Saying goodbye to Mom

Some years ago when my mother was in the hospital for reasons I don’t recall (she had so many admissions that it’s hard to keep them straight), she had an amiable roommate in the next bed. One day I stopped by for a visit, and the two of us began chatting with the roommate and another old lady sitting with her.

With a shock, I suddenly realized who that second old lady was—like me, the patient’s daughter. I felt that I was looking into my own future, spying who I was destined to become in 10 or 15 years: an old lady attending to an older lady. The daughter must have been in her 70s and her mother, 90-something.

My brother and I were sure that our mother, too, would reach 90-something, as our grandmother did before her. There was no reason to think otherwise. Somehow, no matter what happened to her—and there was lots—Mom always picked herself up afterward and reached for her Pall Malls, spunky as ever. We called her the Energizer Bunny.

So, we were not prepared for the stroke that ended her life earlier this month. She was 87.

The death of a parent is such a big event that it’s hard to process all at once. I’m sure it will take me a good long while to come to terms with it. My first reaction is to be grateful for the collective memories people are offering, to round out the picture of her life. From all the anecdotes and recollections I’ve heard from friends and family, I feel that in some weird way I have a fuller idea of who my mother was—as her own person, separate from me—than I did when she was alive.

I now know that she was a beloved friend, role model and mentor to a younger woman who considered Mom’s home a place of solace and refuge. That she helped a Japanese exchange student acclimate to life in the U.S. and encouraged her to continue college when she returned to Japan. That she was adored by the students and teacher in her watercolor class here in Milford; was cherished as the fun-loving aunt by some of my cousins; was a detail-oriented taskmaster at work.

Perhaps the most touching testament came from an unexpected source: Mom’s cousin Louis, the son of my grandmother’s favorite sister, who called us from South Carolina the day after Mom died. He is about to turn 95—old enough to remember her birth in 1927.

When Mom was a baby, young Louis would wheel her carriage up and down the street to give her some fresh air. He remembers being stopped so that neighbors could admire the beautiful infant. Indeed, we have a photograph of Mom from around this time and she truly was lovely, with dark curly hair and intelligent eyes.

May we all be lucky enough to have someone, at the end, who remembers us so lovingly from the beginning.

Norma A. Damian, 2/3/1927 - 9/6/2014



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The last yard sale

Among other neighborhood news, we learned that some friends would be moving into town from a nearby lake community, and that other friends—soon to be new neighbors of the couple who were moving—were about to embark on a riverboat cruise from Paris to Prague. Such is the stuff you hear while sitting in your front yard on a summer Saturday, behind tables laden with things you are trying to sell.

A master gardener complimented our (to my eye, overgrown) plantings. A young woman—the friend of a friend—snapped photos of the cats and our garden and told us about her boyfriend, a rock star (yes, really). And a couple of camp counselors described a highly ranked chess prodigy at their camp—a young girl who couldn’t be beat.

It all happened at a big yard sale we held several weekends ago. Besides having interesting visitors to chat with, we made some money and got rid of things.

Nevertheless, at the end of the day I informed my husband that this was it. I’m done with yard sales. I don’t mind if he wants to keep doing them—by himself or with a friend. I’ll even help out here and there, putting out signs or, say, making him a tuna sandwich for lunch.

But no more will I devote days of my life to preparing, setting up and tearing down a yard sale. This one wore me out and moreover, I just didn’t enjoy it—even with the cool visitors. The work/benefit ratio did not play out to my advantage.

I have a long history of sales behind me, starting with an apartment sale I organized when I sold my Brooklyn co-op many years ago. I don’t remember how buyers got past the doorman. The poor guy must have had to call me on the intercom for each and every one.

Some years later, my cousin and I mounted a yard sale for my mother when she was leaving her home in Rhode Island after 45 years. Lots of my mom’s friends and neighbors showed up, creating a party atmosphere. We had a good time and Mom made a little money.

Earlier this year George and I did the same for his late parents’ belongings, holding an estate sale to dispose of the contents of their home in Las Vegas. We posted the event on Craigslist, and both sale days were mobbed. Vegas residents are apparently very serious yard salers. Perhaps they think they’ll get lucky, same as in the casinos, and stumble on an amazing find.

And then, we’ve done many yard sales here in MIlford, starting the very year we bought our house. A couple of friends joined us and we all did well and had fun too. But the work seems harder and the rewards fewer as the years tick by.

