Stories from the Stringam Family Ranches of Southern Alberta

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Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Not-So-Disposable

Mom was Frugal.
Notice the capital ‘F’.
She was raised during the Great Depression and squeezed every nickel till the Queen’s eyes bugged out.
She knew how to ‘make do’.
‘Make it last’.
‘Make it over’.
Or simply not buy it in the first place.
I’m not complaining.
Well, maybe I am. Just a bit. Because sometimes, her frugal ways were just . . . annoying.
Earth-conscious, but annoying.
Case in point:
When contemplating a large party-type event, (ie. Auction-Day BBQs, Extended-family dinners, entire community group let’s-do-lunches, etc.) she would purchase ‘disposable’ plates, glasses and cutlery.
For convenience.
Then, being Mom, she would then wash every single stick of cutlery and every glass. If she could have figured out how to clean those paper plates, she would have.
And, when I say, ‘she’, I mean us kids—the actual dish-washers.
For minutes hours after a party, we could be found, elbow-deep in hot, soapy water, washing thin, plastic cups and various and sundry knives, forks and spoons. Along with the also-theoretically-disposable foil serving ware.
The one would be stored in the other in one of Mom’s crowded cupboards, ready for the next party.
Dad would watch our industry with a sceptical eye. “Why are you washing the disposable stuff?” he would ask.
“Because there’s plenty of wear left,” Mom would reply.
“But it’s disposable. To save you work after a party. Why buy disposable if you never intend to . . . umm . . . dispose?”
“If it gets broken or lost, I don’t worry.”
“Okay . . .” Dad would look at us.
And we would look at him.
And the conversation would end.
The reason I bring this up is that yesterday was Pi(e) night.
Probably one of the biggest of the Tolley holidays.
Sixty-six pies were made.
Sixty of them consumed by friends and family in a great, two-hour-long gorge.
Mmmmm . . .
I was cleaning up.
Sorting disposable paper plates into one recyclable bin.
And plastic cutlery and cups into another.
I picked up a stray fork.
And carried to it the bin.
Then, just for a moment, I was struck by the almost uncontrollable urge to fill a sink with hot, soapy water.
Mom lives on . . .
Pies under construction.

6 comments:

  1. I have to confess I still wash the heavy-duty cutlery and re-use it. It's practically indestructible anyway!

    Mmmm, Pie! I forgot AGAIN this year. Perhaps it's just as well, considering I am in need of losing weight. Wouldn't want to un-do what I've managed to lose already :)

    ReplyDelete
  2. OMG, must be the generation, my aunt does the exact same thing, we teased her every time.
    Your Pi(e) Day party looks amazing. How I wish I could have gone!

    ReplyDelete
  3. I still keep the best of the plastic stuff, I can't bear to throw them away! Those were the days when our mothers rolled up the string that parcels came in, and carefully folded the brown paper to use another day. I can't remember how long it's been since I saw a brown paper parcel!

    ReplyDelete
  4. Guilty. Keep plastic. Chuck cardboard.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Rewind....that's RECYCLE card and paper, of course. Something my eldest is always reminding me of. So, two generations down, even more earth conscious?

    ReplyDelete
  6. Well I will admit that there are plastic cups and a few plastic utensils in my drawers and cabinets. I used to do it because we camped so much it didn't seem realistic to buy new ones every week so I bought plastic and washed. I wish I had known I could have had the kids do it though. Would have saved me worlds of time!

    ReplyDelete

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