My neighbor and his washing machine fire pit idea

Since we moved into our house last summer, we've been loaded with projects. It had been a foreclosure filled with dogs, loose hamsters, wayward kids and a lazy father who never finished anything he started. Then it sat for months discarded.

We've been on clean-up duty ever since.

My next door neighbor is an unusual renter. He's fifty-something, single, and conscientious. He treats his apartment like it's his and mows, weed-whacks, trims, sweeps, welds, repairs, decorates and inspires. This last part is what makes me think of him as one of the Joneses. I like Tom. He inspires me to work hard. If he's working, it's difficult to sit around. When I'm working, it's difficult for him to sit around.

This morning he came over to share a magazine article about a clever chap who built one of those fire pits - you know, the kind you pick up at Lowe's or True Value? Except this guy made his out of the drum of a front-loading washing machine. Attached three legs, turned it so the hole faced upward, and burned away.

See, Tom and I share ideas nearly every day and when we discover something we both like, we jump on it. In this way, we've unintentionally yet clearly become the Joneses to each other.

This realization struck me a few days ago when I noticed that our last few yard projects seemed uncannily related. I'm not trying to keep up with him. He just informs me of things I hadn't thought of. And I do the same. We're both frugal and believe in reusing, so it isn't like we're picking up two of everything at the hardware store. But we say "wow" a lot. And, "Hey, that's a great idea!" Then we split to our respective garages and go to work.

It isn't always so cut and paste, but Keeping up with the Joneses gets a bad rap too often. I think. Maybe I should keep my mouth shut for the sake of getting the consumeristic end of this social phenomenon to swing its pendulum rightfully in the other direction, but I've caught a glimpse of the good end and I don't mind it one bit. 


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