Monday, October 15, 2012

Using What You Have

When you don't have what you need, you need to use what you have.

 My grandpa's generation may have been the last to truly understand this. He was a teenager during the great depression, and his father was, well, as near as I can tell, a tightwad, skinflint, miser, or a few dozen other words used to describe someone who was not about to give up one red cent more than was absolutely necessary. Between the economy and Granddaddy, Grandpa had some interesting life lessons. He never throws anything away...ever.  My best friends father was the same, keeping used spark plugs "just in case".  Both men grew up in a time when money was scarce and both were incredibly talented when it came to "makin' do". Using what was laying around to make what they needed.

This blog is not about being miserly, rewashing plastic bags or counting squares of toilet paper (although if you want to do that, knock yourself out). Its more about not spending what you don't have to. We live in tough times, and its times like these when a little creativity can make our money go a little farther. I think most people understand that saving a dollar here can add up. Its about making the most and the best of what you have. Its about thinking outside the box to see possibilites, and its sharing those possibilities with our neighbors.

For example,  I wanted to run get some electrical cords off the floor. I knew I could go buy some zip cords and some of those little hooks you can nail into the wall or ceiling that will hold cords up and out of the way, but one, I didn't want to spend the money that I might need for milk or something later in the week, and two, I didn't want to spend the gas to make a thirty minute round trip into town. I did something I'd seen my dad do a hundred times. I walked around my house to see what I had that just might work instead. I don't remember now exactly how it came to me, but I decided to see if I could use my staple gun to attach twist ties to the ceiling. Yes, that worked, but the twist ties were too short for what I needed. Ok, so we'll use two twist ties. Two years later, those cords are still up there. I'm not even sure why I kept those twist ties, but I'm sure glad I did.

My neighbor and landlord, David, takes the concept to a whole different level. His front gate rolls on four old lawn mower tires. He made one of those things that takes tires off the rims with an old metal bed frame. Now thats thinking outside the  box.

I'll be the first to admit that most of the time, I don't know what I'm doing, but I keep trying...and thats the point. I keep trying and sometimes it works. Like those fabulous meals that we can never make again because we don't remember what we put in them. It was just a little of this and a little of that.

I've always kind of had a thing for the old ways of doing things. Its kind of been in the back of my head that I might need that knowledge some day. Yes, I am thankful that I don't have to scrub clothes on a wash board, but I would like to know how to do it..just in case. I would like to make soap and candles, sew my own clothes and put up my own food. I see goats and chickens in my future too. Some of that I'm working on now and will share my trials and errors here with you.

But until then, I'll keep using what I have.