Friday, August 28, 2009


I come from frugal parents, who were raised by my frugal grandparents who lived through the depression, who came from frugal Scottish immigrants. Did you know that copper wire was discovered by two Scotsmen? They were fighting over a penny. BADUMP BUMP.

I follow up to say it wasn't the penny that was important, but the principle of the thing. In our family, we live and would willingly die for our principles. Which can come across as noble or very, very stupid.

Only very recently have I been able to give away anything that works perfectly well but I just don't want it any more. Even harder is to allow myself to buy a new one while the old still lives. Two examples come to mind.

When I had a lot less money than I do now and raising two children on my own, I had an iron that I hated. I hated it when I got it and I hated it worse as the months went by. I can't explain fully why I hated it so bad but it was butt-ugly. But it worked. I let it "fall" more than once in the faint hope that it would descend in to irredemable disrepair, but it turned out to be a very sturdy butt-ugly iron. I had that old thing for years before a final smack on the cement floor demolished any hope of useful life. I had so much fun shopping for a new iron, and that new silly thing gave me so much pleasure.

The second example was a much-loved slow cooker. Now it was probably butt-ugly too, but it was reliable and it made great meals. Slow cookers are a working woman's best friend. But like any well-used appliance, it did begin to show it's age. It had hardened grease stains down it's side. It was that ubiquitous almond color that appliances from the eighties thought was "neutral".

When I was refreshing my kitchen, I decided to spray paint the cabinet handles rather than buying new. A single handle isn't that expensive, but then add them all up. You can't imagine how many cabinet handles you can squeeze in to a little kitchen. Lots of cabinet handles, big expense to replace. So I got an "old leather" spray paint kit and re-did all the handles. The results are charming, if I do say myself. But then the ghosts of grandparents past kicked in, and I thought, why stop there? There's plenty of paint left. That morning I also re-covered our wood-grain microwave (we still have it) and that butt-ugly slow cooker.

Hubby got up and saw our appliances out on the lawn and looking....different. What had I done? The microwave is not so bad, but the slow cooker never did look the same. It's tough to imitate the manufacturer's edge between painted steel and liner. It's going to look home-made. Home-made appliances don't inspire confidence.

We bought a new slow cooker within the month, while the old still lived. I covered over it's dial as I gently removed it from my home, so it did not have to see it's replacement. A good old appliance deserves some dignity.
I borrow the appliance picture from Donnaz Chaos' blog. Thank you, Donna.