Old Fridge, New Life


  in time; crisp
 folded fabric;
 jarred buttons and thread
in meticulous rows.
Patterns tied up with firm bows
of intention replace the sweet
mango, the orange juice, the cheese ~no more
butter or eggs, but the choices still please.

Comments are welcome. To leave a comment, please click below.
For more information on the Etheree, a syllabic poem that, in its basic form, contains ten lines and a total of fifty-five syllables, please click HERE.

90 thoughts on “Old Fridge, New Life

  1. There you go. We don’t have to throw away our old stuff. With creativity we can find new uses for them as you have shown here complimented with a witty poem.

    Disposability—no more! Good for you Linda.


    1. You know a little about renewing old appliances yourself, Omar. Planned obsolescence may be great for manufacturers, but it’s not so good for the consumer.

      But repurposing is possible, and it can be a lot of fun — especially when, as you say, the new uses are creatively done.


    1. I’m glad you enjoyed it, Ellen. The etherees always are unpredictable. I never know when one’s going to show up, but I did like this one, myself.

      Happy, warm(er) weekend!

    1. There is something about seeing those supplies so beautifully arranged that stirs the impulses. I gave away most of Mom’s knitting and needlework supplies after she died, but I kept some needlework yarns, threads and canvas. They’re having to make do with plastic boxes, though. Nothing so elegant as that fridge.

  2. That’s quite a yarn you’ve spun in 55 syllables. I see that your fourth line’s an alliterative trochee, and your sixth’s an anapest (as is the last line if you don’t count its first syllable). The question arises: conscious or unconscious?

    1. Conscious. And, in the case of that last line, a bit of a puzzle for a time. I recognized the first anapest, and it seemed good to repeat it. The meter and rhymes were so strong in the first lines, simply meeting the syllable count requirements at the end wasn’t going to work. For a while, the last line kept going “clunk.”

      Especially with the etherees, I love going back and looking through the drafts: forty-four in this case. It’s fun to trace the development, and think again about the decisions that were made along the way. Here’s the fifth draft, when I still was searching around for a direction. Only “Yarn frozen in time” stayed constant through the process:

      in time; space
      made for fabric,
      crisped thread and buttons,
      left-over projects shoved
      to the back, taking up room
      once allotted…

    1. That’s so true, Laura, and I didn’t even think of it. Seeing the colors so beautifully arranged is a reminder that even a refrigerator still dedicated to its original purpose can be a thing of beauty!

      I’m so glad you stopped by — and thanks for the wonderful comment.


  3. I love it for several reasons. One – the colors are stunning. Two – I converted a side-by-side into an armoire in costa rica! reason? the high humidity/mold. String of christmas lights inside kept the air dry, and the seal of the ‘fridge kept the scorpions out!

    you are so talented.

    1. Life in Costa Rica sounds like life on a boat, at least in some respects. Light bulbs in boat lockers are pretty standard ways to deal with humidity and mold. I’m not sure the Christmas lights would work so well, because most lockers also have louvered vents cut into them, but they’d be great for a sealed space like your “armoire.”

      Keeping the scorpions at bay sounds even better. I love so much about the Texas hill country, but I hate the scorpions. It didn’t take long for me to get with the routine of shaking out boots before they went on!

      Have they ruled out molds as the source of your cough? I need to come back and have another read. I may have missed that part of the history. Too bad a necklace of Christmas lights couldn’t take care of the issue.

    1. Haven’t we wrapped up a lifetime of projects with those “bows of intention”? My mother had a deep freeze filled with yarn. When I was at home and Dad was alive, we always had a quarter or half a beef hung and aged, then custom cut. Once she didn’t need the freezer for meat, Mom took one look and thought, “I just figured out how to get all that yarn out of the closets.” It was a wonderful solution.

  4. Good for you, Linda!! Nothing better than re-purposing something that otherwise would either simply take up space or be tossed out! I’m assuming you didn’t even have to waste electricity to have such a “cool” storage bin either, right?!

    Love your poem as well. It flows smoothly and joyfully, and I can see how pleasing the word choice is! Well done, my friend! You might be starting a new trend, you know — all of us have things that cry for order and purpose!

    1. Oh, I didn’t re-purpose a real refrigerator, Debbie. The poem came first, the illustrative photo second, but it’s all imagination at work. It would be a practical solution and a fun project for sure, but I never did such a thing. The one in the family who came closest was my mother, who used our old chest freezer for her yarn. I suppose that’s where the poem is rooted — in her lovely arrangement of piles of yarn.A lot of yarn. By color.

