Wednesday, February 20, 2008

The Obsolete Life


"Well, let me see . . . the freezer bowl, yup, it's obsolete, ma'am."

I asked if the operator knew where else to look for a replacement bowl for my ten year old ice cream maker but held little hope. I'd spent the past two days combing the Internet for a new life for my neglected friend. She did not, though, and this appeared to be the end of the road.

Days before, the zipper on my son's Spiderman hoodie broke. "You'd need to replace the entire zipper," my mom reported, examining the damage. She was right. What does a new zipper cost - even assuming I owned a sewing machine and knew how to use it? I'm not Burbanmom after all. The sweatshirt was only $2.00 at a local thrift shop and I am trying to move away from media characters. It seemed that the sweatshirt's useful life had expired as well.

When visiting a friend, I noticed that her 1970's bathroom had a window to the outdoors with slats that cranked open. I noted, with some amazement, that folks used to rely on design rather than electricity to dissipate shower steam. "Yeah, the bathroom is really outdated," my friend responded.

Were these things really obsolete? Beyond repair? Outmoded?

Decades ago, people utilized shade trees and ice cold drinks on a wrap around porch to cool them in the summer. They cozied around a wood burning stove for dinner and companionship in the winter. Is that life bygone? I'm not so sure. As the adage goes, everything old is new again. "Green building" has seen a resurgence in the use of design to forego energy usage for home temperature management. "Natural conditioning" and "passive cooling and heating" are the sustainable architect's commandments. Those words sound a lot like a tall glass of fresh squeezed lemonade and a porch swing to me.

A broken zipper? That too is easily remedied. It turns out there's something called a tailor and even an independent one located in my down town. Sure, it would cost less, in terms of dollars, to throw out a sweatshirt with a busted zipper. The thrift store would even offer up an inexpensive, guilt free replacement.

Ultimately, I just cannot do that. You see, I am not leading an obsolete life. I have given up the twentieth century mores that regard such items as garbage, that consider my trash can, the garage collector's truck, the landfill the logical resting place for anything broken, out of fashion, antiquated, or obsolete.

Even planned obsolescence cannot get the better of me. My ice cream maker would not become landfill fodder merely because some manufacturer deemed it so. No. For every problem, there is a solution and, many times, that solution is Ebay. I located an identical ice cream maker, missing a few pieces but including the freezer bowl and, for a small fee plus shipping, I'll be eating homemade ice cream this spring. Not so bygone, after all.

9 comments:

Burbanmom said...

GreanBean, you can always "repurpose" clothing too. No one said you had to put a new zipper in. You could always just cut the zipper out, sew up the edges and have a new, one-of-a-kind Scooby Doo Sport Coat! :-)

Or, here's a 2 birds with 1 stone deal: replace the zipper with velcro and now the boy can "zip" himself up! Also, you could stick him to the side of the sofa when you want him to hold still so you can wrestle his socks and shoes on him.

Think outside the box, baby!

Chile said...

I can't tell you how many times I've found the parts I need at thrift stores. In fact, back when I was searching for a manual coffee grinder, I passed on one because it was missing crucial parts. I still regret that because I need what it had to fix up the one I have now!

Glad you can still have ice cream. It is one of the true joys of the hot season.

CindyW said...

I totally agree with your sentiment about everything old is new again. Lucked out with the moderate weather in northern California, we don't have air conditioning. For those 3 hot weeks in the summer, we just play with water a lot, drink iced lemonade and stay in the shade.

It almost feels like we as humans went crazy for 200 years. We thought the earth would offer unlimited amount of resources and would take in unlimited amount of waste. Then one day we wake up and realize that our lives are actually constrained.

We are beginning to learn to live smarter.

Green Bean said...

Burbanmom, I knew you'd know what to do - you little seamstress you. I had thought of snaps but the velcro or sewing the edges together - brilliant!

Jennifer said...

I'm glad you figured how to save everything!

Raw Food Diva said...

my Cuisinart bowl is scary broken yet I continue to use it as the replacement cost is the same as a brand new machine. Sad.
the thing runs great too at 25 years of age!
We have very few thrift stores in NM as most folks here use everything until it breaks. We are a very non-consumer oriented state. all the online places just want to rip you off with thier prices.

Green Bean said...

RFD: I never knew that about NM. Very cool. My mom also still has her cuisinart from when we were growing up. It is held together with tape and then she pushes in part of it to get it to work. Why get something new?

Raw Food Diva said...

oh yeah green bean, big stores try to come in here and they close up. we are very family sunday oriented so on sundays there are very few cars in the mall parking lot!
with the cuisinart I am just afraid it will break apart some day as I am using it and the blade will go flying ( of course in my direction).
so just let me know if anyone out there has any ideas.

Green Bean said...

I don't know, RFD. Pray, I guess. ;-) We've worried the same thing about my mom's cuisinart for years. Knock on wood.

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