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Prime Your Mind for Ambiguity and Change

March 24, 2014

Credit: Margaret Boyles
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I live on a secondary road, and of necessity my daily walks often take me along the road. Someday I’ll catalogue the items of trash I’ve found on the roadside over the decades, a book-length exercise for sure.

But for now: A battered left-hand rawhide glove protruding from a mound of dirty snow. The lid from a flimsy plastic deli container that once held olives. An antique metal vegetable peeler. A pair of black tights with runs in them.

I’ve written about multipurpose living and my fondness for discovering new uses for ordinary objects.

That glove beats any pot holder for lifting cast-iron skillets off the stove. It beats the woodstove tools for hoisting logs into the stove and rearranging them in the firebox. And in August when I‘m picking wild blackberries, the glove works well to push thorny canes back and out of my way.

That flimsy plastic top? So thin and transparent it’s hardly noticeable, so it works nicely to catch the drips under a houseplant. Even better, I’ve discovered that If I hold the lid in my right hand, lip-edge down, it does a superb job of scraping down the sides of a bread-mixing bowl or crusted-on casserole dish. (Fill the bowl/dish with warm water first.) Better than any scraper or brush intended for the purpose.

I’ve written before about how vegetable peelers will sharpen pencils, remove calluses from feet, slice cheese and butter, or shave down a wooden shim to fit a tight spot. And I’ve also written about the uses of worn-out tights and other footwear, once washed and dried. 

I find that energetically looking for alternative uses for things is fun. It promotes creativity with a sense of playfulness. It’s mentally stimulating. It doesn’t cost anything. It opens me up to new perspectives, to richer and broader points of view.

What item most tested and, in its second life, satisfied your creative juices?

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Margaret Boyles lives in a wood-heated house in central New Hampshire. She grows vegetables, eats weeds, keeps chickens, swims in a backyard pond in summer, snowshoes in the surrounding woods in winter, and commutes by bike whenever possible.

Comments

Use your Turkey baster to

By kelly campbell

Use your Turkey baster to suck up any drippings left in a skillet or pan after you cook. Also save leftover grease into an empty can, jar, etc...freeze then just toss out on trash day. NEVER pour grease down a drain or-eek!-off the back porch.

I used ordinary pvc plumbing

By Kristen Slemons

I used ordinary pvc plumbing pipe (very small diameter) to use as a curtain rod. I painted it black and used ordinary hardware to hang it up. The cost was 8.00 in comparison to 30+ for a premade rod.

I used a copper 1/2 inch pipe

By Roy Goldsberry

I used a copper 1/2 inch pipe to use for a curtain rod. I bought the ends from Lowell's and they even had copper brackets to mount it to the wall. My old curtain rod was broken when my cat decided to climb it. The new one holds her weight with no problem.

I use a vegetable peeler to

By Ally Neeley

I use a vegetable peeler to put a beveled edge on my homemade soap.

DO NOT use my vegetable

By DNA

DO NOT use my vegetable peeler on your feet!

I use the back of my metal

By Peter Crossley

I use the back of my metal cheese knife as a mini mandolin for garlic on my pizza. Really fine slices.

I use the back of my metal

By Peter Crossley

I use the back of my metal cheese knife as a mini mandolin for garlic on my pizza. Really fine slices.

My grandmother would cut the

By BarbaraCarpenter.com

My grandmother would cut the crotch out of grandpas underwear and use as dish cloths. If course we granddaughters washing dishes were mortified but now that we pay bills we think grandma was on to something.

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