      There’s no question that order in life can be good for the soul, and for the creative process. That’s how it is for me, anyway. I know some people who can happily work in the midst of chaos, but I’m not one.

  5. Oh, this is a good one. I like the poem and generally I’m not a fan of this type of poetry. But this one makes sense. The fridge is a brilliant idea for storing lots of things. If only more of us could use our imagination. But, I happen to be one who does consider all the possibilities.

    1. I’m glad you like it, Yvonne, especially since it’s not your usual cup of tea. I understand that. There are some poets and types of poems I’m not so fond of myself, even though I occasionally find one among my less-favorites that really strikes a chord.

      You know what I use most often as a “storage appliance”? The dishwasher. Every time I evacuate for a hurricane, I take the truly valuable/sentimental with me, or make provisions for it farther inland, but Mom’s cut glass always gets locked into the dishwasher. Since it can be locked, it’s about as secure as you can get. If the dishwasher doesn’t make it through a storm, there are going to be more problems to deal with than a set of pretty bowls.

    1. Jim, I found the brand on the blog of the woman whose frig it is (click the photo to be taken there.) It’s a SMEG, which I’d never heard of. Apparently, it’s Italian. It does have wonderful lines.

      Another great re-purposing I once saw was the transformation of a beautiful old wooden ice box into a music center — turntable on the top, LP storage and tuner down below. Creativity rocks!

        1. Gallivanta, you may be in luck. The only reason the woman repurposed the one up above is that she wanted a larger one and couldn’t bring herself to dispose of the one she had. Here’s another inspirational appliance story. We old-fashioned sorts are everywhere.

    1. In the heat of summer, Melanie, I put my varnish into the fridge to cool it down and keep it from setting quite so quickly. It’s better than using too much brushing liquid, and losing gloss.

      There was that year I gave a friend’s father 5,000 ladybugs for his roses. They had to be kept in the refrigerator. The good news is that the cool “weather” kept them dormant, and they were happy to just lay around in their bag.

    1. As long as you don’t repurpose H, it’s all good. Well, or Yon Dog of Indeterminate Gender. And, yes — lining up such good choices like ducks in a row is very pleasing, indeed.

  6. Every one of your blogs sends me off to “Search Google for…” something – a definition, more information, another song by a certain artist, etc. This time Steve Schwartzman’s comment sent me scurrying to review literary devices, and I came back to reread your etheree with another layer of appreciation.

    1. I know dear Mrs. Deutsche, 8th grade English, would be delighted to know that I’m finally getting my mind around some of these devices. She managed to implant the sonnet form and iambic pentameter, but that was about it.

      One of the things I’m enjoying about these etherees is learning to move beyond simple syllable-counting in order to work with rhyme and meter inside the form. I’ve always enjoyed alliteration and onomatopoeia, but it’s nice to push the boundaries a little.

      I was thinking tonight that it might be time to go back and take a look at all of them. I’m not even sure how many I’ve written, but there must be a dozen, and maybe more. I’m glad you liked this one!

    1. You’re welcome, Martha. Between the two of us, we’ve managed to cover poetry and petunias today. I had another day of precipitation, so it sounds like your day was far more pleasant in that regard. Give Jasper a scritch for me.

    1. Thanks, Susan. A little fun never hurt anyone, as far as I can tell.

      Far more erudite but equally delightful is this post from the Paris Review. I’ve not made it all the way through, but as a lover of new music, I think you’ll enjoy it if you haven’t already read it.

    2. This makes me laugh, and it’ll make you laugh, too. I dreamed last night of a refrigerator stuffed to overflowing with musical notation: clefs, rests, eighth notes, triplets. They weren’t stacked in neat piles, either. Maybe it was new music! If we could sort them all out, who knows what might get created?

      1. Hilarious! New music, or maybe Sibelius at work: “It is as if God the Father had thrown down mosaic pieces from the floor of the heavens and asked me to put them back as they were.”

  7. The choices do still please!! Clever use of resources! You know I thought I knew a little bit about poetry…what alliteration is…rhyming schemes and so on….and now after Steve’s comment I have to go look up ‘anapest’ and ‘alliterative trochee.’ Wow knowledgeable readers!! But the flow of the story is enjoyable for all.

