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Thursday, January 6, 2022

To Repair, Replace, Just Live With It, or Make Do


As I was pulling on my sock this morning, I found a small hole over my toe. You know how holes in socks are. The first time you wear the sock with a small hole, it grows into a medium-size hole. The next time you wear that same sock, the hole grows even larger. Eventually, the hole gets so big it no longer contains my toe. I have finicky feet. I couldn't comfortably wear a sock with a large hole in it. So, this morning I grabbed my sewing tray and took 3 minutes to sew the hole closed.

One of my daughters has been wearing a couple of very holey socks for months now. When I recently asked if she wanted thread to fix the holes, she replied that she'd rather spend that repair time working on something else. I followed up with inquiring if she was planning on replacing the socks soon. She then replied that she would rather use the money toward something else. She seemed satisfied to wear her socks with holes in them for the time being.

We all live within limited means, that of our time, our money, our energy, and our abilities. And so we all have to make these choices periodically. Do we take the time to repair something or use that time on another, more important task? Do we spend the money to replace the item of have someone else repair it, or do we put that money toward a different goal? Do we have the needed abilities or training to make the repairs ourselves expeditiously, or would we spend far too much time learning the skill for one repair?

My slippers became so uncomfortable to wear that I simply stopped wearing them. As I said above, I have finicky feet. Flat, loose, unstructured slippers don't work for me. I thought about refurbishing my slippers. I also thought about buying replacement slippers. But I was not inclined to spend the time or energy bringing these originally inexpensive slippers up to the expectations of my feet. I did, however, still have last year's athletic shoes that were no longer good for extensive walking but had the support I needed to wear briefly around the house. So I took the laces out of those shoes and have been wearing them as slippers for a couple of months now. As a Christmas gift, I requested some fleece insoles to slide into those shoes to make my "slippers" more cozy. (Still waiting on opening gifts on Saturday for our family Christmas to see if I will receive those insoles.) Sure, my "slippers" look a little goofy for slippers. But they're comfy, supportive, and my feet appreciate these over my former slippers. I chose not to repair, buy a new replacement, or just live with it, but instead I chose to make-do with what I have.

One of the two hood lights above our stove burned out at the beginning of the pandemic. We tried to just live with the dimmer lighting when cooking. This type of bulb is irregular. The last time I had to replace one, I took the old bulb into Home Depot and asked for help finding its replacement. The lightbulb in my sewing machine burned out several years ago. This made threading the needle near impossible for my aging eyes. This last month, I finally got around to replacing both appliance bulbs. There was no way to repair with the stove hood bulb or the sewing machine bulb. I tried to just live with it but couldn't. I spent the money to replace these bulbs. Now, our garage fridge/freezer combo does still have a burned out lightbulb in the freezer section. This one I'm just living with and making do. When I need extra light to see what's in the freezer, I make-do by opening the fridge side (a side-by-side unit) to spill some light into the freezer.

Our clothes dryer's interior on-off button quit working about 8 years ago. This dryer is 26 years old, and we intend to keep it running as long as possible. The button that quit working is the one just inside the door that shuts the dryer off when you open the door. Now, if I open the door while the dryer is running, I have to "catch" whatever falls out and push it back in while at the same time trying to retrieve that one item that I need right away. However, the timing dial on the panel on top of the dryer does still work. That is, I can turn the time remaining all the way to zero and the dryer will stop. This is how we've been stopping our dryer mid-cycle for 8 years. My husband looked into getting the part to repair the dryer himself. But in the end, we decided that we could just live with this minor inconvenience.

So, sometimes we choose to repair, like with my holey socks. Sometimes we choose to replace, like the stove hood and sewing machine lightbulbs. Sometimes we choose to just live with it, like the clothes dryer switch. And sometimes we make do with what we've got, like the freezer lightbulb and my sneakers-turned-slippers. My thinking is there is no one, all-purpose right choice. We make our choices based on our needs, abilities, and our tolerance for the less than perfect. Just some thoughts today. . .

How about you? Do you find you tend to favor one choice over the others when something breaks down, or do you choose different approaches based on the situation and item in question?

15 comments:

  1. Interesting topic! Especially socks. I also have finicky feet. Several years ago now, I decided to learn to darn and repair our socks. I have modest sewing skills, but couldn't seem to get the knack of darning. And, my feet are also finicky. Nowadays, I am also doing some serious miles in some of my socks (hiking, backpacking, and training walks, as well as simply doing shorter 3.5 mile walks at the park for exercise). So socks are one of those things I just replace. I do buy high quality ones and they seem to last much longer than the cheap kinds I used to purchase in my younger days. Maybe that seems like a wash, since they cost more, but another goal is to keep more stuff out of the landfill.

    As for other items, it really depends on the item, the fix, and so on. We don't really have a blanket solution. Most things, we're likely to try to repair, but occasionally, something just doesn't seem worth it.

    I hope all works out to finally have your Christmas celebration. My husband and 3 of the 4 kids still at home took turns having some sort of sickness from just before Christmas, till after New Year's. However, my daughter and SIL had already been sick just prior (confirmed C-19 for him), so we got together anyway, keeping it low-key. Now I'm down with the cold thing or whatever it is.

