Hem a skirt? Why bother when there's a stapler handy. Buy a toaster? Save by frying the breakfast loaf in an old iron skillet. These are the things my mother taught me. She was the queen of make-do, a do-it-yourselfer, though not the type John Hechinger would approve.

If a strip of wallpaper parted company with the ceiling, mother stuck it back on with adhesive tape. If the honeysuckle choked the driveway and threatened to collapse the garage, mother hacked it back with her butcher knife. She used her sewing scissors for trimming the front yard.

Not a window in the house had a cord, so in the warm months, they were propped open with rulers, pencils and a plumber's helper.

For 14 years, the oven door was kept closed with a coat hanger. When mother broke down and bought a new stove, the oven door handle fell off the first day. Luckily, there were plenty of hangers to spare in the closet.

The closet door, like most of the doors in the house, had no knob. Mother stuck a 10-penny nail through the shaft that had held the knob to form an effective but lethal door handle.

For some reason, she made no such repair when it came to the bathroom door. Instead she used an old girdle to assure her privacy in the bath. This meant flinging the girdle in the air with one hand while slamming the door shut on the garment with the other hand.

In the bath, a trashbasket played clothes hamper; a wash rag was stuffed in the drain instead of a stopper.

In the kitchen, a roasting pan was home to the clothespins and the car keys. Money was kept under the bedroom rug and laundry was sometimes stored in the refrigerator. The Maytag ringer washer was the birthing room for the cats and the telephone directory was kept under the couch cushions which were getting on in years and needed some oomph.

In mother's world, no problem was without a solution and ingenuity was the meaning of life.