The Simple Life

Baby Boomer’s parents & grandparents who lived through the Great Depression developed a simple lifestyle devoid of waste.  By necessity, they lived by 4 simple rules:

  1. Use it up.
  2. Wear it out.
  3. Make it do, or
  4. Do without.

I once met a guy who lived through the Great Depression who claimed he never threw anything away.  He swore he even had a box that was labeled “STRING TOO SHORT TO USE”.  I’m pretty sure he was exaggerating.

Pretty sure . . .

Since World War II ended and Baby Boomer started arriving, the race has been on to see who could accumulate the most “stuff”.  Now garages and basements are full of stuff and storage units proliferate so people can accumulate MORE stuff.

Which brings to mind the question, “what are we going do with all this stuff?”

I have been making a conscious effort to reduce the amount of stuff in our home.  I have been only moderately successful because, as I am sorting through all my “stuff”, I am invariably delayed reminiscing about the old stuff I uncover.

And then there is the dilemma  of choosing what to keep and what to discard.   My track record in this area is spotty.   It can be summarized in four categories:

  1.  Things I hadn’t used in years but needed the day after I discarded them.
  2. Things I mistakenly kept because I thought they would some day be valuable (think 8-track tapes).
  3. Things I discarded because I thought they weren’t worth keeping (think “baseball cards”)
  4. Things I discarded because I saw no value in retaining them and was correct (think “my wife’s stuff”).

Nevertheless, I remain committed to reducing clutter around our house by following the sage advice of experts who recommend “Do it in small chunks”.

Right now I believe I’ll go make a small chunk of ice cream disappear from our freezer.

some day all this will be yours

That Great, Gettin’ Up Morning

In my humble opinion, the 1989 Civil War movie Glory contains one of the greatest movie scenes ever filmed.  The men of the 54th Regiment, an African-American regiment, are gathered around a campfire contemplating the next days battle.

One of the soldiers is portrayed by Morgan Freeman.  The gist of the speech he gave has stuck with me for the past 30 years.

“If tomorrow is our great gettin’ up mornin’, if tomorrow we have to meet the Judgement Day . . . let our folks know we went down standin’ up!”

Those words were in my mind the night before two neighbors and I planned to scale three tiers of scaffolding and re-attach a 50-lb chandelier to a 21-foot ceiling.  For good measure we planned to replace two 25-year-old ceiling fans and add a new beam at the same time.  Though that was pretty much routine for my neighbors, I was nervous enough for all three of us.

Thus my flashback to the inspirational scene from Glory and my own personal recreation of the campfire prayer meeting the night before our attempt.

If you have five minutes, sit back, watch this video clip, and reflect on the bravery of the men of the 54th Regiment.

My neighbors arrived at 8 am sharp.

 

 

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(l-r) Skilled Craftsmen Tom & Bill with their Apprentice – Me

:IMG_2847Here is proof I helped.  That me in the middle.  Though I am supposed to be holding up the beam so it can be firmly secured by Tom & Bill, I appear to be holding on instead.

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The moment of truth as the rewired chandelier is gently guided back to its original perch.  My wife, Val, is taking the pictures.

When the fixture was firmly in place, it was time for the moment of truth.

We held our breath as the switch was flipped to turn on the 24 twinkling lights.

Nothing happened.

“Turn the dimmer switch up” suggested my wife.

Voila!

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Let There Be Light!

12 hours shy of three weeks since the fixture fell, it was back in place.

Thank God & Tom & Bill!  It turned out to be the chandelier’s great gettin’ up morning (afternoon, actually, by then) instead of mine.

Though the large fixture is now, I guess you could say, “well hung”, the grandkids, who used to sit under the light doing homework or coloring, now make sure now to avoid what turned out to be ground zero when the light came crashing down.

 

 

 

 

Things That Go Bump in the Night

On January 1, 1972, I began keeping a journal.  That was the year I planned to graduate from college,  get married, start a career and finish my six year obligation in the Army National Guard.  On the cover of my journal I inscribed my favorite Scottish prayer.

Ghoulies & Ghosties
Front cover of my Journal from New Years Day, 1972

I accomplished all of my goals for 1972.  AND – I’ve been really fortunate in the ghoulies and ghosties and long-leggedy beasties area since then.

But at 4:30 am on March 5, 2019, I took a hit in the “things that go bump in the night” category.  That was when my wife woke me from a sound sleep with the words “The chandelier fell off the ceiling!”

To which I alertly responded “HUH?”

She had been awakened by a rather large “bump in the night”.  When she went to investigate, she discovered the large chandelier that had been suspended from the 21-foot ceiling in our great room for the past 25 years was now residing on the floor of our great room.

Scaffold on ground
A Pretty Big Thing That Went Bump in the Night

The chandelier in question had been hanging from the ceiling of our home for approximately 219,000 hours (3,140,000 minutes)  when it succumbed to the law of gravity.   That’s a long time.  Maybe I’m overly demanding, but I still expected better.

It’s not the first time this large lighting fixture has been a source of trouble.  When we bought our home in 1998, the original owners (who had designed and built the home) were in the midst of a divorce.

“My wife spent our entire lighting allowance on that chandelier” lamented the husband.

As often happens in life, our calamity was caused when something little went awry  resulting in a chain reaction with disastrous results.

In this case, an apparently “too small” or “too weak” piece of metal that had been supporting the weight all these years suddenly snapped in half.  That left only a hanging electrical cord with frayed ends and a large void where once had hung a 50 lb chandelier sporting 24 twinkling lights.

Pictured above are the hanger that broke and the frayed cord where our chandelier once hung

Though I don’t recommend this as a way to start your day, looking on the bright side there are two things I’m  thankful for in the aftermath of the chandelier that waited for spring to fall:

  1.  No one was injured (or worse).  Our grandkids often use the coffee table beneath that light to color and do crafts; and
  2. When something like this happens at 4:30 am, you are almost guaranteed that your day has to get better from there.

Now for the challenging part – reattaching the chandelier to the ceiling.   I have put together a crack construction team of three:  two guys who know what they are doing and me.  The combined age of my team is just shy of 210 years.

What could possibly go wrong?

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First Step:  Assemble the scaffold.                                                                   Second Step:  Assemble the courage to climb the scaffold

Though I get little nervous standing on top of a 16-foot-tall platform that sways under my feet, I am a proponent of the philosophy “Do the thing you fear and the death of fear is certain!”

Tomorrow I will put that philosophy to the test.

Worst case scenario, I won’t have to be concerned about “ghosties” any more.

I’ll be one.

If there is a next blog, I intend to title it “That Great Gettin’ Up Morning”.

If no more blogs are forthcoming, contact my wife if you are interested in buying a used chandelier.  CHEAP!