Scraps and Reality

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Roger King probably wouldn’t have stopped to untangle this coil of rusty barbed wire, but if a fellow had dragged it into his salvage yard and offered it up, I doubt he would have turned it down. A stroll through the buildings on his property suggested he rarely refused anything. Piles of sheet metal, ceramic insulators, lengths of angle iron and rebar, old appliances, and Mason jars filled with fasteners huddled everywhere. Occasional oddities showed up as well, helping to keep things interesting: an armadillo shell; a set of paisley chair cushions; a bird cage painted green and filled with red plastic geraniums.

Born in San Antonio, Roger served in the Navy during WW II. Then, he and his wife Mollie opened a scrap metal and demolition business in northern California. In 1970, he sold the business to a nephew, moved back to Texas, and opened King’s Salvage in the town of Comfort. He loved to tease his customers, and was willing to have a little fun with people who didn’t know him so well. Asked what he did for a living, he’d often grin and say, “My wife and I are in the iron and steel business. She irons, and I steal.” It was his signature line: so well known that it was printed in his obituary.

I spent more time than might seem reasonable at King’s, looking over the rusted bits and odd-shaped bobs while attempting to divine their original purpose. It was, in certain ways, an extension of childhood habits. Long before I began frequenting scrap yards, scraps filled my life.

Some of my earliest memories involve table scraps: egg shells, vegetable peelings, and fruit rinds gathered for the chickens; bits of bread for the birds; turkey carcasses picked clean and carried away by raccoons.

Occasionally, leftovers returned to the table in the form of scrapple: bits of meat cooked with corn meal, shaped into loaves and sliced for frying.  Scrapple wasn’t our custom, but Grandma was more than willing to borrow good ideas from her German and Czech friends. Scrapple was a very good idea, and paired with fried apples, it was a double delight. “Scrapple and apples,” my friends and I would shout, gleefully. “Scrapple and apples!” We laughed at the sound of the words, and we loved the sweet and savory pair that tasted of autumn, comfort, and home.

Other scraps, more long-lasting, provided a different sort of comfort. Every home contained boxes filled with bits and pieces of fabric that remained after making dresses, skirts, blouses, and shirts for family members. Snipped into tiny hexagons or squares, the fabric was transformed into building blocks for what my grandmother called scrap quilts. Some called them pieced quilts, but in either case they were treasures: hand-stitched with skill, patience and love. 

Every year when the weather cools, I open the cedar chest and sit in the fading light, tracing my childhood through patches of fading color: a mother’s sundress; a grandmother’s apron; my favorite playsuit; the shirt my father wore when, desolate and brimming with tearful despair, I begged him not to abandon me to the terrors of summer camp.

Later, souvenirs of those not-at-all-terrifying weeks — the postcards, the pressed flowers, the mimeographed sheets of song lyrics – went into the first of many scrap books that served as collages of the passing years. Like the bits and pieces of scrap metal sculptor Lyle Nichols brings to life at his Colorado studio, their original purpose remained clear, even as their selection and combination created an entirely new vision of reality.

Looking at Nichols’s horse, thinking about leftovers for supper this evening, remembering that it’s warm enough now to put quilts away for the summer, it occurs to me that every bit of life we call scrap is valuable, and worth cherishing.

Scraps recall real meals, lovingly prepared. They intimate the cut of real clothing, patterned and stitched by human hands. They embody authentic experience: photographed, clipped, and pasted by the hands of those who knew which experiences were significant and which were not: which demanded saving, and which could be released without regret.

The best scrap, it seems, is grounded in reality, capable of stimulating memory, and able to contain an entire universe of experience within the tiniest shred of peeling or fold of cloth.

To the extent that writing is grounded in fragments of thought, a scrap of memory, or a pile of trimmings from from a vibrant and imaginative reconstruction of reality, it belongs with our quilts and our leftover meat loaf. Pulling words from from a pile of paragraphs; reworking paragraphs as though forging metal art; piecing sentences together with prepositional stitches and conjunctive thread; snipping, framing, and pasting images as if into a cherished book — all of this is beautiful, nourishing, and worthy of regard.

Few authors have understood the shimmering potential of mental scrap, the beauty of leftover experience, more clearly than Portuguese writer and poet Fernando Pessoa. After Pessoa’s death, a trunk filled with thousands of scraps of paper was discovered with his belongings. Among the unpublished poems, unfinished snippets of prose, and assorted other bits of writing was his thrilling and mysterious The Book of Disquiet, the source for this hypnotic sentence:

 I ask and I continue. I write down the question, I wrap it up in new sentences, I unravel it to form new emotions.

Published fifty years after the author’s death, the extended diary fragments which form The Book of Disquiet represent the autobiography of Bernardo Soares, one of Pessoa’s remarkable “heteronyms,” or alternate selves. Each of these selves, nearly seventy or more of them, functioned autonomously as a fully developed literary alter ego, with a deeply personal voice and vision. And yet, the scraps remained just that: not unlike the pile of notes that covers my desk, scribbled on the backs of envelopes or grocery store receipts.

Why would a writer do such a thing? Pessoa suggests one answer:

I’m always horrified whenever I finish anything. Horrified and desolate. My instinct for perfection should inhibit me from ever finishing anything; it should in fact inhibit me from ever beginning. But I become distracted, and do things.

Reviewer Tricia Yost once suggested that Soares’s diary speaks of  “Lisbon, literature, monotony, dreams and much more.” But, she added, “in the final analysis, the minutiae of life is made heartbreakingly beautful.”

The minutiae of life. Fragments of experience. Scraps of remembrance, well-trimmed and basted into patterns of prose. Poetry tasting of sunlight and oranges. Strands of rough and barbed experience, unraveled and re-coiled. Tailings of thought, and half-formed questions, waiting to be asked.

All are there, waiting in the trunk, behind the door, beneath the surface of memory. Perhaps they are waiting for us to become distracted, and do things.

Comments always are welcome.

 

125 thoughts on “Scraps and Reality

    1. Thank you, Heather. I’m glad you enjoyed it. After reading about your family, I’m not sure you’d ever have leftovers at the dinner table — that’s quite a crew you’re feeding.

  1. Beautiful. It brought to mind Joe Barrington a sculptor who uses the insides of oilfield storage tanks for huge buffalo skulls and tire treads for feathers on his giant ravens and rusted raw steel for the hide of bulls. He has a studio housed in a former auto dealership in Throckmorton and recently served as guest sculptor at the Old Jail Museum in Albany.

    1. Of course I looked up Joe Barrington’s studio and work. it’s striking. I like it, very much — particularly the catfish in the truck.

