Coffee heat rising


So, in the chore-a-day continuum, today is the first day of the Great Closet Clean-up. Every closet and cabinet in the house is jammed with 15 years’ worth of collected junk, about 14 years’ worth of which could go. So I decided to add shoveling out one closet, cabinet, or piece of furniture with drawers to the job of the day. A four-bedroom shack has rather more closets and cabinets than one would like, especially after the proprietor has hired some dude to line the garage walls with storage. Videlicet:

  • Hall linen closet
  • Vacuum (coat) closet
  • Master bedroom closet
  • Guest bedroom closet
  • Storage room closet
  • Office closet
  • Desk drawers
  • Armoire
  • Bathroom 1 cabinets
  • Bathroom 2 cabinets
  • Garage cabinets east
  • Garage cabinets west
  • Garage open shelves

This sounds fairly dreadful, because it is fairly dreadful. Some of the junk residing in those sites has been there since I moved into this shack, yea verily back in 2004. But…it appears that the challenge is not as Brobdingnagian as it appears.

Today I got through the hall linen closet, the vacuum closet, and the storage room closet, killing off three proposed days’ worth of projects in a single day. At this rate, I should be able to get through the entire consolidated frolic in about four or five days.

The problem with projects like this: one thing leads to another. You find some object…and wonder what is it? And why do you have it? In the back of the hall closet I found a gadget that contained butane or propane or God only knows what. A gift, no doubt. Not having used it and not knowing what it could possibly be for, I tossed it in the trash bag.

This caused the thing to spring a leak.

In the house. In the confined hall, Yes: s-s-s-s-s-s-s-s-s-s-s-s-s-s-s-s-s-s-s-s

Grab whatever-it-is and hurry out to the alley garbage with it (hoping no one is around to see). Toss it. Run away. Back inside the shack, continue the task at hand, and find some other component of…whatever-it-is. March that out to the garbage, too. So far no explosion has taken place. Thank Heaven for small favors.

There’s the stuff that you haven’t seen in years and don’t know why you kept it; the debris from past cleaning-lady attacks; the junk stash attack…

Here’s a hippy-dippy ash tray from the 1970s, a globe of polished granite annoyingly dyed teal (it was one of my generation’s colors: we called it “turquoise,” but it was the same color that appears in the presently stylish annoying palette of battleship gray + eye-searing white + teal). It has two stupid little half-tube-shaped slots drilled out of its lip, presumably to accommodate cigarettes: i.e., it was designed by some clown who didn’t smoke.

Off-hand I cannot recall whether this thing was my mother’s (the mother who smoked herself into the grave, the mother who on her deathbed was consuming six packs a day, yes, that mother), or whether my mother made me buy it to accommodate her chain-smoking habit while she was at my house. Why did I keep the damn thing, if it wasn’t actually hers? Possibly to accommodate some other nicotine addict who insisted on smoking (outside, damnit!) at my house?

No one that I know smokes anymore.

Throw it away? What? It was my mother’s. Maybe.

A brass lamp finial. What? Examine all the antique lamps in the house (that would be all the lamps, just about). Not a single one of them is missing a finial. WTF? Stash for some future closet clean-out.

Up on the top shelf, where it can’t be broken, resides the sentimental stuff. Like Dot-Dot’s exquisitely beautiful hand-painted porcelain plate, a gift to me and my son. She lived around the corner from us in the historic Encanto district, and she was one of two women of her generation who babysat children in the neighborhood. She watched M’hijito two or three days a week — the other woman filled in the remaining days — while I drove out to a part-time job at the Great Desert University and filled my remaining hours trying to finish my dissertation. Dot-Dot was a gifted porcelain painter: she taught classes filled with women craving to emulate her. For her to give us one of her (amazingly expensive) pieces was a great generosity.

An empty plastic squeeze bottle: move it to empty jar collection in the garage, thereby deferring  disposal to some other day.

An unknown blue fluid stashed in an old glass Straus Family Creamery heavy cream bottle. Dump. Bottle to dishwasher, thence to empty jar collection (see above)

A plethora of prescription meds, including three bottles of a dangerous addictive drug dispensed during the Year of the Surgeries, nary a single pill of which I ever swallowed. Here’s something from a vet called “banamine“: it’s an injectable drug used for muscle spasm. Label says to “apply on affected area.” Probably for Cassie’s hot spots. Dare we ask, WTF????

Something there is that’s kind of scary about the sheer quantity of the prescription drugs that have been dispensed for me and for the dogs. Some of these bottles, I’ve never even opened.

No freaking wonder we have a plague of drug addicts in this country.

Here’s a jacket in the hall closet that must have belonged to someone else: it doesn’t even fit me!

In the guest bedroom closet: a little suit made by a local tailor, supposedly to fit me. When D-XH and I were in England, where I spent three months in archival research for the dissertation, we visited Scotland and bought my mother the richest, most wonderful, beautiful wool tweed fabric. She sewed handsomely, and I thought she would make herself something with it.

But no. Being a mother, she regarded it as a keepsake and squirreled it away for safekeeping. After she died, my father gave it to me.

I took it to a woman who billed herself as a tailor and asked her to make me a suit — a skirt and jacket. She did…but “tailor” was not exactly le mot juste. She apparently made it from some Simplicity pattern — she couldn’t even be bothered to spring for a Vogue pattern, I guess. The result was amateurish and ill-fitting and it has just hung in the closet. Forever.

It did not fit then. And now that I am old and have spawned a child, it does not fit hilariously. What a shame. I’ve hung onto it all these years imagining (occasionally) that maybe someday I could find a real tailor (right! In lovely uptown Phoenix, Arizona!) who could somehow rebuild it or just take it apart and make something with whatever fabric could be salvaged.

Not so much.

But the moths haven’t eaten it. That’s something. I guess. So…this afternoon I tossed the jacket in the car with the rest of the unwearable stuff to be donated. Decided to deconstruct the skirt, salvage what I can of the fabric, and make a pillow of it.

Yes. That’s something. Eh?

Two indexing assignments came in yesterday and now today in comes an inquiry from a self-publishing author: will I copyedit his 85.000-word sci-fi thriller?

Why shore, for a fee. But it’ll have to wait till I can get out from under the academic opuses. While the author’s on the phone and the hamburger’s on the grill, my son, fresh off the road from Colorado, shows up at the door to collect his dog.

Is there some reason why every damnfool thing happens at once?

So now I am fed. Four of the proposed 13 shoveling-out chores are done (hall linen closet, vacuum bedroom closet, guest bedroom closet, armoire) are done. Email is unanswered. I am tired. And the dog remains to be taken for a decent walk.

And so…away.