My husband wants to do another sale in September. Here’s hoping I can withstand any latent guilt feelings and just let him be.

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Another birthday

If you can manage it, I highly recommend having your birthday on a holiday. Not Christmas, of course. People with Christmas birthdays get shorted when it comes to presents. But a long-summer-weekend kind of holiday is ideal. I should know, since my birthday usually falls on or near Labor Day.

Maybe it’s a Virgo thing, but many of my best friends were born around the same time as me—late August or early September. Over the years, some of us have done joint celebrations, something I invariably still do with my friend Eleanore, born on the very same day (though not the same year). Susan, Morag and Catherine precede us by several days, while Bert’s and Patricia’s birthdays come a little later.

Because it’s a holiday weekend, there’s lots going on—though all of it tinged with a hint of melancholy, since it’s the last big weekend of summer. This year, Eleanore and I hit the Pocono Garlic Festival on Saturday. On Sunday, I saw another friend for lunch and shopping, and on Monday a bunch of us gathered for Jane’s annual Labor Day brunch. Later, my husband later took me out to dinner. Now, that’s the way to celebrate.

Even in the Facebook age, there are still cards, including one from my beloved aunt. Every year she sends me greetings and tucks a bill inside. No matter how old I get, I still feel like a kid when that greenback falls out. Lord, bless all the aunts, because we surely need them to show us the way.

Then there’s a card from my cousin Karen that she and I have been sending back and forth to each other since 1999—I know the exact date, because we put the year on our annual messages. After 16 years, the card is pretty full and we are running out of room. But I believe I will be able to find a little space to squeeze in a greeting for Karen’s birthday in January.

This is a kid’s card showing two cuddling cats, one one gray, one orange, beneath the heading “There’s a warmth between cousins that’s special.” Since Karen had a gray cat at the time and I had a red one, I inscribed their names—Divot and Tigger—on the cartoon kitties’ collars. Over the years, we sadly added “RIP” when each cat died.

When the card came back to me last week, I had to scan it carefully to find the 2014 greeting amid the multiple handwritten messages, in different inks. As I wrote in ’04, “This card has seen a lot of wear, just like us!”

Getting older is no fun, but birthdays are. I’ll never be younger than I am now, so I might as well enjoy the day. I sometimes wonder how I managed to get this old. As my cousin pointed out, it’s our mothers, not us, who are supposed to be this age. But the answer is simple: I just got up every day and kept breathing.

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A death in the family: Obituary for our cat Woody

It’s been a heck of a summer, bracketed by the deaths of one old friend in June and now a second friend last week. In the wider world, the headlines are alarming. I read the news today, oh boy.

Amid all this angst comes a different, intimate kind of sorrow as we mourn the loss of our good cat Woody. He died last Friday morning after (as they say in the obituaries) a brief illness, probably cancer. He was 12 years old—no longer a youngster, but not an old cat, either.

We buried him in the kitty graveyard at the edge of the property that holds the bones of other cats who have lived here over the years. A statue of St. Francis stands guard over them all.

This is a cat, not a person. I’m aware of that. And yet, here we are with the same pain and regret that we’d feel in losing any family member. Here we are clearing away the same medical detritus (pill bottles, a half-used bag of IV fluids) that accompanies any other death. Here we are second-guessing our decisions as to his care. Did we do enough? Was it just his time?

Woody came into our lives in 2002. There was something about him—his copper sunset coloring and intricate skein of stripes; his graceful build and slanted eyes—that made us choose him over the other adorable kittens at the shelter.

Right away he began to take the pulse of the household, fitting himself unobtrusively into its rhythms. Indeed, Woody became something of an overseer who helped maintain a smoothly functioning home.

No wonder friends and family members liked him best. Where the other cats make themselves scarce when the doorbell rings, Woody loved company. He took an interest in anyone who visited and served as official greeter, escorting guests inside.

He had a special friendship with the mailman, who carried cat treats in his pouch, and would wait on our big, sunny front porch for John’s arrival.

Woody was a brave little cat. He was not afraid of dogs, not even the mastiff next door. Nor did he fear lightning, or the vacuum cleaner. The other cats scatter when I get out the Electrolux, but not Woody. He would just stay put on the family room couch and calmly watch me work.

He loved being outside, loved basking in the sun. In the summer, he helped me garden. In the fall, he chased leaves. If it rained, he would sit in his basket on the back porch and meditate, mulling timeless cat thoughts.