      Another one you would like is this rebar buffalo that stays on the grounds of the North Dakota State Capitol in Bismark. There are so many creative people making art with materials that once qualified as scrap — and perhaps still do. No matter, that. The art is compelling.

  2. This is so very much what I am feeling and experiencing at the moment, as I sift through the scraps of my family heritage. As each item goes to a new home, I attach a message saying thank you for giving it a new life. I have not experienced scrapple and apple! That sounds so scrummy.

    1. I understand the impulse to pass things on to people who will enjoy and appreciate them. In my situation particularly, with no children and no large extended family, the only way to be sure some bits and pieces move on to others who will enjoy and appreciate them is to do it now — while I’m the one still able to do the sharing. I’ve heard a rumor that we can’t take it with us — although there are times when I think I’d like to give it a try.

      Scrapple and apples is delicious. Think a pork loin roast or pork chops with fried apples, and you’re close to the taste.

      1. I have been trawling the net for scrapple recipes. :) May give it a try when I get some cornmeal. Well if you decide to try taking some bits and pieces with you, let me know how you get on. ;)

  3. My mother made a quilt with the pattern of your pictured quilt. I think I have it now, but I can’t find it. I must have a family inquiry! My husband sometimes takes quilts out to the van. Hope it is not any farther gone than that. He said he doesn’t think so but maybe. Too dark to check now.

    Mother made a quilt for me out of bits from my wedding dress, the bride maid’s dresses and my maternity tops. She must have made it a couple years after I married because she did all my sewing for my little boy. She would have put scraps of his clothes if it was later than that. I used the quilt til it became ragged around the edges. She cut the middle out and bound the edges again. I have it hanging on a bedroom wall. Memories. Maybe I’ll do a blog with a picture someday. Enjoyable reading.

    1. It seems that the “Grandmother’s Flower Garden” pattern was quite popular for a while. I have other friends around my age whose mothers and grandmothers followed the pattern at least once.

      I love the idea of a quilt made from wedding dresses: both yours and your bride’s maids. Adding the maternity tops is even better. While I can understand the impulse to keep a wedding gown hanging in a closet, the thought of it being a part of daily life is wonderful. We need certain “things” around us. They help to keep memories alive.

      Speaking of grandmothers and their flower gardens, I was photographing some wildflowers in a “vacant’ lot this weekend, when I spotted some bachelor buttons and exactly two orange poppies left from the height of their bloom. Looking a little more closely, I saw what appeared to be zinnias coming up.

      I suspect that a house was there at one time, and someone planted that garden with old-fashioned flowers. I never long for a house, but I do sometimes wish for a cutting garden like my grandmother and mother had. They must have been fine gardeners, for we never ran out of flowers.

      1. I planted some cosmos. At this time I am finding that it would be real nice to have flowers come up from seed. I should add zinnias to them also. My mother made my wedding dress and the dresses for the bridesmaids so she had scrap material left over. She did not sacrifice the dresses. My dress is hanging in my bedroom even now. Its story is rather unique. I’ll blog it some day.

        1. I hope you do tell the story of the dress. One of my friend’s grand-daughters was married recently, and she wore the veil my friend wore: many, many years ago. It’s wonderful to see some of those traditions being carried on.

          One of these days, I’ll have zinnias for the house. A farm where I pick fruits and veggies also grows flowers: mostly zinnias and sunflowers. For three dollars, you get a basket to fill with as many flowers as you can. It’s such fun — and the zinnias last longer than grocery store flowers.

  4. This lovely post reminds me of my post about texture. Scraps are surely a textured part of life. Many Jews became involved in the scrap metal business; we have a number of friends whose parents/grandparents operated scrap metal yards. Many of those people have died of mesothelioma.

    Very nice, Linda. Not a scrap at all!

    1. Now that you mention it, Cheri, I think you’re exactly right. The texture of life comes from the multitude of scraps we use to construct it — or which life itself builds around us.

      For many years, I associated asbestos primarily with roofing materials and insulation: much as people associate lead contamination solely with paint. Of course, the problem was — and is — more widespread. What surprised me when I looked at this list of products was vermiculite in potting soil. A mine in Montana produced amphibole asbestos-tainted vermiculite until 1990, and the stuff still is found in many homes’ insulation.

      I’m glad you enjoyed my musings. It’s occurred to me that the story of the Texians fleeing before the Mexican advance, prior to the Battle of San Jacinto, could be told from the perspective of a family’s quilt. The title? Why, “The Runaway Scrap,” of course.

  5. We watched a Ted talk tonight about using multi-channel analyzers to recover the text of faded and damaged old document scraps. One was from a Greek author who had erased what was previously written on the surface and written something else. The technician was able to recover the previous text and read it to those present. It was the first time those words had been heard in 2000 yrs.

    Most of the scraps I collect are related to genealogy of our families. There are a multitude of bits and scraps which may, if I am lucky, partially complete the pictures of those who went before. Some of the scraps are paper, some books, objects, some are digital. This week I published those on the web for family members to browse. I hope some will find them interesting as I have.

    1. The history of palimpsests is fascinating. Some older techniques for erasing text were fairly benign, like the Romans’ use of milk and oat bran, but other, more modern, techniques actually were quite destructive. If the multichannel analyzers can do the job with less (or no) damage to the document, it’s all to the good.

      You have reminded me of a trick we learned as kids. If someone had written a note — say, to a teacher — which we weren’t privy to, it sometimes was possible to rub a soft lead pencil over the sheet of paper beneath where the note was written, and see the message emerge. It took some practice, but the results could be worth it.

      Genealogy’s fascinating, and much like putting together a giant jigsaw. I hope you have family members who appreciate your efforts. I’ve done only a bit of research into family history, but I’ve done enough to know how much time and energy it can take.

    1. You’re right about that, Terry. I’m good about keeping the clutter under control in my house and on my desk — even on my computer — but in my mind? That’s a different matter. I’m constantly shuffling through those mental scraps, muttering, “I know I put it in here somewhere!”

  6. Linda, this is a scrappy post if ever there was one. Life it seems is all about scraps and threads of imagination taking us from childhood to our graves. I suppose most of us keep all sorts of scraps but my problem lies in the fact that I have no time to do anything with what I have collected over the years. My good scraps are keepsakes and old furniture from grandparents, in-laws and, my parents.

    I like this post very much for it tells some interesting facts. I especially like the photo of the quilt and the very unusual horse made of pieces of metal.

