Darn It Anyway

[Previous Rural Farmgirl, April 2009 – May 2010]
Darn — to mend (a garment, for example) by weaving thread or yarn across a gap or hole.

I am as guilty as the next person when it comes to participating in the throwaway society. Although I have always been good about passing my kids’ clothes down, and Lord knows my kids would have run around naked had it not been for hand-me-downs, I haven’t always been good about repairing worn clothing. Worse yet, I was wasteful by not re-purposing old clothes. I am happy to report, though, that my ways have changed. It has now become habit for me to cut up old jeans for patches and to cut up old shirts and save the material for other uses. And lordy, I save every button I find now.
It has been mentioned here time and time again that we are blessed to be able to choose…sort of a little smorgasbord of life with a little from the past, a little present and a little future. Although, I have been thinking about that a lot lately and wondering, haven’t we always been able to do that? Sure, the choices seem to have a cavern between them to us, but sort of like “cooking a frog,” it has been a slow build. Back when my grandma was a young woman, I am sure she could never even imagine the world we are in today. And when I am 90, I think that the world will look even different than it does now. I have done enough of the “old world” things to know that in some areas we are certainly blessed. But I think that the generation of people who used the clothes wringer washers felt the same way when the new-fangled ones showed up. And how about the jump from horse and buggy to automobiles…that was progress! Those who didn’t have phones and then got them thought they made life bigger and better.
A few short years ago when I was younger and my kids were young, I recall being stranded on the side of the road in 100-degree weather. I had two little boys with me and was eight months pregnant. I didn’t have a cell phone or a laptop to call for help. I had two choices: either walk to the nearest farmhouse and ask for help, or wait until some kind-hearted stranger passed by and took the time to stop. Lucky for me, I was spotted by a familiar face and rescued, although my sense of humor was certainly left along the roadside. Even then, I couldn’t image having the ability to call from where I was. Now, it seems I think I can’t make it down to the post office without my cell phone. What is wrong with me? I literally turn around to go back to the house and grab my phone for a 15-minute errand.
I am learning to be more fugal, not just because I have to be, but rather because I want to be. I don’t like being wasteful and living life as if there is an endless supply of “new.” Maybe it is because I am now classified as old that I have a better appreciation of it. Frankly, I prefer the word “vintage.”
This summer as my kids are cleaning their closets of everything that is worn or no longer fits, we are making three piles: things that can be handed down, things that can be re-purposed, and things that can be salvaged. Maybe the jeans are toast, but they can be cut up and used for patches or quilts, or the zipper and buttons can be stripped off to use again. I even found an old dresser to organize it all.
So this week as two more of our friends called to let us know that they were among the growing list of people we love and care about who are “out of work,” it has reminded me that being frugal by choice is better than being frugal out of necessity. Normally I am a person who believes in abundance, yet there have been many moments lately that I worry about the lack of jobs. It seems that people all around us are hurting, and it reminds me that there are many lessons from the past that we can really learn from in today’s economy. Lessons like “putting up bounty,” make do with what you have when you can, and darn it anyway…

  1. Rene,
    A friend who’s never wanted for anything recently called and asked how much she should be spending on groceries. With the bottoming out of the construction field last year, her husband had not had work for some time.
    I grew up watching my mom stretch the pennies and told my daughter, "I will never complain again. I think it is much easier living a life of ‘making do’ than it is having to learn how out of necessity."
    My husband is currently out of work. I’m a stay-at-home, homeschooling mom. I thank God he has taught us that it’s not how much money you make, it’s what you do with what you have.
    One more line…before you go out and buy something ask yourself, "What do I have in my hand?" meaning what can I use that will suit the purpose.



    You and many others of us have had to really re-think our priorities. I am thankful that we as "farmgirls" have taken the time to really grasp this attitude of "making do" or do without. I hope too that we always are willing to give a hand out to help someone with a hand up. These times that we are in will define and refine all of us, one way of another..

    Best of wishes to your hubby as he searches for ways to keep the family finances coming in. I believe in abundance, but often times it just takes a more creative thinking then some are conditioned for. Please keep me updated on your progress. You can always email me at Rene@MaryJanesFarm.org

  2. Gary says:

    What a wonderful follow-up to your Bloggie about the Amish Rene’… They waste nothing.
    In these difficult economic times, we all are looking for ways to be creative and get the most out of what we have. I looked over my "usual" expenses, and actually found $100 in excess purchases of media services, as I had been paying for capacity I have never used.
    I recall my Granny, who had a 80+ acre "corn and baccer" farm, and she had to run the "House" on the milk and egg money. That Lady probably forgot more about how to re-purpose things than I will ever learn. I always loved her quilts, and all of them were made from the scraps of many worn-out garments.
    Some young people today are plesantly suprising… I was recently at a Friend’s home, and we needed a funnel in the kitchen. I offered to run to the store and get one, and a teenager said: "No worries.", and proceded to pour her soda into a glass and cut the top off the plastic bottle. Turning it upside down she proclaimed:
    "Wala… funnel…!"
    GodSpeed to Y’all…!
    in Tampa

  3. Reba says:

    My daughter graduated from college in 2003, then went to Poland to teach. Many of the people in the areas that she lived were still familiar with the "communist" rule and lived on basic necessities. She learned while at home to be frugal (living on a budget, staying debt-free, etc), but she really learned even more "thankfulness" from these people. It has been amazing and wonderful to see her growth. She doesn’t consider the latest fads and fashions. She decides if something is a necessity, functional, and has quality. My Mom was the same, and always creative. I have returned to my roots through my daughter.

    We take so much for granted dont we? Blessings to your daughter, few young people would take such a courageous route.

  4. Janet Samborski says:

    Thank you for your blog. My Granny raised a family during the depression and continued to live her life frugally when she "didn’t have to." She was a wonderful example for her children, grandchildren, and everyone who knew her. I learned so much from her. I was pleased the other day when I stopped to see my daughter. She’s a 30 year old single mom and struggling to make ends meet. She met me at the door and was excited to show me the project she was working on. She was melting down old candles that were no longer useful and making new candles to give as gifts. It makes me pause and remember that taking time and effort to reuse and repurpose not only makes a better planet, and saves me money, it makes me feel good too!
    From Missouri,

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