“You can do what you want”: transplantism instead of tradition and friends instead of family.

The author of the blog Face to Face sometimes writes about the social trend he calls transplantism, which refers to people who migrate in adulthood to a different state from where they were born and grew up.  It seems to mean not just moving, but moving in order to satisfy some aspect of status-striving. He outlines three types of status-striving: career, lifestyle, and persona.

He has a number of very interesting posts on this subject, but one caught my eye on Thanksgiving evening, as I was relaxing with a cup of coffee just before we left to go out of town overnight, Transplant-ism Breaking Down Large Family Reunions on Thanksgiving.
Read the whole post (it’s brief), but I’ve picked out a quote that I found interesting:

“My memories of Thanksgiving in the ’80s still included most of the extended family, aside from an uncle and his wife who moved Out West awhile ago (my cousins through them were absent, too). For those of my mother’s siblings who stayed in the general region, it was common to see all the aunts and uncles, as well as the cousins, and of course the grandparents on that side. But those get-togethers involved one-way travel times of at most three hours by car for all involved, and usually under two hours. You could travel there and back in the same day, so nobody needed to put you up.

Contrast with today, where transplants spend seven or eight hours door-to-door, one-way, and will have to be put up for one or more nights.

There’s another way in which the lifestyle strivers seem to be making things worse. Since they’re foodies, meals are a fashion contest, and fashion corrodes tradition. So why would a foodie want to trek all the way back to family, just to have the same old things for Thanksgiving? They would rather spend Thanksgiving alone and pick up a pre-made dinner from Whole Foods, as long as they put sriracha in the stuffing. That’s something you could post to Facebook for status points — not whatever your non-foodie parents would have prepared.”

I found it interesting because this is a subject I’ve written about a bit myself*.  But I didn’t realize how bad the whole “foodie” and “friends instead of family” thing had gotten, especially among Gen Y and millennials. I even wondered if maybe he was exaggerating a little bit.

We got into the car and when we hit the highway, I settled back and decided to read the news on NPR on my phone.  This was literally the headline article:

How to Put Real Giving into the Friendsgiving Feast:

“Culturally, we’ve seen the rise of Friendsgiving, as young professionals take the opportunity to create the Thanksgiving they want with their friends,” says Clay Dunn, chief communications officer for Share Our Strength, a hunger nonprofit. “You can avoid your Aunt Ina’s terrible cranberry sauce. You can do what you want.”

And as long as you’re reinventing traditions, he says, why not put more emphasis on the “giving” in your feast? That’s the idea that Share Our Strength is pushing this year. It’s asking people to leverage their holiday goodwill by turning their friendly gatherings into fundraising opportunities to fight childhood hunger.

[…] So if the Friendsgiving fundraiser piques your interest, there are plenty of places to look for tips on planning the feast, like here and here. Share Our Strength has resources, including templates for table name cards and a Pinterest board for cooking and decorating inspiration, too.

[…] And if the do-good feeling isn’t enough to motivate you, Dunn says there are prizes. The top fundraiser will get to tour the official Food Network kitchens in New York.

I just had to laugh at how well the guy from Face to Face had described this.  Hey, don’t like the boring cranberry sauce that’s going to be served at your family’s?  Then don’t even bother with that multi-state drive home to see them.  Do what you want, but whatever you do, make sure to earn status points by creating fancy table name cards and signaling how charitable you are by making it a fundraiser for some charity no one’s ever heard.  Of course, there might be a little somethin’ in it for you, you Foodie, you!  How many of your friends have gotten to tour the Food Network kitchens, I ask you!

The sad thing is that these young people are chasing after the lie of modernity that blood is no thicker than water.  It’s not really about with whom you ate Thanksgiving dinner this year so much as it is about the whole ethos of the age, the disconnectedness, rootlessness, and emptiness of individualism (“You can do what you want!”) in place of family, faith, and tradition.

*Here are a few of my posts that are related to this subject:

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Thankful for the blood.

I’m in a flurry of cleaning, baking, and cooking, but I did want to take a moment to wish everyone a Happy Thanksgiving.  And this will sound…oh I don’t know, trite?  cliche?…but bear with me please.  What I want to tell you is to stop and just let your heart be filled with gratitude for the family you have, your blood relatives and your in-laws, however imperfect they may be. Yes, everyone says that, but the thing is to truly do it.  And then tell them how much you love them.

