Pretty Things, Ugly Attachments.

I roasted a chicken last night and I decided to put out a very special tablecloth that I hadn’t dare used since I first scored it at an estate sale over a decade ago…

It was a beautiful late spring morning in Portland and for once I had beat the other early bird pickers, those old-timers who had been doing it since they were kids. I was standing in the lush green yard and asked the lady having the sale if she had any linens? Yes, she said. “I’ll buy them all.” I learned that early on. There’s no time to ask how much, just claim them! Seconds later one of my main competitors showed up. I have to tell you that this part of picking is the most fun…that is, when you are the one winning! The woman having the sale proceeded to bring out gigantic boxes stacked with vintage, never used linens! She only wanted $15 for everything! This competitor in particular is very good-natured, not all of them are, and she was shaking her head but also smiling for me. It was Christmas for weeks at home as I sorted through them all. I sold most since that was a side hustle for me but the very special pieces I’ve kept, like the tablecloth I used last night.

I had just plated the bird and sides with gorgeous, glistening juices poured over it all. My dear darling loving husband, the only other member of my household, was very happy about the dinner on his plate.

Someone in my house, I don’t want to out them, somehow spilled all of the juices from their plate onto my special, sentimental favorite tablecloth I had been keeping protected from enemy fire all these years. My reaction was uglier than the deeply embedded won’t wash out gigantic stain on the piece of cloth although it’s a close call.

So was I wrong? Should I have kept it in the closet? And I realized that although the tablecloth had been hard won and was mine, it wasn’t mine. Everything is on loan. Perhaps the lady to whom the estate belonged had so many unused boxed linens because she, too, wanted to keep them safe and away from household members with dangerous plate transportation practices.

Then I was reminded of Jesus teaching us that we should not give so much of our heart and soul to temporal things because they are not eternal and can’t sustain us the way the spirit does. I was also reminded of an excerpt from my copy of “At the Heat of the Tao Te Ching: The Way to Life” by Benjamin Hoff, a book I read fresh out of high school:

Precious possessions cripple one’s mastery; they end up owning their owners.

I originally thought of that applying only to things like diamond rings and vacation homes, but no, it’s anything we spend precious time trying to protect, and place more importance on, than the Spirit and people with whom we share these things. Over-attachment to a cherished sentimental bauble is no different. When pretty things distract us from our relationship with God they cease to be a true treasure.

Having shared that, thought I’d let you know that the chicken was excellent!

8 thoughts on “Pretty Things, Ugly Attachments.

  1. I’m so glad the chicken was wonderful, and the company I’m sure! At our house, we’d call it the christening of the new item. The good news is that a quality linen tablecloth is tough and most stains can be removed! I’m a firm believer is using all my nice things, my Irish crystal glassware, my silver flatware, pretty plates, and all the beautiful linens I’ve found at those sales along the way. Many years ago, a friend commented that if I died someone else would get these things, and THEY would use them!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I have been unable to remove large grease stains. Maybe you have some New England time-tested solution?? 🙂

      In a blog post a couple of years ago I wrote this in response to my decision to use the “good” things: “Pretty things don’t need to stay sealed and safe because life can get dirty. It’s because life can get dirty that I want to stay clean, with style.”

      https://simplelivingnewengland.com/2018/09/28/cloth-napkins-reasons-to-switch-from-paper/

      I just hadn’t factored in, well, such a Christening! 😀

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Try using the old baking soda method. First, blot the stain with a paper towel to remove as much of the oil as possible. Make a paste out of the baking soda and water and apply with a soft sponge. Let it set for a half hour then gently rub. Rinse and repeat if you need to. You can also use a little Dawn dishwashing liquid which is really good at getting grease out. Rub it into the stain, let it set, then wash with a little more baking soda in the water. I always keep a box of baking soda in the laundry. Good luck! If it doesn’t come out, just treat it like an old favorite aunt who now has a few wrinkles…

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Hi Averyl,
    I’m one of your lurkers that never comments, but your problem with grease stains has pulled me from the shadows:) One of the best ways to remove grease stains is a waterless hand cleaner that mechanics use. Not the kind with pumice in it. Just smear it on and let it sit for ten minutes or so, then wash as usual. I used it when I was a waitress on endless fat stains from salad dressings etc. Worked like a charm. Nowadays I use an oxygen bleach based stain remover spray and it works just as well. You can’t leave it on too long before washing though, if it’s colored fabric or it will lighten the color where you spray it. Ten minutes or so is no problem. And speaking of old linens, the best way to wash them is with an oxgen based laundry detergent with spray on the yellow spots. Depending on how old, or set the stains are you can have pretty good results. My mother believed in Clorox and ruined so many nice tablecloths and pillowcases and old tea towels and ate up the linen with chlorine causing big patches that eventually ate up the linen’s weave. The oxygen bleaches cause no damage at all. Whites never get gray and dingy. I think of it as something miraculous. But then, I’ve spent years in the pursuit of saving old linens and white clothing. Hope it works for you.
    By the way, I enjoy your blog very much. For many years I hosted many ‘munks, and squirrels, raccoons and bears and birds and I miss it wildly.
    You’re a lucky woman to have the munkies in your life.
    Congratulations on your vaccination!
    Haidee

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Hello, Haidee! How nice that the stain on my tablecloth brought out a lovely lurker! Thank you for your stain removal tips and kind words.

      Like

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