Fasting from unnecessary spending
becoming universal theme

1001029_017400100773_A_400DAY THREE _ Who’d have ever thought? Today, I walked into a supermarket, bypassed the carts and picked up exactly what I’d planned: rice, a pre-roasted chicken and pasta sauce (that I can, as they say on American Idol), make my own. I paid with $20 and got $6 change back.

And I left.

I didn’t peruse the cheese or international aisles. I didn’t pick up snacks. I didn’t grab any of the dozen things that, last week, I would have pulled off shelves just because I’d seen a recent commercial.

I am doing the fast, or as Roland Martin would say, “I’m doin’ the daggone thang.” And I still can’t believe it.

But I did cheat.

My Starbucks card already had money on it, money that I can’t use for anything else, so I got a coffee. And I talked to the barrista on duty, like I have with every other person I’ve encountered, about what I was doing – the 21-Day Financial Fast designed by The Washington Post’s Michelle Singletary. She stunned me.

“I do my own fast every December,” she said of a program she designed that also is spirit-based. Every year, she said, she changes her payroll deduction to a printed paycheck. She buys Christmas gifts and accoutrements only with cash. And it works for her. (Her husband, she said, used his credit card at Target to buy a single DVD and had to replace all of his debit and credit cards).

I thanked her for her story, and I took the short way out of the store, rather than the long final walk I usually do – more focused than ever. I didn’t even buy a lottery ticket.

So I still have $6 and a resolve to finish this Financial Fast.

The veterinarian asked me to cook what?

I knew something was wrong when I walked in from a debate watch Monday night, and there was no pitter-patter of little feet at the door.  It has been years since my lovey, Desi, had not run to the door from whatever comfortable perch he had found to demand that I transition quickly from newsroom slave to his slave.

But I opened the door, and nothing happened. I called out. Nothing. My heart began to pound.

By the time I got to the stairs, he was coming down, quickly and quietly – not slow and tentatively. He was almost himself, except he didn’t bark. And he didn’t jump.

I kept an eye on him. I checked his food dish. I manipulated his four limbs and checked his stomach. Nothing bothered him. Well, except half-ass walks.

During a full week of fighting a virus that had me bed-ridden, his walks were more less walk and more stand. I could barely make it to the end of the block, so his beloved jaunts through the neighborhood had become bathroom breaks. It didn’t matter that we were doing them four times a day.  They were too short.

By Wednesday, he had decided he was sick of food. Even with a regular walks resumed, he still looked like he felt puny. He didn’t even wake me up in the mornings. He always would wake up before I did, eager to get out the door.

On Wednesday evening, he threw up while we were walking. He didn’t eat his dinner. Thursday, he ate only half his food. Early Friday morning, he threw up in the middle of the night.

So Friday morning, we walked down to the vet, where everyone, for just a minute, stopped working. They all love him art his vets. They know he’s the world’s best dog.

The vet checked his teeth, lymph nodes, chest, stomach. His temperature was normal. His reaction to being poked was normal. He was even bouncing around, tail wagging.

The doctor said it was probably something he ate. The doctor said that it might if, for two days, I cooked for him, something bland like boiled chicken and rice.

I just looked at her.

Then I said OK.

Then I picked up the phone, fully intending to call my late grandmother who as walked me through cooking anything my entire life. But she has been done now 12 years now.

And that is the last time I cooked rice.

Things turned out OK. I grabbed Success “rice in a bag” and some boneless chicken breasts and a Dutch oven from the supermarket. I followed the instructions and then promptly went online and forgot that anything was boiling on the stove.

Ten minutes later, the smell of burning plastic sent me racing to the kitchen.

I had left a plastic spatula on the stove – too close to the gas burner. It was melting exactly when I was supposed to stop cooking (Cue “Twilight Zone” music).

The rice was perfect. The chicken was, uh, chicken.

Desi devoured it. He’s better. He’s taking a nap now. And I know that I can, indeed, cook rice.

And I will do so for people one day real soon.