We replaced kitchen cupboards at our cottage on the weekend.
The old ones had been there for decades—probably since the 1950s when my father-in-law bought the place. They were functional, but not perfectly so. The drawers, without sliders, squeaked closed, wood against wood. One cupboard door was hung crooked and sprang open again if not closed with authority.
I was excited to replace the old cupboards with units that had proper shelving and drawers the slid home easily with a quiet thunk at the end.
And then we took the old ones apart.
Those gliders on the wooden drawers? Hockey sticks. (Canadian stereotype alert!)
The side panels were pieces of used decorative paneling (that I suspect he picked up for free from a discard pile somewhere). Every screw used to cobble the whole thing together was different. He’d obviously empty every jar of used screws in his work shed.
We bowed down to the skillful frugality of my father-in-law, the King of Making Do. What we found behind the smooth white front was a masterpiece of creative re-purposing that gave new meaning to the term “custom kitchen.”
He was teenager during the Great Depression and those years of poverty marked him. He lived Refuse, Reduce, Reuse, Re-purpose, Recycle before it became an environmental mantra.
It was marvelous. And so beautiful.
Syd, if you’re out there somewhere, I hope you know that I am bowing down to your work and the beauty of making do.
I attended an afternoon event held at a venue usually reserved for nighttime activities. As I stood listening to speeches, I looked up at this tall ship on a high shelf, lit by a combination of daylight and interior lighting that would not normally be on when customers were in the establishment.
I was struck by both the beauty and the ew factor. In fact, the beauty is made possible because of the ew factor.
Without the dust on the delicate strands of rope on the foundering ship the effect of the light would be less striking.
Something that needed cleaning up had been hidden and ignored. Light made things clear, and somehow beautiful.
The idea helps me this week. The lesson “sailed to me” when needed, as they so often do. I hope it helps you too.
The public library where I work is attached to a high school. The students come and go around us every day.
Today’s teenagers are something else. They are open and honest about aspects of life I either didn’t understand when I was their age, or wouldn’t have talked about with anyone. Sometimes I need to hold on to something to regain my balance when I catch some of their conversations.
They’re also freely creative. For poetry month, we set up a poetry station.
I love the art they created—en anglais et en français In Ottawa, Canada
I don’t. The frugal former farmgirl part of me is uncomfortable with impractical spending. Why spend money on a luxury that will die in a few days?
Praises be, I raised a city daughter who thinks differently. She willingly spends money on touches of beauty: plants with character, fresh flowers and unique throw pillows. (Frugal former farmgirl says, Throw pillows? Useless!)
Last week my daughter brought home pussy willows.
Boom! She transported me back to my childhood farm near a wooded area where pussy willows grew wild. In my barn-chore gum rubber boots, I’d walk through the soggy marshland in the spring and run my fingers over the soft pussy willow buds.
I wondered how many people in our oh-so-urban society are lucky enough to have such a beautiful memory. I felt privileged and full of gratitude.
My daughter, spending her money so willingly, bought more than fresh flowers. She bought a long-forgotten cherished memory, an appreciation for my carefree childhood, and gratitude for how her different approach to life makes mine richer.
Those aren’t luxuries, and they won’t die in a few days.