On Halloween, a young man at my daughter’s high school, a senior, died in a catastrophic car crash not far from school.  This is a small town and everybody pretty much knows everyone else, so not only the family but the whole community was pretty much devastated.

His obituary read, “[He] lived in Chelsea his entire life.”

My daughter told me that at the candlelight vigil, his sobbing older sister addressed everyone, saying:

“If you guys would do one thing for me: take stock of your life and tell everyone you love them. You never know what’s going to happen.”

Apparently she and her brother had had the typical sort of sibling relationship and didn’t exactly spend much time expressing their love for each other.  She had gone off to college in August and not seen her brother for some time.

And I know how she now feels.

On the evening of December 4, 2006 my mother called me.  I was irritated with her about something and when we hung up, I didn’t say, “I love you, mom.”

Ask me what the one thing is from life that I would change if I could.

No matter how irritated I am with my children, I try to tell them every day before they leave that I love them.

You may find yourself irritated, annoyed or offended by some family member or another tomorrow at Thanksgiving dinner.  Let go of the offense.  Tell them you love them before you leave.  The lie of modernity is that blood is no thicker than water, but that is utter horseshit.

Consumerism, politics, “careers”…it is all meaningless.  What I am truly thankful for is the family that I have by blood and by marriage and for the blood of Jesus Christ, shed for the remission of my – and your – sins.

Kith and kin and Christ – the blood you share with your people and the Blood of the Lamb – are the only things that mean anything.  Do you have these things?

If not, instead of heading out to that door-buster sale for another piece of crap, I entreat you to call upon the name of the Lord and be saved.  And then call your mom or your dad  or your kid from whom you’ve been estranged, or whatever relative you have, and tell them you love them.

Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours.

Hey feminists, I know you are but what am I?

That moment when I realize I am far less sexist than feminists…

If I had a nickel for every time I was taken to task by some internet feminist for being allegedly sexist back when I used to run my anti-feminism blog, I would be writing this post from my Northern Michigan hunting preserve with luxury cabins and on-site deer processing facility.  But it turns out, feminists are the real sexists:

In Karen Keller’s kindergarten classroom, boys can’t play with Legos.

They can have their pick of Tinkertoys and marble tracks, but the colorful bricks are “girls only.”

“I always tell the boys, ‘You’re going to have a turn’ — and I’m like, ‘Yeah, when hell freezes over’ in my head,” she said. “I tell them, ‘You’ll have a turn’ because I don’t want them to feel bad.”

Although her approach might anger some parents, Keller is sticking to her guns: It’s all part of a plan to get girls building during “free choice,” the 40 minutes of unstructured play time embedded at the end of every school day.

Huh.  Sex-segregated play?  Tell me the one about gender being just a social construct, feminists.

I know I said I wasn’t going to write about the idiocy of feminism much anymore, but this story hit close to home.  As you may know, I am a speech-language pathologist.  I have worked in private practice and out-patient med rehab, but currently I work in a public school.  It’s a nice school.  The teachers are good, it’s a semi-rural setting, the kids are progressing well…no OMG aren’t the public schools so awful! stories to share about the building I work in.  The Kindergarten teachers there, who are not to my knowledge sexist feminists, all have tubs of Legos in their rooms for the children to use during choice time, and I have never ever seen them restrict use to one sex or the other.

As readers of my old blog may recall, I am a huge proponent of using Legos or other such bricks during therapy.  A typical therapy session for me is as follows:

I go to pick up Bobby (not his name) from Mrs. Smith’s (not her name) Kindergarten room.  He is building with Legos but doesn’t mind stopping to come to the speech room to work on his /s/ sound.  We sit at the table and I open up my large totebag filled with ziploc bags.  In the bags are various small sets of Legos, including the Friend Legos that are marketed toward girls, with their instruction booklets.  There are also large ziploc bags full of Snap-N-Style dolls.  He may choose any of these items.  Bobby always chooses the Legos, and he never chooses the Friend Legos.  Girls almost always choose the dolls or sometimes the Friend Legos.  Hey folks, I don’t make the biological sex roles!  But neither do I fight against them…

“Bobby, let’s go through your words now.  For /s/, keep your teeth together, put your tongue on the ‘T’ spot, and blow.  Ready?  Repeat after me.”

After 5 words, Bobby gets the blocks he needs to complete step 1.  He then uses the words in sentences and gets the blocks for step 2.  He continues working dilligently on his speech work with pauses to build.  At the end of the session, he has built this:

“Great job on your speech sounds, Bobby.  You may have 2 minutes to play with what you built.”

