Saturday, July 3, 2010


The same year Steve and I were married, his paternal grandmother, Bess (always known as 'Gram' to her three grandsons), moved from her home in Lynwood into a small apartment in a Sun City retirement community. This was a miracle of timing, as we were able to furnish our tiny house in married student housing from things she had left over in her move: a sofabed, a kitchen table with four chairs, an ornately carved upright piano with a set of piano-tuning tools which had belonged to Steve's grandfather, a classic footstool cum storage cube, several blankets, and an array of garden tools.

Gram's piano, which she had personally stripped of enamel and refinished with a thick varnish, only moved with us once. It was traded in on a new Yamaha 3/4 upright. Having the old piano picked up at Point A and the new one delivered to Point B was a clever ploy to expedite our moving. BTW, Steve still has his grandfather's set of piano tuning tools and uses them to this day, along with the Yamaha piano, which has graced six homes in four states.

Gram's garden tools were of little or no use to us in student housing where the grounds (basically an old avocado grove interspersed with struggling lawn) was maintained by the management. We moved twice before we were able to use the tools, but most of them have been in use ever since. Along the way we've collected a few more: a smaller shovel and pitchfork at Pennsylvania farm auctions; an aluminum trowel left in our Evanston, Illinois, basement along with a lot of other stuff abandoned by the previous owner; a brand-new spading fork, pruning shears, loppers, etc.

Last year I replaced Gram's ancient folding saw with a new one from Home Depot. What an improvement! The pushbutton lock keeps it from collapsing on me as Gram's always did, and the stainless steel blade goes through branches in no time.

We've had little use for Gram's half-moon lawn edger (whose name I have just learned after over 45 years of ownership) but this spring it struck me that it could be used to cut through the decaying cardboard that underlies our mulch. Thus my three sisters tableaux were planted with the aid of an heirloom tool with no moving parts. Somehow this makes it seem even more traditional.

Moebles? Here's a simple definition.

I treasure old things that are worth carrying along for continued use, be they words or more tangible tools, from pitchforks to tuning forks.

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POSToccupations by Frances Talbott-White is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License