up all our dry goods, but they won’t bring anything liquid like oils or sauces. Sometimes they pack them anyway, which is not a good idea, as we discovered thanks to a broken jar of Tabasco sauce this go-round. They won’t pack batteries, they won’t pack cleaning supplies, and they won’t pack (for obvious reasons) anything frozen or refrigerated. While we can pack the cleaning agents and bring them ourselves, it’s not like we can throw our meats and cheeses and chicken breasts and frozen vegetables and Stouffers lasagna and ketchup and milks and eggs in a laundry basket and drive them across country. Normally, we just give it away on one end and go shopping on the other end to replenish it all --- that’s what military families do. Or at least that’s how we’ve always handled it.
Like I mentioned earlier, I like to grocery shop. But I am a bona-fide, 100 percent, no doubt about it, grocery store snob. I want to shop in a grocery store that is big and bright and clean, with wide aisles, and plenty of selection. I want a deli and a bakery, and a pharmacy is nice, too. A food court offering DDP would warrant a big two-thumbs-up from me. I want it to be pretty (hence the reason Wal-Mart is ruled out.) I want there to be PLENTY of choices when it comes to food … plenty. Ninety-two varieties of sausage is a good example. Italian? Chorizo? Kielbasa? Knackwurst? Toulouse? Smoked? Cured? Hot? Extra Hot? Spicy? Mild? Pork? Beef? Turkey? You know what --- we don’t even EAT sausage. But by golly, if I go to the store to buy some, I want to see every shape and size and variety on the PLANET from which to choose. *THAT* is my idea of a good grocery store -- lots and lots and lots of choices.
Now, as you know, one of the perks to being in the military is getting to grocery shop in the base commissary. And while yes, the majority of items are somewhat cheaper, I’ve definitely had to compromise my grocery-store-snobbery over the years. I mean, these are defense installations, and the condition of the commissary (in buildings that are often many, many, many years old) is often indicative of the state of the defense budget.
I still appreciate getting to shop there, where boneless skinless chicken breasts are $1.89 a pound, instead of the five or six dollars a pound they are at the local store. But not all the savings are that good, and possibly some things are just as expensive as their civilian counterparts. Also, the commissaries normally aren’t large enough to humor my ridiculous consumerism wants. When space is at a premium, I *GET* that they can’t stock seventeen varieties of Pringles. But occasionally, they will be out of something I want. Out. I went to the commissary in Georgia once and they were out of sugar. Completely OUT. How is that even possible? And another time, they were out of the chicken breast, which resulted in me calling Blaine on my cell and shouting about "what a stupid, stupid, stupid commissary this was and how freakin’ ridiculous is that!?!?!?" (Why I thought he should be able to do something about it, from our house, ten miles away …. I have no idea. But sometimes you just need to call someone and vent.)
And, the hours stink at the Georgia commissary. Open at 9am, close at 7pm, and closed on Mondays. And closed on Tuesdays if Monday is a holiday. And it’s always packed, with tons of veeeeeerrrrrrry slow-moving veterans (who I am totally respectful of, because it won’t be long until that is ME, and it seriously brings a lump in my throat when some old guy has on a WWII baseball cap, and for a brief moment I don’t even mind that he’s got his cart parked right in the middle of the damn aisle while he browses denture cream.) But see? If the aisles were wider it wouldn’t even be an issue but they are not so IT IS. So really, shopping at the commissary has never been my ideal, but I’ve always done it because it seemed cost effective.
So this week, when it was time for me to make the traditional “Replenishing of the Panty” commissary shopping trip at the new base, I primed myself for a day of agony. We had nothing. And my list? Was long. We live half an hour from the base, so I knew I needed to make the trip worthwhile and not drive out there accidentally on a day the commissary was closed. I double-checked the calendar that it wasn’t Monday, got directions from Blaine, and took off, anticipating a grueling ordeal of squeezing through the aisles, getting stuck behind all the retirees, and not being able to get many of the things on my mile-long list. We have a spare fridge and a spare upright freezer in the garage. The freezer was completely empty --- as in, not one thing inside. The fridge had two Sprites in the door. THAT is how much grocery shopping I needed to do. So, deep breath, here we go.
When I pulled into the parking lot, I thought the building looked rather large, but we all know looks can be deceiving. And, the commissary is attached to the BX, so probably that was why it looked so big. I couldn’t find the cart corral, and thought, “Great, here we go …. They have so few carts they’re already all taken and I’ll have to stand in line and wait for one.” (Which, yes, that has happened to me quite often at the commissary.)
Then, I walked through the doors, and oh. My. Gosh.
This place is HUGE! Easily twice as big as my last commissary, if not more. It is only two years old, clean, well-lit, and plenty of space. Plenty of carts located inside, and EIGHTEEN check out lanes --- all of which were actually manned, which I discovered to my delight when I got ready to check out and didn’t have to wait in line. They are open seven days a week, from 7am until 8pm, although my bagger warned me not to come on Sundays if I can help it because that’s their busiest day.
I found (are you ready for this?) EVERY SINGLE THING on my grocery list. They have a deli, bakery, florist, international foods department, sushi department, and a sitting area with complimentary coffee for the folks who need to take a breather. How stinking cool is that???? (Note to self: must start drinking coffee.) Now granted, the store is set up completely backwards than my last commissary, so I was a little disoriented. In fact, I had to wander for a few items, and actually got quite a work-out, pushing those full carts up and down the long aisles. But the entire time, I was gazing with wonder at the wonderful wonderfulness of my new commissary.
I spent two and a half HOURS inside, shopping.
I spent $485.58.
I think it was the happiest commissary experience of my life.
I thought I couldn’t be any more satisfied, until I got home and put away my groceries.
My friend Jadine has asked for photos of our new house, so I’ll start here, with my pantry. My pantry, which is the biggest pantry I’ve ever had, full from my Replenishing Adventure. This pantry is bigger than Brayden’s bedroom in our old house. (OK, that is a slight exaggeration. But only slight.)
You know that sound Tim the Tool Man Taylor makes when he walks into a hardware store? That sort of grunting in satisfaction? That is the sound I now make (this is the nine-parts dork I confessed to earlier) whenever I open my pantry door.
Or perhaps a better description is the sound Wayne and Garth make whenever they are excited about something:
I mean, seriously, is it normal for a grown woman to derive such joy from a stupid pantry??? I think perhaps I have a defective gene or something, that I can feel such happiness from a well-stocked pantry. And please, no smarmy comments about how all my canned goods are arranged by section with all the labels facing forward. If you don't appreciate the beauty of my organizational skills, then I don't need to know about it. For now, let's just all take a deep satisfied breath and pretend to enjoy the beauty of the pantry.
But look at it, it's huge! Or at least huge as far as I'm concerned. Of course, I have no doubt I'll still manage to run out of something before the next shopping trip.