“Can we make a video?” he asks.

Yes, I say, smiling to myself because Bobby doesn’t know that making Lego videos is my trick for getting him to practice narrative language skills.  Bobby proceeds to narrate a brief story about a bad thief and a good cop while I record it with my school iPad.  While he watches the video happily, I tell him to check to make sure his story has a beginning, a middle, and an end.  He says it does.  He gets his sticker (he can choose from a wide variety of stickers but almost always chooses a super hero sticker – hey folks, I don’t make the biological sex roles).   He leaves.

Bobby returns to class happy and sits down for read-to-self time.  When Suzy (not her name) comes to speech, she gets to choose from the same totebag.  She almost always chooses the Snap-N-Style dolls, which stimulate her spatial reasoning skills and develop her fine motor abilities just like Legos do.  Her narrative video shows a girl doll feeding the Snap-N-Style puppy and brushing its fancy fur.

Oh, curse you, you persistent biological sex roles!

Naturally Bobby and Suzy are free to choose to play with whatever they find in the totebag.  Boys who play with dolls and girls who build motorcycle cops are A-okay by me; my therapy goals for them will be achieved either way.

In other words, I don’t have to be sexist like feminists are to use Legos at school.

Now, let us contemplate the school district’s response to noted sexist Kindergarten teacher Karen Keller:

“Following the release of a recent news article, the Bainbridge Island School District (BISD) has received inquiries that reflect inaccurate perceptions about student access to Legos in Karen Keller’s kindergarten classroom at Blakely Elementary School,” wrote district spokeswoman Galen Crawford.

“In keeping with a science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education grant, Ms. Keller gave girls a designated time to play with the building toys during a 30-minute ‘free-choice’ time block in September 2015. This isolated, short-term practice ended in October. All students in all classrooms have and will continue to have access to all instructional and noninstructional materials.”

Hey Bainbridge Island School District administrators, here is a protip from me: if you refuse to call out isolated incidents of terrible and probably illegal behavior by one of your teachers, you feed the fire of public perception of our schools being evil dens of ultra left-wing idealogues who want to brainwash and indoctrinate little children to their personal political agenda by all means possible, including using discriminatory classroom practices.  Those of us who are down here in the trenches know that most teachers aren’t like that, so why do you throw them under the bus by defending bad apples like Karen Keller?   It’s hardly a mystery why homeschooling is increasing by seven to fifteen percent per year when certain school administrators won’t police their own.

Luckily for me, this kind of crap would never fly in the district I work in.  I wouldn’t work there if it did since speech therapists are highly in demand and I could choose to work in a variety of schools, therapy clinics, hospitals, or skilled nursing facilities instead.  I will never silently acquiesce to sexual discrimination against boys no matter where I work.

But let’s end on a positive note, shall we?  Let’s talk about why I use Legos in my therapy plans so often.  It isn’t solely because Legos are fun and children love them.  There is actually a plethora of research that demonstrates the cognitive, fine motor, linguistic, social and academic benefits of playing with bricks such as Legos.  I use them as reinforcers for speech sound articulation therapy, for building narrative language skills, and for improving social pragmatic language skills for children on the autism spectrum.  I’ve used them with kids who stutter to practice fluency techniques.  I’m even considering starting a second blog on which I post all my therapy lesson plans involving Legos or other building blocks since I’ve seen so much improvement in the children with whom I use them.

For those who are interested, here are a handful of studies, but there are many more:

