It’s 19 degrees Farenheit as I write this post here in Portland, with wind blowing dry snow perfectly horizontal. At times, it blows past my office window so sideways I get vertigo.
Our house is old and has no insulation, just some new siding and a thin layer of Tyvek. As stately new houses replace the little old ones in our neighborhood, a thin streak of envy nags at me: no chipped paint or layers of wall paper, no floors so humped you kind of have to step up over the middle of our office, just smooth and sturdy newness.
But then, today, when gusts of wind tip over full debris bins taken out to the curb, and I realize this house’s old bones are keeping me snug and warm, gratitude and apology replace my envy.
The more domestic I get, the more I value the old. I don’t mean the old that’s cool again, like apple-red manual typewriters or anything Mad-Men-esque. I mean old: functional, practical, a color that matches-nothing-modern old.
Like my food processor, it’s brown and orange colors and three-button simplicity won me over, even though I’d craved a professional stainless steel one. (You can see an illustration of it and read my love story about Spike here.)
As much as I (used to?) want things in my home to match, to look modern, to express today rather than a mishmash of forty yesteryears, sometimes old is better. It’s simpler. It’s fixable. It’s reliable.
Although even when old requires more elbow grease, I find myself preferring it over new. Yesterday, for example. I visited my parents, and my mom made vegan waffles using a recipe from Scatter Vegan Sweets, but things didn’t go so well.
“My grandma gave me this waffle iron for our wedding,” my mom tells me as I use a fork and a lot of muscle to scrape off a waffle completely adhered to the top part of the iron. “They didn’t make non-stick coating in those days,” she explains, both of us pausing to calculate, and one of us saying aloud, “…over 53 years ago.”
Do I have anything that old in my kitchen? Would anything purchased today last fifty-three years? I guess waffle irons don’t get used every day, but still: five decades?
The waffle crumbs and pieces that I scraped mixed with some blueberries and a small pour of maple syrup made an incredible waffle cereal–way more fun than a plain, flat waffle.
After breakfast, I admired my mom’s smooth hands as she cleaned the iron, polishing its metal exterior, carefully scraping off a stubborn spot, her wedding ring bands thin as embroidery floss, fifty-three years of married life outliving even gold.
We talked briefly about getting her a modern waffle iron, but I could tell neither of our hearts were in it.
Kind of like in my last post where I realized why I ought to embrace my inner Chummy and give up, once and for all, my infernal efforts toward being something I’m not, I’m realizing that not only is my home never going to look like homes in Pinterest or IKEA catalogs, I may not actually want it to.
Just as I might be more Chummy than Chic, I think my home is more Molly Weasley than Domestic Goddess, and most exciting, in accepting this, I’m starting to see how lovely old and mismatched can be.
How old is your oldest kitchen appliance? Why have you kept it? How often do you use it?