It’s Under Here Somewhere

I stopped over to the McLain’s house yesterday afternoon to drop off some guacamole and chips. Though I would like to say that I was just being nice and had made the quac especially for them, that, unfortunately, is not true. The reality is that I had made the guacamole the night before when Court and his kids came for dinner, but completely forgot about it until we had finished eating and were settling outside on the patio to watch the kids play a bit longer and the sun go down. I’ll send it home with you, I said, and then forgot to do that as well.

Oh well, I thought when I discovered the guacamole sitting in my refrigerator yesterday. Addie always says her favorite food is guacamole, so yay for her. The other upside is that I got a chance to see the paint job on Dagny’s and Maggie Faith’s bedroom. Teal and white stripes on the wall; a gray ceiling. God bless Dave and Jll. I will tell you, however, that the room actually looks nice. Who knew a gray ceiling could look so good?

As Jll walked me to the door, she talked about how one of the benefits of painting (or any remodeling effort) is that it forces us to move things around and throw things away or into a Goodwill pile. She went on to mention a house in her neighborhood that is occupied by full-out hoarders. Gulp, I thought. Hoarders. Just one flower vase more than me.

As I have mentioned, we are in the middle of a remodel job this summer. And when I say we, I of course mean Bill. I am just quality control. You-Missed-A-Spot is my middle name. Bill loves my help. Anyway, in our family room, we (there’s that we again) removed cabinets from above the bar area. The cabinets were getting on my very last nerve because I am the poster child for If-There-Is-A-Space-I-Will-Fill-It.  And they were filled with glasses and knick-knacks and liquor and dishes that hadn’t been used since the Reagan administration. So we removed all of them from the cabinets (a tedious job which actually DID include me) and put them on the dining room table to contend with at a later date.

And there they sit, getting dustier and dustier as Bill continues the installation of hardwood floors. If there is even half as much sawdust in his lungs as there are on my tables, well, I just hope there isn’t….

At some point, I will have to get serious and begin putting most of those things in a box to take to Goodwill. But here’s how I already KNOW it’s going to go: Gosh, I’ve literally NEVER used these wine glasses. But they were a wedding present from a good friend who it’s true I haven’t seen in 25 years but she got them in Germany. Sure, they are way too small for wine and way too big for port. But they were a WEDDING PRESENT. 

Bill will try to hold my feet to the fire, but quite frankly, he’s every bit as guilty as I, just for different types of things. His mother hated throwing things away, which is why every time we went to visit her, she sent me home with plastic kitchen utensils and old Christmas decorations and every single thing we ever gave her as a present over the past 25 years of our marriage. And now that’s Bill. He is reluctant to throw certain things away.

There are a pile of dress shirts that he used to wear every day when he worked as a professional lobbyist/lawyer. Just as he told me at the beginning of our marriage that he doesn’t cook, I told him I don’t launder and iron shirts. So he would wear a shirt, and when it was dirty, he tossed it in a laundry bag. When the bag was full, he would take it to the dry cleaners. A few days later, the shirts would come back clean, starched, and carefully folded just as he liked. Nowadays, if he practices law, it’s in his home office wearing his sweats and moccasins. But about 20 shirts are still in that laundry bag, needing to be cleaned. Or given to Goodwill, I say. But here how that conversation goes: The shirts are in perfectly good shape. I might give them to one of my sons. You never know, I might need them some day.

Watch for our show on TLC. Denver Housewives and Hoarders. Take that, Atlanta.

This post linked to Grand Social.

Friday Book Whimsy: The House We Grew Up In

searchThe stars of Lisa Jewell’s highly readable novel The House We Grew Up In are about the most dysfunctional fictional family I have ever come across in a novel. And I read a LOT.

But here’s the thing: Despite their ups and downs, you can’t help but like them all. Well, almost all of them.

Clearly the most interesting thing about this novel, and the thing that at least in part makes the reader unable to turn off the light and stop reading is the hoarding. Reading about hoarding is like having a scab that you can’t leave alone. It’s unpleasant but oh-so-interesting.

And yet there is so much more to the novel, and so much more to the characters.

The Bird family lives in a pleasant cottage in the Cotswolds in England. Lorelei Bird is a lovely, charming mother of four who wants nothing more than to provide a life of joy for her children. She loves pretty, colorful things, and likes to hang on to them like we hang on to memories. Her husband and children find her to be delightful and full of love. Easter is her favorite holiday, and her annual Easter Egg Hunt provides joy each year. Until it doesn’t. Because one year something particularly terrible happens, leading the family to slowly begin to crumble.

I enjoyed the way Jewell told the story, telling the tale from each of the characters’ perspectives, going so far as to use Lorelei’s online love relationship to fill us in even more, via her letters to her online friend.

There is so much more to the novel than hoarding, but as we undoubtedly all have a secret fear that we are hoarders, it is the most compelling part of the novel.  Let me assure you, this novel will put your mind at ease. We may need to send a few things to Goodwill, but most of us can get to our kitchens.

I particularly loved the way this novel ended, despite the distressing facts we learn about some of the characters. Jewell leaves us with the idea that families who love one another can get through unbelievable stress and tribulation and love will rise above it all.

The House We Grew Up In would be a WONDERFUL novel for a reading club. Please consider it. It will be one of my favorite books of 2015.

Now, excuse me while I go clean my basement.

Here is a link to the book.