  • Caldera YM, Culp AM, O’Brien M, Truglio RT, Alvarez M, and Huston AC. 1999. Children’s Play Preferences, Construction Play with Blocks, and Visual-spatial Skills: Are they Related? International Journal of Behavioral Development; 23 (4): 855-872.
  • Casey BM, Andrews N, Schindler H, Kersh JE, Samper A and Copley J. 2008. The development of spatial skills through interventions involving block building activities. Cognition and Instruction (26): 269-309.
  • Christakis DA, Zimmerman FJ, and Garrison MM. 2007. Effect of block play on language acquisition and attention in toddlers: a pilot randomized controlled trial. Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med. 161(10):967-71.
  • Heisner J. 2005. Telling Stories with Blocks: Encouraging Language in the Block Center Early Childhood Research and Practice 7(2).
  • Ferrara K, Hirsch-Pasek K, Newcombe NS, Golinkoff RM and Shallcross Lam W. 2011. Block talk: Spatial language during block play. Mind, Brain, and Education (5): 143-151.
  • Kamii C, Miyakawa Y and Kato Y. 2004. The development of logico-mathematical knowledge in a block-building activity at ages 1-4. Journal of Research in Childhood19: 44-57.
  • Keen R. 2011. The development of problem solving in young children: a critical cognitive skill. Annu Rev Psychol.62:1-21.
  • Legoff DB and Sherman M. 2006. Long-term outcome of social skills intervention based on interactive LEGO play. Autism. 10(4):317-29.
  • Oostermeijer M, Boonen JH and Jolles J. 2014. The relation between children’s constructive play activities, spatial ability, and mathematical word problem-soving performance: a mediation analysis in sixth-grade students. Frontiers in Psychology 5 Article 782.
  • Pepler DJ and Ross HS. 1981. The effects of play on convergent and divergent problem solving. Child Development 52(4): 1202-1210.
  • Richardson M, Hunt TE, and Richardson C. 2014. Children’s construction task performance and spatial ability: Controlling task complexity and predicting mathematics performance. Percept Mot Skills. 2014 Nov 11. [Epub ahead of print]
  • Roseth CJ, Johnson DW, and Johnson RT. 2008. Promoting Early Adolescents’ Achievement and Peer Relationships: the Effects of Cooperative, Competitive, and Individualistic Goal Structures. Psychological Bulletin, Vol. 134, No. 2: 223-246.
  • Sprafkin C, Serbin LA, Denier C and Connor JM. 1983. Sex-differentiated play: Cognitive consequences and early interventions. In MB Liss (ed), Social and cognitive skills: Sex roles and child’s play. New York: Academic Press.
  • Stiles J and Stern C. 2009. Developmental change in young children’s spatial cognitive processing: Complexity effects and block construction performance in preschool children. Journal of Cognition and Development (2): 157-187.
  • Verdine BN, Golinkoff RM, Hirsh-Pasek K, Newcombe NS, Filipowicz AT, Chang A. 2013. Deconstructing Building Blocks: Preschoolers’ Spatial Assembly Performance Relates to Early Mathematical Skills. Child Dev. 2013 Sep 23. doi: 10.1111/cdev.12165. [Epub ahead of print]
  • Wolfgang CH, Stannard LL, and Jones I. 2003. Advanced constructional play with LEGOs among preschoolers as a predictor of later school achievement in mathematics. Early Child Development and Care 173(5): 467-475.
  • Wolfgang, Charles H.; Stannard, Laura L.; & Jones, Ithel. 2001. Block play performance among preschoolers as a predictor of later school achievement in mathematics. Journal of Research in Childhood Education, 15(2), 173-180.

Happy building!

About those safe space circles.

I don’t bother my head much with what feminists think because their stupid, anti-biology anti-reality propaganda which never fails to make women’s lives worse will eventually eat itself alive.  Perhaps it will be the transgender issue that does feminism in or perhaps some other issue but either way, no ideology which is that at odds with reality and human nature can continue indefinitely.

Nevertheless, I am sometimes taken aback when I realize that there is still a fair bit of functional society left for feminists to consume and destroy.

Case in point – you really have to read it to believe the barf-in-your mouth levels of obnoxious feminist entitlement in this recent article written for CNN by anchor Carol Costello (highlighting mine):

[Last week] To its enormous credit, and because it values women, the Air Force organized the largest combined forum on gender issues in the academy’s history. Almost 3,000 cadets attended — mostly young men — to hear the featured speaker, Facebook COO and feminist author of “Lean In” Sheryl Sandberg.

As she took the stage, the nation’s finest young leaders seemed ready to “lean in.”

“I’m inspired by your courage, strength and dedication,” Sandberg told them. “(And I have) special admiration for the women in this audience, because you not only strengthen the Air Force by joining the Air Force, but you fight for equality with every single step you take.”

May I say that was a ballsy thing to say in a sea of mostly men. Don’t get me wrong, there were cheers of approval from the audience, but there was something else too — a negative energy. And it was palpable.

“Women and minorities face barriers that white men don’t face,” Sandberg went on. “And the veil of silence, pretending that this doesn’t exist, does not make the playing field even. For women in the military, there’s a special challenge because you have to be tough enough to fit in.”

