Another cashmere sweater came out of the closet today. Dearly Beloved took to heart my admonitions about his overflowing closets. He says he is making certain that he doesn’t die with the tags still on anything. There could be unintended consequences here: the laundry. Perhaps it’s time for a lesson in intricacies of the Delicates cycle and drying flat. That could be a challenge for a man who just learned last year which cabinet holds the coffee filters.
There is still his pants closet. . . . only the bell-bottoms have passed on to that great haberdashery in the sky. He has pleats/no-pleats, cuffs/no-cuffs, dress/casual. . . and in the entire closet there is only a variance of two inches in the waist size. In other words, if he takes a deep breath and doesn’t exhale, he can wear any of them. I’ve had more expansion than that in my wrists. For now, however, he’s wearing the cashmere sweaters with the fifteen-year-old summer khakis with frayed bottoms. Personally, I think it’s just because he can. Showoff.
My mother used towels so ancient they were translucent, yet she died with a linen closet crammed with bath towels still bearing the price stickers. They were so old the crease lines wouldn’t wash out. I haven’t even used my “good china” for holidays the last two years. . . and then there is the matter of my aunt’s “good china” in my attic. She bought a piece every payday while my uncle was off fighting a war and when he returned they ate Sunday dinner on it every week for decades. The two sets give me place settings for 18. The chances of my having a dinner party for 18? Sarah Palin is more likely to hit the road to promote President Obama’s stimulus plan.
One of my neighbors, grandmother to over two dozen, has purchased a set of china for each of them. Her garage is lined with cabinets full of those accumulated patterns. SHE could manage a dinner party for 200 and use all of them and is more apt to do so before I have one for 18. She’ll have ironed linens, too. Better wear long sleeves at my house; I might forget napkins altogether.
Is there a sharp turn where we feel the need to shed this stuff? I don’t think I’m there yet. If Dearly Beloved still wants to keep the 50-year-old book on cattle raising from his college days, I won’t argue. . . it probably makes more sense than the Nancy Drews I’m hoarding. He’s mentioned having a few cows from time to time. We don’t have much space. . . would one cow do the trick? The only reason I carp about his hogging of the closets is because I could use one for all my recipes, yarn, fabrics, and half-finished projects. My dinner party for 18 may not happen, but I still think there’s another quilt in me.
My children must shudder when I mention downsizing. When my mother-in-law moved to a smaller place we weren’t at the front of the receiving line and I don’t mind at all. My former sister in-law, recipient of the dining room furniture, had to return two of the chairs after MIL decided she would like to keep them for awhile longer.
The chair crisis eased somewhat when Sister-in-law divorced my brother-in-law, however, thus eliminating the need for one of those chairs. So far, Mother-in-law hasn’t asked me to return my bequeathment: her grandmother’s broken sewing basket and a peacock feather. Don’t ask. Mine is not to reason why, just to stuff in a drawer and sigh. Actually, I do love that little pine needle sewing basket and would repair it if I could figure out how to keep the repairs from looking new. I’ll do it. . . someday. It’s on my list of projects.
With age does come some urgency, however. it’s not like we can assume all parts will continue working properly. I am trying to give myself permission to let some things go. . . like cross stitch, which does not mix with bifocals. . . and add new ones. . . like knitting, which I’m enjoying tremendously.
A neighbor here kept saying that “one day” he wanted to plant some palm trees in his front garden. “One day” eluded him for years. Finally his wife had had enough and told him:
“For goodness sakes, you’re 72 and you have high blood pressure. If you want palm trees, you need to get them right now. For that matter, you’d better get BIG ONES.”
Do you think one can leash-train a cow? Perhaps I could knit it a sweater.