Oddments

In search of story


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Musings on place: January 29.18

Life in a new place has an edge to it. Every day taunts you with your confusions. You never choose right the first time: that first drawer or cabinet door you open is inevitably the wrong one. Whatever you’re looking for is somewhere else.

You mutter at the builder, who put the pantry next to the refrigerator. It is his fault that you put the eggs in the pantry and the aluminum foil in the refrigerator.

You are grateful for the handy little storage closet, but you cannot seem to navigate it without a ricochet off that lower shelf.

Then one week that edge seems smoother, and you wonder if indeed that is so. Are you really opening the right drawer the first time? Are you no longer finding the paper towels in the freezer? Are you actually retrieving the hammer from the closet without dinging your head?

You allow yourself to take a deep breath and acknowledge that, yes, there is the slightest sense of routine seeping back into your life. Yes, there are still things in storage and much more to be done, but there does seem to be a smoothing of the edge. Ahhhh….

And then, incredulous, you see them: ants! In January! On your desk! Did they hitchhike in from the storage unit? Did they come from outside, enlivened by those warm days last week? Do you care? No! You just want a cannon to blast them out.

You hear them snickering, and you know the edge is still there.

 

p.s. The black and blue of this post has some ironic meaning, I’m sure, but I have no idea why the two colors happened. Probably the doings of the ants.

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Connections: January 5.18

About walls.

As you know, I’m new here. I have lived here not quite two months. Two insane months. My housewarming gift from Mother Nature has been a gorgeous, dangerous cold. She has shut me in.

Being shut in has put me in close communion with my new walls. Have you noticed, dear reader, how walls differ? It isn’t just the color; it’s size and height and the way they join hands or don’t.

My wall jewelry is — ahem — eclectic. My last house was 3400 square feet; this one is 2000. Even I can do that math. Placement must be judicious.

Since I have not had them painted yet, my walls offer particular possibilities. I am Columbus and these walls are the flat unexplored world. I can try this and try that; if it’s awful, I can take it down and the holes which tell the story of my bad ideas will be plugged and painted.

(Would that the history of all my bad ideas were so nicely disclaimed!)

Two days ago I hung three botanical prints I love. They look awful. They were perfect in the same arrangement in my old house. Here, awful. The space is so different. And space must be carefully sculpted. The walls might be flat, but the whole is multi-dimensional. A plain wall can be the best. Or tedious. A beautiful print can be just as tedious. Where do things go? Ah, the cry of the newly-moved.

In the Grand Scheme, my walls do not meet the lowest bars of significance. Perhaps that’s why I am so compelled by them: in some peevish way in an overwhelming world, I decide.

 

 

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Connections: November 10.17

In a stupor, I am here, dear reader. Having spent the last three weeks with my wonderful son and daughter-in-law, two grandkids, two dogs, and two cats, I have arrived in my new house. I have lived here for four whole days.

Aside from a mattress on the floor, a desk, and some miscellaneous chairs, my furniture at the moment is boxes, not a one of which is shin-friendly.

I’m downsizing, which is another way of saying I’m exploring the depths of wishy-washy. My decision-making is not crisp. Maybe there are just too many decisions. I contemplate something and what it will look like in some landfill years hence and still I can’t quite make up my mind about it.

Nonetheless, the pile of flattened boxes grows and gives me hope.

The feels-like temp this morning is 19. My winter clothes are in storage, keeping some boxes toasty warm. They are probably close to the box with my pots and pans, which got buried in the middle instead of the front of the storage unit. Golly gee, I have to get carry-out.

I was mercilessly berated by my family on the matter of my eight-year-old computer. So I got a new one. My poor addled brain is therefore trying to deal with the physical chaos of my surroundings and the virtual chaos of a new computer. Touch-screen? Wireless? All new, all befuddling, all out to get me. I have no idea yet how to manage photos.

Please bear with me. I am on a perilously steep learning curve, and don’t dare look down.

 


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Connections: October 22.17

I groped for the word: appalling? scary? astonishing? embarrassing? All the above?

This is one of two units in which the stuff of my life is stored. You know, dear reader: stuff? It isn’t life but it becomes life. Doesn’t it? It tells of people you miss. It tells of the daily. It’s the familiar, the comfortable, the personal.

It’s easy to disdain mere things. They are, after all, temporary. But they are also deeply a part of us. So I stand in absolute terror at the base of this mountain of things. It stretches floor to ceiling and wall to wall — in two units! What will I keep? What must go? How did this happen? What will I do about it all?

But, more important, what do I need? My writing mate Tamara is a minimalist. She and her husband have amazingly pared their life down to necessity. They have by example taught me to re-think ownership. That will enter into this. Also I think I’ve reached a time in life where the letting-go begins. Ironically, a holding-tight happens at the same time. I want to hold tight to memory even as I want to let go of the things that hold the memory.

Thus tension.

I might have a house to go to; I’ll know more in a few days. If so, the whittling begins. Look out for shavings!

 

 

Connections

 


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Connections: October 18.17

I call this Still Life With Mess.

Not that life ever stands still, though at times it seems to. But there is ever a mess. That is, unless we’re sitting around on our…umm…hands.

These three artifacts just happened to end up together as the movers plied their art, and of course I couldn’t help noticing the serendipity. The wonderful pine cone and seed wreath was made years ago by my dear friend Donna, and is one of my favorite things. The assembly-line autumn wreath has been fabulous on my front door here, if I do say so. The decrepit, ancient suitcase was my Aunt Edna’s and holds her academic cap and hood (the heavy velvet and gold of Ph.D.). To the left, the back of a print procured for me at a condo swap by my son and daughter-in-law because my son knew it was my favorite Ansel Adams.

What a mishmash life is.

Today I will leave this place that has been Grandma’s House for seven years. There is some melancholy. But another, smaller Grandma’s House awaits, and both grandchildren have given it a thumbs-up (as have I). So bear with me, dear reader, as I launch myself (albeit, it must be said, a trifle arthritically) into whatever comes next.

 

 

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