    1. The nice thing about old furniture is that we can live with it — aware of it every day, instead of having it stashed in a drawer. My favorite pieces are an oak blanket chest my grandfather made from their dining table after it became too small for all the kids, my parents’ grandmother clock, and a collapsible sewing table that belonged to my grandmother. All are functional as well as being lovely and sentimental — another plus.

      Your mention of the quilt brought an old expression to mind. We talk about “piecing things back together.” Sometimes it’s a broken vase, and sometimes it’s a life — as your son is finding out. it does make sense of the name “pieced quilt.” The biggest difference between the quilt and a jigsaw is that Grandma and her friends decided what the picture would be as they put it together.

  7. I can identify with feeling “horrified and desolate” whenever I completed a piece. Painting, writing, the horrible feeling and the doubt: Will I ever be able to write something so good, so sweet again. I feel lost. Where do I start next. The anguish of not going to be able to string words into sentences again, not being able to mix perfect colors. not being able to give meaning to everyday things.

    1. It occurs to me that you might enjoy reading Tennessee Williams’s essay titled, “The Catastrophe of Success.” I’ve always found the piece provocative, stimulating, and comforting. In short, it works for a variety of circumstances.

      I think all of us have an assortment of feelings once a piece is finished and posted. Over the years, I’ve learned that it’s the work that counts, more than the feelings. As soon as I post, I’m on to the next thing. I always begin my next entry on the same day that I post. If I had a slogan, I suppose it would be, “Write, and let go.” Self-recrimination or self-congratulation aren’t particularly useful at the point of publication.

      In any event, I’m glad you appreciated the post, and Pessoa’s musings. He was an interesting fellow. I found “The Book of Disquiet” a bit dark, but worth reading. On the other hand, there were times when I wanted to say to him, “Why don’t you just go down to the bistro, sit in the sunshine,and watch the birds?”

      It’s so nice of you to stop by, and comment. You’re always welcome.
      ~ Linda

  8. I’m new here and I’ll definitely be back–this post is lovely. Your varied examples of scraps are so evocative and they really got me thinking about my own life and the things I’m drawn to. I do think there are people for whom scraps mean nothing, just seen as detritus, but I’m not one of them!

    1. I was sitting here thinking, “I know this woman.” I just couldn’t place you. Then I went to your site, and realized your post is the one that Melanie reblogged today. I’ll be by to read, for sure.

      Since writing this, I’ve remembered another way that scraps played into our lives when I was younger. We had a small tray in the kitchen where the scrap paper went. It could be anything from envelopes that had arrived in the mail to no-longer-needed school reports with one side of the paper blank. No one would have wasted those things. In fact, one of my treasures is a hand-written note I found after my mother’s death. Quite apart from the message, which was humorous enough, I enjoyed seeing that she’d never quite gotten over the habit of using scrap paper.

      Thanks so much for stopping by, and for commenting. You’re always welcome here.

      ~ Linda

      1. So many of us do seem to travel in similar blog circles! Isn’t it interesting how seeing the handwriting of certain people can really get to us? My father died when I was 17 and I have a scrap with a note from him put away, for lo, so many years!

        1. That’s why I still have my mother’s recipe cards, even though I’ve entered all of them into a computer file. The cards are a nice backup, but they also evoke wonderful memories of the times when she would make the dishes for us.

  9. “To the extent that writing is grounded in fragments of thought, a scrap of memory, or a pile of trimmings from from a vibrant and imaginative reconstruction of reality, it belongs with our quilts and our leftover meat loaf. Pulling words from from a pile of paragraphs; reworking paragraphs as though forging metal art; piecing sentences together with prepositional stitches and conjunctive thread; snipping, framing, and pasting images as if into a cherished book — all of this is beautiful, nourishing, and worthy of regard.”

    What a great piece of narrative poetry about scraps. No more words from me. You said it all my dear friend. No words at all from me.

    Thank you for teaching English to this thirsty man enamoured with the English language.

    1. I’m glad you enjoyed it, Omar. You chose to highlight what probably is my favorite paragraph in the piece, and that makes me happy, too.

      In one of my favorite interviews with John McPhee, he’s asked about his writing routine. In describing it, he says,

      “That’s my day, all day long, sitting there wondering when I’m going to be able to get started. And the routine of doing this six days a week puts a little drop in a bucket each day, and that’s the key. Because if you put a drop in a bucket every day, after three hundred and sixty-five days, the bucket’s going to have some water in it.”

      What you said about being thirsty brought that to mind. I’m glad I had a little water for you this time.

  10. Scrap is always scrap isn’t it! But them sometimes we fill our houses with too much scrap. It’s always hard to find that balance, isn’t it, particularly because what we consider as scrap changes with time. Another very interesting post, Linda.

    1. I think the biggest change in our society over the past half-century involves how we deal with scraps of every kind.

      When I was growing up, almost no food was thrown away. Even the water used in cooking vegetables was saved, and put into the soup pot. The last bit of a bar of soap wasn’t thrown out, but was combined with other small bars, melted down, and reused. Old tires became swings, and clothing was handed down as children grew until it was sufficiently worn for the rag bag.

      What’s interesting about that kind of scrap is that it slowly disappears; it gets used up or passed on. Today, there’s another kind of scrap that might better be called “stuff.” It’s generally purchased, and often for no particular reason. You’re right that it can fill up a house — fast. Now we have television programs, workshop speakers, and authors devoting themselves to telling us how to get rid of it all. What a world.

  11. This essay reminds me of my father-in-law’s shed. Actually, it’s not really a shed. It’s an old army surplus aircraft hangar that an enterprising local made a business of marketing to farmers.

    As big as the equipment has gotten over the years, “the shed” still accommodates the largest, but less and less so every year until this year. Tom died this spring and the gradual process of filling his enormous shed from the back, died with him.

    Now we are going to have to figure out what to do with the stuff – but first we will have to figure out what the stuff is.

    1. I had a friend — in Comfort, as a matter of fact — who maintained a grass strip for experimental aircraft, and had multiple hangars on his property. All of the guys were good at filling up their space, but he was among the best. Now that I think about it, absent the airplanes those hangars would have worked beautifully for farm equipment.

      He’s gone now, too, leaving a legacy of half-cans of paint, mysterious tools, and replacement parts that had to be kept around, just in case. And, yes: he was given to occasional trips over to Kings — but just to look around, you understand. As he pointed out, quite reasonably, you never knew what you were going to find, and you’d hate to miss something useful — even if you weren’t sure of its use.

      Good luck with the sorting. I suspect there are amazements ahead.

