Ambassador PLQ, Minimalism, Old Diary, Travel

And it Hinges on…

It seems one of our cabinet hinges has broken a spring

It seems one of our cabinet hinges has broken a spring

This morning I woke up to a wonky door.  The hinge on one of our overhead cabinets seems to have had a malfunction.  And we need a replacement — from what I can tell there’s no way to replace the spring.

It was a good excuse for a drive.  We’re 10 miles from Granada.  Which means we’re also 38 miles from Greenwood which is the first town of any size and we decided to make that our destination for the morning (after checking out the local hardware store and the nearest Walmart – at the far side of Grenada.)  (P.S.:  Turns out these Euro hinges aren’t part of the stock for this little town, or Greenwood, so we’ll wait till we get someplace larger to worry about the repair.)

cotton-fieldsWe are in the heart of Cotton Country here.  In fact, Greenwood MS claims to be the Cotton Capital of the World.  All I know is there’s a lot of cotton sitting in a lot of cotton fields waiting to be harvested.   It’s hard to believe — in the 21st Century how important cotton was to the US  not long ago.

cotton_ginHumans have been cultivating cotton since 500 A.D. but it wasn’t until 1793 that Eli Whitney invented the cotton Gin and miraculously made it possible for the cotton industry as we know it today to become an entity.  The ‘process’ of processing cotton had been time consuming and Whitney changed that forever.


From Harpers’ Bazaar circa 1869

It’s troubling — as a Northerner — to travel the roads down here and see how little has changed in cotton country.  I’m saddened by the deep poverty we see as we drive down the road, and as we make our way through the local communities.  “Ramshackle” and “House” are still inseparable  here;  neighborhoods are still clearly defined as black and white — though far more black neighborhoods than white. And even here in the Corps campground there is a lot that speaks to the continuing issue of race in america.   The hosts here were sure to make it clear that their little Halloween party to be held next week was “just” for the campers, not for townies to come and “see what they can steal.”  There’s still a lot of bigotry to be found in the South.  There are a good number of RV’s with both their US flag and their Confederate flag on display.

I don’t know.  I clearly do not understand feelings of regional pride, or disgust.  Intellectually I know it’s hard to live in a place that is associated with a singular event.  To live in Dachau — home of that infamous Nazi concentration camp — is to live in a place that people don’t want to be FROM.  Mothers travel to nearby Munich to give birth there so that the child’s birth certificate will not say Dachau.  I have no idea what it must be like to be a descendant of slave cotton workers; to understand the degree to which being in this place affects their psyche.  All I know is that even as an outsider I was aware of the bits and pieces of cotton balls that escaped from trucks delivering the new harvest to factories and storage facilities.  All those little bits of fluff that perhaps say more to the local residents about their own history, and the history of their people than I can ever guess.

I’m running out of unread books in my library.  I usually go to Goodwill to replenish my reading ammunition.  I noticed that there are no Goodwill stores here;  I don’t think as much gets thrown away when it’s still usable as is the case in Milwaukee.

Downsizing:  perpetual vigilance

Downsizing does not end with selling your house and moving into your RV.  Even as I have been talking about finally getting around to sorting out our basement storage bays, the question comes:  what do you keep and what do you throw away?  Some RV’ers I know have a saying, “One in, one out,” but I don’t think that living in an RV is quite as simple as trying to keep a steady state in possessions.

3744 Ramsey

This is what we downsized out of. From 6500 sq ft to 230 sq ft. A literal 95% reduction in size.

You’ve seen them, haven’t you?  Those RV’s in the next campsite that, when the storage bay doors are opened, are crammed, jammed, and bulging with belongings.  Peg and I felt that way when we left Milwaukee just after having sold our old house.  The thing is, I don’t want my coach to look that way — or to BE that FULL.   I find myself embarrassed for them.  And one of the first things I did when we got 30 miles away from Milwaukee on that first trip was to get rid of some of the things we had thought we were going to want, but realized (perhaps before we even put them on board in the first place) that we didn’t need them.  When we stopped in Milwaukee a month ago we unloaded a variety of items that we’d been carrying along for a year, a food processor, a toaster, some clothing items including one of my Australian Cowboy hats, and a slug of other nondescript items.

On Saturday we bought a tiny document shredder.  We used to have one, and we sold it (or maybe we gave it to our daughter — I can’t honestly remember). In post-downsized life there is this annoyance every time I purchase something that I had and erred in selling off, and now realize I should have kept.  But, even if we still had that shredder with us it would be too large for the space we have.  We wanted and needed something much smaller.  And for me, realizing that our needs have changed is a huge lesson that has been (and still is) hard to accept.  Smaller works too!  I don’t always need the large economy size.

Buying something new can mean finding something to get rid of, perhaps two somethings.  But buying new can also mean learning about smaller sized packaging, learning to use the old one up before buying a replacement.  scott tpFor example,  we used to buy toilet paper 12 rolls at a time.  Yeah — it was cheaper in bulk, but not all that much.  It was a pain to store (even in the old school!) and in the coach we simply don’t have room for all that toilet paper — I mean no one needs that much TP at any one time.

Bounty-Select-A-Size-Paper-TowelsSimilarly, we have started looking at other items differently.  Take paper towels for example.  For one thing we have cut our use of everything that results in solid waste.  We wash where possible, we recycle even in places that don’t offer recycling bins — some things we carry along with us until we find a recyle bin.  But we also find ways to cut down on how much solid waste we make. Peggy started looking for paper towels like Bounty where you can choose 1/2 of a sheet, instead of an entire sheet of towel.  Every little bit helps.  Now we buy just two or three rolls where we used to buy 6 or 12 rolls.  If you don’t USE it you don’t have to store it.

I don’t open the storage bays, or bring something into the coach without wondering to myself “what do we really need to carry along with us?”  On Thursday while organizing the basement I got to the storage tubs that contain “fluids” — oil, cleaning supplies, windshield washer fluid, etc.  — I didn’t take time to trim the quantities and items I have down there — but I know that next time I’m puttering around down there I will reduce those items in quantity.  I don’t need all of those items.  Some of them I’ve carried 12 months and haven’t used yet.  I think my mantra will become “If you haven’t used it in 6 months, you don’t need it.”

But the real lesson here is perpetual vigilance.  It’s easy to put my latest package of mail on the counter and not get right on it.  It’s easy to say, “I might need it,” instead of tossing something.  But now, as an RV’er, every pound I carry costs something to transport: it costs fuel, the added weight adds to the stresses and strains on the coach, it costs money to buy in the first place, and I don’t  need the same things I formerly did.

Thanks for stopping by, and I’ll talk with you tomorrow.


3 thoughts on “And it Hinges on…

  1. Bob and Janice Flanigan says:

    Your probably already familiar with, They may be able to get your hinge if you can’t find one. Let them know what you need and you will get an email back within a day or so. I haven’t been able to stump them yet on Holiday Rambler parts.


    • Bob — I’m quite sure that the hinges in our RV are the same Euro hinges that I’ve seen at The Home Depot. It’s not a huge issue for now, so I think I’ll let it be until we either get to NOLA (which is up in the air right now) or to S. Texas where I know there is a H.D..
      Thanks for the recommendation though. RV parts can be a pain to source!!!! I’ve been reading some of the horror stories on RVillage and they really get my goat.
      I’ll check ’em out….


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