Monday, November 22, 2010

nursing things along

Despite how some feel that old things must be pushed aside for the new, there is some satisfaction to be derived from fixing, assisting or making do. Yesterday, I mulched leaves with the old lawn mower that just keeps running even though the wheels are nearly worn out. And then in the afternoon, I continued my friendly competition with the Chinese by attacking the worn out bearing of my 1/2 sheet Porter Cable sander with oil. The thing would no longer run at full speed, which indicated a crucial bearing was seizing in its rotation. A couple squirts of oil sent it merrily into action. And I derived satisfaction from not spending the money on new equipment.  "Why don't I buy a new lawnmower? Why I don't buy a new sander, too!" I could, you know. But there is some satisfaction in knowing that a bit of oil placed just so, extends my power over the inner workings of the device.  Temporary, yes, but isn't a new mower or sander, temporary at best? If I can extend the working life of the sander by 20% I have delayed its disposal and replacement, and also saved money, energy and materials. The small sense of control we gain from fixing and making do extends to nearly every other thing.

Can you help me to explain these things to others? Make, create, fix, sew, sow, Teach, teach by example, and help others to engage in the full scope of their humanity.


  1. This post really resonates with me.
    My kids generally stay away from plastic toys because "Mommy cannot fix them if they break". We have a basket in which we collect all the broken toys and once in a while we sit together and try to figure out how to mend the toys. Sometimes it's just wood glue, sometimes the toy has to be completely taken apart and a new piece has to be made...and sometimes we just cannot fix it. But we try, always. I like to believe that it's empowering the kids to see that they can fix things using their logic, imagination and (my) hands. And it may help them value the object and the time spent making/fixing it.

  2. Anonymous5:19 AM

    Good for Steph! And good for you too, Doug. My example is the toaster oven that my grandmother bought when I was sophomore in high school and which is still working. It doesn't look too pretty any more, but it works fine. At this point I'm just curious to see how long it's going to last.


  3. Mario,
    My own oldest mechanical thing to nurse along is my old 1948 shopsmith, that never seems to need any nursing. It was made to last in the first place. The forgotten men who made it have most likely all gone to their maker by now or are in nursing homes at best. But I can do all kinds of things with it.