Another month and a half or so and the moving van will be pulling up out front. Yesterday the donation van packed up our surplus items and last week the shredder van whisked our unneeded paperwork off to be made into confetti.
Short of trying to cross their palms, I couldn’t convince the drivers of the donation van to disassemble the enormous albatross of a desk my other half has in our downstairs office and take it with them. It has room to land a small plane on the surface, and enough filing space to satisfy the needs of the Oval Office.
Deciding what to keep and what to move on with you is quite a project. Often I find myself sitting cross-legged on a bed or on the floor digging through old pictures, and things the children and grandchildren have made me over the years and having to make the difficult decision on whether to throw them back in the container they were living in or deposit them in the “dump me” bag. You can’t keep everything, and if you do “Hoarders” will find a spot for you on an upcoming episode.
My first in-laws were of the genre of people who simply could not let go of anything. It’s a strange phenomenon. I would surmise it stems from doing without at some point in your life, or being afraid of not being able to replace lost items. I’m not a psychiatrist. At times after talking with my friends I feel I could put out a shingle, but as a layman it would appear to me it might be an explanation for holding tightly to your possessions.
I like familiar and lovely things about me, but overcrowding makes me claustrophobic. Once in Texas visiting my ex-husband on a job he was doing, I met a man in his late eighties who I don’t believe had given away anything since donning his first pair of long pants. What a character.
Bert, his name was, fancied himself somewhat of a ladies man although his dazzling days remained far behind him. He made his home in an old ranch style home with a double wide trailer next to it on a several acres of land on the outskirts of Houston. Self described as a “long drink of water”, he breathed the atmosphere at well over six feet, admitting to having shrunk some over the years. Reed thin, if the man turned sideways he needed to stick out his tongue to make his presence known.
The land his home rested on, as well the trailer next door rented by my ex, had been passed down family to family over the generations. Other than the two living areas and the outbuildings, the acreage, once farmed by Bert’s predecessors, wasn’t used for much anymore except to graze cattle and grow wildflowers. A herd of cattle lazily chewed on blades of grass tails flicking at the flies buzzing around them, in the pasture beyond the gate. Bert explained the cattle belonged to a neighbor, who paid for the privilege of having the animals partake of their meals on his land.
In comparison to my ex husband’s trailer, which which was furnished with an old couch whose better days had come and gone twenty years prior, a mattress on the floor in one bedroom and a television set that still had the rabbit ears attached to the top, Bert’s two-story home was a labyrinth and a tribute to the power of accumulation. Makeshift aisles had been established to make moving from room to room doable if not easy. On either side of the walkways “needful things” were piled high one on top of the other with no apparent system visible. In one corner of the kitchen magazines and yellowing newspapers were stacked in towering piles. Bert explained these were in case he needed a good read in the terlet.
Barbecue was his passion, so he told me. Since being diagnosed as an insulin dependent diabetic, he could only partake of his special sauce with artificial sweetener. Sweetener or no, he said it would stick to your fingers like flypaper, just like his Daddy’s had. Ushered to the rear of the house, I was shown a mammoth grill on the deck looking more like a locomotive than a device for preparing food. Huge huge pipes protruded from the top of the unit and gauges were screwed here and there for monitoring the internal temperature.
On my first night there I stood in the tall grass at the fence, and fed the cows pieces of lettuce torn from several heads Bert had provided for that purpose. Cows have an affinity for me as I mentioned in my post earlier about working the cattle ranch in Manitoba. It seems my pheromones are conducive with enticing bovine desire. Ah, the gifts I have been given. After I returned home, I got a scribbled note from Bert saying that he and the cows were still looking to find me standing at their fence. Ah, still a dazzler.
Bert meanwhile was busy tending the grill. Brisket was the menu offering and it had been cooking since the sun came up. If the smells wafting in the breeze were any indication, the long wait was going to be well worth it.
In spite of the smell of food attracting any number of buzzing intruders, we ate “al fresco” that night. Heat was oppressive and the humidity so thick it was like breathing broth. The brisket was the best I’ve ever tasted. Bert served it with ears of fresh corn and an enormous salad of fresh vegetables from a neighbor’s stand. After the dishes were done we sat on the porch. Bert told stories of his youth while indulging in a rare treat of a shot or two of J.D. and a cigar from the box on the mantle. “As a young man”, he said wistfully, “Jack Daniels went in my coffee in the morning and in my shot glass at night. Back in the day, I smoked likely three packs a day. Kids won’t let me nowadays. Say the damn stuff’s going to kill me. Hell, I’m old as dirt anyhow. Think they’d let me go with a smile on my face.”
Bert passed on at ninety-five. My ex went to the funeral. As was the custom in his parts there was a viewing. Two elderly ladies stood looking down at the deceased while my husband waited to pay his respects. After a moment of silence, one lady turned to her companion and said,”I knew one day the cigarettes and booze was gonna kill him”. Smile.
This was a really good spinach salad. I seem to crave salads this summer.
Bacon and Egg Spinach Salad
1 6 oz. pkg. baby spinach
4 slices cooked bacon, crumbled
2 eggs, crumbled
5 large mushrooms, slivered
1/4 cup red onions, thinly sliced and halved
1/4 cup chopped hazelnuts
1/4 cup feta cheese, crumbled
Freshly ground black pepper
Wash spinach and remove stems. Tear into bite sized pieces. Toss with remaining ingredients.
1 cup white wine vinegar
4 Tbsp. EV olive oil
1 cup sugar
1 Tbsp. fresh chives
2 Tbsp. freshly chopped parsley
1 tsp. Hungarian paprika
2 tsp. yellow mustard
1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
1 ice cube
Put all dressing ingredients including ice cube in tightly closed container. Shake vigorously until ice cube has dissolved and dressing has emulsified. Refrigerate until ready to serve. Toss desired amount with salad.