When I was working and paying off a mortgage, I bought a lot of doodads. Doodads gave me a little lift for not much money. Each one seemed to promise to make life that much easier, or that much more adorable. A plastic box you put your bagel in to slice it so that you don’t cut your finger off? Must have. A ceramic egg separator that looks like a human head and the whites drip out the nostrils? Must have.

Before the internet, gobs of catalogs came through the mail. I had a postal patron who once received–I counted–67 catalogs in one day. Drop those babies through the mail slot all at once and you could startle urine out of her dog. Catalogs were wonderful. You’d page through them and find just the thing you didn’t know you needed. Wind-up salt shaker that walks across the table, eventually? Must have.

I never spent much for any one thing, so ultimately I got my mortgage paid off and had a fully-paid-for house full of cheap entertaining plastic crap and things that looked useful but never got used, like the plunger stick with fingers on the end that picks olives out of the bottom of the jar.

And now that I can afford whatever I might want, I never get anything. Even if I could make a case for needing it. I can admire a doodad in a store and see how it could be useful, but I won’t pull the trigger on it. I’m horrified by the thought of bringing more stuff into the place. Apparently you can develop a case of late-onset Depression-era attitude even if your background didn’t involve that much scarcity. I don’t even get things I know I could use.

For instance, right now, there are three items I use frequently that all have the same flaw: they’ve come off their handles. The other word for that is they’s busted. One is a cheese slicer that I use literally every day. I jam the slicer end onto the handle and hold it on with my thumb as I peel off cheese. If I don’t press down hard enough the handle comes off. It wouldn’t cost much to get a new cheese slicer, but I can make this work.


A little worse than that is my meat pounder. Handy little item. It’s come loose and slides up and down on its wooden handle too. Plus, water gets in the handle-hole now. The other day I brought it out and an earwig crawled out of it. I just flicked it in the sink.

Which is also how I have to use our mattock. Handy little item. Big old heavy thing with a blade that, yes, now slides around on the handle. You can swing it over your head and bring it down two or three times but then you’d best pound it on the ground to get the blade down so it doesn’t fly off the handle, which is not just an expression.

I could make a solid case for replacing all three of these items. Nobody really wants to be sliced out of the gene pool by a mattock blade to the back of the head. But I can make them work. Hey, don’t throw out that grocery receipt! We can still write notes on the back.

Okay, thanks for listening. I’m going to go finish my flour sack dress. Fetch me the button jar. It’s next to the string jar.