    Your etherees always please no matter how you stack them up!

    1. Judy, the more I write, the more I realize the value of knowing what it is that I’m doing. (That seems self-evident, but it isn’t, always.) I’m not ready to run over to the University of Houston to sign up for a creative writing class, but I am reading much more about the technical aspects of writing. John Ciardi’s “How Does a Poem Mean” has been particularly helpful, and there are some terrific online sites that help writers get a grip on a variety of forms.

      Steve’s not only a natural teacher, he’s also a great photographer. He’s just back from an extended trip to New Zealand, and you have to go over and look at the bird photo he posted today. I hardly could believe it. You’ll get a kick out of it, too, especially since you’ve not only posted some related photos, but have included some musings about the bird from Audubon himself.

      I’m glad you enjoyed the etheree. I’d been wondering when another was going to come calling — well, here it is.

  8. I think that its not just value for knowing what you are doing because I feel there is an element to a good poet’s writing that cannot be learned. Its an inborn instinct for language, rhythm and the ability to get to the soul of the matter in few words. But, I think there is great value in seeing how the great poets have employed poetic form and utilized poetic tools. Reading great writing, I do feel, helps any writer evolve into his own. Its inspiring! Etheree Armstrong certainly has taught us that we can add new forms to the poetic stockpile of the ages.

    I know that your quest for the perfect words will keep you learning and writing until your last day..to the everlasting joy of your readers!!

    1. You’ve reminded me of an experience I had about two years ago. I was re-reading some of Eliot’s “Four Quartets,” and got to this:

      “I said to my soul, be still, and wait without hope
      For hope would be hope for the wrong thing; wait without love,
      For love would be love of the wrong thing; there is yet faith
      But the faith and the love and the hope are all in the waiting.
      Wait without thought, for you are not ready for thought:
      So the darkness shall be the light, and the stillness the dancing.”

      I took a look at that last line and thought, “Surely he couldn’t have meant that to be so awkward. Surely, that’s a misprint.” So, I went looking, and found the last line is exactly as Eliot meant it to be. Every time I quote that passage, I want to change the last line to, “So shall the darkness be light, and the stillness the dancing.”

      There’s nothing quite like coming to the point of thinking you can rewrite a master, and make it better. I suspect everyone in every art has that experience. It’s a little amusing, but it’s also a sign of increasing confidence, and a sign that a personal style’s developing.

      1. I understand that instinct to reorder some words, but then you realize in some way you can barely grasp that you have changed the nuance the poet intended. Even though it seems the meaning is the same, it is shifted slightly. Like in the above…darkness shall….gives darkness more power than…shall the darkness….don’t you think?

        1. What do I really think? That Eliot’s absolutely entitled to his way of saying it, even if I think my way would be “better.” After all, maybe the awkwardness is intentional. Maybe he shoved those words out in the middle of the phrase like an out-of-place Morris chair, so we’d stumble over them in the dark.

          1. Well, I suppose an obstacle is one way darkness gets its power!! They say that poems are never finished only abandoned. If I am any example that’s true; I do tend to want to continue to work stuff I’ve written after I’ve officially shared it and dated it, viewing it differently over time. So maybe on another day he’d have looked at it differently? When Gordon Lightfoot wrote The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald certain information came to light to cause him to sing the words in concert differently than he wrote them. But, he never officially changed the words of his lyric/poem since that was the Copyright lyric. Maybe once published you are locked in to protect your work?? I wonder if Poe ever felt unfinished since he was the consummate perfectionist and worked at perfection..or did he ever want to redo anything?

            I have to say that I love your sense of perfection and have never found anything ring poorly when read or read aloud!

  9. I’ve learned so much about form and function in reading the conversation above. In addition to your etheree, what you and your readers say is not only delightful, but informative as well.

    What to do with all that yarn? “firm bows/of intention” indeed. Mine is in a basket on top of a bookcase in a bedroom. One skein of yarn just won’t do when there are so many colors to choose from. Yet the ‘frig idea is fabulous. Blush– we have 1 ole frig and a freezer in the garage I was planning to put in a yard sale…really I could use more bookshelf space. What to do? What to do? Re-purposing just might silence the quandary.

    1. It’s been a day for swapping information, hasn’t it, Georgette? Whether it’s your little pop-up guru or the people who comment on our blogs, there’s always something to learn or a solution to a problem. It’s a wonderful thing.