Can someone PLEASE explain to me why the United States Air Force is taking direction from Sheryl Sandberg, COO of a gossipy social media site? The Air Force exists to protect the lives of our citizens in the event of a war. Facebook mostly just exists so people can waste time at work bragging about their supposedly fabulous lives.

By the time she got to “I have never met a man who was asked, ‘Should you be working?'” some in the crowd seemed downright hostile […]

The question is why did the crowd seem hostile to Mrs. Sandberg?  The assumption is that they were hostile because they were closed-minded sexists who believe women should not be in the armed services as warriors.  But isn’t it just as likely that the “hostile” attitude was because they don’t care if women work or if they are in the military or if they stay home…they just want them to perform their jobs competently and not demand non-stop special treatment?  Isn’t it possible the hostility was due to the fact that these young men felt blamed for something they didn’t cause, namely women’s angst about their failure to perform (on average) as well as men in the military?

That’s why Sandberg is not only delivering speeches, but has partnered with the armed services to create “lean-in circles,” or peer-to-peer groups, that meet regularly at places like the Air Force Academy.

Air Force Academy Cadet 1st Class Danielle Kaufman is all in. “It’s not just a military problem. A lot of it is societal. We’re put in these tough situations as females every day. (The circle is) a safe environment where people feel their voices are heard,” she said.

Did the Muslim invaders who attacked Parisian civilians on Friday provide safe space circles?  If not, how will these wilting-flower women Mrs. Sandberg is referring to be able to deal with that when the next Muslim attack occurs here in the United States?

If women are the natural equals of men in the military, why do they need “safe space circles”? This makes no sense. Women are equal to men but need to be protected from men so they can prove how equal they are…am I the only one who notices the LOGIC FAIL there? These are the women who are going to PROTECT us in the event of a war, these chicks blubbering to the news about the “negative energy” from men at a Sheryl Sandberg speech?

Yet at the conclusion of her article, Carol Costello asks…

Can you hear us roar, alpha males?

That’s right, alpha males! Rawr! Can’t you hear us ladies roaring over here from our safe space circles that you need to create more of so that we can feel safe while roaring at you?   Really, isn’t giving women a safe rawring space a much more important function for the Air Force to be concerned about than, like, preparing to defend the U.S.? Sheryl Sandberg says it is, and I am sure we can trust Ms. Sandberg to know what’s necessary for the U.S. to defend itself against an attack or invasion.

But will peer-to-peer circles convince an alpha male to lean in? As Sandberg wrapped up her speech, a young female cadet asked her: “How do you stand up and counteract that … unwillingness to open their minds?”

Sandberg didn’t blink. “There’s only two options: One is that men are far, far, far more talented than women and deserve 95% of the top jobs, or the second is that there’s systematic bias. Those are the options. Pick one. Because those are your only two choices.”

Sheryl Sandberg says there are only two choices, so…let’s choose. When in Rome, let us do as the Romans do and vote about it.

The chance to be human: homesteading while working full time.

Phil and I realized as soon as we moved here last year that whenever we weren’t at work, at church, or at a family function, we would be working hard around here to create the kind of small homestead we envisioned.  Still, I’ve sort of had a hard time conceptualizing exactly what we are doing; we’re sort of feeling our way along as we go.  But total self-sufficiency isn’t likely and we don’t intend to be actual farmers, and we both work full-time (though luckily I have summers off), so what’s the end goal?

Recently in The Christian-Agrarian Work Ethic, Herrick Kimball (The Deliberate Agrarian) quoted Willis D. Nutting‘s essay The Better Life, which is part of a book of essays entitled The Rural Solution: Modern Catholic Voices on Going “Back to the Land”:

“The opportunity for real, soul-satisfying work, so rare in our day, is found abundantly in rural living. Here a man can make long-range plans and can carry them out without exploiting his fellow man; for the things that he uses are things that exist to be used: soil, plants, animals, building materials, etc. he can live a whole life of work without once using another man as a mere means for carrying out his plans. And neither does he become a tool of someone else. With the materials at hand he can employ the splendid coordination of mind and hand to create something of value for his family. He can fulfill his real nature in real work. And this work is much more joyful than any mere recreation. As a matter of fact this work carries with it its own recreation, so that the man who works does not have to worry about how he is going to have his good times. The work itself is a good time even though it be hard […]

Around me live several men who are “homesteaders.” They work in town or in school and live in the country. They spend long hours in the evenings working on their land. Their companions on the job or at school go to the movies or play poker in the evenings, but these men work at home. Their companions spend money; they save it. And when you talk with these men you come to realize that their interest, their real life, is in what they do at home. On the job they carry out someone else’s plans. That is drudgery. But at home they are their own masters. They are exercising their autonomy which is necessary to human dignity. These few hours of autonomy constitute for them their real life. Their rural homes give them their one chance to be human.”

