And it's true that in the 13 years of Aloe House's existence, we've gone through two washing machines, two TVs, a couple of VCRs and several CD and DVD players. That's just the way it is here, and we're not even directly on the beach to get the brunt of salt air and blowing sand!
But on the other hand, some things last. I've written before about Porter, our 2000 Nissan Frontier truck that is still chugging away as a rental vehicle for our friend Mark. And as I look around, I see other troupers among the stuff we originally shipped down. I'm going to list them, despite the superstition that this praise will kill them; if it does, there's no shame in it. Nothing lasts forever.
Our Hamilton Beach coffee pot was bought second-hand from the Richmond Times-Dispatch in 2001. A couple of years ago, I bought another from friends who were leaving the island, because I was sure that one day mine would refuse to work and I wanted a backup. The "new" one is still in the storage area while old RTD keeps brewing.
The Hotpoint refrigerator and GE stove we shipped that same year continue to do their jobs. I've sanded rust spots and applied appliance paint a few times, and Mr. Fridge growls a-plenty, but so far, so good (knock wood).
The IKEA furniture we sent down in flats, then assembled, is mostly holding up. One stereo shelf that was saturated during Hurricanes Hanna and Ike is gone, and one trip-damaged Billy bookshelf went from living room to garage to dump, but otherwise the stuff is doing well. I still love the big wooden table that was an absolute bear to assemble, and I've sanded it and re-applied polyurethane a few times.
We slip through sheets on this island like ... eww, that goose metaphor is icky. Sheets here are prone to blood stains from nighttime mosquito bites, fraying from windy-day line drying and shredding from any indoor-outdoor pets. I can't tell you how many sets of sheets I've brought down. Yet one set keeps going ... brown ones that Tom bought before we were even married, in 1982! I guess they made them better back then, and the color of dried blood just blends right in.
I'm also impressed with the longevity of certain people here. Canadians and Americans often come and go, surviving a few seasons before packing it up for someplace a bit cheaper, friendlier to non-rich foreigners (yeah, TCI, it's true) and more inclined toward a Jimmy Buffett existence. Some stay/continue to come, sometimes despite spousal strife and bureaucratic BS, notably Bobby Ball, Ron and Janet Holmes, Naqqi Manco, Mark Herzog, "Scooter Bob" and Howard Gibbs. Maybe even Tom and Jody Rathgeb (with a couple of glitches along the way).
It seems to me that the commonality among things that have lasted is simplicity. Fancy electronics and complicated designs have too many things to go wrong. The manual transmission truck with roll-up windows, the fridge with no ice-maker or water dispenser, and the plain wooden chair ... they're still here and functional.
And with the people, the key is flexibility. If the store doesn't have tomato sauce, you figure out a way to use tomato paste. If you can't get eggs for breakfast, try the island meal of fish and grits. When your day doesn't go as planned, plan something else.
In short, here's my equation for island life: Simplicity plus flexibility equals longevity.