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Thursday, March 27, 2014

Purse Pile Poses Perplexing Puzzle aka The Best Gift Ever

Through no fault of my own (I’m blaming it on my genes) I am a hoarder. I find it hard to throw things away for silly reasons like I don’t need it, use it or want it. I might need it someday. Maybe someone can use it for something, or perhaps “insert any name here” would want this.

So, stuff piles up. Occasionally.  And even more occasionally I act upon a whim to go on a trashing spree. One of these rare moments occurred a few nights ago when I had a sudden inspiration to clean out my purse stash. My purse stash consisted of two end table shelves full of purses I had used until they were used up, hadn’t used at all but didn’t like, or somewhere in between.

I grabbed my trash bag and started to put the first purse in, but paused when I thought about what I used to carry in those things. Important stuff like chewing gum, breath mints, ballpoint pens, receipts from Wal-Mart, half used chap stick, wadded Kleenex and stray cough drops. Now and then I may even have a few pennies lying around in the bottom of one of those things. I probably oughta check it before I throw it out just in case.

The first purse I unzipped was hiding a . . . sock! A sock whose mate had long since been discarded under the assumption the other had become regurgitated dryer lint. Now how did that happen? I threw the purse and the sock away. Next purse – a washcloth. Wadded up as if someone fished it out of the laundry basket. Odd. Washcloth and purse find their way to said trash bag.

Purse number 3 contained the molded plastic wrapping of an old electronic game. No way that could have migrated to an unused purse. What was going on here? Somewhat leery by now, I open the next purse (so, yeah, I had a LOT of old purses – okay?) and I find a book. A nice hardback book called ‘The Christmas Blessing’ which used to sit on my nightstand  - I don’t know – maybe years ago? I rescued the book before I tossed the purse.

I was beginning to see a pattern here. Every purse I opened contained one thing that had no reason for being there, no logical explanation for having taken up residence in my purse stash. I didn’t get it. Not yet.

The next purse I opened is sort of hard to talk about publicly, you know on the internet and all, but I refuse to either embellish or detract from the actual circumstances. So. . . . a pair of underwear. Yes, mine.  I didn’t check it out any further. Into the trash along with the purse.

Other things turn up as the purse pile dwindles. A piece of newspaper with a completed crossword puzzle, the aforementioned electronic game, a page of math homework, a hammer, a double handful of pencils, pens and highlighters, and. . . a Winnie the Pooh Diary. Yep, the diary gave it away.  All this stuff I was finding was a love note left for me from Randon.

The memories came rushing back then. Randon loved to play in my old purses, pretending they were his school bags, police packs, offering plates, wilderness survival kits, or whatever fit the game he was playing. I can just see him devising a silly game of planting an object in each purse for me to find, not having any idea I never used those purses. He probably thought I’d find the things the next day and we’d have a good laugh about how he fooled me.

So I look at the pile of trash in my bag and I cry a few tears. Then I laugh out loud and tuck another memory away in my heart.  What an extraordinarily special gift I just received. 

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

A Day in the Life of A Clothes Dryer

      I still remember as a child being sent outside to take the clothes off the backyard clothesline. I still remember how embarrassing it was to see my underwear hanging right there in plain sight. I still remember how gross it was to take another family member’s underwear off the clothes line. I had to touch it and everything. I think my mother used the clothesline when she could, not because she didn’t have an electric clothes dryer, but because things smelled better and the house got less heated. Anyway, it was what people did in the days before dryers. Some habits die hard.
      Let’s get one thing straight from the beginning. I do not want to go back to the days of clotheslines and clothespins. I do not want my unmentionables hanging outside for the whole neighborhood to gawk at. And dryer sheets do better at providing a fresh scent than the air surrounding my dog’s living quarters, or perish the thought, my husband’s bird feeders!
      However, suffice it to say my dryer and I have never been the best of friends. My husband and I can’t remember when we bought it. We can’t even remember if we bought it. It might have come with our house when we moved here in 1986. Doesn’t matter so much how old it is, I guess. It rips buttons off shirts just because they were hanging by a thread. It makes all this yukky lint stuff I have to clean out all the time and it eats socks. No kidding, I have trash bags full of mateless socks to prove this astonishing fact.
     What’s always annoyed me most about it, though, is the buzz. When it’s done drying it makes a horrible buzz that resonates clear through the whole house. It sounds like my alarm clock only ten times louder. No pleasant jingly bell or little rhythmic beeps but a great big loud resounding buzz.
As if that’s not irritating enough, if I ignore my dryer the first time because I’m busy doing something else, it just keeps buzzing at intervals  a few minutes apart. Supposedly it’s telling me to “Quit being lazy. Take the clothes out and go hang them up already” I have suspicions that what it is really saying is “I’m tired of turning around over and over, blowing all this hot air.” I know this because sometimes my clothes aren’t even dry when it buzzes. I have to restart the whole thing whether it likes it or not.
     A repairman (here to look at my washer – not the dryer) once told me that my dryer would live longer than me. “Yeah those kind work forever. It’s one of the best.” My heart sank at those words. So there was no hope of getting a new dryer some day – a dryer with a different sound. I should mention here that I can turn the buzz off. Sometimes I do when I can’t tolerate it anymore. But, without that friendly reminder I forget I have clothes in the dryer, they get wrinkly, I get behind on laundry and the story just gets worse from there.
     OK – all this to say – my dryer took ill a couple weeks ago. It could turn clothes around in that metal tub as well as ever but the hot air was missing. And it takes forever to dry clothes without the hot air. Just sayin. 
     Could my dryer have met its untimely demise? I was hopeful but we must take care not to send it to a premature grave. So my husband, being the sweet guy that he is, loaded Old Buzzer Baby in the back of his pick-up to haul to the repair shop. Bonus – among some other disgusting stuff I found roughly $1.75 in change underneath the thing. Wow. How long had it been sitting there to collect all that? But there’s more. On its way to the back end of the truck, Mr. Blow Hard gave up another $1.50 in change. Nice tip for my hauler guy.
     And this is the way I heard the rest of the story as told to me by my husband.
     Hubs: It was like playing slot machines. About $5.00 in change spilled out all over the cement right there in front of the appliance place.
     Me: From the dryer?
     Hubs: Yep
     Me: What did you do?
     Hubs: I picked it all up, of course.
     Hmmm… Kind of glad I wasn’t there. Apparently the repair people got a good laugh at the whole thing. So we’re up to around $8.25 now. Can anyone tell me how change accumulates in a dryer? Seriously, there is no hole, opening or vacant spot inside that dryer tub that something the size of a quarter could remotely begin to fit through. But, here were all these quarters, dimes, nickels and pennies.
     Me: Must have been from your pockets over the years
     Hubs: Nope. I never carry change. I can’t stand to carry change. I always get rid of it. Must be yours.
     Me: Can’t be mine. I’m a girl. Girl’s have purses for things like that. Check out the bottom of my purse and you’ll see what I mean.
     Mutual conclusion: Son in college. He brings home his laundry sometimes. Must be his.
     Me: You can put it towards the repair bill
     Hubs: No, I think we’ll give it Son #3 so he can do his laundry - at college.
     Oh. Good idea. But it got even better. When my husband went to pick up the repaired (yes- they fixed it!) dryer later that day, $6.00 and some odd cents was waiting on the counter for him. “It came out of your dryer,” the man informed him. I’m sure he must have had a smirk on his face.
     So, almost $15 profit from our adventure. Of course the repair bill was quite a bit higher than that but it still made for a good story. And it also made me think. What hidden treasures might be lurking where you least expect to find them? Check your heart. It’s always a good place to discover those things.