      The more I think about those “firm bows of intention,” the more they tickle me. How many times I’ve organized the materials for one project or other and said, “There. Now. Finally, I’m going to get this done.” Sometimes I do, but often I don’t.

      I went looking for images of refrigerators repurposed as bookshelves, and they’re out there. I happened across an old card catalog repuposed as a liquor cabinet, too — one bottle per drawer. My goodness, people are creative. You should see what they’ve done with old pianos.

    1. After Hurricane Ike, it was just terrible to see what they called the “white piles” — great heaps of appliances that had to be carted off. Of course, in that instance, there were health risks involved, and some of them were battered beyond use, so it was quite a different situation. Still, the more uses we can find for worn-out or no longer useful goods, the better.

  10. Yarn. As in story? Your thoughts outlined, then embellished with vocabulary’s flavor and color. Stacked neatly. Waiting for the thread of life to defrost and spin electrically into the fabric of dreams?
    Linda, you are like a master potter with clay – swirling ideas into forms that please. Cool poem!
    (and always varnish, paint/brushes chilling…and taking up room.)

    1. Well, good grief, Phil. It never crossed my mind to think of yarn as “a yarn.” That’s a wonderful thought, and the poem is easy to adapt to the new notion. See? (I can’t make it center here, but you get the point.)

      in time; crisp
      folded paper;
      jarred pencils and pens
      in meticulous rows.
      Chapters tied up with firm bows
      of intention replace the sweet
      mango, the orange juice, the cheese ~no more
      butter or eggs, but the plot lines do please.

      Isn’t that fun? Thanks for the alternative read!

  11. A recycling serious sewer! Now that you mention it, a recycled refrigerator would tend to keep the moths out of the wool yarn. It would also make great winter storage for those seasonal woolen items.

    1. Wool storage would be perfect. WOL storage? Not so much.

      I do know someone in the hill country who added shelves of aromatic cedar to an old ice box and used it for just that purpose. “Cedar chest” can be a concept as much as a thing, and there’s no question they’re immensely useful.

  12. You’ve repurposed it. Excellent.
    Cherie’s niece and her husband were visiting this week and I had him help me move an old rusty non-working chest freezer into our basement. It occurred to me as we were moving it in that he might think we were going to use it to store food. “The freezer doesn’t work,” I told him. “We’re going to use it as a worm bin.”
    He just smiled nervously.

    1. I did my repurposing only in the poem, Bill. Then I went looking for an illustration.

      Several comments here have reminded me of something Faulkner once wrote, in “The Town” (1957): “…poets are almost always wrong about facts. That’s because they are not really interested in facts: only in truth: which is why the truth they speak is so true that even those who hate poets by simple and natural instinct are exalted and terrified by it.”

      As for your rusty old chest freezer, your story has reminded me of my dad and his friends hauling my folks’ chest freezer into the basement of our new house. They got it down the stairs before the stairs were finished. Of course, when it came time for Mom to sell the house, there was no getting that freezer out. They had to cut it up and take it out in pieces. It was a condition of sale.

    1. Thanks, Arti. I’d say “deliciously colourful” is perfect, whether it’s persimmons or percale we’re talking about. Well, or pens and paper, as Philosophermouse suggested. That’s the great thing about metaphors. There’s always that “surplus of meaning.”

      Now that I think about it, films are rather ilke that, too.

    1. I suppose we ought to keep alert for any yarns unraveling, no?

      I’m not surprised you like this one, Curt. It certainly does speak to some of your most cherished beliefs — and practices!

    1. Darning works for socks, but I’m not sure it would work for a refrigerator, Dana. (I just couldn’t help myself with that one.)

      After moving my mom’s boxes and boxes of yarn around the country for years, i had reason to ponder every storage solutions known to humanity. If she’d ever seen this, she probably would have suggested putting her food in my fridge, and the yard in hers.

        1. That’s not only funny, it’s envy-producing. Every now and then I think, “Maybe I should take up knitting.” Then, I take a moment to consider, and come back to my sense.

    1. I’m glad you enjoyed it, snowbird. Sometimes I go off on little tangents that give me no end of pleasure, but it can be hard to say whether anyone else will find them entertaining or interesting.

      Actually, I suppose that’s true for all of us, with every post. But it’s always nice when our creations strike a chord with someone.

