Thursday, January 7, 2010

Craigslist, Apple Crates, and a Dose of Patience

Now that we are making room for a new living creature in our family and home (we're having a baby in June!), there is a purging and organizing movement in our house. Wee little beings don't actually need much, we have learned. Perhaps I will have another post on the incredible waste in the accumulation of plastic and musical things for an infant that serve only to irritate parents and frighten babies. Small humans need food. They need a lot of protection from the world; we're one of the only species whose newborns are so incredibly inept at survival upon birth.

It's the parents that need more stuff like swings that put the infant to sleep so that they can write papers or fold laundry or pluck eyebrows or whatever sorts of things seem so difficult when you have a tiny creature who depends upon you. Beds fall somewhere between a need for a child and a need for a parent. I'll abstain from the controversies around family beds (because I do think it is a fairly complicated issue without one clear answer), and say that we wanted our pending son/daughter to have a crib.

Jasper still sleeps in a modified version of the crib that he used as a baby, so it was time for him to get a new bed. A big boy bed. Here begins my entrance into the world of Craigslist.

I anticipate that on this new endeavor Craigslist will be my friend. But I did learn that one must be very informed as a shopper on Craigslist. I simply wanted a twin bed. I imagined that one could be had for fifty bucks. I imagined garages and attics filled with unwanted twin beds. I preferred one that did not come out of a college apartment to lower the chances of spreading communicable or sexually transmitted diseases with this purchase. I know, I know... picky. I found that beds that were under $100 were "autographed" on their frames by young children, missing parts, and could not guarantee the absence of bodily fluids and/or disease.

Mostly, I found that on Craigslist people were charging between $200 and $400 for a twin bed. I knew that I could get one from Ikea for less. And this was just before the nonewstuff resolution of 2010, so I considered it. But again, I imagined the attics and garages of Knox County that needed to be rid of their twinbeds, and I persevered.

After several interesting exchanges with several interesting people, I found a better deal at a used furniture market about 1 mile from my house. A kindly man who might have been 97, who had glaucoma in one eye that gave it the appearance of a marble and a strange condition or tear in his other eye that made his pupil resemble a goat's (he really was not demonic at all and gave me a good deal and even tied the beds to the top of the car), sold me a mattress and box spring with no frame for $65. This was exciting.

But Jasper was not keen on the idea of sleeping with his new big boy bed on the floor, so I reused the most versatile item in my home for the base: 4 apple crates. These apple crates, since I got them at Barberville Orchard in Waynesville, North Carolina in 1995, have served as a coffee table, my dresser, a stereo cabinet, a sewing nook, bookshelves (many times), a bench, and now... my son's bed frame. This re-using thing might just be ok.

This makes me want to hear other stories of reused stuff.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010


Our friends Scott and Erin gave us a subscription to Good magazine a while back. It is amazing and you should look around on their website if you've never seen it ( In the most recent issue, I saw this and thought it fitting.

Another friend, Elizabeth, knew about a sweater that my Granny had mostly made before she passed away. It was a very bright sweater which I couldn't make myself toss, but I knew I would never wear. Completely complete except that the arms weren't yet sewn to the body of the sweater. Elizabeth sneakily took this and returned them to me as a shawl for Jasper (our son) and a pair of outrageous, warm, and meaningful legwarmers for me (see picture).

This gets me thinking of other things that can be reused in various ways. And brings me to the next post, which involves my first real experience in the world of Craig's List, 4 apple crates, and an old new bed for a little big boy.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Out with the New

In response to the relative catastrophe of last night's frozen and then burst pipes, and a pending enormous plumbing bill, Jeff and I decided that we had to make some big changes. Perhaps to change our juju, but also to make it so that we might have savings for such events that you cannot predict but can be sure will happen eventually.

As artists/teachers, we have an enviable schedule and lifestyle. We spend much time with our son. We have frequent quiet afternoons at home. We both work on projects (dance performances, Americana music-making and so on) that matter to us and that we hope impact our little spot in the world. There is a balance that we try to strike in order to spend our mornings with fingerpaints in our son's room, our afternoons with ideas and books in coffee shops, and our evenings with live music downtown. These choices mean, though, that we aren't suddenly going to make a lot more money any time soon.

So... we resolve, in 2010, to not buy new stuff.

I'm going public with this to keep me honest, because I think it will be harder than I'd like to admit.

We will buy groceries and goods that you cannot so easily buy used (lotion, shampoo, pens, etc), but will strive to resist new furniture, clothing, and the like. There is much too much good used stuff out there to buy new stuff. It means no trips to Target for $6 teeshirts or stationary with a recycled look or another Matchbox car... It means, I hope, rethinking the concept of "need," and learning to both appreciate what we have and find ways to reuse perfectly good products.

Perhaps this will inspire others to buy a few less new things. Mostly, I hope it will keep me accountable to this challenge that, as a child of the upper-middle class, I anticipate will shock me a little bit.