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RV Minimalism Part 4: I am your Grandma

June 17, 2014
My Grandma Lee

My Grandma Lee

If you were born sometime around the same time as me (1970), chances are you have a Grandma like mine.  She’s passed on now, but I had the privilege of spending a good amount of time with her when I was in high school.  She lived two blocks from the school, and I would usually go to her place for lunch.  There’s a lot of things that could be said about Grandmas, but today I’m going to focus on this singular aspect:  She experienced the Great Depression and lived to tell the story.  One of the great tragedies of America is hidden within one of the great triumphs.  We are just too doggone prosperous.  We’ve gotten overweight, unmotivated, and most of all:  WASTEFUL.  We think everything exists in infinite abundance at minimal expense.

But you know who’s NOT like that?  MY GRANDMA.  That woman could make a feast from a jar of peanut butter that looked to me like it was empty.  She saved every scrap of food that wasn’t gobbled up and carefully preserved it for future consumption.  And that old tale about re-using a scrap of saran wrap?  Not a tale, my friend.  I’ve seen it with my own eyes!  The generation who experienced the lack of the Great Depression got it in their heads that there’s only so much resources on this orb, and we gotta be careful what we do with ’em.

Not you and me.  Nooooo sir.  We grew up in abundance!  We’d pour a heaping bowl of Froot Loops (why is that ap-cray still around!?! Pardon my French), glub-glub as much milk as we could get in that bowl, spill half of it on the table and floor, eat what we felt like, and pour the rest down the garbage disposal.  Then we’d grab a roll of paper towels, rip off 3 of ’em, take a couple swipes and throw those in the trash. Seconds later we’d notice we left a couple milk doodles on the table, so we’d grab ANOTHER couple o’ paper towels to finish that off, tossing them carelessly in the trash as we scooted out the door to school with our Six-Million-Dollar-Man metal lunch box full of enough disposable plastic to choke Godzilla.

What a way to live!

Well, it took awhile, but all this wasteful abundance is finally catching up to my cranium and I’m thinking differently about some things, thanks in large part to the fact that I’ve lived in a tiny RV for over two years now.  Some of it is maturity.  A bit of it may be thoughtfulness.  There may even be a scrap of environmental concern in there.  But mostly, it’s….SURVIVAL!  You see, I only got so much room for water in my tank, so I gotta be reeeeeeal careful how I use it.  I only got so much space for food in my fridge, so I can’t leave things shoved in the back growing green, hairy mold.  If I use too many paper plates, I fill up my trash too quickly and have to dance and dodge it until I get a chance to take it someplace.  And those paper towels?  There aren’t multiple rolls of them, so one needs to last a long time, leading me to realize that a half-towel usually will get the job done, and if that’s just water, you can often just lay that dude out and it’ll dry up again, ready for a whole ‘nother use!

So I guess it was sometime during dinner last night when a friend joined us and I found myself literally LUNGING to turn off the water when he went to wash his hands and started by just flicking the handle to full blast while he looked around to find some soap, and around dessert time when Carissa very thoughtfully got out a new set of dishes for that course and I heard myself proclaiming (as the future washer of those self-same dishes) that I figured we’d just all use the same plate for that…yeah I figure it was sometime during that stretch that it hit me:


Now sonny, eat your vegetables and remember to send me a card at Christmas.  But most of all, watch your wastefulness.  Us Grandmas lived through a lot to bring you this prosperity and it’s about time you started acting like you intend to help your OWN grandkids keep right on enjoying it.




From → RV Minimalism

  1. Irene Niemyer permalink

    Wonderful, really enjoyed it. But I don’t remember all those paper towels being wasted. Did you really do that. Somewhere your grandma is smiling at that and wanting to pat you on the back!

  2. I want to thank you personally for spending tome with your Grandma.
    I have two Grandsons that I do not get to see,why?
    When the mothers became pregnant my son tried to get them to abort,thankfully they did not.
    My son would not step up and be the father they needed and the mothers of my Grandsons because they are mad at my son have decided not to allow me to be in their life.
    As a Grandparent it hurts not being able to see or have time with them.
    What the mothers do not understand is that they are cheating their sons out of a normal loving relationship with their Grandpa.
    Thanks for what you do as a caring loving parent.

  3. Don, I always enjoy your blogs, but this one is special. She never pushed her carefulness on others, but I think we can all look back and see a lot of it has rubbed off on us. I never throw away a butter wrapper that I don’t scrape off all the left overs that have stuck to it. And you always scrape all the batter out of a bowl and not leave 1/4 c. of any of it in there. Just plain common sense! Don’t waste. Waste not, want not! Love you.

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