  12. You’d expect me to like the metaphor of “piecing sentences together with prepositional stitches and conjunctive thread,” and so I do.

    The Portuguese word pessoa means ‘person.’ How appropriate for a writer who created so many literary personas.

    1. Sometimes when I get out of my own way, wonderful images present themselves. That metaphor was one, and I’m glad you like it.

      I’ve been dipping back into “The Book of Disquiet” since Susan wrote about Pessoa. I have to say, I can’t manage more than about two pages at a time, but it’s great for middle-of-the-night reading.

  13. WOW! There are so many things that I love in this post, dear Linda… You are amazingly expressed all these stories, memories… Scraps of memories fascinated me. Thank you, have a nice day, Love, nia

    1. Your blog is very much like what I used to call a scrapbook, Nia. It’s filled with little memories and stories from your life and travels, and is a wonderful way to enjoy your world from afar. I’m so glad you found something here to enjoy. ~ Linda

      1. Thank you so much dear Linda. You are so nice. I always enjoy and love your writing, stories, poems, photographs, fascinate me. Have a nice day, Love, nia

  14. I’ve seen old agricultural implements, used to create art, and it is a good feeling, to see it “repurposed” in a creative and respectful way. Other times, randomly welded together in a way which actually makes me sad – to see a farmer’s possessions, things that had utility, now discarded and without regard for its history or purpose, cobbled together as a cutesy ornament in a garden store.

    You, on the other hand – take wildly disparate things, barbed wire, scrapple, meatloaf, quilts — and create an elegant essay. To not end up with a mishmash, requires artistry. I am going to read this more than once, thank you, I think it will help me to write better.

    1. Speaking of repurposed items, check out the prickly pear cactus in this photo of the Comfort Little Theater. If that’s not both creative and respectful, I don’t know what is. It’s funny, too. The “planter” may well have come from King’s.

      You’re certainly right about the difference between creating and cobbling together, not to mention the difference between mass-produced and individually created. As in all the arts, vision and mastery of a skill set are required to move beyond cutesy — and probably cheap.

      I’ll admit it’s a bit of a challenge to put an article together in such a way that readers can see the relationships among things that seem so obvious to me. Sometimes I succeed, and sometimes I don’t quite hit the mark, but it certainly is an enjoyable process. One of my frequent reads is this interview with John McPhee. I suspect you’ll enjoy it, too, and find it a fine guide for better writing.

      1. Well, that planter looks creative, totally respectful, and maybe a little uncomfortable. And pretty funny. I always wondered why they don’t recycle them by installing them in parks, so dogs have some place to get a drink.

          1. I had to mention one scraps memory your excellent article brought: Button Boxes, for buttons cut off clothing headed for the ragbag. The boxes are usually old cookie tins, but sometimes octagonal, I think, with trays so they could be sorted. When we were kids & discovered the old folks had these, it was like finding Viking treasure troves, a lot of them were fancy, metal, even glass I think. You could use them as currency in games, needing lengthy negotiations over the exchange rate. On rainy weekends, they’d sew them onto the old shirts for costumes – just randomly, or in designs, or even in rows, so you’d look like a Generalissimo with a chest full of metals.

            1. Mason jars — that’s where Grandma kept hers. There was nothing more exciting than being allowed to pour the contents onto the floor and commence play. I remember buttons as currency, but don’t forget Bingo. They made fine markers for the cards, too.

  15. I haven’t read these authors, but from what I gather and the title of the post is that life can take creative turns from what we’ve stored either physically or emotionally wise. In my case, it depends on inner strength and confidence, as somewhere hidden in that chest is a song that plays, or a chapter with a new name…

    1. Exactly so, Maria. All of us spend our lives “picking up the pieces” in one way or another. It’s what we do with the pieces that makes the difference. Sometimes, it’s best to throw them away, but just as often it’s worth keeping that snippet of song, or the new chapter’s outline. There’s no telling what role it will play in the future.

  16. You know, Linda, I, too, am fond of scrap paper and keep an “idea box” both physically and digitally. Wonder why we writers feel we can’t part with anything that might come in handy later?!

    I love your quilt but I never got into that. My grandma was a crocheter and made beautiful blankets, baby sets, slippers, vests, what have you. It kept her fingers busy while she watched TV. I made a few pieces when I was in college, but like so many things, it’s given way to other “hobbies.”

    I totally appreciate what you said in another reply, the part about posting and immediately beginning on another post. I think that’s key to getting anything written — the idea that you’ve done as much as you can, but you can’t keep worrying a thing to death!

    1. It’s hard to know what to keep, and what not to keep, isn’t it? About every six months, I go through my draft files and my bookmarks, and eliminate anything that no longer interests, or seems relevant. Some posts are still in draft after several years. Others are gone within six months. There even are times when I look at a title or a brief entry, and don’t have a clue what I was thinking. So, out it goes.

      As for my little mantra of “write and let go,” I do think it’s important, Debbie. Not every post is of equal quality, but I work on each of them until I know that the piece is finished. When that happens, there’s nothing to add or subtract, so it’s time to move on.

      Also, even though I try to keep to a weekly posting schedule, if something isn’t ready to post, I switch gears and set it aside until I can improve it. That’s why my draft file’s so large — there’s a lot waiting for improvement!

  17. You and my husband would have had a lot of fun junk yard shopping. He could always see the beauty in rusty and forgotten parts of things long gone. Love your quilt memories.

    1. I think that’s one reason I find certain aspects of the Steampunk movement so appealing. All of those gears and sprockets and thingies and such! There even were Steampunk enthusiasts who designed their wedding cakes with gears.

      I’m just not a quilter (or a knitter, or crocheter, or needlepointer, for that matter) but I admire the skills of those who are. And of course I love the heirlooms that have come down to me. it still surprises me that I remember so many pieces of clothing, just from those swatches.

  18. I love the line about experiences worth saving or those ready to be discarded. As an artisan, I have been a saver of junk which may or may not come in handy. I once scoured rail yards for old rusty bottle tops to combine in a sculpture. A bag of feathers and a couple of dead birds attached themselves to a soft Indian sculpture. Junk to some but obviously not to me. I have always loved junk yards for their ability to spur my imagination. Much like cookbooks!

    1. You like bottle tops? Oh, my. I wish I could transport you right over to Houston and take you to see The Beer Can House. it’s an absolute gem, and much beloved. Sometimes, all it takes is a good idea and perseverance.

      Speaking of experiences to be saved or discarded, i was thinking today about my mother’s occasional irritation over my inability to maintain a grudge. I’d just laugh and tell her that Peg Bracken’s advice held true across the board: when in doubt, throw it out.

