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Saturday, June 15, 2024


Notes to my Neighbors 4.26.2006

By Rick Racela

Spring-cleaning at my house is truly an adventure.
When you only get to the back of your closets and drawers once a year, there’s so much lost treasure to discover.
Last weekend’s torrential rains made it the perfect time to go excavating, and I started in our guest rooms.
Tingling with excitement, I tackled the first closet, the one in the room where my grandkids stay. The three darlings are much too young to have amassed anywhere near my collection of stuff, so, in the spirit of making good use of space, I have taken to storing my out-of-season clothes there. I also stashed warming trays and serving platters there – anything that wasn’t in use daily.
So much closet space! When we first moved in, I thought I’d never want for more. I could hang my entire alternate wardrobe, without needing to fold and pack even one tee shirt.
At some point, though, (I didn’t notice right away), my things began spilling out onto the bed and into the hallway and down the front steps toward the garage.
Not to worry. On Sunday, I was up to the task. I rolled up my sleeves and dug in.
This time, I intended to follow my dear departed father-in-law’s axiom of getting rid of anything I haven’t used in one year.
Several hours later, no one could see me behind the six-foot piles: one pile to be delivered to the ARC, one pile headed for our kids’ homes, and one pile headed for the curb on trash day.
But wait.
There, sticking out of the trash pile, I saw an old, favorite pair of jeans. What was I thinking? I might fit into them again someday. It could happen… sometime… in the distant future… on a very good day.
I started a fourth pile, the “maybe I’ll keep them, after all” pile.
Then, I happened to glance at pile number three, where I saw a particular chatchka. The kids had given me this ceramic puppy when they were in nursery school. No, it doesn’t fit our new tropical decor, and no, the kids haven’t the slightest recollection of it, but how can I give it away?  
And thus I proceeded. The three piles became one. And they were all staying.
I decided to put all the stuff back in the same closet, albeit in a much more organized fashion than before, and move on.
Now, part of spring-cleaning entails dreaming up new and exciting ways to store the stuff I can’t part with.
A drive up the Parkway to Platt’s on a rainy day would not only be better than staying in, but also the perfect opportunity to shop for stylish storage furniture.
Would you be surprised if I said that, nonchalantly strolling through the showroom, I was accosted by the cutest little accent piece I’d ever seen?
It was the perfect replacement for the ancient dry sink in our hall. The sink came here with us because it houses approximately one million photo albums, which I intend to thin out someday by trashing the duplicates and the ones so distorted by time and humidity that no faces are recognizable.
I ordered the chest, and then it was back home to empty out the old one. Can’t wait to get rid of it.
It had started out as a purely functional sink in my grandmother’s house. When I found it in Nana’s basement, it had layers of paint – white, green, mud-colored – like the rings of a tree, numbering its years.
I remembered thinking it was groovy and taking it home, painting it a funky, 70s, antiqued blue, which matched our 70s-era blue-and-green flowered upholstery perfectly. Later it was stripped and stained a much more mature maple.
I opened its two front doors, only one of which is still attached to its hinge. Inside, the albums were stacked to capacity.
“This sink will be at the curb tomorrow,” I said with conviction.
But maybe, I thought, I should take more time to go through the pictures.
I opened one. Ah, yes. That was taken at my in-law’s home in Manahawkin. AJ was adorable at four years old and Beth, two, and there I am behind them, pregnant with Danny.
A few hours later, the albums are back in the dry sink. I’m thinking the new chest will look great in the living room instead, and I’ll fill it with my out-of-season baseball caps.
Time to quit. I’m exhausted, all right, but It’s been a very productive day.

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