Earlier today someone posted to Facebook’s MV Stuff 4 Sale page on behalf of some friends of hers: a couple with two young children who’ve just been kicked out of their house by their landlord, who’s decided he wants to live there this summer. (If you have any leads, let me know and I’ll pass them on to this woman.)

I was in a similar situation exactly 10 years ago: the terminally self-absorbed landlady from whom I was renting two rooms decided she wanted to make these rooms available to a guy who was going to re-roof her house in lieu of rent. Finding an affordable year-round rental in mid-spring is not easy, and to make it more challenging I had Rhodry. “No pets” is common in rental ads. But the miracle occurred: I found a place in Vineyard Haven, and Rhodry and I moved on June 1.

I later learned that the roofer reneged and landlady was left with rentless rooms and no new roof. Awww . . .

Old microwave

My new digs had been vacated by the death of their previous occupant, who was a few years older than I was then, a few years younger than I am now. His brother and sister-in-law didn’t need his stuff, so I bought a bunch of it for cheap, including a hot plate, a toaster oven, and a microwave. These were utter necessities because this wasn’t a legal apartment, and the way a non-legal apartment stays just this side of the law (and the building inspector) is by not having a stove.

The microwave and the toaster oven came with me when I moved to my current (legal) apartment a little over five years ago. Since I had a real kitchen, which is to say a stove, the hot plate went to the thrift shop. In recent months, the microwave’s number pad has gotten a little funky: the 2, the 8, and the 0 faltered and then stopped working entirely. The oven itself, however, was working fine. I could work around the funky numbers.

A week or so ago I was visiting with my friend Shirley, who recently moved to a new house. She was looking forward to the arrival of her new microwave, not least because it would be installed above her conventional oven and thus free up the counter space currently occupied by her old microwave. She said I could have the old one if I wanted it. You bet I did.

"New" microwave in its little nook. Note dog biscuits on top and to the left. On the right is the toaster oven I purchased from the family of the dead former tenant of my apartment before this one.

I picked it up on Wednesday. It fit neatly into the corner occupied by the old one, and after I plugged it in I was duly impressed: it walked me through setting the clock. Ten years ago I’d been so flummoxed trying to set the time on my old/new microwave that I’d had to order a copy of the manual to figure it out.

Yesterday I posted a photo of the old microwave to MV Stuff 4 Sale: “Free microwave. Heats fine. 2, 8, and 0 buttons don’t work.” Within a few hours I had a taker. His girlfriend picked it up today.

So I’m sitting here at my laptop counting up the things within eyeshot that came from somewhere else. The chair-side worktable was one of the items I bought from dead former tenant’s family; it used to be a TV/VCR caddy. Travvy’s travel crate I got off eBay. A friend found my camp chair at the Dumptique (aka the recycling shed at the West Tisbury dump). My computer desk was another MV Stuff 4 Sale find: I wrote about it in “Saved by a Desk” in early March. And so on.

I’ve seen other people wearing clothes I donated to the Dumptique or the thrift shop. I’m sure other Vineyarders have recognized the various sweaters and jackets I wear out and about, though so far no one’s come up to me and said so. My “new” is someone else’s “old”; my “old” is someone else’s “new.” In this age of planned obsolescence, some things last long enough to have several lives. I like it.

About Susanna J. Sturgis

Susanna edits for a living, writes to survive, and has been preoccupied with electoral politics since 2016. She just started a blog about her vintage T-shirt collection: "The T-Shirt Chronicles." Her other blogs include "From the Seasonally Occupied Territories," about being a year-round resident of Martha's Vineyard, and "Write Through It," about writing, editing, and how to keep going.
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5 Responses to Ecology

  1. Hal Davis says:

    We’re getting there. Liz and her family had a “no new” Christmas. Most stress-frre in ages, they said. We hit a thrift store and I have four new spring sports jackets. My first microwave was a hand-me-down from a neighbor moving. A bachelor. Aside from the hot dog odor, it worked fine.


  2. jo says:

    that’s the way i try to live as well, the downside being that i have a hard time getting rid of something that “might come in handy.” most of my (sparse) furniture is hand-me-down, garage sale, or curbside find. i donated over $500 worth of clothes to a thrift store last year (by their prices) and have found great clothes at thrift shops, some brand new. in an ongoing effort to declutter, i’ve given a lot of things to friends (although there’s been some incoming as well). fortunately, Minneapolis has a stellar recycling program, including collection sites for hazardous household waste. those sites have areas where you can pick up good but unwanted stuff like garden chemicals and paint. one of the things i’m trying to figure out is how to make jewelry out of some of the found objects and discarded electronic components that i have accumulated. if i can do that, i may even be able to sell some of my creations!


    • Moving 12 times in 27 years and living (and working) in a studio apartment probably helps. šŸ™‚ Can’t wait to see what you do with those found objects — I’ve seen some neat jewelry made from motherboards!


  3. Try MV Housing Rentals page on facebook. Got my daughter an affordable apartment thru facebook. It has become the uber grapevine!


    • They’ve already done that. Yeah, FB is sort of a grapevine for those who aren’t on the grapevine, and a supplemental grapevine for those who are. The really good stuff doesn’t make it into cyberspace, though: it needs better deniability to really thrive. šŸ˜‰


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