  13. I was taken a little aback; a fridge full of yarn! I was wondering what this was all about, but I guess it’s just a fridge not working any more and becoming a storage space. Very creative – and very colourful. Just leave the door open and you have art right there.

    1. That’s exactly right, Otto. My mother used to keep her yarn in an old freezer. I was working on another “refrigerator post” when I remembered that, and started playing around with the thought of what a refrigerator with a new purpose might look like. And that’s how you got this little poem.

      As you say, there’s always something new to see in the world!

  14. What a great way to keep something in use long after its original intent has passed. I’m trying to think if I have anything similar to relate, but I am at a loss. We do try to send our old stuff into some kind of recycling stream…better than the watery kind…but it would be even better to find a use when they are past their prime.

    1. Probably the best example of repurposing I have is a blanket chest my grandfather made from their dining room table. As the family grew, they needed a larger table, so he took the oak from the old one and got to work. What I especially like is that he left the marks from the bottom of the table, instead of sanding them out.

      Recycling’s just fine for many (most?) things, but where sentiment plays in, repurposing is better. It’s not always possible, but when it is, it gives memories a longer life, too.

      1. I like what your grandfather did and admire him for leaving the blanket chest’s table history intact. I have very little of family history left (when my mother died, my father tossed most everything into the dump and only told me about it well after the bulldozer did its thing) so I am envious as well.

        1. There’s a little “take it all to the dump” history in my family, too. When I think about it now, I have some regrets, but sometimes the “one fell swoop” approach is the only thing that seems reasonable at the time.

  15. That is altogether clever! What a great idea, and a splendid poem as well. My youngest taught me to knit last summer, so I am acquiring a fresh appreciation for wool, etc, and like the idea of marrying what keeps us out of the cold with what keeps things cool.

    1. What I have to know is whether you’ve yarn-bombed anything yet. I thought about that post the other day, when I came across another series of yarn-bomb photos. I’m feeling somewhat more favorably about the practice these days.

      What really impresses me is that you learned the skill. My mother was an extraordinary knitter, and tried and tried to interest me. I could cast on like crazy, but I kept getting confused when it came to knit 1, purl 2. Maybe I’ll take it up in my old age.

      I think your little conceit about combining the cold-repelling quality of wool with the cold-preserving nature of the fridge is cool.

  16. What a great recycle idea! And space saving too. Or maybe clutter saving. Maybe, after all, I’ll need to save the old refrigerator on the farm and re-purpose it. Of course, being a farm, there’s lots of old stuff to re-purpose. Mostly I close the old chicken house door and don’t look at it.

    The poem is a keeper. I especially like the shape of it. Makes the words shine.

    1. It sounds to me ike the old chicken house is akin to many spare bedrooms, attics, or basements, Janet. And you’re exactly right. The trick is to develop the discipline to shut the door and not look. There will be time enough to deal with it all.

      One thing we have now are wonderful epoxy paints, in every hue. My mom might have kept a fridge or two if it could have been made to look so nice. Today, if you find a nice old Deco style fridge, and spend more time than money, it can be made to really shine.

      I’m glad you like the poem. There are two more refrigerator posts to come: one little essay, and another poet’s take on the relationship of refrigerators to publication that I dearly love.

  17. What a creative and delightful way to recycle an old fridge. Makes me want to grab my knitting and finally finish the scarf I’ve been avoiding. I love the flow of this poem as you add one new syllable to each new line. Quite a challenge but it works in your hands.

    1. Mary, one of the reasons I so enjoy the etherees is that they’re always a surprise when they’re finished — even to me. More often than not, I head off in one direction and end up somewhere entirely different. It’s fun.

      There’s nothing like seeing art and craft materials all lined up, ready to be used, to stir the impulse. Of course, just being able to find everything is quite a delight!

  18. This is just about as exquisite as it comes. And, to top it off, a fabulous idea! My old fridge is beginning to look a little peaked and smaller than I’d like. Hmmm. As you probably deduced from my posts, I rarely throw anything away! New life, indeed!

    1. When I think how much could be stored in a fridge — especially one that had a few new shelves or cubbies included — well, it just makes me smile. The good news about fridge storage, of course, is that you can close the door on whatever’s inside. It’s the spare bedroom theory, applied to an appliance.

      Not only that, think what a project decorating the outside of it could be. Of course, I have another idea for the outside — that will be coming up just as soon as the work day’s over.

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