One of the challenges of frugal living is what to do with all those leftovers. Food isn’t a problem (at least for this family, although I’ll let Ms Dr. FS tell you why). But what about those bits of paint that are always left after a project is done? Of course one’s temptation is to put the lid on tightly and stow the can in the garage until . . . . well, usually until it dries out and gets thrown away. (Yes, I’ve tried caulking the top, and a dozen other methods, none of which has been foolproof.)
If you can’t save it, use it. (This is also the basic principle behind leftovers, by the way.) My late father-in-law Bert had a wonderful way of using up leftover paint which shows not only his own creativity, but proves that creative frugality can thrive in even the most hostile environments. By which I am thinking of the cookie-cutter communities of
My in-laws’ development does not exactly encourage variety or distinctiveness; uniformity is not only expected, it is enforced. A few years ago a number of residents started to add little cutesy things to the tops of their mailboxes—gnomes, miniature golf bags, artificial flowers, etc.—a touch of the individual to make their condominiums easier to find among the proliferating sameness. This was ruled in contravention of the community’s rules, and now the mailboxes are all nice and clean and interchangeable again.
But Bert found a solution that not only made his condo easier to find, but beautified the landscape and used up all the bits of paint he’d accumulated: he painted the cactuses.
The result is what I think is a real work of folk art. (Note the strategic placement of unused nails.) How it has managed to survive the scrutiny of the powers that be is beyond me, although I suspect that they simply didn’t want to mess with anyone who paints his cactuses. He could be dangerous.