My husband made a shovel for gathering the ashes out of our wood stove in the mornings.  Before that we were using my son's plastic beach shovel, but hot coals and plastic, well . . .  

He made the scoop out of a tin can which, up until dinner time held creamed corn.  The handle was cut from an old wooden dowel, something I salvaged from a broken roller blind left here by the previous owner. 

We spent a few minutes laughing about the shovel the other night after the kids were in bed.  I asked if we could hide it when company comes, he said he might write Heloise with the idea. 

The other day one of the older kids asked what the word "scrappy" meant and I was at a loss.  That night, had they asked, I could've held up that shovel.  John and I have always been scrappy, trying time and again to turn a sow's ear into a silk purse.  

There was a time in our country where the ability to scrape things together from scratch was seen as something like a virtue or at least a great asset.  I think of my Grandmother's drawer of lightly-used tin foil, the balls of saved rubber bands and I remember learning to darn socks with her, using careful stitches and an old wooden heel form. 

These days, though, there seems to be a bit of shame that lingers around both the need and ability to scrape things together - or is it just me who feels the shame of not enough? 

We can't afford to buy a shovel and we're keeping the ashes in old tin coffee cans donated from my husband's co-worker.  Firewood sits in a plastic five gallon bucket near the stove.

I guess, if we had the money, we'd pull up amazon and order one of those fancy fireplace sets, all of the manufactured tools to do the job right and look good too.  Or maybe we wouldn't.

The Merriam Webster online dictionary tells me scrappy, as an adjective, can mean 

1. consisting of scraps (as in that shovel my husband made) or
2. having an aggressive and determined spirit 

I don't typically think of myself as aggressive and it would be the last word anyone would use to describe my husband, but somehow, that second definition seems to fit and I like it.   

What do you think?  Are you scrappy?  If so, are you proud of it or embarrassed?


  1. Ironic that you wrote about this on the day that I began cleaning out my parents' house. My dad was the ultimate in scrappy. :) He saved everything to be reused, and he actually DID reuse many things. Everything was fixable. I'm not as scrappy as he was, but I do value the quality. Thanks for sharing this, Kelly. It made me smile when I needed it.

    1. Oh, that makes me happy, Lisa. We use a LOT of what we save too, but there also comes a time and a freedom in clearing out.

  2. Definitely scrappy! For years our wood was piled up beside the fireplace, behind the fire gates (old garden gates that doubled as a protective device to keep small children away from the fire, and a washing drier), until our kids were old enough not to need protection from the fire anymore, the fire gates got taken down and my husband built a woodbox outside. Which means that finally I don't have to sweep up bits of sheep poo that have come inside with the wheelbarrow full of wood!

    1. Excellent! I hereby honor your scrappy spirit, Donna :)

  3. Kelly, I think we would qualify as 'scrappy' my husband and I, for sure. I remember a saying from the 40's (via my mother in law), "Use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without."
    I like to think of it as being resourceful. But God always has beautiful surprises for me along the way, as well, and sometimes gives me a new 'tool' for the fireplace (figuratively.)
    Oblique~ sorry.

    I like your spirit~

    1. I hear you, Jody. I was going to get into all of that, how scrappiness itself can be a source of false pride (or an idol) but I decided to keep it light. Sometimes, in the context we live in, it just makes more sense to let things go. I think the difference for my husband and I comes in whether we're enjoying resourcefulness and using it to spark creativity or just doing it because we're being cheap! Thanks so much for commenting.

  4. I feel like the men in my family are capable of inventing anything from nothing--almost a sort of Macgyver thing--and that's never looked down on. It's seen as creative because they are making something that they don't want to pay for. But if you make something because you have nothing, people see it as trashy. I've been called trashy. It's awful. The preoccupation with things, especially new things, is overwhelming and awful, in my opinion.