Wednesday, February 18, 2009

If the worst is yet to come, I think we can handle it.

I just listened to a video on the Yahoo news. The guy sat there and urgently pontificated what a change Americans must adjust to over the next few years. No new cars. Kids have to go to state schools instead of the upscale places. No jewelry. Wearing last year's clothes.

Hmmm. I did get a new necklace on Valentine's Day from my sisters. It was a J.C. Penny product, and it had to do with sisterhood. It meant a lot, especially knowing that Barbara and Laurie each wear one too. There's something about the sisterly bond that's pretty cool, so I love wearing the necklace.

Other than that, my jewelry needs are pretty basic.

New car: our Jimmy has 130,000 miles on it, and Bill has spent a little over a thousand dollars on it, getting some major fixes which have allowed it to run like a dream.

All that money meant nothing yesterday when I almost totaled the Jimmy, driving down our country road.

In the driveway, I switched off the 4-wheel drive. I was going to Bonners Ferry, and knowing me, I would have forgotten and driven the whole way in 4-wheel drive if I hadn't noticed the little light on the 4-wheel switch.

Within seconds of turning on to South Center Valley Road, the car was choosing new routes. First, Taylor's pasture, then south like our original destination, suddenly straight toward the light pole next to the Kauble's driveway. It was surreal, to say the least.

I had no control over its chosen route. I quickly flipped the 4-wheel switch to the "on" position. I have no idea if that did any good, but when it missed the light pole (well off the road and past the snow bank) and ended up facing north, I took a deep breath, thanked God and drove out of the snowbank.

When I returned, the road was covered with sand. Could be some other folks had a few slipping and sliding problems too.

Anyway, that car runs just fine except in 2-wheel on ice.

Bill has also been taking our 1989 GMC pickup in for repairs. It belonged to Buck Merritt at Merritt Bros. mill in Priest River. It was his company pickup, and I'm sure it received excellent maintenance.

We've had it for about ten years, and it's performed well for all our needs over the years. It needs its steering wheel tightened (lest Marianne heads down the road, and it would rather head toward a light pole), and it needs its driver's side door fixed so it can be closed all the way.

Money spent repairing these two rigs, we figure, is money well spent and a whole lot cheaper than spending the same amount we spent on our first home and ten acres for a new model. So, we're okay with not buying a new car or truck.

Last year's clothes: I did buy some turtle necks a while back, and that WAS last year. I am fortunate to be retired, and when I do have to dress up in "going to town duds," last year's models do just fine, cuz my dress-up situations are always in different towns. I'm not like Oprah or Katie Couric where people might notice if I wore the same thing twice.

Plus, a lot of those clothes are comfort clothes. I feel good in them, so I don't mind not adding to my wardrobe. I am going to have to get me a new pair of flannel-lined jeans for next winter, cuz the comfortable pair I insist on wearing every day (wash them at night), are getting pretty faded, and I did spill a little paint on them a couple of weeks ago.

I don't have kids going to college, but my kids did go to state schools, and I've never thought for one minute their education was one bit inferior to the kids who got to go to the big-name universities. That's an opportunity for those who can afford it, but surely not a necessity.

I remember once a student at our lowly Sandpoint High School who made a statement worth pondering over and over. He had come to Sandpoint High from one of the nation's top ten high schools at the time. He was an outstanding student. He went on to Johns Hopkins University and may still be there working in research.

"It doesn't matter where you go to school; it's how much you're willing to put into it that makes the difference," he said, and repeated often. He believed that the opportunities that he had found at comparatively Spartan Sandpoint High School were just as good or better than where he had attended before---a place with all kinds of techno trappings.

The man on the Yahoo news video also mentioned food and how people were going to have to concentrate on getting the best deals for eating----he said Trader Joe's and Wal-Mart are winning the competitive food battles right now and other high-priced places are tanking. He says more hamburger, less steak.

Guess we're okay there, cuz we did purchase a bunch of hamburger from our neighbors across the street, and there hasn't been a day I've lived that I haven't loved a good hamburger every bit as much as a juicy steak.

The man also mentioned that Americans have started saving their money now---in a tone that sounded almost dire. Huh? Haven't we been told that all our lives?

Well, it seems the problem is that Americans have been spending with money they really don't have, and now that they're not spending with money they really don't have, times are tough. And, now that they've learned to start saving their money, that's turning out bad for the economy. I'm scratching my head on this one because it does seem a bit enigmatic.

Still, as a person who well remembers being poor for most of my life, I've always felt a confidence that being poor trained me for life. We grew up doing without. We worked hard for every penny. When we did receive anything of material value, we appreciated it rather than looking upon it as a throwaway.

We learned how to work and we learned a work ethic.

I always say, "from bag woman to bag woman," I can handle it. It's a bit facetious, yes, to suggest that I would even consider the choice, but I feel well-armed, thanks to lean times, to take it on should it happen.

I believe there is a silver lining to the economic woes we are enduring and will continue to face. We'll learn to appreciate what we have, and we can return to a few of the ideals and ethics that kept this country strong for so long.

The pendulum could swing, but for now, we need to look for the lessons of having to change our ways and we need to capitalize on them.


Word Tosser said...

I have never had a new home..the few that I owed were at least 50 years old.
I have never had a new car.. the newest one I had was 6 years old.
I get 90% of my clothes from yardsales or I have owned them 20 years. Only new clothes I have gotten is as gifts. And my jewerly would make a burglar laugh.
I don't know what Trader's Joe is,
And I decided over 20 years ago, I would never be rich.. so I guess that is why doing without is a way of life and I don't know any better.. and I measure richness in relations not money.. So I guess I fit in well with the Yahoo news guy idea of life.

Big Piney Woods Cats said...

Wonderfully, well put, and what we have been saying for years!


Anonymous said...

The outlook may not always look good but I still have my kids, husband and family and isn't that what its all about anyway? Relationships?
We don't need a family vacation on an island somewhere - we can go and camp out in the great outdoors and make wonderful memories. We don't need to eat out at fancy restaurants - we can have a great time eating mac & cheese and playing board games. People need to put things in perspective.