Category Archives: Housekeeping
I’ve been spending time with my shredder. He’s a dirty little beast, but he gets the job done.
Yesterday, I emptied a file cabinet and discovered twenty-five years of tax returns. I put aside the requisite seven and started to toss the rest.
Then Bacon said, “Our social security numbers are on those pages.”
“We’d better shred them.”
He fed paper into the black mouth–grinding his way through a few years. The girls called him in to watch their favorite show, Criminal Minds. He traded the gore of the shredder for the gore of network television.
This morning, I found the pile on the floor of my studio. I paged through the long forms. A plumbers bill from long ago rental property. Adoption expenses from 2002. A hotel receipt from a trip to Mexico. The history of our lives by tax ledger.
I felt guilty destroying those records. I’ve spent my days hoarding memories to use later. It seemed like sacrilege to turn them into confetti.
We’re on a home improvement binge here at Crispville. I haven’t mentioned it because the repairs take over everything. I don’t want to turn Crisply Spoken into that kind of blog. To quote Seinfeld, “Not that there’s anything wrong with that.” I love Young House Love and Remodelista. They fill a hole left by the demise of my favorite glossies, Domino and Cottage Living, but I spend too much time contemplating the perfect shade of gray or penny tile versus subway. Click this link to my Pinterest Boards, and you’ll see. I should be writing.
But … nothing on YHL compares to the soggy sheet rock behind my washing machine. I only thought to take a picture after it crumbled onto the linoleum. I want to show the pipe configuration to my plumber. He’s buying a timeshare in Vail with the cash I’ve spent to unclog this drain.
The iron skeleton reminds me of my novel synopsis. After chipping away the details, the structural problems are obvious. Time to get off the internet and write.
I can’t help it. Every time I see a sign, I stop. If the house is mid-century, I’m a goner. Must be my Wonder Years fixation. Garage sales don’t satisfy, but ESTATE draws me to the door as if the knob is a portkey or affixed to a magic cupboard. To Narnia and beyond.
Who lived here? Are they still alive? I wander through rooms filled with copper Jello molds and Corning Ware casserole lids. Sheets folded on the dresser are flowered and faded. A dusty Singer reveals a crafty grandma.
A bargain hunter unfurls a yard of vined green cotton. “What was this?” she asks. I avert my gaze. She holds a homemade balloon shade, plastic rings hand-stitched to the hem.
I say nothing.
She drops the item.
I shake it out and check for stains. Usable. Even pretty. With a tactile sixth-sense, I can see the hands that stitched it. Nimble fingers wield a small needle. The thread whips through the plastic ring over and under. The knot pulls tight. I feel the sting as she snaps the thread against her palm.
A man enters holding a blue-lined waitress pad. “Can I write you a ticket?”
“No.” I smooth the cloth back into even squares. Whatever it is I’m searching for, I haven’t found.
I deduce that the former inhabitant didn’t smoke, ate at home, only replaced what was broken. The curled formica on the kitchen counter testifies to her longevity. She wasn’t much of a gardener. The backyard is a forest of empty clay flower pots, six inches or less in diameter. She liked celebrations. The garage is full of Christmas, glass glittered bulbs in 1960s cardboard boxes with cellophane lids. A four-foot tree of spiky synthetic retains a few icicles. And dust.
There’s always dust.
The Frigidaire hums. Someone nukes lunch. The lady at the table by the door greets a new voyeur. I exit. Still making up stories and searching for Oz.