Wednesday, January 17, 2007

As a retired military person, I know that there are many advantages to a military career. Most of those are the ones the recruiters advertise, and include technical training, travel, discipline, educational opportunities, and the opportunity to meet and work with people of all races, religions, and backgrounds. But there's another advantage to a military career that I didn't fully appreciate until last night: the chance to move to a new job and home in a new location every few years. This can be hard on the family, particularly on spouses who may not have the opportunity to develop a career, and children who have to periodically give up the comfort of friends and familiar surroundings and start over again someplace new. But it does have an advantage: it forces you to limit the amount of stuff you accumulate.

When you have to move every few years, and pay out-of-pocket to ship everything that's over your weight allowance, you become pretty ruthless about cleaning house and getting rid of the things you really don't need. It streamlines your life. But Agnes and I have now lived in the same place for a record sixteen years - the longest time I've been in one location since I left home back in 1973 - and I learned the downside of homesteading last night.

We have hired a contractor to remodel our old, battered kitchen. This means, of course, that we have to move all the dishes, all the pots and pans, all the decorations, all the cleaning supplies, all the food - everything - out of the kitchen so the demolition can start. Agnes and I both love to cook, and I'm a hopeless sucker for kitchen gadgets of all kinds, and I can tell you that I had NO IDEA how much stuff was tucked away in that kitchen - in cupboards, pantries, and drawers, under the sink, in and behind the microwave cart, on the walls, etc, etc.

It made me nostalgic for the 'good old days' when, every few years, I would have gotten rid of the gadgets I didn't use regularly, the dish sets we replaced (but kept alongside the new dishes, just in case), and the expired things we bought in enormous quantities at Costco because it was cheaper that way. My aching back feels every one of the things I had to haul out of the kitchen last night and find a temporary storage space for.

But I'm not complaining. Much. The new kitchen will be wonderful and will give us many years of pleasure in cooking and entertaining. I can't wait for it to be done. In the meantime, though, I just hope everything fits back in once it's finished.

Have a good day. If you have a few minutes, get rid of some old stuff. You'll thank yourself later.

More thoughts tomorrow.


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