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Once upon a time it was clear plastic
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I was my washing my microwave food cover Saturday when I  realized something — it was once made out of clear plastic.

Given I use it daily and the fact I hand wash all of my dishes you’d think I would have noticed it earlier.

What bothered me was the realization I had been using it non-stop since 2005. Worse yet, it looked it.

That day at Target I bought a replacement for a whopping $1.77. That should  take care of things until at least 2026.

It got me thinking about how long I hold into things when most folks would have thrown in the towel years prior.

I have more armless exercise shirts in my closet that a typical Big 5 Sporting Goods store stocks.  They are one of the few things that if I see one I like I buy it even though I don’ t need any more. And while I wash them  after every time I wear them since I am what one might call a liberal sweater, I don’t toss them until the material along the edge of  the underarm has turned white and is so rigid that it chafes my skin almost raw on a jog.

This past week I finally got rid of two garden hoses. One of my Dalmatians had opted to use it as a chew toy and had been patched in numerous places. The other was one that had seen its  better days when I bought it in 2008 at a garage sale.

It’s not that I had to run out and buy new hoses. I bought a replacement for the back yard hose in 2012 and the front hose a year later.

 Earlier this year I finally tossed a dozen or so pairs of socks I bought between 1991 and 1993 for bicycling. If you look in my amore I have  55 pairs of socks.  And that doesn’t count socks I have bought but have yet to use. There are dress socks, exercise socks, socks I wear when I’m not at work, cycling socks, hiking socks, and “retired” socks that I use when I work in the yard. On a typical day between work, exercise, and other times I go through three pairs. Except for the hiking socks, the ones I have for other uses are all the same color if not the exact same brand and style.

As time goes by I do toss them when they get holes, become too thin in the heel, or get stretched out of shape. But until recently I didn’t toss them if they were no longer white. It would be stretching the truth to say the 21- to 24-year-old  socks I was still wearing  were off white when I finally tossed them.

My granddaughter Ashley remarked the other day that I hardly had any “stuff.” She was referencing knick-knacks as well as stuff people have stuffed in drawers and closets as well as their garage.

I was about to disagree with her but it dawned on me that most of the stuff I have is redundant. By that I mean its stuff I use but I have more than enough on hand to replace it. I have five pairs of gray Docker-style slacks I have yet  to wear but I bought because they we on sale for less than $20. I do the same thing with other items. Target a month ago had a ridiculous offer on  my favorite all-purpose cleaner — 209. I now have 8 containers in the laundry room of which two of them were free. It will probably take me two to three years to go through that much 209. Another example is toothpaste. I now had 15 tubes of Crest because they were a dollar less each than normal. Given I brush my teeth at least six times a day — that’s an entirely different story — I doubt it’ll last a year.

My pantry, of course, is more of the same.  I have the most predictable shopping list of perhaps anyone as I rarely deviate from  the list: apples bananas, carrots, cottage cheese, yogurt, veggie burgers, and prepared salad bags (so I’m lazy) broccoli, tart cherry juice, and almonds.

The only non-perishable item is almonds. So  to make sure I have enough on hand I buy a 10 month supply at a time. That means I buy two 50-pound boxes. Not because it’s cheaper, but so I won’t run out.

A few weeks ago Jason  Messer commented on how I seemed to be influenced by both my mother and grandmother since I write about them a lot. I t made me realize a lot of my habits are an outgrowth of childhood influences.

My mother — who grew up during the Depression in a large family — never tossed anything until it was well past its prime. At the same time when she was raising four kids as a widow while trying to make a living running a business, she’d always stockpile things we used on a regular basis when they were on sale.

That’s not to say she didn’t have her buying vices. But splurging wasn’t something she’d usually do opting instead to use any financial cushion she might have to help others whether it was temporarily housing and feeding my brothers’ friends who for a variety of reasons found themselves on the street or giving to community causes.

And as far as that microwave cover goes, she used the same set of Melmac dishware for nearly 60 years. Of course, Melmac from the 1950s could survive a direct missile hit. But even so on a dingy scale it could match the food cover I finally tossed.


This column is the opinion of executive editor, Dennis Wyatt, and does not necessarily represent the opinion of The Bulletin or Morris Newspaper Corp. of CA.  He can be contacted at or 209.249.3519.