New use for an old fashioned thang

My man gifted me a nice little case of body care tools not long ago.
The tweezers and shaver have since gone rusty with non-use. I quit shaving my legs and tweezing my brows when I realized the meaning of self torture. And I got it young, people. So I look a little rough in places. Maybe he was trying to tell me something.
I use the little scissors to clip my cuticles after peeling them back with the metal orange peeler stick. There’s a cute little mirror with a magnifying side that has enlightened me to be more careful in applying my mascara on the rare occasion that I wear it. I can’t see a damn thing close up anymore.
Nail, and toenail clippers, files, a small knife, and even a little toothbrush, the kind where the case snaps onto the end to elongate the handle so you can actually use it; all very practical and I put them to use often.
There is just one tool in the collection that seems a bit antiquated – the shoe horn. Now, maybe they still use the shoe horn in China. This is not the statement of a bigot. Even if each and every single, tiny little tool inside the pouch didn’t have a tiny, little sticker stating that fact, any of us could bet our bottom dollar that it was indeed made there. What in our American market place isn’t anymore?
Evidently when shoe horns were ‘in’, people wore their shoes much tighter than I do today. You needed this little lever to wedge your foot into the shoe. I can’t even imagine wearing shoes that tight. They even made long handled ones so you didn’t have to bend over to put the tight little buggers on. Well, I guess I’m just plain grateful that I opt for comfortable shoes and that I am flexible enough to hoist my feet up to a comfortable level or even bend over to do it. Work a yoga pose into the action!
Anyway, the horn that came in the kit is made of shiny stainless steel. It’s a pleasing shape, the shoe horn. But honestly, I have not one shoe in my growing collection that would be assisted onto my foot by it. But I kept it. I slung a loop of twine through the little punched out hole in the end, hung it on the key hook by the door. And one day I thought of a new way to use it.
I’m living in a tiny, shotgun shack this winter. At times it can get quite muddy out around the acreage. It’s that kind of mud that builds up on the bottoms of your boots until you are a good two inches taller. The kind of mud that doesn’t let go. If you continue to walk around on these mud platforms it doesn’t eventually fall off, it smooshes up onto the sides and curls up over the tops! I usually use whatever is handy to scrape it off: a crusty old bovine pelvic bone the dog dragged home, the hoe, an old knife, a stick. And one day I thought, what about the shoe horn as boot scraper?! I tell you, it worked marvelously. The curve that would wrap around your Achilles tendon allows for it to scoop just so below the mud layer. It comes off in one big slab like peeling an orange. The edges are perfect for getting in the treads and the heel crevice like a fine toothed comb. And being metal, it cleans up real nice.
Just tonite I found yet another use for it. I was cleaning up the cabin, in wait for my man who was bringing dinner. He likes a tidy house and I needed to scrape candle wax from the table. There’s nothin’ like company to make you realize how not tidy your house is. The candle wax was a little thick…again with the shoe horn! That shiny little wedge of metal scraped every trace of it up, and effortlessly.
Check back with me. I have a feeling alternative uses for shoe horns has just begun.


My booth at market


Since I began growing lavender I have been a vendor at one Missoula market or another; actually, I have vended at all of those downtown. For the last 8 years I have held a booth at Clark Fork River Market under Higgin’s Bridge. But for one year my transportation to market has been one tricycle that you see in the photo (taken by D. McAdoo). I have retrofitted the trike to fold up and out as my display and sales booth. It came with the basket between the two back tires. And I attached the one to the handlebars and the two to the sides. What makes it ‘minimalist’ is the amount of space it takes up, it has no carbon footprint (other than the methane that now and again escapes from the human combustion engine that peddles it…) and the time it doesn’t take out of my life/pocketbook. I only require about a 5 foot space to set up, which means cheap rent at any market. Breakfast, coffee, and a market snack are the fuel it takes to peddle it the 1/2 mile to and from market. Not having to pull a vehicle into market before and after for unloading and loading saves an immense amount of time and frustration.The price you pay for a farmer’s produce rarely covers her time spent farming, and crafting her product, let alone the time it takes to set up and take down her market booth. So my theory is; It better take less than a half hour to setup and break down, cuz I’m not making any money for that time. And I certainly don’t want to get caught in the traffic jam that ensues at the end of a 6 hour stint of standing out in the hot sun selling my wares. Been there, done that. Don’t do it anymore. When I’m loading up the trike I think of myself like an outfitter packing my mule. Everything either has to collapse or fold up; my chair, an umbrella. Clip on or tie down; I utilize lots of clamps and twine to attach buckets for fresh bouquets, attach the umbrella, tie down things that will blow out on the fast peddle to town, clamp trays into place to extend shelf space. I used a couple screw clamps to attach a board to the back basket. This board acts as a sign as I’m peddling about and flips up and over the basket as my display table while vending. And everything else has to nestle into the attached baskets securely for the ride and look good on display.


This is Shorty. See, he is riding his own trike! In fact, it was years ago I saw Shorty ride by at the craft market when I stopped him and commissioned him to make me a market trike. He built mine for me, and I store my trike in his garage during winter. Actually, Shorty’s garage is a museum of trikes! He must have at least a dozen. They are his sole mode of transpo. He rides a different one to market to buy his fresh produce each week. He tells me they are all for sale, for the right price. He crafts them all by hand from bits and pieces, odds and ends that he finds discarded in dumpsters, and junk heaps. Talk about a minimalist!