My refrigerator contains a pitcher of iced tea, a jar of yeast, another of mustard, and, when the mood strikes me once in a while, a pot of lentil soup. Oh–and the vegetable bin is filled with a collection of baking pans.

I like it that way. When I fed young children in the past, this appliance resembled the overstuffed refrigerators that I used to see only in Sears & Roebuck catalogs. Pictures of shelves that held exotic food like fresh tomatoes and cans of sugary sodas fascinated me as I grew up in rural Alaska but when I finally lived on my own, a fully stocked refrigerator lost all of its appeal. It implied obligation and duty, a long line of dismal meals devoted to left-overs and the need to avoid waste. 

The high point of my culinary career came when I lived in Bangkok, where I ate my meals at street stalls and my refrigerator held only fish sauce and bottled water. Now I live near a public market where I can buy fresh food on a whim, with its long lines of other shoppers with the same idea as its only drawback. This is why I bake bread, make that pot of soup, and fill my kitchen cupboards with spices, two different kinds of flour, lentils, and rice.

Although my refrigerator is a yawning cavern, my closet is full and I recently bought another bookcase. Priorities are important and I take good care that mine are observed. 

Seattle’s mercurial weather demands an assortment of coats. I have six: two raincoats, one for light summer drizzles and one for serious downpours; two coats for springtime’s rapid shifts in temperature; one for ordinary winter cold (not god forbid one that could be mistaken for a down comforter but a jaunty little faux-leopard number) and the ultimate weapon: a vintage wool coat that’s as old as I am, almost reaches my ankles and weighs at least twenty-five pounds even before it’s covered with snowflakes from a blizzard. These are all essential items of survival gear that occupy my closet space; everything else I’ve put there is garnish and pure therapy. When I buy clothes, my spirits are high. I keep each piece until it disintegrates and when that happens, the grieving period sends me out to buy more. The only downside to this is I never seem to have enough clothes hangers.

My closet brings me comfort but my bookshelves hold nourishment. I tell myself I buy books because I write reviews but the truth is I write reviews to justify my book purchases. While my supermarket visits are infrequent, rapid, and grudging, I can’t ignore a bookstore without feeling true pain and my flourishing relationship with alibris.com keeps me connected to used bookshops all across the country. When I travel, I never feel that I’ve really arrived in a new place until I’ve found, browsed, and at least one of its bookstores. To hell with teeshirts. The souvenirs I bring home are books–and occasionally a new dress.

I’m beginning to think it’s time for my refrigerator to justify its existence. Its shelves are the perfect place for a sweater collection, with enough space to hold a lot of large transparent zip-lock bags. Over the years, I’ve lost a staggering amount of sweaters to moths and this just may be the perfect solution.

Carrie Bradshaw may have filled her oven with fashion magazines but she overlooked the true potential of her biggest appliance. After all, yeast and mustard don’t really need to be kept cold, drinks are easily chilled with a few ice cubes, and vegetable soup can go into the freezer. 

Although I once tried to use my refrigerator as a bookcase, that experiment was a dismal failure. But turning it into a closet annex that will deter moths as efficiently as a cedar chest? Yes, indeed, that works–at least for me. A full refrigerator at last! What a concept…