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Archive for September, 2011

This past spring I finally dismantled (by hand and hammer) an old fence that had fallen long before my arrival.  If you’ve been following along from the beginning, you know that I don’t always do things in a conventional manner.  Most of the time that’s because I’m unaware of the conventional manner in the first place; some of the time it’s because I work with what little know how I possess in matters new to me.  Take for instance the fence.  I’m not allowed to use a chainsaw, so that was not an option; although I’m not sure a chainsaw would be the best choice for dismantling a fence; an indoor Christmas tree, yes; I can attest to that.   This was going to be a board-by-board operation, no doubt about it.   And so every day I would go out with my trusty hammer and remove several boards until that great day when they were all dislodged.I stacked them by the tool shed and spent my free time contemplating how I might reuse them.  (Do you see the continuing theme from my last post?)   That’s when Sub-Birdbia came to mind.   I gathered up old jewelry, small back splash tiles, limbs, keys, rocks and sea glass to spiff them up.    I finished several spec houses a couple of weeks ago and wanted to share them with you.

I’ve added some close up shots so you can better see what we here at Sub-Birdbia call Upgrades.   Who can say no to a dragon over the door?A bejeweled entry way says, “You work hard.  You deserve the best nest!”  Or perhaps it’s that rustic cabin in the woods feel that beckons you.  Check out these windows.  Tell me they don’t say, “Throw a log on the fire.” (But not too close to your eggs.)Or maybe you’re the meditative type (this rules out crows and woodpeckers).  How about your very own babbling brook running through the front yard and a labyrinth over the door. There’s no place like Om.   

I just realized I started pitching my spec houses as if birds were reading my blog.  Must be time to go into town again.

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My mother was the queen of recycling, but since back then the three Rs still stood for Readin’, Ritin’ and ‘Rithmetic, her call to arms was Waste not, want not.  For instance, around 1960 my parents remodeled the kitchen.  Out went the brown linoleum with it’s frightening, much larger than life floral pattern; in came the pale gray linoleum with miniscule pastel chips reminiscent of confetti, with just a tasteful hint of silver sparkles.  “Out with the pea green cabinets,” cried the queen; in came the maple cabinets, the drop-in electric stove and separate double oven unit – all from Sears.  Out went the gray swirled 1940s kitchen table with matching chairs, in came a round maple table and sturdy round chairs with padded oil cloth backs  and skirted seats with happy-go-lucky roosters.  Out went the Frigidaire…oh, hold on a minute…no need to get rid of the trusty Frigidaire, the queen had it painted copper brown to match the ovens; that way I could spend my teenage years defrosting it.  Two birds, one stone.

So, you’re probably wondering what remodeling a kitchen has to do with recycling.   Hang on, I’m going to tell you right now.   Every cabinet that was in the kitchen found its way onto the walls of the garage where  lids were nailed underneath and jars of nails, screws and bits and pieces of fishing tackle attached, where laundry detergent and household cleaners that  stripped the wax off the hardwood floors, and years off my life were stored.  The linoleum found its way to the garage  floor where our Hudson rose in status as the only car on the block with linoleum under its tires.  The kitchen table went out to the patio.  The stove was probably given to the Catholic church in lieu of contributions during mass.  Did you know that the church doesn’t accept Monopoly money?  Neither did I when I was eight.

As a little kid I was taken with my mother’s reuse of items, but as a teenager and then young adult, I was appalled at the things she saved or wouldn’t get rid of.  “It’s still good!” she would tell me.  “Mom,” I said on one occasion, “you’ve had this spatula forever.  It’s so gross. For cryin’ out loud, by a new one.”  Well, my friends, that admonition came to bite me on my backside this last week.  You see, until last Monday, August 29, 2011, I had a red spatula that was over three decades old.  Why?  Because time flies!  And because it was still good.  It still flipped eggs and pancakes, scooted potatoes around a pan with ease, and it had been through the wars.  Forgotten on the edge of a pan, it wore a semicircle of melted plastic like a purple heart.  But lately I could feel its handle weakening, could tell the end was near.  And then it happened.  Right in the middle of a spinach omelet – SNAP!

My appetite put off by loss, I turned to contemplation: How might I honor my mother and her frugal way.   And then it came to me.  We never know when we come across a circumstance that teaches us a lesson how it may serve us again farther down life’s road.  It wasn’t long ago that a lesson I learned (see my post on the Weed Eater Gutter Cleaning Kit) came back around to serve me well once again.  In honor of my mother I give you…Next time:  Sub-birdbia

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