Stuff. I don’t really have much.
I rarely buy things. I’m thrifty, cheap.
And I obsess. It’s too stressful to buy something new. New stuff needs to be perfect. I’d rather use an old, broken one than risk disappointment from the new one.
My hobbies: Running and writing. So yes, I have a laptop and a running watch. This is some stuff.
The watch is six years old. It’s held together with wire and duct tape. I can’t connect it to my computer; when I do, it tries to update its software, and it crashes. Then I factory reset.
My laptop is adequate. It’s a low-end Lenovo. I use it to write and check blog stats. It meets my needs.
Conversation with Sophie:
Sophie: Dad, you should really buy some Converse high tops.
Me: Too expensive. When I got out of college, they were only twelve bucks.
Sophie: Your Keen’s must have cost you over $100.
Me: I bought them seven years ago.
My Keens are falling apart. In fact, besides my running shoes, my footwear is sort of an ongoing disaster. Last fall, Sophie and I were out of town on a bike ride. The heel fell off my cycling shoe. I knew I needed new shoes, mine were seventeen years old, but I didn’t expect them to fall apart.
Sophie: Now will you buy some new shoes?
I glued them back together and waited three more months.
Over the past two weekends, I replaced all the screens on my screened porch. This should have been done a few years ago. It’s been coming apart at the seams. Each spring, I restretch it and restaple the screening in place. And periodically, throughout the summer, I need to maintain it. My porch was starting to look like crap. It wasn’t thriftiness or obsession that kept me from fixing this, it was plain old laziness. Early this spring, without a plan, I tore out all of the screening so I’d be forced to fix it.
If I had to pick a favorite possession, it would probably be my porch.
A pair of ceiling fans and recessed lighting break up the wood-paneled ceiling. The same paneling covers the two unscreened walls. A brushed concrete floor is partially covered with a pair of rugs to collect the dust, to keep our feet warm when it isn’t ninety-degrees. The porch isn’t large, but it’s broken into two separate areas.
The sitting area: A wicker love-seat from Target. Inexpensive but surprisingly durable. The original cushions, uselessly off-white, were long ago replaced. A wicker table I grabbed free from the curb last summer. Over the weekend, I spray-painted it brown to match the love-seat. And I ditched the glass top. It looks better without it. We have a pair of metal flea-market “bouncy-chairs.” I see these for sale in Lowes on occasion, but they’re always a knock-off version made of aluminum. Ours are steel, forty pounds apiece; painted orange so many years ago, a green undercoat shows through. Lastly there’s the mission rocker—picked up in a junk-store for $15. Weathered blonde and worn on all edges, it’s the most comfortable chair in the room.
The dining area: It’s simply a picnic table with movable benches. When we first moved into our house in 2005, we bought a fancy glass patio table with four wicker chairs—classy. I don’t know who we were trying to be. Two years later, we sold it all to the local coffee shop for $125 and took the proceeds to a flea-market to buy our picnic table. It’s been lovingly sanded smooth and repainted purple. Besides the long benches that serve as table-seating, it came with two smaller single person bench seats. These we use as end-tables.
The decorations: Twelve feet of Tibetan prayer flags strung non-symmetrically across a roof beam. Seashells adorn the four-inch wooden shelf that wraps around two ‘walls’ of the room. Cast plaster statues of the Buddha and the Virgin Mary flank the doorway like library lions. Everything else is metal. A fourteen-inch lizard gripping high on one wall. The Moab Man greeting those entering our house through our sliding glass doorway. Windchimes, a metal sign, a ship’s bell, a horseshoe I found during a trail run.
Our porch is my stuff. Inexpensively furnished, randomly decorated, exquisitely comfortable.
Pleased Pleasant Pleasurable.
A version of this post was previously published on jefftcann.com and is republished here with permission from the author.
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