Sunday, June 28, 2009

Weather Cooling and Excess Sharing

When the preschoolers said in Sunday School that we’d be having our annual dinner honoring fathers down at the picnic shelter rather than downstairs, I thought surely they were wrong. Surely we wouldn’t eat outside because surely it was too hot to eat there, but they were right and I was wrong on two counts. We did eat outside, and it was extremely pleasant.

I imagine our church hostess and husband, Shirley and Butch, checked it all out for us and made that great decision. Not only was there a wonderful breeze, but I had forgotten that the shelter is usually much cooler than the lawn surrounding it. (I’ve had to get a sweater more than once.) Butch reminded me that a barn’s open-ended outer hallway also always seemed cool. It has been many years since I’ve been in a barn’s hallway, but his comment brought back memories. Not only was it cool, but the aromas there were always marvelous—leather lines and bridles hanging on the wall, the warm pungent smell of the horses in their stalls, and redolent straw underfoot.

Our main dish for the fathers (and blessedly for everyone connected to a father as everyone is) was barbeque and Italian beef that Patrick had delivered to us The Old Home Place, his and Tina’s great down-home restaurant at Goreville. Then there were the great variety of salads, the multitude of vegetable choices, and a dessert table laden with everything from fruit to decadent choices. Because it was so quickly gone, I didn’t get a piece of Don Boyd’s coconut cream pie, but I heard it was good.

Yesterday morning I had quickly baked a cake from a mix to add to our luncheon sandwiches at our Clean Up Day at church. There were so many desserts there that most were left over, so I just left mine for today’s dessert contribution. Over 20 of us were there emptying long neglected storage rooms and pitching out papers and equipment no longer used or needed. We bought a lot of space that way! Tracy spent the morning just organizing and placing left-over art and educational supplies in a new cabinet for that purpose. (Over and over volunteer workers will buy supplies and leave the extras, but no one knows where they are when needed.) Tracy suggested our new slogan: Shop here first!

The men got the worst of that work because they were outside in the heat loading heavy items on trailers—a load for the dump but everything possible to be recycled, one load of no-longer needed but comfortable furniture to be shared at our homeless shelter which takes donations for when folks move out and need furnishings in their new place. A set of metal folding chairs went to the Ministerial Alliance’s household give-away. Kitchen chairs often go before the kitchen table does, so extra chairs are always welcome.

When I worked with families, I became aware not all families had enough chairs for family members at their table. I also saw young mothers use magazine pictures to decorate their living room when they lacked framed pictures. I was touched by their efforts and bragged on them for doing so. I always remember this and pass on any “pretties” or accessories I no longer use. One of our members, who is a teacher, knew children with head lice whose pillows had no pillow cases—let alone clean pillow cases. She was always collecting extra bed linens for such homes.

A great majority of Americans have much too much stuff (hence the storage building industry). Many people do no realize how bare and needy some homes are. A lawyer, who has generously volunteered down through the years at the household giveaway, which is housed in his church building, told me about a time when almost everything donated had been claimed after many winter fires. On that unusually scant day, only one old couch was there with one missing cushion. He told how thrilled the children were with the mother who claimed it because they were going to have a couch to sit on.

Most of us aren’t exposed to that kind of need. We sometimes forget that no one should burn or dump furniture or clothing that someone else needs. I have city friends who are able to simply put giveaways on the sidewalk and know someone will claim and use it. We can’t do this in the country, but with a little effort we can usually share our excess and spare our landfills.

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