At night, after dinner, he was my husband’s best friend, sitting beside or on top of George as he watched TV. But when we went to bed, Woody picked me to cuddle with, nestling in the crook of my arm. If either of us was sick, Woody would sit with us, soothing us with his purr and his sweet company.

We have four other cats. Nevertheless, the house seems strangely empty without this one.

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Ice cream maker from hell

It would be easy to blame the Russians, who are known for online shenanigans. But why, after all, would a Russian hacker use my credit card to send an ice cream maker to me at my home, and then try to send Cuisinart accessories for that machine to Montana? As scammers go, this one’s a knucklehead.

Days earlier, a friend had warned me to change my online passwords because of the theft of a billion passwords by Russian hackers. I figured I would get to it “later.” I was tired of changing passwords.

Hadn’t I just done that a few months earlier to address the Heartbleed security flaw? How many online threats can you hear before tuning out, like a blasé villager in “The Boy Who Cried Wolf”?

Then, one morning, I opened my iPad to find Amazon e-mails thanking me for orders I hadn’t placed.

An ice cream, frozen yogurt and sorbet maker, worth about $100, was going to be sent here, while a $30 freezer bowl for that machine was earmarked for an address in Alberton, Mont. This town of 416 souls is in the western part of the state, bordering Idaho. But I don’t think you can see Russia from your backkyard in Alberton, the way Sarah Palin can from Alaska.

Another message stated that the e-mail associated with my account had been changed. It’s a good thing the hacker shops at Amazon, which is so very OCD about issuing account updates. I might not have known otherwise.

After calls to my credit-card company and Amazon, I got everything sorted out. The Visa card was canceled and so were the orders, and the Amazon account was temporarily frozen. (The rep thoughtfully asked if I’d like to place a last-minute order before she pulled the plug.)

I spent the next hour changing passwords at Google, my bank and other frequently used sites. Then I posted a humorous tidbit about the episode on Facebook, prompting a wry comment from our beautiful young cousin Victoria. “If they comp you a sorbet maker for your troubles,” she joked, “I’ll take it.”

Two days later, in comes an e-mail from Amazon saying that my order—actually, the hacker’s order—had shipped. I called customer service, but it was too late to intercept UPS and the package soon landed on my porch. The rep reassured me, however, that the order to Montana was never processed or mailed. I guess that’s something.

I’m waiting for the promised call from an account specialist who can send me a return-shipping label. The regular rep couldn’t do it because according to Amazon records, no such account exists. No activity of any sort is possible on it, not even by their own customer service people.

It’s like having your court record redacted. None of it ever happened, in Amazon world—which makes it hard to understand why a big box emblazoned with their logo sits unopened in my front hallway.

Victoria, you might get your sorbet maker yet.

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Too much of nothing: true tales of decluttering

My 30-day declutter purge ended not with a bang, but a whimper. After culling drawers, cabinets, shelves and closets throughout the house on the 29 prior days of the challenge, I was stymied by the demand to unload another 30 items on Day 30. Thirty items—that’s a lot.

In frustration, I grabbed the tin I keep on my desk into which I pop any new business card that comes my way, from a friend, service person or store owner. The box has been with me for a while. There must have been a couple hundred cards stuffed inside, many of them embarrassingly outdated. I threw away half of them and, theorizing that 100 cards must somehow equate to 30 items in the new math of the purge, thus called an end to this curious challenge.

The 30-day purge involves discarding one item on Day 1, two items on Day 2, nine items on Day 9 and so on, for a month. You can throw out, give away, donate or sell the outcasts. It doesn’t matter, as long as you get them out of the house. If you make it to the finish line, you will have jettisoned 465 items. Don’t you feel lighter already?

I began the exercise at the prompting of my friend Stephanie, who was nearing the homestretch of her own purge and urged me to join her. But in truth, I’ve wanted to cull my overabundance for a long time. Like 56% of the people over the age of 50 who were questioned in a recent University of Kansas poll, I have too much stuff.

At the beginning of the year I vowed to go through each room of the house in an organized way and shed the excess. But as with most New Year’s resolutions, this one fell by the wayside after I overhauled just one room: my office. Stephanie’s invitation got me going again.

Steph recommends having a staging area—preferably in the garage or basement, apart from your actual living space—in which to sort and stash your discard piles. I don’t have a garage and my basement is a dim, cobwebbed land of doom, so I used a work surface in my office. I also kept a diary, noting the daily discards and tallying up the numbers. My purge was bifurcated by vacation, and it took me four days to complete the last two days’ quotas. Nevertheless, finish I did.

