My parents, and my husband’s parents, grew up during the Depression, but they had vastly different experiences with it. While my inlaws were carefully taught to be frugal, to take care of their things, to not waste food, and never to get rid of something that was still good, my parents were insulated from all that. My father’s parents were wealthy, and while my grandmother went through a lot of hardships, my mother was tucked away at boarding school where everything they felt she needed was supplied.
Thus, my inlaws lived frugally, were as self-sufficient as possible and taught their kids that wasting food and throwing things out that were still good was something akin to a capital offense.Â My parents were lah-di-dah about it all, and if things broke, they had no idea how to fix them, and were more likely to just go buy another one.Â They also threw other people’s stuff out without a second thought if it got in their way. And it never would have occured to them to buy anything second hand.
When my husband and I married, our parents’ styles didn’t affect us as much as one might think.Â For one thing, I was tired of my parents’ needless helplessness and utter cluelessness about money, and there was never a chance in the world I would follow in their footsteps.Â I always assumed I could fix things, and I did all the kitchen stuff my mother wasn’t interested in, like baking and making jelly and so forth.
However, the business of “still good” and “don’t waste food” was a bone of contention.Â I was not a member of the Clean Plate Club, and I saw no harm in disposing of food that was past its prime.Â I didn’t just pick the moldy part off the bread or the cheese and eat the rest.Â And while I was as frugal as possible (our financial situation dictated nothing less) I was not a fan of cobbling things together and making do.Â When you’re as broke as we were, you do a lot of that, but there’s nothing that says you have to like it.
As time has gone by, and our lives have gotten steadily better,Â I’ve been more and more adamant about not cobbling-together, and doing things right the first time.Â I saw a book title that was appropriate:Â If You Haven’t Got the Time to Do It Right, When Will You Find the Time to Do It Over? And yes, I sometimes toss out, or give away, things that are still good.Â We donate bags and bags of books to the library and clothing and household items to the Salvation Army every year.Â This satisfies my husband, because it means the items have a chance to be useful for someone else.
What got me going on this today?Â Well, one of the things I am taking time to do right is fixing a longstanding problem in our kitchen.Â When we moved in here, there was a battered, broken, stained, rotten looking ceramic soap dish (or more properly what was left of it) set into the tile backsplash in the kitchen.Â I talked for years about knocking it out and replacing it with decorative tiles.Â Even bought the tiles when we were on vacation in Arizona two years ago.Â A few weeks ago, my husband dealt with the remains of the soap dish, and I installed my decorative tiles.Â The only thing left to do on that project was to remove the ghastly, crumbling caulk around the sink (something else we should have done years ago).
My husband brought home a tube of name brand kitchen/bath silicone sealant that he’d scrounged from somewhere a week or two ago, with the idea of using it to caulk the sink.Â Today, since he’s away for a training meeting all weekend and I have the chance to do the work on the sink my way (let’s just say our repair-work styles are mutually incompatible; I’ll talk about that some other day) I got at it with a razor knife and a screwdriver and scraped the last of that godawful old caulk out of there and left it to dry for an hour or so.
And then I picked up the scrounged tube of sealant.Â There was an expiration date stamped faintly into the crimp at the end of the tube.Â USE BEFORE 04/03, it said.
I got some more at Home Depot.
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