      When you get right down to it, junk and weeds have a lot in common. Its the eye of the beholder that recognizes their worth. Perhaps that’s one reason wildflowers fit so well in old milk bottles rather than Baccarat crystal.

  19. A young woman in my quilt guild showed us two pieces the other night. She introduced the second one by telling us about growing up in Wyoming, with a father who collected oddments and objects in heaps behind the barn. She said he called them his spare parts. With that she showed us the quilt, made entirely from spare parts created by the first.

    As to Grandmother’s Flower Garden, hexagon quilts have come back in popularity with the soothing nature of hand-piecing. Younger quilters, especially, have created new versions. Most of them have no memories of this quilt in their lives. With our current throwaway culture, perhaps scrap quilts of all kinds will help spark a return to economy.

    1. I almost never hear someone use the word ‘oddments.” I picked it up from Peg Bracken’s “I Hate to Cook Book” back in the ’60s. She used it as a common term for little desserts, like purchased petits fours, that serve the purpose but don’t require meringues, double boilers, water baths, or construction.

      The thought of a quilt made from scraps of a quilt is completely wonderful. And I really enjoyed hearing about the connection with her father in Wyoming. I know that the weekly trips to the dump I made with my own father still influence me. He’d always say, “Want to go exploring?” and off we’d go. I got to choose the direction, and by the time I was out of grade school, I’d probably traveled every gravel road around town.

      It both surprises me, and doesn’t, that there are people who don’t know the Flower Garden pattern. But, as we like to say down here, what goes around, comes around. It’s not only a beautiful pattern, it’s a wonderful way to preserve the past, usefully.

  20. I enjoyed this, Linda. We didn’t do scrapple, but we sure did fry apples. I still fry them in the fall. H remembers scrapple, though. He grew up on a farm. They didn’t slaughter pigs, but their next door neighbor did. He has talked about it before in nostalgic tones, but I’ve never made it for him.

    That quilt is beautiful. I almost teared up reading your recollections of its scraps.

    Scraps can be used in very interesting ways. H once told me that the Vietnamese used to collect the soldiers’ aluminum cans and make picture frames and sell them back to the them. When we were moving, I ran across a photo of him in one of the frames. He was wearing his flak jacket and helmet. Behind his photo was a sketch of his girl back home – not me.

    I guess you can tell that H read this with me.

    1. Proust had his madeleine, we have our scrapple. The ability of food to evoke memories is amazing. There are a couple of Swedish dishes I’d pay really good money for, but I can’t find them in Texas. IKEA’s no solution, that’s for sure — and I’m not about to buy sausage casing and start stuffing.

      That quilt is as good as a traditional scrapbook. So many of its pieces evoke not only the piece of clothing, but also a time and place where it was worn. I’ve thought it would be a fun project to photograph some of the pieces I recognize, and write a short history of them. Just what I need — another project. But maybe.

      That’s one of the best stories of creative entrepreneurship I’ve heard. I love that you still have one of those framed photos — and that H ended up with you and not her. See? Things work out.

  21. I’ve never had scrapple either — but I can totally relate to the packed post of memories. My grandmother was a seamstress. I have fond memories of her making several outfits for my cousins and me, especially during the summers. She made a quilt for me of those “scraps”, and I remember each design of material. Sadly, I do not have anyone to leave these memories!! My nieces are not interested in history!

    1. Like you, I don’t have children or other relatives to leave things to, so a bit of creativity is called for. Some things, especially documents and photographs, will go to a local museum in Iowa where my parents grew up. There aren’t any guarantees, of course, but they do have an agreement with the State of Iowa that, if the local museum has to close for any reason, the materials will be taken over by the State historical society.

      Just south of here, in West Columbia, there’s another great local museum that has displays of clothing, household items, and such from the 1800s and early 1900s. They have a lovely collection of quilts. They can’t take them all, of course, but a woman did tell me that unusual patterns or history often lead to one being accepted. It might be worth exploring up in your area.

      1. Thank you for sharing! Some of my dad’s paperwork, books and important small equipment has gone to the LSU branch in Lafayette. There is a family exhibit. The remainder of items need a “home”.

  22. You are so good at taking fragments of your life and “sewing” them together into such beautiful “quilts” – creative literature.
    “…every bit of life we call scrap is valuable and worth cherishing”
    “…all of this is beautiful, nourishing, and worthy of regard”
    You have a wonderful gift…and I enjoy it immensely!

    1. Thanks for your kind words, Elizabeth. In a world where so many seem to find nothing of value or worthy of regard, it seems useful to keep making the point, over and over: everything, and everyone, counts.

      1. I whole heartedly agree. All the “old ways” are being forgotten. Things that used to be important; things that naturally filled our time in a healthy way; things like ” necessity is the mother of invention”…I could go on. But I comfort myself that I can sew, knit, crochet, grow things – and can call upon those skills whenever they are needed…
        So I very much value what you have to say about the pieces/scraps of our past life. (I think I got carried away here….hope you don’t mind)

        1. Of course I don’t mind. I’ve always thought a blog post should be a beginning, not an end. The comments and conversation are part of the uniqueness of blogs; that’s one reason I’ve always left comments open on all my posts.

          As for necessity being the mother of invention, I’ve long contended that we’ve flipped that, and now live as though invention is the mother of necessity. First, someone invents something. Then, the marketers take over, trying to convince us that their gizmo is a matter of necessity — that our life will be poor and threadbare without “it.” As the old song has it, “It ain’t necessarily so.”

  23. It may be written in sentences but this post is so poetry-like with the images, the memories prodded, the broad satin universal ribbons of thought floating through air as well as minds. The words, twirling teasing the reader along.

    Scraps are symbols you hold because, well, just because of all they are. (And junk yards are as much fun as second hand stores in out of the way places…just wear good shoes.)

    One of my favorite posts.

    1. Since the advent of eBay and Etsy, second-hand stores around here have changed. The flood of people cruising through, looking for items to sell online, not only reduced the number of interesting items, the quirkiness quotient seems to have gone down, too.

      Too many so-called “second-hand” stores are filled with goat soap and scent sticks, not to mention fake barn board signs. So, yes: the junk yard is a last refuge for people looking for really good scrap, unless you’re poking around pretty far out in the country. I have a friend who carries a map with one-hundred-mile-diameter circles drawn around Texas’s urban areas: Houston, Austin, San Antonio, and so forth. She never goes looking for “stuff” inside those areas. Her map looks like the world’s weirdest Venn diagram, but it’s served her well.