Mr. Kimball explains (highlighting mine):

Willis Nutting’s essay does not imply that everyone should be a farmer, or that one need be a farmer to experience the human fulfillment found in agrarian work. He himself was an educator and, according to his biography, lived an agrarian lifestyle. His essay speaks of men working their industrial-world jobs for the necessary income and then, instead of pursuing industrial-world amusements, recreations or leisure in their spare time, they pursue productive, creative work on their homesteads.

Perfect. Without being able to put it into word, this is what Phil and I have both felt.  We work for money in the outside world, and though we like our respective occupations well enough, our real joy is in the countless hours of hard manual labor we put in around here sinking fence posts, building raised garden beds, weeding, mulching, learning about forestry, felling trees, learning to hunt and fish and then clean and cook what we hunt, refinishing or building things we need or want, building the chicken yard and coop (stay tuned for The Thirys and Their Poultry, Part II next spring, when we will hopefully have better success than last year’s attempt), and on and on.

Will we ever be self-sufficient here?  Doubtful.  We’ll certainly try to raise as much of our own food as possible.  And we’d like to add a word burning stove in addition to the fireplace so we can use some of the dead trees on our land as a source of heating fuel.  But what we’re really doing here, as Mr. Nutting put it so well, is seizing our chance to be human as God made us to be.

If that kind of thing interests you, too, then I can point you in the direction of others who are like me (us), who work in the outside world but then retreat to our homesteads where the the work is hard but deeply satisfying.  Here are just a few:

Feel free to mention other blogs if you know of any similar ones.

Also, I just learned about Steward Culture Magazine, a free online magazine which…

“seeks to promote Bible-based stewardship agriculture. This simply means we advocate for creation-friendly thinking that emphasizes the fact that we don’t own the Earth or even some small piece of it. Creation is simply a gift given to humans who are commanded to be its stewards as God’s representatives.”)

Reusing everything (old roofing shingles, pallets, sewing machines, magazine racks, and more!)

Walking around our home recently, I realized that about 85% of our furniture was given to us by people who were downsizing, inherited from deceased relatives, or salvaged from someone’s trash and refinished.

We think long and hard before we dispose of anything.  You have to be careful doing this so that you don’t end up with a lot of clutter, which would make finding things difficult, and you have to be willing to part with things if you really can’t come up with a way to reuse/repurpose/upcycle them, but with a little effort, most things can be used again when they’ve outlived their original purpose.  I thought I’d share a few recent ones from around here.

This past summer my mother-in-law downsized from a large home to a condo.  She and my husband’s father (who passed away about a year and a half ago) lived in their home for many years and had acquired a lot of furniture that was stored in their basement.  She needed to get rid of this furniture before moving.  We’ve acquired some of these items from her and have been having an interesting time figuring out how to fix them up and reuse them.

One such item is an old pedal sewing machine.  My MIL has two others, both of which work, so we didn’t feel like this one needed to be saved for actual sewing.  All summer it served as a plant stand in the garden, but the summer rains warped the cabinet badly.

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This fall, Phil removed the old wooden cabinet and we used it as kindling during a backyard campfire.

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He sanded and painted the metal base and used some salvaged wood that he sanded and stained to make a table top for it:

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I may continue to use it as a table and plant stand, but I’m also thinking of moving it into the kitchen as a stand for the bread machine, bread box, cutting board, and bread knives.

I liked the look of the old sewing machine and it was heavy as can be – very well made – so I decided to walk out near the woods and place it on an old tree stump just as a kind of woodland garden art:

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I will probably dispose of it eventually, but for now it reminds me of the Chilkoot Trail in Alaska, which is considered an outdoor museum; all along the trail you can see abandoned items from the Gold Rush years in the late 1800s.  It’s a neat hike, and it is fun to discover all the old items – from prospecting pans to old steam engines – hiding in the woods and on the rocks.

