It’s November. Which means NaBloPoMo. Let’s see what happens when I force myself to blog every day for a month, shall we?
My grandfather’s workshop has always been fascinating. He was trained as a tool and die maker before immigrating to Canada, and spent the majority of his years as a machinist. He was also a ‘tween’ in the Netherlands during the second world war, when rations and supplies were scarce. Everything was saved, mended, repurposed or refashioned.
He’s the original lifehacker. A maker, before makers were cool. Throughout my childhood, he was constantly creating little tweaks and gadgets to improve some aspect of their house or garden. Little things, like spring-loaded door stops, or squirrel-proof bird feeders. Or that time he rigged up a contraption to bypass the safety latch on an electric hedge trimmer and put it on a pole to trim a tall tree. He always had the perfect bit of something he’d saved that he could hack into something else. It seemed like magic.
In contrast, there is a large part of me that likes to live lightly. Nothing like schlepping all your worldly goods 1/3 of the way around the world, and then still having to pack/move/unpack them annually because you can’t get a lease longer than a year, to make you want to own much fewer things. I throw things out fairly indiscriminately. This is how I end up needing to do things like take seventeen trips to the photo place for tiny pictures.
Somewhat related, I have always been bewildered by people I call ‘crafty.’ Those who always seem to show up with a beautifully wrapped gift, or send the perfect (handmade, natch) card, or throw together a last-minute holiday-appropriate decoration or embellishment. How do they do it? Pinterest has not helped my lack of self-confidence in this area.
Then one week, I managed to actually send a card in a timely fashion, wrap a lovely birthday gift, and bring an appropriate hostess gift to a party.
Those things are rare enough in and of themselves. For all three to happen in a single week, in my world, is basically unheard of. I felt, dare I say, prepared, instead of frazzled. Like I was, for a short time, the person I aspire to be. How on earth did I do it? A happy coincidence of having the right things around.
And somewhere in all that, I remembed my grandfather’s workshop, and realized, having extra stuff around, sometimes, can be useful. These confusing ‘crafty people’ have a stash of things they can pull out whenever an occasion comes up and inspiration strikes. Like my grandfather’s workshop, ready for any small hack thanks to his habit of stashing any bits that might be mechanically useful, other people’s craft cupboards are apparently full of things just waiting for an opportunity to be used. They aren’t running to the craft store for a set of cutout letters, or wasahi tape, every time an occasion comes up.
I don’t know why this never occurred to me before. Our kitchen pantry basically operates like that. We can always throw together a pretty decent meal, or afternoon tea, or drinks and snacks, out of whatever’s around.
So now I’ve started making sure we have a few other things around to contribute to what I call (for lack of a better term) the ‘hospitality pantry.’ Note and occasion cards. Pretty wrapping papers. Small gifts and decorations. I’m not totally there yet (exhibit: Halloween 2013 – we had zero decorations. Not even a pumpkin.) but it’s coming.
More often than not now, a social occasion is cause for a tiny bit of self-congratulation that I’m equipped to handle it graciously, instead of turning myself into a crazy person or being embarrassed that I’m the one showing up to a kid’s birthday party with a gift awkwardly wedged into a leftover wine bag that someone else gifted to us (not that there’s anything wrong with that).
So now, I try to cull my possessions a little more carefully. I still aim to reduce the amount of useless stuff around, but maybe not be quite so quick to have nothing extraneous about. I’m far from a hoarder of materials and supplies, but I do now keep some extra ‘crafty bits’ around on purpose.
Are there any occasions or situations that you’re always ready for? What’s in your stash?