If It’s Broke ‘Round Here We Fix It

pic of pot lidYesterday I was cooking rice to go with my chipotle lime chicken and peppers.  I love rice.  I especially love it with chili and soups.  This is the best pot to cook it in, so I was very sad when, about a year ago, I cracked the lid, and it was no longer usable.

I tried using a saucer to cover the top while the rice cooked.  It worked okay but getting that very hot saucer off the top was quite difficult and, at times, painful.  I just had to make do.  But I refused to go buy another pot and lid.

It was when I was at the GW Boutique several months ago that I remembered something that Mama did years and years ago.  She had a skillet that she liked to use that either didn’t have a lid or the lid, just like mine, was disabled.  She went to a flea market about ten minutes from the house one day, and she found a glass lid the perfect size!  I remember thinking how ingenious that was.  She was not going to let go of a perfectly good skillet just because it didn’t have a lid.  And that skillet and lid are great partners still to this day.

So as I walked down the dishes aisle of this particular GW Boutique, I decided to give it a try.  And there on the bottom shelf, in the midst of a stack of lids of all shapes and sizes, was this lid.  I didn’t know if it would work for sure, as I hadn’t measured my pot, but for 88 cents, I figured it was worth a shot.

And look at it go!  Perfect.

Mama and Daddy raised us to be good stewards of our belongings and our world.  We didn’t throw things out.  Mama kept a mending pile, and she mended jeans and shirts and all kinds of things.  Daddy changed the oil in the vehicles himself and fixed furniture pieces and cars and squeaky hinges.  I can remember them buying an old beat up desk for a bargain price, stripping it and refinishing it.  It still sits in the same spot in the house at Blackberry Flats.  There was no buying something new for the sake of buying something new.  If you could make the old something work, that’s what you did.  I once found a child’s rocking chair, old and faded at the GW Boutique.  Daddy took it apart piece by piece, stained it, and put it back together.  Beautiful.  One of my treasures.

I love the country song, “Dirt Road Anthem,” sung by Jason Aldean.  I can still remember the first time I heard it.  In it there is a line “If it’s broke ’round here we fix it.”  Truth.  That in, a nutshell, is how I was raised.  The preceding line is “We like cornbread and biscuits” which is also truth.  (And you just gotta respect someone who makes a rhyme of biscuits and fixed it, don’t you think?)

Tonight I am thankful for the frugality and good stewardship of my parents and their efforts to pass that along to us.  I am thankful that there are GW Boutiques pretty close to all of my beaten paths, and that I have three children who not only put up with going, but who ask to go and “pop some tags” on a regular basis.  We don’t buy for the sake of buying, but if we find a bargain, we have been known to get quite excited.  And finally, I am thankful for that glass lid–a link to the past and a sign that I might just be turning into my Mama.  I should be so lucky.

The Original Recycling

I finally got organized and stored my batteries in these rice jars.

I finally got organized and stored my batteries in these rice jars.

Those jars right there?  The ones holding the batteries?  Those make me very, very happy.  Recently I decided to clean off and re-organize my cookbook bookshelf in my kitchen.  I was especially tired of the batteries rolling around out of their packaging all over one of the shelves.  Because, you know, that’s where everyone stores their batteries–on the bookshelf with their cookbooks.

I was trying to decide what to do with them when I remembered the rice containers I’d washed up but had yet to recycle.  Perfect!  When I saw them sitting on my shelf like that, it made me smile.  Because I remembered this–

Multitudes of woodworking odd and ends stored in Daddy's building

Multitudes of woodworking odd and ends and hardware stored in Daddy’s building

That’s how my Daddy rolled.  Over the years, as one of these jars was used, Mama would peel off the label, wash it up, and pass it on to Daddy who used it for any number of things out in his building.  For those of you wondering, yes, peanut butter–Reese’s to be exact.  It was the best.  They had come a far cry from the days of Mama buying it in those big tubs with the plastic handles, the stuff that would separate so easily.  Ah, yes, over the years Daddy became quite the connoisseur of peanut butter.

It wasn’t just peanut butter jars Daddy recycled.  He had things in bigger quantities and things that were larger.  That’s what these were for:

This is not a paid endorsement--sigh--if only.

This is not a paid endorsement–sigh–if only.

This bookcase has had many lives too.  It originally sat in our living room when I was little and it was black.  When they moved this into the room I shared with my sister, Mama and Daddy painted it yellow.  That must have been industrial strength stuff.  It’s scary how well it has held its color over the years.  And yes, my Daddy loved his peanuts.  Just like with the peanut butter jars, Daddy would take the washed one out and use it for whatever he needed.

Our old lunchboxes and cookie tins used to store hardware and things he used in fixing cars and lawnmowers or building things with wood

Our old lunchboxes and cookie tins used to store hardware and things he used in fixing cars and lawnmowers or building things with wood

He even used our old lunchboxes and some old cookie tins.  I am pretty sure that horse one and the Charlie Brown one saw me through most of elementary school (we didn’t have middle school back then).  The Walker’s shortbread tin carries me back too.  Daddy loved shortbread.  He even made some one time.  Delicious. I loved picking up a box of it around his birthday or Christmas or just because.  I think that big tin must have come from Sam’s one Christmas.

It occurred to me the other day when my brother, my teenager Auburn, and I were out in the building that some folks might have kept the lunchboxes for the value they might have one day.  I don’t know that these didn’t have some dings or dents already, but regardless, I don’t think it would have ever occurred to Mama and Daddy to save something for later on like that.  One of the things they impressed upon us the most was being a good steward–of the land, of our belongings, and of the people around us.  Taking care of what and who we were lucky enough to have.  They lived simply.  If it didn’t have a use, they usually didn’t keep it.  They were very particular about what they hung on to.

When I was growing up, things didn’t go to waste.  Leftovers were eaten at the next meal or two.  Clothes were handed down to the next sister, and after that usually to a cousin or given to the Salvation Army in the next town over.   We had “give away” days to clean out toys and outgrown clothes and the like.  The pecans that grew in the yard were cracked, cleaned, sugared, and given as Christmas presents to teachers and friends.  I remember we had a spider plant that Mama took cuttings from and carried up to the school for the Halloween Carnival store that raised money for the PTG.  Mama patched our jeans when they tore in the knees.  (This was way back before folks started paying extra for such as that.)  When the jeans started high watering, they were cut off and turned into shorts.  Mama and Daddy were thrifty.  Very little went to waste.

Tonight I am thankful for parents who raised me to aim to be a good steward.  To look around at what’s here before I head to the store to get something new.  My Daddy once told me I only needed three pairs of jeans and dared me to get rid of the rest.  I haven’t gotten quite to that point, but I am trying.  Tonight I am thankful for a reminder of where I came from and who I want to be…..all from some batteries stored in rice containers, cleaned out peanut butter jars, and an old yellow bookcase.  The original recycling.