Monday, July 26, 2010

A Five Dollar Box of Guilt

This past weekend, several of our neighbors had a garage sale. It was one of those multi-family, take over the cul-de-sac kind of events – complete with a lemonade stand. Our own children chose a bake sale, and cleverly convinced Mrs. TSMK to purchase their raw materials and make their inventory. This is a fantastic business model, as it effectively reduces their cost of goods sold to $0.

I did not participate in the garage sale, although I did chaperone the bake sale for a period of time. I brought out a camping chair, and sat behind the young entrepreneurs offering reminders of how to make change. And picking wool. A lot of wool in fact. I’m about one bag through my original three bags full, and am starting to get the hang of it. Of course, I’ve since become some sort of a magnet for free fleece, so I have a long way to go before I’ll catch up with my inventory.

Like many (I hope), I occasionally find myself overwhelmed with the things I want to do, the things I need to do and the things I feel like I should do. Turning the fleece into usable yarn falls somewhere within intersection of things I want to do and things I feel like I should do. It isn’t exactly a need, but there is nevertheless a psychic cost to allowing the fleece to sit unattended. It is, in essence, a large, somewhat scratch and sheep-smelling albatross around my neck. And so, it feels good to be making headway on the fleece. More on that in posts ahead.

Anyway, I bring up the garage sale because while sitting there, minding my own business, picking my wool and fielding the occasional question from curious onlookers, one of my neighbors (“Fred”) approached me with a box. A reasonably large box, it was stuffed to the brim with yarn. Some of the yarn was crocheted into the start of something. Some of the yarn was still in skeins.

Fred offered up the box, complete with all contents, for $5. After a raised an eyebrow, he started to explain. When he and his wife (“Wilma”) were dating, she had begun to make him a blanket. As they dated, she worked on it from time to time. But ultimately, when they married, Wilma lost interest. Laughing, he suggested that perhaps she’d figured she didn’t need to finish the blanket because she’d already achieved her objective in making it – convincing him to stick around.

But Fred and Wilma had married about ten years ago. And ever since then, Wilma had been moving the box around from house to house, closet to closet, and feeling vaguely guilty about not finishing the project that whole time. Now, finally, it was time to let go of the project.

I bought the box, of course.  At 197 yards per skein, thirteen skeins in the box and a total purchase price of $5, this works out to roughly 5 yards per cent.  I'm too cheap to pass up that good of a deal.  But after buying it, I started thinking about the story told me, and of Wilma's decision to let go of the project.  This is a huge deal.

I know because I recently released an albatross of my own. She was a 1976 Alfa Romeo Spider that I’d had since college. Her name was Cecilia. Mrs. TSMK and I drove her all over the place for years, even left our wedding reception in her. She was fun, and fickle, and perhaps the most absurdly impractical car you could own. Back home in Florida, she made some sense. Here in the Pacific Northwest, however, she leaked like a sieve any time it rained (which is of course about 270 days a year). And she didn’t like to start. And she didn’t have a back seat.

I loved her. And I carried her with me from Florida to Washington, D.C., and then to our current home. Over the better part of two decades I held on to that gorgeous piece of steadily rusting sexiness.

But when she ran she didn’t run well. And often she didn’t run at all. So just a few weeks ago I said goodbye to Cecilia and sold her to a fellow from Portland who has the time and energy and disposable cash to make her lovely again. I miss her tremendously. But if I’m honest I also feel an immense sense of relief. I’ve removed one item from my list of things that I feel like I should do – restoring Cecilia. There are plenty of items remaining in that list, but again – it feels good to make headway.



  1. We don't own our things, they own us! As you said, it's so freeing to get rid of something that has been weighing you down.

    When you said picking the fleece, do you mean removing bits of plant material from it before you wash it?

  2. Nicola -

    Actually, I had already picked out some of the plant matter (and dirt) prior to washing, but this was a post-washing exercise. I pull out any remaining plant or crud (sheep are filthy creatures) and pull all the fibers in the locks completely apart. By doing this, I not only get the fleece that much cleaner, but also get it ready for carding.


  3. Ahhh.. made a tear come into my eye.. because, I just got rid of my beloved 1973 fully restored VW Karmann Ghia. However, it had been my only car for the past 20 years. She represented youth, freedom.. I had that car shipped to each new overseas location when I moved to a new job.

    My car had lived in: The Philippines, Seoul, South Korea (3x), Okinawa, Japan, Italy (2 different locations) and finally to Germany.

    However, in Germany.. there was a problem.. I now had to live 14 miles (one way) from work- so, if something were to happen 'mechanically' I wouldn't be able to just walk to work. No taxi's like in a big city.. no, I was in the boonies in the land of 7 month long snowy winters drivin on roads without shoulders.

    So, after finally a year and half of my 'baby car' sitting outside in the driveway.. while I drove my first new vehicle in 20 years.. A new Jeep that I had to buy because of where I was living.. I made the decision to sell my Karmann.

    It was a difficult decision. I loved that car, loved the looks that she gleamed, the notes placed lovelying though the years on her windshield from others 'hoping' to purchase her.

    And, the next time that I moved, I knew that the US GOVT wasn't going to pay to ship 2 cars for a single person.. so, I'd have to get rid of one of the cars. It was time to be a grown up.. doesn't mean it was easy to do though. I still don't like to talk about it. (or iwouldratherknit on ravelry)