Dear Mom,

When I was four years old, you took apart your gray wool winter coat, seam by seam, and then carefully ironed the pieces flat.  Using the outline of my previous year’s winter coat, you added an inch or two to each seam and made a “new” coat for me, accented with black buttons and a wide white wool collar.  Years later, when I was making my own clothes, you told me that when the coat was finished you grimaced, thinking, “Oh, no, this looks like a bad costume for a Puritan play.”

Still, you cheerfully buttoned me into the coat, ooohing and awing.  I marched to the long mirror in the hall and took a look.

You said I solemnly turned from side to side and stepped closer to the mirror.  When you asked if I liked it, I said, “I think I look like those people on that boat.”

So much for recycling adult coats for children…and reading aloud picture books about the Pilgrims at the first Thanksgiving.

As I remember it, Mom, you and I recycled lots of things: clothes, hats, recipes, books, bedspreads, and (very carefully) gifts. If something could be mended, spruced up, combined with something else or passed on to someone who could use it, we gave it a “second chance to be appreciated.”

Recycling is not a new concept for us, is it?  But I bet I found an example of a new kind of recycling you never heard of.  Elephant poo.

While I was shopping at a natural food store recently, I stopped to look at the gift section, and there they were: charming, thick-paged journals, hand-bound and covered with images of elephants treaveling across a bright background.  Different, colorful, kind of cute, I thought, and made of 50% standard paper…and 50% elephant dung.

And if you want to order online, you can also get papers, note pads and journals made with rhino poo and reindeer poo!

It’s times like this, Mom, when I wish we still shopped together.  I would love to see your reaction and hear you say, “Well, how about that,” or “I wonder how they did that,” or even, “Well, it has to go somewhere.”

Even though you don’t travel or shop any longer, I’ll watch for interesting things like this.  When we’re together I’ll tell you about them–and repeat them over and over, if you need me to–and then we’ll laugh.

Things change, like recycling.  Some things stay the same, though, like mothers and daughters sitting together, talking, and laughing.

I love you, Mom.  Marylin


A reminder about the February Poetry Contest:

Entries are due by midnight (Mountain time) on Wednesday, Feb. 29.

Winners will be announced and posted in early March.



Filed under Dementia/Alzheimer's, lessons about life, memories for grandchildren, sewing, writing

8 responses to “THE ART OF RECYCLING…or not

  1. Elephant poo. I bet I know what’s going into Christmas gifts next year.

    Great story, Pilgrim.

  2. Oh, yeah. You know it. Or dog dung. Whatever works.
    You know writers and journals, a matched set.

  3. Molly

    I remember Grandma recycling many things…she had jars full of buttons, her compost can under the kitchen sink, her Avon bottle collection that she was sure would make me “lots” of money, and of course the famous Christmas check found in a game that was donated to the thrift store…..

    Grandma was, and still is, AMAZING….if turn out to be half as amazing as Grandma, I will be a thrilled lady!

    As for the “dung”….well…..YUCK!!! So, no journal for me PLEASE!


    • Ah, come on, Mookie. You won’t know if you’ll like it until you try it…
      Or, like you tell your kiddos, “You have to take at least one bite.”
      Oops, I guess the lesson with food doesn’t translate as well with dung.

  4. This was a very interesting blog entry! Everything was something else once and an elephant dung journal? Why not. The memory of the remade coat really hit home, reminded me of coats of my own childhood that I had long forgotten…thank you for the reminder.

    • You know, Claudia,
      I’ve heard from so many about how their mothers, grandmothers or aunts, etc., made children’s coats out of their old coats, so now I know I wasn’t the only Pilgrim! But I don’t plan on using animal dung products, even though if the proceeds do go for good causes.

  5. And here is an entry from Vivian–I picked it up on her blog and transferred here:

    Childhood often invades adult life.
    Fears laid down early create later strife.
    Afraid of adventure and trying new things,
    Mom constantly cautioned: Be careful! Life stings!
    To conquer that panic is my fervent wish.
    I’ve parasailed, skydived and swum with the fish.

  6. Nancy Gibbs


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