I made it a point to cull only my own things, not my husband’s. It didn’t seem fair to drag him into it, especially since he’s one of those folks who hates to throw anything out—the sort of guy who will keep a wire hanger from the dry cleaner’s because you never know when you might need to fashion it into a useful tool.

One exception was the mutually owned kitchen, where I raided drawers and cupboards to jettison unneeded utensils, stray packets of soy sauce from the Chinese restaurant and untold detritus from the aptly named junk drawer.

Another was the bathroom medicine cabinets. I tossed squeezed-out tubes of ointment, combs with broken teeth and old lipsticks, and then attacked the prescription bottles. Why we still had my late father-in-law’s expired medications is beyond me. I wound up taking them and some other ancient meds to the sheriff’s office for safe disposal.

The challenge starts off easy and gets progressively harder. On Day 6, for example, it was no big deal to grab a couple of things off my desk and four paperbacks I knew I’d never read again, and call it a day. But on Day 13, in search of 13 items to eliminate, I had to actually take the time to go through my scarf drawer. I love scarves and although I wouldn’t call myself a collector, exactly, I have accumulated quite a few. It was not hard to choose 28 to either throw away (ripped or stained scarves) or donate (scarves I haven’t worn in years). That heroic total got me off the hook on Day 14, since I had already met my quota, with one scarf to spare.

In this way, the challenge became actual work. I found that if I were to meet my totals, I had to zero in on a closet, cabinet or set of drawers, and methodically reorganize it. The effort couldn’t be random. Plucking an item here and an item there, as I had done the first week of the challenge, no longer worked when the day’s quota was in the double digits. Deliberate, thoughtful action was necessary.

“You have to look at everything and make decision after decision,” Stephanie advised.

The bookshelves were hard, since I love living with books all around me. They are like old friends. I have shelves in the family room, bedroom and office. On the other hand, was there really a reason to hang onto yellowing paperbacks I had bought 30 years ago and hadn’t reopened since? If I ever want to read Robertson Davies again, I’ll download an e-book.

Out they went, earmarked for our yard sale, along with a bunch of hardcovers that I discovered, upon reflection, weren’t terribly meaningful to me. I kept the ones that are. Indeed, that’s the point of the purge. You aren’t required to throw away things that hold value. This challenge helps you figure out what does.

The downside: It was harder than I expected. The upside: Weirdly, I feel better.

I’m enjoying my nice, neat underwear and scarf drawers, my organized closet and CD collection, my newly pristine bookshelves. I feel like I can breathe.

“The different mind-set is the idea, I think,” said Stephanie. “I wasn’t really expecting it, but I feel completely different about the things I bring into the house. Having gotten into the habit, I now throw or give away one thing every day—for example, a necklace to my niece, a fake fern to the thrift shop.”

I hope to do the same.

There are still a number of unexamined cupboards in my house that I vow to get to one day, not to mention the attic and the scary basement. And then, there’s my husband’s stuff. Assuming he agrees, that could be the springboard for another 30-day purge—once I’ve recovered from this one.

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Guess who’s not coming to dinner?

One summer when I was in my 20s and newly married, the idea took hold in my extended group of friends that it would be fun to stage a massive Italian meal for which everyone would contribute a dish—and by “everyone,” I mean the wives. This was the 1970s, and for the most part, the men didn’t cook.

In fact, this was the period when young women—God knows why—were buying fancy cookbooks and teaching ourselves the intricacies of world cuisines. I myself was a devotee of Julia Child. I never tried her more esoteric fare, like quenelles or aspic. But I could cook a mean beef bourguignon.

We arrived at the party on a superhot afternoon to find a flotilla of picnic tables outside, laden with platters of risotto, lasagna, ziti, meatballs and sausages. There were marinaras and Alfredos, pestos and clam sauces, eggplants, antipasti and salads. I put down my humble casserole of pasta e fagioli and elbowed my way through the throng of eaters to the house.

There, at the kitchen table, were the event’s masterminds—three or four weary women in tomato-stained aprons, bangs plastered to their foreheads with sweat. I especially remember the face of the hostess—the lady whose backyard we had invaded—as she sat behind a pasta machine garlanded with fresh fettucine. That Munch screamer comes to mind.

