Mending, Repairing, Canning and Taking the Train

The pundits and economists are talking about another impending financial meltdown. Some are predicting a worse one and others a milder one than we recently experienced in 2008. Some are even predicting a long worldwide depression. And while that sounds terrifying to me as I struggle to make ends meet, it also sounds exciting in a I-can-hardly-wait sort of way. A few lessons learned. 

Stockings.

A hole in my stocking. In the usual spot. The big toe spot. Embarrassing. My habit was to bin such stockings, but now I repair them. Until there are too many holes and too many repairs and then I bin them. I long to be a zero garbage producing sort of person but know that I am not even close. Mending, though, is a step in the right direction. 

The lamps. 

When I lived in India in the mid 1990s, I noticed so many objects that would be considered vintage chic in regular use: typewriters, refrigerators from the 1950s, cars from the same decade or even earlier. These objects were not considered vintage; they never fell out of fashion or use. When they broke down, someone repaired them and the repair business was alive and well, at least when I was living there. It made me realize how disposable our lives in the Global north really are. We don't just bin paper plates, we bin televisions and dishwashers and bookcases.

I sense I'm not alone when I say that I long for a return to the time when it would be more economical (even in the dollars and cents sense) to repair the lamp than to toss it. In my house, the no-longer-functioning lamp is not thrown out because I cannot bring myself to do that, but neither is it repaired, because I do not know how to do it myself and I wouldn't even know where to begin to find a repairperson, and so the object, like countless others, takes up space in my house and offers zilch in return. Clutter. But it should be a functioning lamp. 

The grapes, peaches and tomatoes.

Concord blue grapes grown by my friend, Maria. She brought over two small buckets and one huge one. What to do? I made some jelly. I made a jam which is more of a compote really because I skimped on the sugar. But it's delicious poured over some vanilla ice cream or on a slice of toast with a little butter.

Then it was peaches. I'm a novice at this and so won't be sharing any recipes, at least not yet. I find the whole ordeal rather scary, frankly. But I'm reading and reading and canning and so far so good. My great aunts, aunts and uncles and even my mom canned a little. But the new books say that you can't trust the old recipes because the acidity levels of fruits and vegetables have changed. For instance, my relatives never added anything to a jar of tomatoes before they canned them. But current wisdom says that to avoid botulism when canning tomatoes, you have to add vinegar. Botulism is killed with cooking, provided it's for a long enough period and at a high enough temperature. 

Trains, Bikes and Automobiles

I no longer own a car, more a result of happenstance than deliberate decision. For Thanksgiving, I will take the train or the bus. To get around town, I ride my bike, take the TTC or a lift from a friend or a cab. Most of my friends travel this way. 

The silver lining of a recession is that we are several steps closer to a world in which the true cost of things starts to harmonize with the costs charged, i.e. a world in which it makes more sense, but perhaps even more effectively more cents, to think about repairing instead of replacing broken lamps, more cents to take the train than to drive, more cents to eat the local produce over the produce shipped thousands of miles. In a long recession, we should see a spike in demand for repair know-how, and that would be a growth area, I would think for those of us embarking on a new career, here. In a recession we see self-interest, in the form of saving money, leading us toward more sustainable ways of living. Everything old is new again. 

And that's the refrain that plays in my head. I heard the song first in that Bob Fosse 1979 classic, All That Jazz. The song is written by Peter Allen and Carole Bayer Sager and sung by Peter Allen. Don't throw the past away/You might need it some rainy day/Dreams can come true again/When everything old is new again.

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