When my husband and I got married, there was only one place where I wanted to have the wedding reception for our friends and family back in Quebec – The Lachine Curling Club. I didn’t curl, and never had, but my grandfather was not only a member, but a senator there, and had single-handedly rebuilt the bar (and fixed all the plumbing in the women’s locker room among many other things). I wanted to be in a place and space that a) I knew we could get for free and b) made me feel like I was sharing an important part of my family with the people I love.
I have written more extensively about my grandmother and her painting, and I mentioned my grandfather’s woodworking/building/tinkering practice. Him and his brothers, way back in the day, built their lake house that the entire family would spend their summers at. Every time we went to “the lake” as we referred to it when I was a kid, Granddad had at least four projects that needed tackling while we were there. Rebuild the dock. Fix the deck. Clear some trees. Dig a new fire pit.
I would bring seven library books and sit on the dock and read in between swims in the lake.
I got a sewing catalogue in the mail the other day, a result of an order that I made on a sewing supply website. A physical catalogue. I slowly leafed through it, admiring the variety and quality of the products, noting what I would most like to put on a wish-list for upcoming gift-giving opportunities. Granddad used to get the Lee Valley catalogue in the mail, and he would mark the pages with the bits and blades and other specialized tools that he wanted to add to his collection or to be able to complete a specific project that he may or may not be working on, but maybe would someday.
He would stop and pick up any piece of wood or wooden furniture that he would find on the side of the road. Especially wooden doors: “They don’t make them like this anymore!” He would come home with yet more stuff and my grandmother would exclaim, why do we need that, or, where will you put that? He would proudly tell us about his finds when we would stop by, lamenting about how people are throwing away perfectly good furniture, and asking if people understand how expensive good lumber is?
The desk I got for my 10th birthday, that I still have, was one that he restored and refurbished. My jewelry box is made from an old teacher’s desk that he found. I don’t think he ever sold the stuff he rescued; at one point there was a dresser in the living room of their house because he had restored it and there wasn’t anywhere else to put it!
I scour our local-buy nothing group for fabric, sheets, table clothes, fabric shower curtains, or items of clothing that I could repurpose. I don’t go to thrift shops nearly enough, probably because I know I’d end up spending too much money. I’ve started putting garments I’ve made that I don’t love into the rotating clothing bin in our buy-nothing group that caters to our size-range.
Granddad and I were often at odds, but in this, I think he’d appreciate what I do now as a hobby.