Thirty-One Days: Reuse, Remake, Re-love

31Days2013

This is the first in a series of posts written in participation with 31 Days. The links at the bottom will take you to other posts on the topic.

Two weeks before my husband and I closed on the purchase of our 1871 home in Upstate New York, we were riding bikes in our Brooklyn neighborhood and we passed by a dumpster in front of a brownstone being emptied of its contents. My Treasure Find Antenna went up and I asked TBM (my husband) to stop: there were things in that dumpster we had to have, material possessions that would make possible setting up house in 2200 square feet, when we were currently inhabiting an apartment of a mere 650. TBM was not amused, but he stopped. Within minutes we were so laden with side tables, lamps, and picture frames that we had to walk our bikes home balancing items on the seats and handlebars. As fortune would have, a car stopped and a man rolled down the window, though he didn’t ask if he could help lug our load; instead he said, “Do you need furniture? I’m cleaning out my mother’s basement and have a lot of things you might be able to use.” TBM was humiliated, I was elated, and set up a time to meet and see what he had to offer. An absolute JACKPOT. Now, there are items in our home I think of fondly as “Paul’s” reminding me of the kindness and generosity of a stranger at a time I was very much in material need.

But what exactly does it mean, “to be in material need?” If pressed I would imagine most of us can conclude our needs are well met; it’s our wants that come a-wanting. How do we keep wants at bay? What, and how much, do we need to live fully and well? To be satisfied and happy? And how much of what we already have might be reused, remade, or “re-loved” so that the toxic power of consumerism cannot claim us? Continue reading

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Slow down, you move too fast…

Late Saturday afternoon TBM and I were working on the floors in a room that used to be our living room, but will become his studio once the floors are done. It’s a decent size room: 12.5 x 14.5 feet. I was repairing holes and damaged boards, and TBM was using the heat gut to remove the last dregs of paint from the corners and around fireplace. Then he casually picked up the orbital sander and started to work, a final sanding to open the pores of the wood to accept stain. I noted the time: 5:24. After an hour he had sanded four boards, a width of about four feet. Continue reading

Last Supper

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The perfect end to a wonderful summer: dinner tonight of organic chicken, and local sweet corn and eggplant, all fresh from the grill. The lovely flowers- wild Jerusalem artichoke, not sunflowers as I first thought- provided by a friend with whom I foraged for berries in July. The freezer is packed with them, to chase away any winter blues to come. Ah, yes, it was a wonderful summer!

A Garden Grows in Brooklyn

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I’m rediscovering the neighborhood, so it seems, since we returned from our Hudson summer. Our apartment is in a gentrifying area, and I’m filled with ambivalence over this fact. While it’s nice that crack whores no longer patrol the corners, I’m sad that the family living a few doors down, including an elderly disabled gentleman, were displaced by the sale and renovation of their building while we were away. Where did they go? Almost certain, far from here, just as we would if our landlord pulled the rug out from under us. Changes that “improve” the neighborhood drive prices toward an ever-higher roof. Some say we have Mayor Bloomberg to thank, for engendering a New York City fewer people can access, but that’s a post for a different day.

This post is about a garden, rather a garden center, that has sprung up in a formerly vacant lot on a nearby commercial street. Continue reading