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The little things

Cindy's last listWe’re pretty light-hearted around here — heck, we collect other peoples’ discarded grocery lists. The most serious we get is when we link to a news story about organic farming or new food label guidelines.

Whenever I’m interviewed about this collection, I try to explain how I enjoy seeing small parts of peoples’ lives, how I have a magnified appreciation for the little things in life — the mundane, the forgotten, the rundown and the lost. It’s difficult to explain and I usually don’t do so great of a job. But people still get a kick out of the lists, then they move on to some other interesting time-waster site.

But yesterday we got an email from someone that truly touched on why it is we love these lists. Usually, our grocery lists are very ephemeral, very unimportant. Much like the one right here that Cindy Stewart from Boise, Idaho made, probably sometime in early March 1985. Anyway, this is the email I got, with permission to post it here:


This is the last list my sister made before she was killed on March 15, 1985. Since her birthday is tomorrow (Jan 15, 1959) I thought I’d send it in. She was the victim of a jealous lover. She was a wonderful person, though — a big partier, very social — happy.

I think the list was in the ashtray of her car, which is why it was all wadded up.

I don’t know why I saved it. I guess I just didn’t want to let any of her go.


Our hearts are with Teresa and her family today. And we hope you take a moment to think about and appreciate the people and all the little things that color your lives.

Update: An essay based on this post ended up appearing in my book, Milk Eggs Vodka: Grocery Lists Lost and Found.