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The kitchen sink

Posted: Sunday, December 05, 2010

I emptied a "strike anywhere" match box the other day, and it is still setting on the shelf, because I couldn't throw it away. I'm trying to find a way to use it, but we don't have a granddaughter young enough to need a doll bed, or a box for crayons for school (I don't think they use crayons any more, just felt tipped pens or colored pencils). But old habits die hard and a match box was to be snatched quickly before one of the siblings grabbed it. Even my kids loved match boxes and used them to store all sorts of treasures. Another kitchen find in my grade school days was an oatmeal box, the round kind. They made great doll cradles, and my brother always co-opted one that he used for a tunnel for the toy trucks. These days I have been known to use one to store needles and yarn for crochet projects.

I wasn't a Depression kid, but my parents were, and the lessons they learned then carried over in their daily habits. The so-called "homesteader's mentality" of save everything, you might need it someday, was born during that time of enforced thrift and making-do and those lessons could be used to good advantage these days. Men used to walk around with a pair of pliers and a wrap of haywire in their hip pocket in case something in the course of their daily travels needed to be put back together. I guess duct tape has probably taken the place of hay wire, but it serves the same purpose: fix it.

We seem to have lost the need to fix things. It is often cheaper to buy new than repair something. No one mends jeans or sews up ripped seams anymore. And forget about patching a tire or putting a new handle in a shovel. Go to the store and get a new one. We've done our kids no favor by allowing them to grow up in a disposable world. We have produced two generations (at least) of people who don't know the value of hay wire

I got started on this because we have to put in a new kitchen sink. The old one is enameled cast iron, like most were back in the day. The enamel is chipped beyond repair. I painted the scars with epoxy paint a couple of times, but eventually even that wears out. The faucet has a continual drip that has had new gaskets and o-rings any number of times. The shine is gone and maybe the worst of all, it is PINK.

So we went shopping the other day for a sink. I remember my Great-uncle John and his family living in a house with a pitcher pump and a tin dish pan setting on the counter under it. Aunt Lizzie pumped water into a kettle to heat for hot water to do dishes. She used two pans, one wash, one rinse. When she finished the dishes, she threw the rinse water out to the chickens or used it to scrub the floor, whichever was more important at the time. The water was pumped to the house by a windmill and the goal of my life, when I was about 7, was to climb to the top, which I never did because the adults were too sharp-eyed and kept close tabs on us kids when we were there so no one could take the dare. They told us the blades would cut our heads off ... and probably they would have.

Buying a new sink is not as easy as buying a new dishpan these days. First one has to decide what material: stainless steel, acrylic, cast iron or granite composition, and with that decision comes the color, if you don't choose stainless. Black seems to be in vogue, but white, ivory, and shades of gray are also in the competition. Then you have to decide on the style and depth. The size is pretty well determined by the sink already there, unless of course you go bigger, but double or single, eight inches deep or more, one faucet or two, sprayer or not. The decisions are endless.

And none of the hardware comes with it. You have to pick out faucets (another decision), sink drainers, and all the plumbing material. It reminded me of buying a car without a windshield or going to a restaurant where you select each item of the meal separately and pay an outrageous price for each one. You order steak, and if you want a baked potato it's extra plus the salad or vegetable and don't even think of dessert. By the time we got to the "dessert" when we shopped for the sink I was ready to go to the kitchenware aisle and pick up a couple of plastic dishpans but hubby reminded me that would be a lot like hay wire -- it might do in a pinch, but wouldn't really solve the problem.

And besides, a pitcher pump was not among the faucet choices.

Virginia Walters lives in Kenai.



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