Monday, July 10, 2017


"Waste not, want not" is an admonition passed down for several centuries to "we people" who believe it is wise to conserve, to save, to protect "whatever".

Being frugal and/or thrifty is a mindset passed down through generations of our ancestors who knew the value of "making do" or "do without". Continuing with this embedded thought process, many people today are choosing a minimalist lifestyle. There are many books, blogs and Facebook and Meetup groups available to those of us who are making frugal and thrifty choices each day.

Reaching back into my own family history, it's evident that many of our ancestors practiced a "thrifty/frugal" lifestyle not because of "want" but because it was required and imposed upon them by two world wars and "The Great Depression", There are Great Depression cookbooks and plenty of recipes for SPAM!

My mother's parents "made do" and died in their 40's. Seven children were orphaned and split apart. The oldest daughter (Mama, now Angel Lois) became the surrogate mother to her younger siblings. Her sewing skills kept all of us (including three of her own children) well-dressed. She herself was always well-groomed and elegant in her own "designer " outfits. We were "poor" and often without funds. After the war our home was a tenant farmhouse without running water and an outhouse. We finally had running water, but never an indoor toilet at that home.

Our history of "second-hand" would mean that clothing would be passed down from person to person, family and friends, included. We would remake garments into something "new". I remade a winter coat from my Aunt Gretna as one of mt 4-H projects. My sister and I were wondering what happened to our beautiful  prom dresses and other incredible garments made by Mama. Conclusion: they were "recycled" down the family line or to next-door neighbors and friends.

Daddy worked at Cleveland Wrecking and Liquidators during our years at Potter Farm Lane (1945 to 1955). He was an inventor, too. He would bring home items that became furniture. Old army cots were used for our relatives' long summer visits. Daddy made beautiful furniture from piano lids, end tables and a dining room table, too. I still have one of his "door" and "pipe leg" tables at my art studio. It served as my desk for years. And, here in the cottage, I have a beautiful wooden office chair that came from one of Daddy's "recycle stuff" employers.

Mama, too, ran our local "Heart Mart" on Route 125 in Withamsville, Ohio. It was wonderful! I got a winter coat for 10 cents. I still have a crystal amber necklace from a button box! The green crystal one was stolen years ago and I've tried to find one like it for my entire lifetime. Thrift store shopping is an adventure and entertainment as well as SAVING by not buying retail!
Mama restored this buffet.

Our parents knew how to take something old and save it. Mama "rescued" an exquisite buffet from a porch. She restored it and found a marble top for it. I have it and enjoy knowing that Mama saved it from a trash heap.

As I take inventory of all the "stuff" around me, the stories (provenance) of these items are more important to me than the item itself. Each item has its own story even if it no longer has someone to pass the story down to another person. Walking along the aisles of a thrift shop makes me wonder about whose dishes were those? Who painted that picture? Who read this book?
Detail of Mama's restoration work.

Little by little items accumulate and eventually reach the point of "time to return and recycle to the universe".

It's an on-going process. Having my "Society of Too Much Stuff" Meetup Group has helped me know what to keep, what to pitch. And, remembering what Edgar Gibson says, "Keep only those things which have special meaning." I know that it's time to rethink such thinking.

Now what do I need? What do I want? Nothing more today!

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