Somebody told me I was smart the other day. I told them that I’m not smart. I’m old. I don’t think intelligence has much to do with it as much as just hanging around long enough and paying attention.
As my mother-in-law used to say, “It takes a lot of living to live a little life.” It used to bug the hell out of us whenever she said this (mostly because it was in the middle of some big old honking lecture) but now I know how true it is. Much wisdom comes from very ordinary places; it’s usually the result of sheer experience.
Here’s some things you may not have thought of that I offer today as a result of my own experience:
Alway keep Dental floss around.
It's the most underrated and versatile threads ever. There’s no limit to the things it can do. I put up a birdfeeder with it yesterday. You can use it to sew buttons on in an emergency when you travel. Staples can also be used to re-sew a hem. Scotchtape may work in a pinch but staples are better.
Never buy a new iron skillet.
The old ones are the best. You may have to wait for someone to die to get your own but, when Aunt Myrtle goes, be the first in line to get hers. Never wash one with soap. Never let it sit in the sink full of water. Just scrub off anything sticky, rinse them out and dry. Never, never, never in any circumstance put one in the dishwasher.
Always have a place to dump your clutter.
The majority of what you do to get your house looking clean for unexpected company is just getting rid of clutter. Closets aren’t the only place to get rid of clutter. You can put stuff inside the washer and dryer, the trunk of your car, anywhere in the garage. Get an Emergency Dump Box to throw stuff in when company is on the way: magazines, screwdrivers, miscellaneous car parts sitting on the kitchen table. An even better solution is a Junk Room where you obviously would have a lot more room but you have to make sure company never notices the room and wants to check inside. Try blocking the door with a cedar chest if necessary.
Learn to cook at least one thing well.
Make sure it uses only ingredients that you can keep on hand in the cupboard or freezer.
Here’s a recipe for fool-proof, easy and impressive Cinnamon Rolls for company:
Melt a stick of butter. Add 3/4 cup of brown sugar and a teasp of cinnamon and half a cup of chopped pecans. Spray a pan with Pam. Add a dozen or so frozen yeast rolls, leaving plenty of room for the rolls to rise and expand. Cover with plastic wrap.Leave them out on the counter overnight. The next morning cook them at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes. Turn the pan upside down over a serving plate and the cinnamon syrup will cover everything.
Breast Feed your children.
Keep track of how much money you would have spent during the time if you had bottle-fed your baby. You owe yourself this much money. Buy something of that value later when the kid reaches 18. Remember to factor in 18 years of interest on your investment. Give yourself the best interest rate available while the kid was growing up. I got a new kitchen table this way.
Have a greeting card drawer.
Buy greeting cards whenever you see good ones; don’t wait until you need one.
Send your kids to out of state schools.
“If you’ve lost something, clean house.”
This quote comes from my step-mother who raised me and taught me more than I will ever realize. I lost my engagement ring twice- seriously lost-- the kind of lost that has you cutting open the dust bag of the vacuum cleaner. Both times I found it later when I was cleaning house. I’m not to going to tell you how long it took to reach the house cleaning stage.
"As you travel on through life, brother, whatever be your goal, keep your eye upon the donut and not upon the hole."
That one comes from my mother. It was a border written around the ceiling of the Mayflower Coffee Shop on Elm St in Dallas in the mid-fifties. We would go there after a trip to the movies and mother invariably read out the quote to me. Mother died when I was 14. I spent a lot of time missing her and being angry that she died when I was so young. Finally, one day I remembered her insistence on reading this to me so many times. Maybe she was trying to tell me something. I decided to be grateful for the gifts I received from her instead of angry at my loss. It made all the difference in the world.
See you next week.