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Out of the Box Thinking

I don’t know how to sew, but there is a sewing machine in the house, so it seems logical that I should put it to use every once in a while.

When I sew, I would be banned from the tailor's ranks, just for the hems, and that is without a single glass of wine or a new favorite, chocolate infused scotch (just a dram).

Walmart had a wonderful special last year on flannel shirts, which are nice when the weather changes. Of course, the sleeves were too long. I cut off one of them and reattached the cuff. That took too much effort for my limited skills, especially for someone who doesn’t know a thing about what they’re doing.

Eureka! Try cutting them off at the other end, the end at the shoulder. I tried that and reattached it. It was just one circle around and was not a big event. If you didn't look too closely, you wouldn't notice some of the bulges and the cuffs still looked perfect, like I had done a professional job, even though I had cheated.

Now, I have all these huge sheets. I downsized one of my beds from King to Queen. I could give them to Goodwill or another comparable organization, but then I would have to go and buy new sheets.

So of course, I decided to cut Kings down to Queens. I had a good start. I got one done and was ready to do the next, when my sewing machine decided to quit. I wondered if I offended it not just by my project, but with the quality of the seam I was sewing.

So I started researching all of the electrical that might have silenced my sewing machine. All of the GFI’s involved, which cut off power to the outlets, were all OK. The extension cord was OK.

Then I had to dig out the sewing machine's secret directions. It seems the light bulb might burn out on occasion, and nothing works without a good bulb. Try to find a sewing machine bulb in a rural community. Good luck. Walmart may have had some, but their shelves are typically bare of such rarities.

I tried the hardware store next on the off chance they would have one. They didn’t have any that looked like a sewing machine bulb in the light bulb section.

A young clerk asked what I was looking for, as I expected I didn’t look as bright as the bulbs I was looking at. I didn't tell him why I wanted the bulb. Oh, he says that must be for a car. Those are over here. Sure enough, there was a facsimile of my bulb, at half the cost.

With trepidation, I screwed the bulb into the machine and stood back, wondering if there would be an explosion, or a fuse overload. We were both happy. The bulb lit up. The machine started sewing. Together, we progressed with my project.

It seems we are so specialized anymore, that we don’t have enough sense to look at alternatives.

What can we substitute? We pay scads more for “specialized” items than for the same thing that could be used which is found in a more generic location. We race to the store if we are out of just about anything.

The old cookbooks have an entire section on substituted ingredients. Betty Crocker knew the old-timers didn’t have everything in stock all the time.

The men knew how to put a penny in the fuse box, until they could get a new fuse. That isn’t a real safe thing to do, but it got them through, and they knew not to overload the circuit.

We do have some professionals like The Queen of Clean, who gives us detailed instructions on how to implement substitutes. Then there is always the manufactured cleanser that does the same thing, that is equally proclaimed at three times the cost.

My spouse was an expert at thinking out of the box. She could coax thousands of copies out of the copy machine that theoretically only permitted a few hundred before it had to be professionally serviced.

My spouse’s mind reveled at alternatives, and it was a pleasure to see the resultant problem solving. My mind doesn’t work that way. I depend on the directions or asking someone too much. It was a stroke of luck to have a store clerk point out light bulb characteristics.

Now I have to find my way out of the paper box I find myself in, and I don’t have that hand anymore to pull me out. I’m boxed in by circumstances.

Contemplation: What are alternatives that are thinking out of the box?

Let me know how you are doing. I care.


Lynn Brooke

© 2024 Our New Chances

Photo Credit: © 2024 Rachel Gareau


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