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Some things are better the second time around

By MIMI BECKER

Coffee with Mimi

Some things in the world are definitely better if acquired for use when brand, spanking new. For example, necessary paper products and milk are not desirable if they have been passed around.  I could enumerate multiple other items, but that could conjure up images best left alone.

The thing is, I do appreciate leftovers. In fact, some foods are better the second day. I love chili, homemade soups, lasagna and most any kind of cake the next day. Some foods, such as pizza, are tolerable on the second go around, but clearly fall in the category of sustenance to be consumed because it is there; I am too tired to whip up anything else, and I am too thrifty to waste it.  I had a friend in college who referred to leftovers as “remains.”  She was usually commenting on the end of the week offerings in the dorm cafeteria.  That was back in the day when college food service was a far cry from the smorgasbord our kids could graze.

But, what I really love is second-hand stuff like furniture and odd items.  Sometimes there is no rhyme, nor reason to my spur-of-the-moment acquisition of a quirky what-not I spy along the way. 

Last weekend, while visiting my son, I noticed a vintage (vintage sounds so much more chic than “old”) medicine cabinet in the second-floor storage area.  It was mine for the taking.  My husband rolled his eyes.  I shrugged my shoulders, proceeded to load the car with our bags and the dog and gave last hugs to our granddaughter.  I was resigned to leaving without the cabinet.

Just as I was ready to hop in the car, my daughter-in-law dashes out the door with the cabinet.  Her trash, apparently was my treasure and now she didn’t have to figure out what to do with it.  I will find a place for it in my vintage house.

I am not completely indiscriminate in my hoarding. I particularly like iron, stone and wood items.  Things made of natural materials like pottery, fiber and baskets.  I don’t need to know what the item actually is, and don’t mind if it is actually nothing.  The fun is in trying to figure out what in the world it could be and then what to do with it. 

One day when rummaging around a building site, I came upon a piece of wood which was just a 1×8 scrap tossed to the side on the junk heap. It was nearly, randomly, covered with what looked like drilled circles.  The circles were clearly defined and barely one-eighth of an inch deep.  There was nothing to do but take it home. Someone was pretty intrigued by what could be created with an electric tool, a piece of wood and a few minutes to spare on the real job. Someday, I’m going to clean that piece of wood up, give it a nice rub and hang it somewhere. That’s my story, and I’m sticking to it. 

Quite some time ago, I acquired a galvanized metal thing which, at the time, was the only way to describe it.  It consisted of two parts. What seemed to be the base was a long tray, about an inch deep, with fluted ends.  The second part was just as long and seemed to fit over the first part like a lid.  It was not a flat lid, but had a raised angled down the center.  On each side of the ridge was a series of cut-out ovals. 

I decided it was an egg holder which could have been used on a farm with chickens and no need to refrigerate the days’ collection.  I think I’m right.  On “Downton Abbey,” Mrs. Patmore reigned over a busy cook from the farm and garden kitchen, and don’t you know, right there on the work island was a wooden version of my egg rack.  I hope no one bursts my bubble on that one.

When we moved into our home, folks shared several stories about the various renovations through the years.  It was built in 1923 and had plenty of odd spaces, such as an attic which had never been anything but storage. A space under the front rooms, which actually had a door going to it, was nothing but a crawl space carved out of the ground.

Those spaces have yielded some real treasures, just the sort of stuff I love.  We harvested a complete set of original French doors, a mission-style exterior door and what is likely the original kitchen sink from that crawl space.  We also gathered a number of old bottles of suspect origin.  If I had more nerve, I would crawl all the way into the dark corners.  But, sometimes it’s wise to leave well enough alone.

In the attic, hidden under a bunch of old boxes, was a violin.  I won’t tell you about that find, because someday I’m going to write a book about the hands that held that violin and my imagination isn’t finished with it yet.