Sunday, December 11, 2011

Dumpster Day 3

I've loved having the giant-sized dumpster. I love watching the full moon rise over its hulking mass in the darkness. I wish it were mine, parked at my own front door, daring me to fill it up with the unnecessary accumulations of daily life.

I think everyone should be allowed a dumpster for at least a couple of days every year. Heaving and dragging things into it is so fulfilling that I can only imagine that it would be even more of a kick to be clearing out my own place instead of someone else's. And I believe that all my typical instincts to cling to my old papers and tchotchkes would evaporate in its beckoning presence.

I'll start going through closets and drawers here as soon as we're done with the relative's house. Today we continued clearing out junk and rearranging whatever was left, to prepare the place for the 5-person cleaning crew that will be working for the next two or three days. I chose to attack the refrigerator. I began by excavating the freezer, archaeologist-style. Things were labeled with dates, which I carefully noted: "cranberry relish, 1997," "scallops, 1999," and a crumply, tiny, saran-wrapped package marked "frosting 2005." (Why not just slap that last dollop on top of the cake?)

There are people, usually old people, who think a freezer can stop time, keeping food edible forever (I guess this logic is similar to the reasoning behind Ted Williams's head) and my relative is such a believer. So she keeps ladyfingers from 2003 and frozen yogurt from 1998.

I was quiet doing the freezer except for a few choice epithets. The fridge elicited involuntary shrieks and snatches of folksongs (more "Barbara Allen"). Exploding apples; a jar of transparent yellow mayonnaise; green roast beef; butter from a long-past presidential administration. At least I'd already cleared it out several years ago, so there weren't leftovers from the 1990s.

This afternoon, I spent $500 at Bed Bath and Beyond, buying everything from spatulas and bug-proof canisters to rug pads and wastebaskets. But I only paid $400 because I had hoarded kept a 20% coupon that arrived in the mail a couple of months ago. I bought toilet seats, bed pillows, and shower curtains to replace moldy items that should have had decent burials years ago. I wasn't able to find everything I needed: purple throw pillows for the living room; orange towels,  red towels, and short white curtains for the bathrooms. The house is very '60's colorful under all that grime. I still need a tiny toaster oven; hers appears to have been used as a portable fireplace. I need a grate for the real fireplace; the original seems to have collapsed to bits.

I also need welcome mats for the two porches. And just imagine: they'll finally be telling the truth!


  1. I saw some orange towels at Target the other day. Not that I was looking for them but they did stand out. Not sure if they're 60's orange....but they are definitely orange!

  2. Yes, they are — and I got 'em! A helpful person working in a hardware store told me about them, and I'm still trying to work that one out. How did it come about that I asked her, and how amazing that she knew! I swear I didn't go around asking all and sundry where to find orange towels.


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