      Glad you enjoyed the post. Stay scrappy!

      1. Trendy people have destroyed yet another fun thing! (That and fleamarkets/eBay/TV shows about junk being valuable.)
        We used to haunt them in college for “garb” to wear. I had an old little girl’s lace trimmed velvet dress I altered into a long vest and a pair of flat old leather black lace up boots that country women used to wear that actually fit and had a decent sole. Cool idea about the Venn diagram
        As you say, junk is all changed now.

        1. And we can’t forget the sad demise of Col. Bubbie’s. There was nothing better than an afternoon in that place, followed by a shrimp po’boy at Benno’s and an evening stroll on the beach. Of course, the Col.’s place was in a class by itself. I’m not sure anything will match it, ever.

  24. First, I thought of my memorabilia box, Linda, that I have kept for ever so many years, at times being close to the sum total of what I owned— one of my last connections to my past and reality. Then I thought of the project in Liberia where girls take the scraps from tailors and turn them into purses, cell phone covers, etc. helping to make enough money to pay for their education, proving that one person’s junk is another person’s fortune and future. –Curt

    1. I remember the Bosh Bosh project — is that the one you mean? I just looked at their website again, and see there’s a link now for purchases from outside Liberia. I’d love to stop by Mamba Point and buy a bag, but it would add a bit to the cost.

      While I was growing up, my memorabilia box was a sample cedar chest of the sort manufacturers gave out. I found a duplicate on Etsy. It even has the same photo decoupaged on top. The irony is that, today, it has different contents, but the box itself has become memorabilia. Funny, how that happens.

      1. Yes, the Bosh, Bosh project indeed. It was/is one of those wonderfully creative ideas that makes a difference on the local level. Maybe the same thing happens to us, Linda. The older we get the more we resemble memorabilia. :) –Curt

  25. My family business was sheet metal fabrication, so I, also, am drawn to metal scraps and steely objects. I love boat yards and miss being around them in northeast WI. I like the hulking utilitarian boats- not the leisure stuff.

    I used to have a steamer trunk filled with scraps of my poems and thoughts, scribbled down on a matchbook cover, torn end of an envelope, whatever was handy. Then one day, many years later, even tho I thought there was good stuff in there, I let it all go, destroyed it all. Let it all go like bad memories. Besides, no one would care about it but me. And, everything I wrote is still inside me, so I really didn’t lose anything at all.

    A dinner of scraps is more rewarding and delightful to me these days than my old poems.

    1. Of course our boatyards here on the lake are filled with fiberglass, but there are some great shipyards on the coast. Bludworth Marine in Galveston is a place you’d enjoy — although I suspect mid-draft vessels are the rule there. There’s rig construction, too, and lots of activity at the Port of Houston. If you’re interested, this is a well-produced documentary about the Ship Channel and the Port.

      The rhythms of keeping and tossing, the decisions we make, are so personal, and sometimes inexplicable. You made the choice to empty your trunk; Pessoa filled his up, and then kept it locked — at least, metaphorically. Very occasionally, I’ll wish I still had something I’ve sent on its way, but it doesn’t happen often. Out of sight, out of mind, does seem to apply.

  26. I can’t remember if I posted a reply, but if I did (or didn’t) the top photo reminds me of all the rolled up and hung on a post scraps of barbwire on our family farm as I was growing up. Thanks for the memories!

    1. When I was in Kansas a couple of years ago, I not only saw fence-looped barbed wire, I saw what appeared to be barbed wire tumbleweeds. I missed the Barbed Wire Museum in Lacrosse, but it’s on the list for next time.

      I just love this, from their web page: “A very small percentage of visitors to the Kansas Barbed Wire Museum will be enthralled for hours, but many visitors will be satisfied with about 30 minutes. There are enough curiosities to entertain almost anyone for a brief period.” There’s nothing like a realistic appraisal of your offerings!

    1. Thanks, Sheryl. The nice thing about mental scraps is that they’re not so much of a storage problem — no need to build cupboards or shelves! Of course, finding things can be a bit of a problem — that’s why I still keep some notebooks and computer files. When my poor mind goes blank, they provide a little jump-start.

      I’m so glad you enjoyed the post. It was fun to remember all the scraps that have been a part of my life.

  27. So much is lost in today’s throw-away society. I grew up in the post war years of ‘make do and mend’, when every single thing had a purpose and ‘might come in useful’ sometime. We were taught about value and cost and looking after things. Items were treasured.

    My mother was a great sentimentalist and she kept so much and wrote down in a notebook where things came from. When she died it was very hard to throw things away and despite our recent move we still have boxes of items going back to time before I was born. The dining room furniture dates to 1937 – the year my parents got married. Sitting at that table is a prompt to so many memories of life at that table in so many varied circumstances and with such a wide variety of people. when we dispose of something it’s not the object we lose but all the memories that are associated with it that are lost.

    1. I’ve often said that objects incarnate memory: they give them weight and substance. As a poet once wrote about a poinsettia he’d given his mother (in a poem I’ve lost and can’t find), “they help to make the world stay.” it’s one reason sourvenirs from my trips often are rocks, seed pods, or grasses. Looking at them, I don’t remember the store where they were purchased, I remember the place where they were found.

      My parents were married in 1938, and for years their first table was a part of my life. By the time I was born, it had been moved to the basement and transformed into a laundry-sorting table, but eventually I stripped the layers of paint, found a solid oak table, and used it as my dining table.

      Speaking of everything being useful “sometime,” I can’t help wondering if your mother shared a characteristic with my own. Every time Mom received a gift, or something came in the mail, she was quite likely to say, after opening, “That’s a good box. Let’s keep that.”

  28. I had to laugh at your last paragraph: I’m the one who keeps the boxes – you never know when a box of a certain size might come in useful ! I didn’t learn that from my mother, I hasten to add. We found all the receipts for the furniture bought when my parents furnished their first house, and everywhere they went they kept souvenirs. I have all my mother’s diaries from 1924 and I have been looking through them and learning so much more than I ever knew when she was alive.

    1. It’s funny how relationships sometimes seem to grow and develop even after death. I understand my father today far more than I did when he was alive. It’s not that I’ve garned so many more facts; it’s only that I understand the facts I always had in a different, and deeper way.

      On the other hand, the telling of tales in recent years — stories that weren’t deemed “appropriate” for a child to know — have made clear that we don’t always know the people around us as well as we think we do. Scraps of information, like your mother’s diaries, can be truly revelatory.

