Friday, March 6, 2009

What Can You Buy for a Buck?

Continuing the theme of feeling so blessed by those I've met because of my writing life, today's post is about two friends of mine, a mother-daughter team, from Wisconsin. I met Robin and Helen at the Wisconsin Reading Association Conference a year or so ago. Robin is a college prof, fellow bookworm and completely delightful person but it was her mom, Helen, who stole my heart. Helen just plain enjoys life. And, like my mom, she doesn't let near-blindness from macular degeneration stop her from doing anything. So Helen is up there on my top ten list.

We write back and forth -- letters, not emails -- sharing the trials and tribulations of trying to write. Last summer, a letter from Helen raving about a new fruit she'd tried called a Plucot sent me in search of one (actually, there are many varieties. I tried the Dinosaur Egg kind and it was yummy.) Recently, she wrote asking for a school memory because she was collecting them for an essay. Yesterday's gray skies were brightened by another letter from her, this one with money inside! A whole dollar. And with this question: what can you get for a buck? (caveat: you can't go to the dollar store)

There are lots of ways, of course. But I'm on a veggie kick right now, not able to get enough of the wonderful snap parsnips add to almost anything. And I'd just gone to the store so had a receipt. I'd bought 4 parsnips for about $2. So 2 would no doubt cost me a buck. And well worth it for the flavor they add to my new favorite recipe, Chicken Not Pie, from Food Matters, by Mark Bittman.

What could you get for a buck? And, maybe more importantly, how would your character spend a crisp one-dollar bill?


  1. Oh, this is fun. My character is living in 1913 Chicago, and I THINK a bit of money may play a big part in her story. So now I need to go and find out exactly what she will be using that money for and how far that $1 would go toward it.

    Me--unfortunately, probably candy. :)

  2. My protagonist uses her very first allowance in the book to buy stationary and stamps to write her mother. As I'm starting her third (and final!) book, it's still her favorite way to spend a dollar.

    Myself...I'd have to think about that one:)

  3. Isn't this a fun exercise? Certainly for those of us doing historical research, it would push us to find that one great telling detail. But I suspect it would also help someone writing contemporary fiction in getting to know their characters.