That word above all earthly powers, no thanks to them, abideth;
The Spirit and the gifts are ours through Him Who with us sideth:
Let goods and kindred go, this mortal life also;
The body they may kill: God’s truth abideth still,
His kingdom is forever.

Mostly, I like the great Reformation hymn, Martin Luther's A Mighty Fortress Is Our God. Good music, powerful words.

Too powerful. I have a problem singing the middle line of the above verse: Let goods and kindred go, this mortal life also. Usually I manage to sing it by faith, but sometimes thinking about beloved kindred causes me to choke into silence. I'm pretty sure my devoted Christian friends, strong as ever in their faith, are still choking a bit as they watch their two and a half year old son struggle in his battle with leukemia. The hymn is still true: The body they may kill: God’s truth abideth still, His kingdom is forever. It's just hard sometimes.

But I really thought my problem was with the kindred part. I didn't think I'd have so much trouble letting the goods go.

We are in the process of replacing our stove, which has served us exceedingly well for over 40 years. Eventually I may tell the story of its replacement, but first things first.

It was a General Electric stove, one of the very first with a regular oven on the bottom and a microwave oven on the top, and we bought it as part of improving a decidedly-unacceptable kitchen in our very first house, in Rochester, New York. At a price of something over $700, it was quite a splurge back in 1977, but if you ignore the cost of electricity and a couple of repairs, that works out to less than $20 per year for roasting meats, simmering stews, baking bread, boiling eggs, and making cookies and birthday cakes.

It still worked, mostly, after 40 years. The automatic oven cleaning feature started to get a little wonky, so we disabled it in 2001 when we temporarily rented the house out during our time living in Boston. When we returned in 2003, we left it that way in the interest of safety. The part of the oven door that holds it up when open went on strike, and after a couple of strikebreaking efforts that didn't last long, I learned to hold the door with a strategically placed knee as I maneuvered food in and out of the oven. A few years ago, the front left burner stopped working, and defied attempts to diagnose the problem. But it was when the two back burners started to act up that we decided, reluctantly, that it might be time to think about a replacement.

There's a saying, attributed to George Bernard Shaw, that if you lined up all the economists in the world end to end, they still wouldn't reach a conclusion. The same has been said about Langdons. I am a chief example, and the stove decision was no exception. Partly because I find shopping—even online, though that's better—absolutely agonizing, and partly because, well, because the stove still worked. When you have a working microwave, an oven that can bake and roast and broil, and one and two-halves burners, what's the rush? We started our new stove search well over a year ago, and the reason the search reached a conclusion at this most inconvenient time of the year is the Porter decided that I must make the decision now. So I did—I hadn't been wasting all those months and had done a fair amount of preliminary work—but as I said, the new stove is later story.

I'm happy with the new stove, but it was still a wrench to let the old stove go. It was foolish, perhaps, but I cleaned it one more time, with a heart full of thanksgiving: a labor of love, like that of women in bygone days who gently prepared the bodies of their departed for burial. If we could have found it a good home, as we did with the 1999 Chevy Venture we recently had to part with, I'd have been okay. But we learned long ago that no one is so poor as to desire our cast-off furniture, including appliances that work much better than this old stove. I mean, I know people really are that poor, but charities are not interested in meeting their needs in that way. Our city wouldn't accept it for recycling or even hazardous waste, but did give Porter the name of a company that buys old appliances. Great! we thought, even though we had to transport it to their site ourselves.

Which Porter did, today. And discovered that they weren't interested at all in the fact that much of it was still operational; all they wanted was the scrap metal. They paid him 14 pieces of silver—I mean dollars. That was better than our having to pay someone to dispose of it, but my heart breaks to think of our faithful stove, which could still do most of what it had been created for, crunched up into a small metal cube.

Let goods and kindred go. Right. If I can't even do it for a 40-year-old appliance....

Posted by sursumcorda on Saturday, December 9, 2017 at 3:24 pm | Edit
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We call it raw material. Thanks for recycling!

Posted by Stephan on Saturday, December 09, 2017 at 3:51 pm

That does help, thanks! Swiss Steel does a good work—as well as good work.

Posted by SursumCorda on Saturday, December 09, 2017 at 3:56 pm

I also thought that I wasn't too attached to my "stuff" until I had to get rid of most of it when I moved to the Gambia. The books of course were the hardest to part with, but the LP's also were tough, since some have not been released as CD's, so they're gone forever.

Posted by Kathy Lewis on Sunday, December 10, 2017 at 8:58 am

Ha, ha. This reminded me of my grandmother and her refrigerator. She had an old one similar to your father's with the freezer inside the fridge and the handle that latched.

The latch finally let go. Did she replace the fridge then? No. She hired a handyman to come and put magnets on the side of both the fridge and the door that were supposed to keep it closed.

I suggested she was pushing frugality a bit too far and was treated to a lecture on not having lived through the Depression. Never mind all the money being wasted by not using a more energy efficient model. She did eventually replace it.

Maybe her holding on to it had nothing to do with the Depression and was really because she didn't want to have to shop and make a decision (she didn't have the option of shopping online in the 80's). No, I think the Depression is the real answer. After her death we found a couple thousand dollars stashed in various places around the house.

Posted by dstb on Sunday, December 10, 2017 at 9:17 am

Kathy, as one who has three boxes of LP's sitting around simply because there are ones I can't replace, I can imagine how hard that was. If people aren't going to update their albums to modern formats, they should at least release the copyright so that others can.

I've let a lot of books go at various times. Many I don't miss, but some I have really regretted giving up, so much so that I hesitate to do the cleaning out my collection needs. I would be very happy to see them in our local library instead of on our shelves—after all, I don't need them constantly, just accessible. Why not share them with others? I'll tell you why not. Because when you donate books to a library, they don't put them on their shelves. They sell them, usually at ridiculously low prices. As a buyer I'm thrilled, but as a donor not happy at all. I wanted to donate the book; if I wanted to donate money, I'd have given much more than the price they put on the book. So now I hoard my books, because the library doesn't think them worth keeping.

Posted by SursumCorda on Monday, December 11, 2017 at 7:36 am

Stashing money around the house may be okay if your heirs know about it ... and if you don't live in California.

Posted by SursumCorda on Monday, December 11, 2017 at 7:37 am
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