  29. I’ve never been one to collect the “scraps” of my life. I can fit all that remains from my life with my parents in a very small box. Part of that is due to my father pitching it all (including family pictures of three generations) after my mother’s death and then keeping little else of his life until he ended up with his own small box in the nursing home.

    Mary Beth and her sisters, on the other hand, all inherited many mementos of their family. I have to admit a bit of jealousy and do enjoy having little things around the house reminding us of Frank and Marge.
    I enjoy the way you take a story, turn it into something relevant to your life, move on to another story and then wrap all up into something poignant and often universal.

    1. Having experienced an instance or two of tossing things that perhaps needn’t have been tossed, I can understand something of your father’s impulse. On the other hand, that second loss of memorabilia is sad in its own way. Like you, I envy those who have wonderful, complete family records, and plentiful photos. I certainly do treasure the scraps I have left.

      The reminders of hurricane season are going up on billboards around Houston now, and it’s time to do another sort through possessions to figure out what to take and what to leave. Actually, I don’t want to leave anything behind — especially artwork — but that’s not possible. So, we pack up our mementos, and wait.

      I really appreciate your last comment: not only that you enjoy my posts, but that you described so well what I try to do. Once something catches my interest — in this case, the first quotation from Pessoa — the task is to figure out why it caught my interest, and to make it interesting to others. After all, who would want to read a boring blog that has no relevance to their life?

      1. We often comment to each other about how fortunate we are to live in a place with very few threats of natural disasters. There is the occasional tornado or brush with a hurricane, but we rarely have to worry about such things. I am sure I would echo your desire to leave nothing behind, but what to take would be a challenge. I hope you do not have to make those decisions anytime soon.

        I often wish I could add prose to my blog such as your posts or David’s from Pairodox. While I am not sure my blog is boring, it certainly doesn’t offer up much to attract new interest and I see replies from a much appreciated few folks on a regular basis. This is a small part of my pleasure in reading your posts and I admire your ability.

  30. I especially liked the paragraph beginning”Scraps recall real meals, lovingly prepared. …” The idea that scraps are rather like traces, or tracks of what went before and so can also serve as an aide de memoire seems apt to me since so often it only scraps that we have. Scattered and erratic memories of childhood impress me even still and I can discern in the bits the breadth of a life that was then so large.

    1. I like your image of scraps as tracks. It evokes a larger life prowling through our individual lives: more sensed than seen, mysterious, wild, but perhaps capable of being tamed.

      A perfect example of your point is a small wooden music box sitting on my coffee table. It winds with a key, and it’s possible to watch the metal drum turn as the tune plays when you lift the lid (perhaps to get a cigarette, for it also was meant as a cigarette box). When I see it, I don’t see only the box, but the living room of my childhood. When I lift the lid and hear it play, I’m transported back — just for a moment.

  31. What a wonderful piece — I love how it segues to writing! I must say though… That while our little home is a cacophony of art through the ages, some of my favorites are the re-purposed, recycled artworks. Artists are doing some amazing things today, re-using materials in our society of waste, to bring attention to such matters. (We’re getting better, but…) And I still use my family’s quilts from the turn-of-the-century, amazingly beautiful, sturdy, re-purposed and utilitarian pieces.

    1. Isn’t it amazing how quality holds up? Hand-stitched quilts, real wood furniture, old kitchen appliances — they all have a shelf life far beyond anything produced today. (I’m still using many of my mother’s kitchen items.) Even some of the clothing manufacturers I used to buy from — like Land’s End — have declined in quality: enough so that I don’t buy from them any more. It’s such a shame.

      There’s a house I pass now and then that has delightful yard art. There’s the standard Southern bottle tree, but also a number of locally-themed, hand-made items. My favorite is the metal egret, standing on one rebar leg. Did you ever read my post about the chain-saw carvers that turned Galveston’s damaged and destroyed trees into art after hurricane Ike? That may be the best instance of repurposed materials I’ve ever seen.

      1. I’m running to check out your post now! I’m not sure if I’ve seen it… But you know, you’re right — there are so many formerly trusted brands, that many in my family have now had to toss aside due to rapidly deteriorating quality. Sadly, b/c those “outdoor” brands are few and far between, and are now insanely expensive. You REALLY have to pay if you want something to last, these days!

        1. When I finally broke down and bought myself a pair of good barn boots, I was astonished by the price. In fact, I nearly reconsidered. But, the reviews for the ones I bought (Noble’s) were stellar, and they’ve proven their worth already. This past weekend I was fording little streams constantly, and walking in hip-high grass, and I thought more than once how impossible any of it would have been even in my normal hiking boots. Honestly, they’re so well made, I suspect they may outlast me.

          1. Oooooh that’s good to know! I’m always on the hunt for good barn / hiking boots. :) I don’t think I’ve tried these on yet, so I’m definitely making note of ’em! The pair before last, I spent a pretty penny on.. And they didn’t last long at ALL in the ‘Glades. Just pitiful. They certainly don’t mind keeping that price-point up there, while tearing the quality down.

  32. I have a quilt top my grandmother pieced, and her daughter, my aunt, quilted for me. It is a scrapbook of fabric, some of which my mother recognizes. It is literally made of the fabric of my grandmother’s life. It is a treasure.

    Just as there are fabric stashes, Knitters and crocheters have fiber stashes, and there are projects called “stashbusters” — things to make that involve the use of leftover yarn, anywhere from a golfball size “tail end” to a whole “odd ball.” (You always end up buying too much yarn because dye lots. It’s a miracle when you “come out even.”) These stashbuster projects are our version of patchwork quilts. A color riot of granny squares in an afghan, a scarf of many colors . . . As beautiful as some purpose made things can be with their carefully selected patterns and purpose bought yarn, I think the “stashbuster” projects are just as beautiful. They are creatively challenging, evolving organically out of what you have on hand. I enjoy the piecing together of colors and textures. These fiber scraps are, in a way, notes from the past — yarn from this project, thread from this one — and a stashbuster project is in its way a scrapbook.

    1. I wish my mother still was alive, WOL. I never heard her use the term “stashbuster,” but I have a feeling she’d love it. She certainly would understand it. And every time I’d take her to buy yarn for this or that project, she’d instruct me in the importance of buying enough yarn — because, dye lots.

      I remember the afghans my mother and her friends made — those granny squares crocheted out of scraps: every block a different color and pattern. They weren’t especially sophisticated, but, as Mom said with a grin, they would go with any color scheme. Another way I saw her use up her tapestry yarn was with sampler pillows: each block a different stitch, and a different color.

