Another R for Earth Day…Reduce, recycle, reuse, and refuse…

22 04 2015


There has been a long gap in my thinking out loud into the vast space of the interwebs.  I got tired of all the noise and will play catch up and explain in the days to come.  But that noise…it got to me just like the constant nagging of my geriatric feline. I’m forced to shut her down in the basement about once a day to keep me from some uglier scenario.  The vet always laughs when I complain about the vocal prowess of this animal.  I’ve been tempted more than once to crate her up and ship her off to a long ago ex-boyfriend of Shop Girl.  Back in the day they thought it’d be adorable to adopt a homeless mouser.  He owes me 13 years of back child support.

Last month sometime, or was it a week ago, or mid-winter – I have no idea anymore…I thought Bitty Kitty had finally decided to sprout wings and leave us all behind.  She had signed an advanced directive years ago so there will be no heroics in the last days. After spending a day hanging out in the nether regions of the Money Pit, I checked on her before bed and found her hunkered down on a cerulean blue down jacket of Billy’s.  I know…don’t ask.  (remember the 4Rs: Reduce, Recycle, Reuse, and the 2015 addition:  REFUSE to take time to clean your basement or attic).

I slept somewhat fitfully that night imagining the scenario in the a.m. – contacting the vet to dignify the remains and all.  Being a typical Spring in the Mitten State meant it was still pretty cold out so I figured I could use the garage as a temporary morgue if need be.  I remember that the next day had some kind of busyness to it so I thought there would be a delay in the funeral arrangements.

Tentatively opening the basement door that next morning, I wondered if I’d be letting her soul fly out past me since the only other escape route would have been through the sewer via the basement floor drain. Imagine my surprise when that cranky, meowing, nagging, whining, and bitching sound connected with my ear drums.

When I shared the news with Shop Girl later in the day she quipped, “Your people refuse to die.”  MY PEOPLE REFUSE TO DIE????!!!! There have been any number of mornings since the first of December when there is nothing but silence when I’m expecting creaking and complaining from the 110 year old floor boards of Ggma’s bedroom above my head as I’m perched on the couch in the living room having my first coffee exilir.  When I just can’t take it anymore I’ll open the door to find her snoring loudly buried in two down comforters.

I can only hope that the end for both of them will find them nestled in feathers and sleeping.  I don’t know what really awaits on either score.  I’m not in charge.  I’m just here to be the wind beneath their wings.  Take it away Bette.

looking forward to earth day 2029

23 04 2009


I didn’t quite know at the outset how the day would play out – but with promise of sunshine, temps in the 60ºs and fluffy white clouds in the blue sky – I was hopeful.  After all it was Earth Day.  Then again, any time I’m at her house I’m already thinking of how to save the planet, my sanity and whatever bit of cosmic juju I can muster as I battle the forces of junk.  There has to be a great role-playing video game in here somewhere.  Or maybe a new reality show.

Nonetheless, I was on the road early because I knew that my first challenge was the “big brown bin”.  I’ve spoken before about how I have tempted the gods of garbage as I switched trash haulers on her after years and years and years with some other company who’s prices went up as fast as the cable company’s.  By 10 p.m. the night before, I knew I was doomed since I hadn’t reminded her to take the thing out and put it curbside. So I was racing the clock, trying to get there before the truck came by to make sure that they took away last week’s “gathering” of landfill gorge.

It really is (and I’m not kidding here) a struggle to know what to put where.  In my mind’s eye I find myself wandering over the steaming piles of garbage and stumbling on things I recognize that I put there.

But I also know that it isn’t fair to give real junk to Goodwill. Yesterday they were graced again with various and sundry goodies…old books (that I had to convince her she had never read or would never read), the vintage DA-LITE projector screen we used to pull out to watch home movies (she cocked her head to one side), a contractor’s bag filled with things she couldn’t see and an old suitcase (“But what if…?”  “Mom, it doesn’t have wheels on it!!”  “Oh…”).

She was feeling especially proud that she’d cleared off the desk in Billy’s room and I was secretly panicked that she’d tossed some precious stash (but I think I had hidden all the good stuff).  In another corner of the room beside where he slept, is her sewing machine.

I never had a store bought prom dress.  We even came up with a design for my wedding dress that she made.  Maybe on a few occasions in the last 30 plus years has she hauled it out.  She hated all the “mess” that Billy had stored underneath – transistor radios out the wazoo, a half a dozen flashlights, a space blanket and lots of empty padded envelopes, old greeting cards – I can’t go on…you get the picture.

So that was my main focus for the day.  Lo and behold – the majority of the bulk was remants of fabric.  I started making a pile.  I have already memorized the city’s recycling brochure and had noted places that took donations of handiwork and the like.  They were going to be so “blessed” today with my haul!

When I had it all assembled, I asked her to just eyeball it before I took it out to the car.  The earth shifted…it got very very quiet…we were in a freeze frame.  She gave me a look that screamed “Oh no you DON’T young lady!!!”

I had crossed a line that I recognized.  I’ve been here before with Billy many many times…that’s why I’m doing what I’m doing now and never got it done then.  Out of the pile of “dreams” – there was only one little scrap of material that she was ready to be done with.  Even when I was mouthing the words “When on EARTH are you EVER going to get your SEWING MACHINE out again?”…she was hearing “You USED to DO this but you CAN’T ANYMORE so let’s just TOSS out any hopes that you had!!”

If I’ve learned anything through this process it is that we, as human animals, get alot of our identity from things we once did or dream about doing someday.  A box of fabric scraps – as much as I’d like to see them in someone’s hands today that will do something with them – are intricately tied to her self-worth and dignity – who she was, the contribution she made and how she still “feels” on the inside.

Billy is gone but she is not.  She needs to move through HIS STUFF now but I had better beware applying the same principles to her for the time being.  This is one tightrope I’m walking and I don’t want another misstep.  I packed up a box-worth of odds and ends and put it back in the bottom of the closet…it was no longer under the sewing machine – just re-located…she was happy.  Yikes!

I turned my attention to something I knew was a safe zone  – a box full of batteries.  Since they have yet to invent some way of just visually determining whatever power they have left – I needed a battery tester I could read.  Billy, being the Mr. Fixit guy he was, had the REAL deal there but I am too dumb to figure out which red wire goes to where when the black wire is touched to the bottom, etc.   So I went and got a gizmo I could handle and started in.

The guy at the store even gave me a hand full of plastic bags and asked me to only put three per bag which helps him out with the recycle process.  So my Earth Day adventure consisted of 1 bag to the “Big Brown Bin” for next Wednesday morning’s haul, a car full to Goodwill and this nice little cache of batteries to recycle.

I had planned on staying over night and getting more done…but I felt that it was imperative to restore the necessary chi and harmony in the universe for me to high tail it north so I could sit and be surrounded by MY STUFF and laugh at what is in store for Shop Girl and Best Boy – Earth Day 2029.