Wednesday, February 21, 2007


Began a spending hiatus today. It occurs to me that living a rural life is not necessarily more affordable than big-city dining and shopping. The feed store. The lumberyard. The vet bill and the seed catalogs. The -- gasp -- fuel for the Suburban. So I spent $1.98 this morning and vowed not to spend again for 10 days. I can do this. In solidarity, my farmchick (is that trademarked by our suspected soul sisters up north?) neighbor will stop spending too. We'll stop the "encouragement" of running into our nearby college town for a mocha. We'll stop finding fabulous deals for just a week and a half. We'll look into our barns and cavernous shop bays and say, wow, we have a ton of crap that was yesterday's treasure. A heap of projects waiting for a day or week of inspiration and nothing else to do. The bins of ebayable vintage-y pottery and fabric and whatnot.

Hey, my gramma used to say whatnot. And she had the most beautifully organized pantry. I am sure she was the original Martha Stewart, out of necessity. She lived as simply and beautifully as MaryJane Butters (I just heard *she's* launching a home dec line, how great and somehow contradictory is that?) and never thought twice about saving the 20 inches of twine from that package and the buttons off that shirt and...

I have the top drawer of her dresser, contents and all. In it are a stack of used cards, presumably to cut up to make gift tags; a box of privacy envelopes; a rectangular magnifying glass; her well-used crossword dictionary; a ball of string; several pencils sharpened with pocketknives. It smells of her talcum powder. The dividers are meticulously covered in old wrapping paper and wallpaper and cut out of the thinnest balsa wood. An emery board has its own compartment. I can see the order and thrift of my gramma, "Mummu" as the Finns say, and I can wish really, really fervently to see her again.

She was raised on a Wisconsin Dairy farm that I think is in the family still. She gave birth to my aunt in a log cabin and paid for the doctor's services with a flat of raspberries. I might be mixing that story up with the next aunt, who I'm pretty sure was delivered for the fee of a pie. So my born-and-bred farmchick grandmother brought every bit of make-do with her to San Francisco before my father and uncle were born. She made best farmchick friends with her next-door-neighbor Maude. They had a lifelong friendship in which Maude was my father's second mother and my grandma's eventual move to Oregon to live on my parent's property only meant they wrote each other every day. Every day. Their letters were like journals that traveled by mail to the safekeeping of a best friend.

Maude and her husband Arthur moved too, to Montana. A little cabin on little acreage with a sky-huge view. The letters continued. Often they would mail one another fabric. My grandma made strip quilts and rag rugs and Maude tore worn sheets, shirts and whatnot into the strips that my grandma needed.

So I'm going to go 10 days without spending money, immersed in our little farmette. Playing with the pony and my girls and going through the heaps to find something worth tearing into strips. I'll keep you posted.

1 comment:

Grumpy Momma said...

Wow....I like the new look. Of course, it may be months old by now, :-) , but I've been internet-less.

What a great post. I gotta tell ya, my family has reached new heights of frugality out of necessity. It is, in fact, much easier not to spend money when you don't have any, :-)

Not having much money is not nearly as bad as I thought it would be. Not that we want to stay in this state, but our relationships (family, friends, etc.) are improving greatly.

I LOVED reading about your grandma. Can't wait to catch up on the last 4 months of blogs!!!