My mother-in-law also gave us an old magazine rack:

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It’s nice heavy wood but we didn’t need it for this purpose. What I did need was some place convenient to put baking sheets and cooling racks, so my husband cut the legs off shorter for me so that it could fit on a shelf, and then I used spray paint primer and then two coats of glossy black spray paint so that it matches the black granite counter tops in the kitchen.

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I thought it looked pretty good for a freebie!

We also received a VERY beat up painted wooden table with a white enamel top.

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It reminded me of a table my parents had when I was little, so I didn’t want the top refinished, only cleaned, but Phil stripped and sanded the wood and then repainted it with watered-down light grey latex paint to make a sort of grey “white wash” effect.

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We already had the paint, so again this was totally free and is now used as a kitchen table where I can keep the fruit stand, my aloe vera plant for treating kitchen burns, and as a prep surface.  The drawer has cutting boards stored in it.  I may grow a winter herb garden here if I get out to the garden and dig up some things; most of the herbs survived the last freeze, but it won’t be long now before they’re gone for the year.

Got some old leftover roofing shingles hanging around?  They can be laid out overlapping to make a walkway!  As I’ve mentioned before, I put this one in a place where we wanted a walkway but which we could not install a cement or paver pathway because it’s over our septic drain field (most people don’t realize that septic drain fields are only located about a 6-18 inches below ground).  I just laid the roofing shingles right over the grass.  For the first season, you might catch your foot on the overlap, but after that, the grass will have grown over the edge a bit and will hold the walkway down securely.

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Also, I’ll probably separate this one out into its own post, but old wood pallets also make nice walkways through the woods, especially if there are soggy, mucky areas.

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I’ve mentioned this before, but we are always on the lookout for pallets that are being thrown away, and I’ve been working on a pallet walkway since we moved in.

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It’s pretty long now and both the children and the dogs like to walk on it.

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I put old cardboard under the pallets to keep weeds down, but I also use old paper bags full of junk mail, newspapers, and the like under the pallets.

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Fallen leaves eventually cover the cardboard and paper bags so that you can’t even see they’re there.

The next one was a wobbly old side table, absolutely filthy and painted with peeling bile green paint.  The lamp was just the base and so dirty you couldn’t tell what color it was underneath.  But they were free and we needed a table and lamp for the guest bedroom which we had just painted a sort of New England grey.  After lots of scrubbing, the lamp proved to be a bit, how shall we say…well, tacky…but with a new socket and lampshade, it serves its purpose just fine.  Phil tightened up the table to eliminate the wobble; it wasn’t worth his time to do much more to it, but I gave it a good scrub, two heavy coats of primer, and then three coats of whimsical purple spray paint.

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I added a cloth made of hand sewn lace and embroidery made by my great-grandmother.  And then one day that…um…unique little glass bird figurine appeared there.  I don’t know exactly where it came from, but I suspect it came from my husband’s grandmother’s house and probably holds some kind of nice childhood memory for him.  And all I can say is thank goodness this is the guest bedroom. 🙂

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Most of the stuff we save and refinish isn’t quite this kitschy, but if you ever come spend the night here, you’ll repose in a room that will remind you of your great Aunt Helen’s sitting room, I guess. 🙂

My husband has a bunch of other salvaged furniture in the process of or waiting to be refinished in his workshop:

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With as much as we both enjoy salvaging, refinishing, and upcycling (this word annoys me for some reason – it sounds too hipster maybe – but you get my meaning), I’m almost beginning to think this might be an enjoyable and profitable side business for us.  Modern furniture is of very poor quality, which you know if you’ve bought any made-in-China particle-board-n-veneer crap recently.  But older, better-made pieces are often either rather beat up (and not in a cool “antiqued” way) or badly out of date (and not in a cool “retro” way).  Fixing them up gives good quality items new life for a fraction of the price of new stuff and helps us all extricate ourselves a little more from the anti-family hyper-consumerism that grips our modern culture.

I’ll end with one that is awaiting refinishing and mechanical repairs.  This one actually caused an argument between Phil and me, as I seriously questioned why he brought this home from his dad’s old shop before the business was sold last year:

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“You’ve got to be kidding me!” I complained.  “What on earth do we need an old, broken refrigerator for?”

Then I learned from Wikipedia that these models are antiques from the late 1920s/early 1930s, and you can find them on ebay selling for around $1000.  So that pretty well shut me up. My husband is planning to fix it up and is debating whether to sell it or keep it as his beer fridge in his workshop.  I told him I voted for the former, upon which he informed me that I don’t get a vote in this matter. 🙂