No Holds Barred: Making Old New Again

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My 2008 Lexus RX 350 restored!

Now that the world looks like a war zone, I’m looking for good old-fashioned comfort (and I’m not talking about elastic waistband sweatpants). It used to be that mall shopping was the stress antidote; blowing it all on some luxury items like shoes, handbags, cars. But clothing was always an easy “one night stand” addiction. You fall in love with some magenta velvet Tom Ford blazer in some store (for $2000) and in no time swipe your card and you own it. And then never wear it.

A velvet Tom Ford blazer in perfect condition — available on eBay!

I call it the “WTF” splurge. Those days are over (and I don’t care how the masses are overspending of late). “Cheap thrill” purchases are too costly for most both physically and fiscally. Blowing it is the wrong direction to go when times are rough, even though it may give you that ten second high of hope and well-being. What addiction doesn’t? And let’s forget those good old self-improvement mantras; You deserve it, Treat yourself today, and Celebrate you. Maybe not.

Recently I heard a therapist explain that “When times are unsteady people need to do things that give them a sense of control” — like cleaning their houses. There has definitely been a run on newfangled cleaning products since COVID. But more than that, there’s been a popularity of “disaster preparedness” products for fires, floods, and other urgent situations.

That market used to be called “preppers.” Now it’s been reported that more Americans are buying “emergency rations” of food, medical supplies, protective clothing, and toys for kids. “Bunker Chic” is here. Personally, I am not ready for a fearful “basecamp” existence. Now more than ever I want the serenity of a sanctuary. But trust me, I have enough flashlights, water bottles, and charging cords at the ready. However, a “prepper” I will never be.

“Bunker-chic” home in Los Cocos, Mérida designed by Ludwig Godefroy / 📸 Rory Gardiner

Lately I have envied my pals who have risen above all the bad news and continue to “shop away” their anxiety; they’ve changed locations, traded in their spouses and reshaped their face and bodies. When in doubt go “new and improved.” Keep upgrading and max out your credit card.

via Giphy

But in the last three years I realized I don’t want to “upgrade” out of my comfort zone. I’ve been criticized for not dining out enough or traveling at all. Maybe I’m just holding on for dear life. I admit that I have a severe “learning disorder” when it comes to change. Every time I get a new phone it takes me 10 months to learn how to operate it.

Technology “update” notifications are dangerous for me on all levels. Pals are getting new cars and I refuse to trade mine in as I am not used to having a dashboard that is an iPad. Same thing with new TVs. I am terrified of new remote controls. Buying any new tech is too much. Less is more means peace, if not bliss, to me.

Although, I know fashion icon Iris Apfel lives by her creed of “More is more. Less is a bore.”

I just got rid of 15 closets of possessions and believe me I am no minimalist. Bare shelves look and feel like a new luxury to me.

Getting lost in my closet back in the day.

Sustainability is not really a driving force in my life. But lately I started thinking about Restoration versus Renovation, and the fact that “functional obsolescence” (thank you Apple!) is making us all drown in a landfill of our own tech devices and fast-fashion plastic fabric.

When COVID started I decided to restore my family home. I didn’t knock down a single wall or redesign a new kitchen. I just got a fresh paint job, new cabinets and recarpeted where needed. I left all the original art and furniture and appliances as my parents had great taste. Why ruin a good thing?!

The six-month process was still torturous but, in the end, I feel great in this recently “resurrected” environment. I adore being surrounded by the presence of my family in pictures and memorabilia. Luckily, I was blessed with a terrific brother and parents. I don’t feel lost or stuck in my past at all. In fact, I think I am celebrating! Their persistent aura has given me strength during these recent difficult times.

My “chicken coop “ living room restored! Family memorabilia surrounds me.

I realize I am of the age where my best days are really behind me, which doesn’t make me sad at all. It puts me squarely in my “now.” The future? Who knows. Maybe I am living out that idea of making the old new again … in the best possible way. Last week I got all my chairs “restuffed” (no reupholstery) and my primary doors were “retooled” to really “snap” shut. It is the little things that become such game changers.

But the biggest restoration experience was done by Tim Johnson — a local car “detailist” extraordinaire. He came out for two days (7:30 AM to 5:00 PM) and performed a magical makeover on my 15-year-old Lexus SUV and my 12-year-old BMW. It changed my life. I have had car details before, but it entailed a one-hour wax job, deep vacuuming and a tire shine. Car wash places are now bad hack jobs, and many have lost their campy boutiques that sold strange birthday cards and hanging velvet dice rearview mirror bling.

My 2008 Lexus SUV’s exterior and door — BEFORE.
Dirty handle area — BEFORE.
Corroded dashboard — BEFORE.
Driver floor — BEFORE.
Trunk carpet — BEFORE.
Dirty and encrusted engine — BEFORE.

Tim was a surgeon. He spent an hour cleaning just the motor, not to mention every cubbyhole (he found old jewelry, money and strange unidentified food), gas gauge, and knob handles. He got my dented fenders to look straight. One car was badly “keyed” from front to back. Somehow, he buffed that out.

His tools and potions were many and varied. Watching him was like watching a performance artist in my driveway. It was “dinner and a show.” He made me believe that “God is in the details.” Especially later when I drove both cars. They not only looked like brand-new cars – I swear they drove better. I sensed that my cars breathed a newfound sigh of relief.

Sprays for every auto issue.
More sprays.
Tim’s fave basic product.
Tim’s other magic potion.
Deluxe auto wipes.
Tools of the trade.
More tools of the trade.
Tim in magic mode.

My cars made me think about this whole process of “restoring.” It’s a form of honoring what you already own. Maybe that’s what restorative yoga means. But I am not sure facelifts do that.

I have seen too many people look “not themselves” and perhaps even “alien” after all those surgical lifts, pulls, and yanks. This is why I celebrate every hard-earned wrinkle. Although I wondered if one of Tim’s finishing spackle waxes could be used on my neck.

Ass lift for my car!
A new sparkling engine under the hood.
After passenger area.
Driver seat anew and back trunk transformed.
Even gas gage was cleaned.
Post detail of my 2008 Lexus SUV. My car is smiling 😉

Now the ultimate restoration arrived last week with a “new” Beatles song release. It was written and sung by John Lennon in the late ’70s, and bandmates Paul, Ringo, and George did record it but there were some technical difficulties. However, now with all the tech advances it has been “re-recorded” with Giles Martin — son of the original producer George Martin.

Apparently, it was the last song they ever recorded together. It’s titled “Now and Then” — and it’s not a rehash of “Yesterday.”

Leave it to the Fab Four … to restore a historical musical moment in our time.

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