She and her husband later divorced, and the two events are linked in my memory, as if the Italian dinner party had caused the marriage to sour like a tiramisu left out in the blazing sun.

I used to hold dinner parties frequently when I first moved to Pennsylvania, after my own divorce. It was fun to fill my little cabin with high-spirited company—important when you live alone. Later, when I remarried, George and I became host and hostess, inviting people over at least once or twice a month.

But as the years wore on, the dinner parties began to dwindle. The most recent one was about six weeks ago, when a couple of girlfriends stopped by on a Saturday night, the three of us happily sharing prep duties for a scrumptious vegetarian meal.

It was fun, but I haven’t repeated it since. Am I just too lazy to do all that’s necessary—clean the house beforehand, shop, cook, serve and then clean up afterward? Just thinking about it makes me feel like that Italian dinner party hostess of long ago, felled in her own kitchen.

Last week I happened to run into my friend Joann. She and her husband have been to dinner at our house and we at theirs—though not in a while. When I saw David one day recently at the post office, I vaguely spoke about having them over again. I mentioned this to Joann, adding apologetically, “I just never seem to get to it.”

“Actually,” she smiled, “let’s just meet at a restaurant. It’s easier.”

Now, there’s a dinner party plan I can get behind.

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Getting cozy with Dave, my GPS

We recently caught up with the movie “Her” on Netflix. For those who haven’t seen it, it’s about a guy who falls in love with a Siri-like digital assistant endowed with a sexy voice (Scarlett Johansson’s) and the ability to learn and adapt, thanks to artificial intelligence.

The setting was futuristic, but only a little bit, because let’s face it, our devices are getting smarter all the time and many of us feel an emotional attachment to them. Just try to wrestle the iPad out of my cold, dead hands. I may ask to be buried with it so that I can play Candy Crush Saga in the afterlife.

I also have a thing for our GPS system. We call him Dave, after the Cheech & Chong routine with the punch line “Dave’s not here, man.” Indeed, Dave isn’t here, not really. And yet I have a relationship with him just the same.

Dave is a freestanding GPS box that we bought about five years ago. We’ve talked about replacing him with a newer model, but I’d miss him too much to let him go.

We use Dave in both of our vehicles. The newer car has its own built-in GPS, but we don’t trust it. On a couple of trips it sent us on Escher-like twists and turns, making the route needlessly complex. When we tried to override the algorithm by going a different way, in hopes the GPS would reset, the system hiccupped, snorted, harrumphed and began repeating itself, like a deranged person.

Dave, by contrast, is unflappable. In a situation like that he just says “Recalculating route” in his warm baritone, and then calmly issues new directions. If Dave were a movie, Morgan Freeman could voice him.

Dave went to Las Vegas with us early this year, plugging cheerfully into our rental car. He traveled to Rhode Island on two recent trips without complaint, and he’s been to Ohio, Masssachusetts, Florida and Vermont as well as more local trips.

He has his foibles. For example, he gets confused in parking lots, so we know to ignore him when pulling out of a hotel or strip mall. His pronunciation is eccentric. He murders “Matamoras,” the name of the next town from ours, for example. Anything multisyllabic is a problem. And then, he can’t figure out where we live—he thinks the Queen Anne up the block is home.

One time we were on a country road going to a friend’s house. Dave tried to send us across open fields and a golf course. And there’s a certain point on the trip to Columbus when he instructs us verbally to take the right fork in the highway while showing the left with huge blinking arrows on his screen. Perhaps Dave needs a software update.

Still, I appreciate Dave’s sangfroid. He never gets upset, even when you make a blunder. He just coolly tells you to “Make a U-turn” or “Turn around when you can.”

No matter what the situation, I know that Dave is on my side. He has my best interests at heart. He may not be real, but he’s got my back just the same.

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Reunion offers peek into people’s lives

If, like the narrator of “Tangled Up in Blue,” you feel that your oldest friends are “an illusion to me now,” I have a simple Rx for you: Go to your class reunion. You will quickly discover that all the people you used to know are just as real as they ever were, and it’s only your illusions about them that are insubstantial.

I’m just back from my high school reunion, where I encountered a mathematician, just like in the Dylan song, and maybe some carpenters’ wives too. We also had teachers, bankers, entrepreneurs and electricians, farmers, artists, librarians, military men and a guy in the movie industry.

