Thursday, February 10, 2022

'Tis the Season for Cleaning Out "Stuff"

 It’s been said you can tell when a pregnant woman will shortly give birth by her sudden passion for tidying up her living quarters. This bubbameister, Yiddish for old wives’ tale, is described as a nesting instinct taking command of maternal feelings.


Gilda and I are well beyond our reproductive years so I am perplexed by her sudden devotion to paring our household of tchotchkes that, at least for some of them, had honored placements in our bedroom, our dining room, our living room. Sterling silver salt and pepper shakers. Pottery pitchers. Vases. Commemorative awards for community service decades ago. All “stuff” neither of our children would want. 


Perhaps it’s just another way she is coping with almost total confinement during the pandemic. Even when we do get out there’s no guarantee the excursion will be satisfactory. We recently went to see a play at Playwrights Horizons in Manhattan. We’ve been members for more than a dozen years and have seen numerous great performances there including four Pulitzer Prize productions, three Pulitzer finalists and numerous Tony and Obie Award winners. 


Had the 90-minute play we just saw had an intermission we would not have stayed for act two. Oh well, they can’t all be winners.


Gilda has not lived a stagnant life. Her nursing career was a continuous series of learning new specialties, from newborn intensive care to pre- and post-natal counseling, to infectious disease research on HIV, hepatitis and Lyme disease, to spine surgery.


In retirement she is now studying to be a volunteer expert on horticulture, rodents and insects for the Cornell Cooperative Extension Program in Westchester.


And I shouldn’t forget to note that she is a self-taught excellent cook, an accomplishment I truly appreciate given that when we first married her culinary skills were, dare I say, lacking.


Getting back to her recent home improvement interests, I’ve been informed new carpeting for the upstairs hallway is in the works. An interior paint job also is in the offing.


Fortunately we can handle these expenses, especially as Covid saved us the cost of half a dozen trips, domestic and international, we had hoped to go on over the last two years.


She’s not done reconfiguring. She thinks we need a new Internet router with professional installation as we are both tech savvy-impaired and the stress of self-installation is not worth the stress on our sanity, not to mention our marriage.


I don’t disagree on the merits of hiring a geek but I’m unconvinced on the need for a new router. It’s only a matter of time before I see it her way. That’s what 49 years together has taught me.


Case in point: 11 years ago I thwarted Gilda’s first attempt to part with the aforementioned salt and pepper silver shakers. How do I recall so exactly the year? Because this is what I wrote back in my blog on April 11, 2011:


“Spring is heralded as a season of cleaning. Gilda is no exception to this annual rite. I’ve loaded up several bags of discards for the dump or the Salvation Army. She wanted to dispose of a pair of sterling silver salt and pepper shakers (four containers in total, in case you’re confused by my wording), hand-me-downs from my mother that we haven’t used in years, mainly because we didn’t take care of them properly and they tarnished.


“I applied commercial silver polish to one Tuesday and brought back its luster, reversing years of corrosion and Gilda’s appreciation for them. Thursday I treated the remaining three shakers, but first consulted Haley’s Hints, a guide to chores using everyday items you’d find around the house. Combining a quart of hot water, a tablespoon of salt, a tablespoon of washing soda and a strip of aluminum foil, I removed the tarnish. They’re not quite as shiny as brand new, but they are presentable.”


In the years since we never used them. No one has ever looked into our dining room breakfront to admire them. They simply stood silently upright accepting new coats of tarnish.


Gilda was right. They have to go.

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