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    1. Cat, I've found that it's worth the money for decent hiking socks. I'm fortunate in that I have a friend who works for Wolverine and can get me good quality socks (and boots!) at rock bottom prices. I'd still pay the long price if I had to .... it's a case of an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

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    2. Kris, yes! I'm not familiar with Wolverine brand, but have had good luck with Dry Max, Darn Tough, Smartwool, etc... . In fact, the Dry Max impressed me a lot on a weekend where I backpacked 39 miles over 2 days. Got my feet wet the first day, so put the socks back on, still wet, the second morning, then hiked 24.2 miles in them. No blisters at all. I'm a believer. However, I kept getting holes in the big toes of them sooner than it seemed I should. I contacted the company and they offered to replace them. When they did, they sent not one, but FIVE pair of their various styles of socks. That was over a year ago.

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    3. Wow, good to know. You are an impressive hiker. We went to the Dolly Sods area of WV last summer and encountered SO many different damp/mucky/just plain wet areas while there--good footwear kept the experience (mostly) fun.

      Wolverine has their own brand but also sells other brands such as Merrell. They are based near where I live in Michigan and unfortunately there is a lot of controversy about them in our area due to water contamination from a tannery associated with them, so I have mixed feelings about the company, but that's probably way more information than you were looking for .... but my family did all get our Merrell hikers from there and we love them.

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    4. Hi Cat,
      I hope you and your family are all on the mend now.
      My family was able to get together this past Saturday. And it still felt Christmas-y, so all went well.

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  2. Yes, and amen! I mend items all the time. Holes in the crotch area of my son's jeans would often get a denim patch sewed in. No one sees that part anyway. Socks and underwear always get mended. I even gave my son a mending kit for Christmas this year because I saw holes in his socks. My daughter got a mending kits a couple years ago when she got married. Her husband has tightened up buttons many times and he claims to like sewing. I made bowl cozy's for my kids for Christmas this year and that was a hit. I have a lot of mending items and a sewing machine and those have been put to much use over the years.

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    1. What's a bowl cozy? Is it like a cup cozy? I pulled out my teapot cozy earlier this week--it really does keep a pot of tea warmer, longer.

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    2. A bowl cozy is something sewn that you can put a piping hot bowl of soup in the carry without burning your hands. Some are meant to warm up the bowl right in the cozy and into the microwave. I don't feel good doing that so I tell my people to warm up the soup and then put the bowl in the cozy. Google a picture of it. The four corners on the cozy is shaped so the points point upward. We love them.

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    3. My daughter made those cozies for the whole family for Christmas plus, zucchini bread, cookies, and zucchini relish. The gifts were well received.

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    4. Those look great! We eat a lot of soup so they would come in handy. I have a recipe for lasagna soup in which you top your soup with mozzarella cheese and put in under the broiler for a couple of minutes. The bowl is always so darn hot after that and I put a hot pad under the bowl to keep it from burning anyone (or the table) but a cozy would be a better solution. Hmmmmm, I see a sewing project in my daughter's future.

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    5. Hi Alice,
      I didn't know what bowl cozies were either. I looked them up and those look not only cute but very useful. I may have to try to make some for my family. Thank you for telling us about them!

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  3. I hate mending with a passion (sorry, Lili and Alice!) but I do it when I have to. However, now that I have a daughter who loves sewing, she often helps out with that. For instance, I have a Christmas pillow that I got years ago which is made out of felt. The cute and festive front side is fine but the back of it had a hole. I lived with it for several years--it's decorative, not functional, and is only out for about a month each year--but this year my daughter decided enough was enough and she patched it for me. Hooray!

    I do all of the above--repairing, replacing, living with it. If I replace an item or pay for a repair, it's because A) none of us has the skillset to manage it, B) the task is onerous enough that I'm willing to hire it done, or C) sometimes it just makes sense to purchase a new item. That being said .... I'm still babying my washing machine along and it is well over 30 years old. A plumber told me to hold on to my old machine as long as possible--he says the new ones don't work as well or hold up as well--seems to me that he's in the position to give me accurate information. :)

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    1. Hi Kris,
      Yay for daughters who like to do (or in some cases, willing to do) what we don't! My daughters will pick apart poultry carcasses for me, as that's something I just really don't enjoy.
      I've heard the same thing about old washers. We plan on keeping ours running for as long as possible. For a while, I'd eyed those beautiful front-loaders and how you could use that top space as a counter. But I'll stick with my top loader if it saves us $$$ and hassle.

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  4. We do all three depending on the situation. But with socks, when they get holes, I don't mend them. Because of feet issues (it sounds like we all have them), I wear two pair of socks together every day. And I am very careful to get ones that have no seams at the toes. However, I remember when I was a kid and got a hole in the toe of my sock, I would just fold under that part. Now that sounds horrible having that extra bulk under my foot, but I didn't even notice it at the time.

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    1. Hi Live and Learn,
      I know, I can't imagine folding under any part of a sock and actually being able to live a normal day. I'd be thinking constantly about the bump under my toe or foot. thats' funny that we all have finicky feet now. I wonder if this is an age-related thing (not calling anyone old, just as we get older).

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