Many had retired from their careers but still worked. A retail manager is now a caregiver in a group home. An educator is hostessing for the summer at a seaside restaurant. An athlete who used to be a national gymnastics coach is now a life coach. And those were just the folks at my table.

The care and feeding of kids and grandkids is a major preoccupation for those who have them. Not all of us do, and I stand in awe of what some of my old friends have gone through with their offspring. The degree of love and commitment that it takes to raise a family is humbling.

Some say life is easier when they’re away from the kids, at their second homes in Florida, which many of my classmates seemed to have. But then, someone who lives in Florida has a second home in Utah, while another friend is building her dream house in (no kidding) Nebraska.

It would have been interesting, in fact, to poll the attendees about these and other details of their lives. I’m only sorry I didn’t think of the idea in time to suggest it to the reunion committee. Who, for example, stayed in our home state and who moved away? How many are still married to their original spouses? Which women were kept from pursuing their dreams by parents who refused to send their daughters to college? A couple of classmates mentioned that experience, a reminder of why it was our generation who founded the modern women’s movement.

The list of those conspicuously absent has grown since the only other reunion I attended, 20 years ago. People pored over the roster of the deceased in much the same way that many of us routinely read the obits in our local papers, glad our name is not among them (yet).

Others were missing by choice. “I didn’t like all those people back then,” one absentee candidly told a committee member. “Why would I want to get together with them now?”

Good point, I suppose. But if shared history isn’t enough of a reason, how about simple curiosity?

We got handed our diplomas together and then separated to start our lives. Now, we’ve had them. The graduation and the reunion are like bookends. It’s what’s in the middle that’s so interesting.

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The urge to purge

The start of my 30-day purge was a zero-sum day. To be sure, I got rid of one item, as per the rules of the challenge—a Paul Bowles novel that I kept intending to read but just couldn’t get into. The tattered paperback wasn’t in good enough condition to donate. Into the single-stream recycle bin it went.

But later in the day I made the mistake of going past the thrift store, one of my favorite haunts. There, on the 50-cent table, was a Looney Tunes drinking glass issued by Pepsi in 1973, adorned with a picture of Foghorn Leghorn. My husband and I have a small collection of these glasses, having nabbed Sylvester, Bugs Bunny, Road Runner and a couple of others (alas, we broke the Elmer Fudd). But we didn’t have Foghorn. I had to buy it.

And therein lies the dilemma at the heart of this cleanout. It’s good to discard things and bring order to my overstuffed closets, drawers and shelves. But my husband and I are collectors, and the inclination to acquire seems antithetical to the urge to purge.

The instigator was my friend Stephanie in California. The idea is to throw out or give away one item on Day 1, two on Day 2, three on Day 3 and so on for 30 days, at which point you will have jettisoned 465 items. Steph was on Day 20 of her own purge when she invited me to join her, propelled by reasons both philosophical and practical: She foresees downsizing one day, plus she’s drawn to the Minimalist movement, which is all about simplicity and decluttering.

“It’s the detritus I’m after,” she said. “The stuff that’s lurking in the spice cabinet, back of fridge, back of underwear drawer. Socks you never wear, photos you don’t care to ever see again, half-burned candles… How many vases do we need? Drinking glasses? Cups and mugs that don’t match?”

Oops. I wish she hadn’t mentioned drinking glasses. The Foghorn Leghorn was a necessity. Really.

My husband and I can’t help it. We just seem to accumulate things, and there’s pleasure in it when it involves interesting objects, art and antiques. Yet, after almost 20 years the house is pretty full, no matter how many yard sales we have to offload the overflow. Indeed, I wonder if deep-sixing 465 items will be enough. Will it even show?

Five days into the purge and counting, I’ve put four blouses, five books, a box of fancy pencils and a day planner that I bought as a present but never gave into a box earmarked for the thrift store. Two packages of chai mix are set aside for the food pantry. The eliminations will get more difficult later, I’m sure, as the daily dump quota moves into the double digits.

Meanwhile, I’m expecting a package from California. Stephanie is sending a pair of Uggs she never wears and that are just my size. The Uggs will be part of her purge. But on my end, what will I have to deep-six to accommodate them?

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    Jacqueline Damian

    Jacqueline Damian is a writer and editor living in Milford, PA. The author of "Sasha’s Tail: Lessons from a Life with Cats" (W.W. Norton), she has worked in newspapers, magazines and book publishing. She currently edits Xcell Journal, a technical ... Read Full
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