      You’re exactly right that those pillows, afghans, and scarves are as surely scrapbooks as anything built of paper and paste. Even when a group works together on a specific project, the individual choices, the creative use of material, can result in delightfully individual results.

  33. Wow, I’m amazed how many different types of “scrap” there are. I never really thought before about the root word for scrapple, but it’s definitely a food that is made from scraps.

    1. I keep adding to my mental list of kinds of scrap, too, Sheryl. Today, I was thinking about the Christmas cards we used to keep. The next year, they would be cut up and used in every kind of art project — a fun and inexpensive way to make everything from tree decorations to gift tags.

      Have you ever made scrapple, or found recipes in your research? It really is such a good dish, despite its common beginnings.

      1. My parents made scrapple when they butchered when I was a child -but I’ve never tried making it. I have seen old recipes for it. I’ll have to take a look at them and see how easy they would be to adapt and make on a small scale.

  34. I have often wondered what my family’s reaction might be when they dig into my computer and see all the things that I have done. I can only hope to be received. This just goes to show that a writer is a writer. Even if the end result is never shown, the writer must write.

    Thanks for this,
    Tim

    1. And thank you for this comment, which sent me back to my first post on this blog. I’ve just passed my 8th year anniversary with WordPress, and in that context, the post seems — well, prescient. In fact, I believe I’ll repost it: just because.

      What tickled me this morning is the single comment that original post received. When I began blogging, I gave myself a lecture about hits, likes, comments, and such. I determined to write what I wanted to write, and do it as well as I could. If someone wanted to come along for the ride, that would be wonderful. But it was the writing that would count. I’ve never wavered, as far as that goes.

      We don’t write solely for ourselves, of course. If that were so, I’d have a journal stuffed in a drawer. But the best don’t write to please others, either. We write for the sake of the words.

  35. Well, of course I love this, and am all the more chagrined I didn’t get here sooner! Not only Pessoa, but also the very idea of scraps of any kind. In fact this last week, I visited one of my very favorite galleries in New York City, Pavel Zoubok, which specializes in assemblages and collage. The artist on display was Mary Bauermeister, about whom I’d learned on a previous visit to the gallery. I loved everything I saw, among them works made substantially, if not entirely, of beach pebbles. Here’s a link to some images:http://pavelzoubok.com/artist/mary-bauermeister/images/

    1. Of course you would be a fan of a gallery devoted to collages and assemblanges — is that where your interest in making your own collages developed, or did you begin seeking out other collage artists after getting involved with your own work?

      An idle thought: life-as-collage seems as satisfying as life-as-novel. It might be easier to fit the bits and pieces together that way: assuming, of course, they need to be made to fit.

      1. I’ve been drawn to collages for some time, much before attempting one, though then there is a synergy, as trying one’s hand at it deepens appreciation of those who do it so well. And yes, I’m a great proponent of life as collage–particularly as there seems no sensible way to straighten one’s experience out into a coherent narrative line.

        1. That synergy pops up everywhere, doesn’t it? Photography comes to mind. Since I’ve begun learning how to take picture, my admiration for those who do it well has increased exponentially.

  36. Well, Linda, as you might suspect, this post gets me right in the gut of where I live because my whole world is surrounded by scraps. That collecting of bits of life has evolved into what I do with art. The other day I was talking with another collage person and we were bemoaning the fact that it was hard to organize our studio/work areas because of the diversity of things — and putting away, while theoretically essential, almost becomes impossible! I have several “special boxes.” These have the scribbled notes from Greg and Kevin, Rick’s cards, bits of travel memorabilia, a few documents that should probably be elsewhere, fur of dead animals, all the bits of life. Most are things that will matter only to another collage artist who won’t see them as personal but a bit or blog to put onto something else. To me they are part of life.

    This post has so much, my mind is fragmented! That quilt, that fabulous quilt to die for! Most of the quilts I have are ones I’ve picked up at Auctions and estate sales but I have two doll quilts that are very precious because they were made by my grandmother. Oh, who can resist a quilt! I used to collect fabric, too, even though I didn’t sew, because it was too pretty not to collect! You see, I DO have a problem. Ask Rick.

    I’ve never been big on leftovers unless I can make them into something new. I’m contemplating chicken salad right now, from the leftovers last night. Not enough for soup… Scrapple sounds like a good idea!

    And finally, a web link you might find fascinating. Every year in Old Town they host Scrapfest which is metal sculpture of all kinds from old scrap stuff. Your fellow Roger King would be in his element! http://www.oldtownscrapfest.org/

    1. One of the artists I noticed from the 2015 Scrapfest was Cindy Higgins, who works with glass. I was in Palacios recently, and found that the Fishermen’s Memorial has been finished. It was so cloudy/drizzly/foggy I didn’t even try for photos there, but I did smile to see what they’ve done at the base of the statue. An area all around the perimeter has been filled with all shades of crushed blue glass, mixed with clear. Of course it’s to symbolize the water, and it’s wonderful.

      It’s a familiar theme — your mention of how your collection of scraps led you to art. My collecting of dishes led me to eBay, and selling online to other collectors. Eventually, I decided — well, what I decided is the basis for a post about collecting, so I’ll forego telling that story here. Suffice it to say I learned a lesson that made my life — and perhaps even my writing — better. You already know that I couldn’t live in the sort of environment you love, but I’m happy to visit it. Vive la différence, as they say!

    1. Thanks, Dina. In a way, you take what some people would see as scraps of the natural world and bring them back to life — putting them back in the world where they belong. Even saying that makes me happy!

  37. Linda, this thoughtful post brings back lots of good memories for me. Both my parents were children of the Depression, and like most people of their generation, they were “keepers.” Nothing was ever thrown out until it was well and truly useless. My father was a master of creative recycling. Once I saw him fix our lawnmower by making a new governor for the motor with a pair of tinsnips and an old metal oil can. And I still have one of my Mom’s quilts. Thanks for the pleasant reminder. ~James

    1. My parents were the same — as were their immigrant parents. I have a wonderful oak blanket chest that my grandfather made for my grandmother from the dining table that became too small as children came along.

      Your mention of the oil can governor brought back memories of a cruising sailor I knew who once got stranded on a Pacific island in need of a head gasket. As I recall, it was a baking sheet that provided the metal. I do know for certain that he used beach sand and pumice to smooth the cuts. It’s a good thing he wasn’t on a schedule.

      I’m glad you enjoyed the post, James, and that it revived some memories for you, too.

    1. What a nice thing to say! I guess that makes both of us “scrappy” people, which certainly isn’t the worst thing in the world. Thanks so much for reading, and for your comment. I hope all’s well in your world!

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