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patterns of ink

How fruitless to be ever thinking yet never embrace a thought... to have the power to believe and believe it's all for naught. I, too, have reckoned time and truth (content to wonder if not think) in metaphors and meaning and endless patterns of ink. Perhaps a few may find their way to the world where others live, sharing not just thoughts I've gathered but those I wish to give. Tom Kapanka

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Bringing Home the Duncan Phyfe: Chapter 20a

Fa-la-la-la-la... and All That Stuff

There are rural legends about how the Amish keep their life savings in Mason jars buried behind the buggy barn; and urban legends, too, about homeless "bag ladies" or bums whose true identity is discovered in death along with millions of dollars in a bank behind which they sometimes spent the night on the street.

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Dirt farmer or Banker or bag lady? Things are not always as they appear.

In his own quiet way, my father was like that. Oh, he never slept in a dumpster, and he did not have a secret stash of millions, but he was willing to endure "dumpy" situations in order to "save up" enough money to rise above them.
I touched on this in Chapter11, when they bought the refrigerator.

From his first paycheck as a young, single wage earner, Dad began entertaining an idea: "What if I save up my own money and loan it to myself when I need it? What if I don't buy a better car, until I can pay cash for one, but then I pretend that the cash must be repaid to the 'bank.' If I can discipline myself to do this" he thought, "I'll always be ahead of the game. I can maintain a proverbial nest egg indefinitely."

It said of some people that money burns a hole in their pocket. With Dad, it sewed his pockets shut. He was no miser. Misers love money for money's sake. They get all they can and can all they get. But neither was he a tight wad. Tight wads hate spending money on others because it leaves less to spend on themselves. Dad was simply frugal. Scrimping and saving and "making do" had became, if not a way of life, a means to an end that brought genuine contentment.
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Mom joined him in this venture but brought a sense of balance. As Dad focused on the "nest egg," Mom focused on feathering the nest.
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Never did Dad's philosophy of personal finance cause more conflict than at Christmas time. Like all husbands, he wanted very much to make his wife happy with unexpected treasures under the tree (this later applied equally to his children). But he translated "'tis the season to be jolly" as "'tis the season to suspend fiscal restraint without throwing the family budget out the window." In other words, allow yourself to buy non-essential things but set a limit.
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The idea of buying a Duncan Phyfe dining table when there was no dining room in their near future made no sense to Dad, but hey... it was Christmas. Fa-la-la-la-la... and all that stuff. Already Dad had learned that knowing what your wife wants for Christmas a month in advance--even if it makes no sense--is a far better thing than having no clue where to begin shopping.
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After work on Monday, Dad called the man selling the Duncan Phyfe and asked if he could stop by to look at the table. Was Mom's wish about to come true?
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Before we find out. I'd like to take a moment to remind us all of the importance of the word ONLY and how it can change the meaning of a sentence depending on where it is placed. Decades ago, when I was a high school English teacher, I used the following sentence (20b) to demonstrate versatility of this word.
(And, yes, this is relevant to the Chapter 21. =)

5 Comments:

Blogger Dr.John said...

You are very good at bringing us to the point where we have to come back.

5/12/07 8:13 PM  
Blogger Cris said...

Ahhhh the cliffhangers. Looking forward to reading more. :)

5/12/07 8:54 PM  
Blogger patterns of ink said...

Dr. John and Cris,
It's good to know my slow pace in writing hasn't lost you. Thanks for coming by. I know these are busy days and weeks.

Warning: if all goes as planned the next chapter is a long one, but it's the one you've been waiting for from the beginning, Dr.John.

6/12/07 7:35 AM  
Blogger Nancy said...

And the story continues... I will always come back for more. I can't wait.

7/12/07 5:51 PM  
Blogger patterns of ink said...

Nancy,
Thank you. I'm hoping to wrap it up this weekend, so stay tuned.

7/12/07 9:40 PM  

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