Toad in the Hole

May 28, 2004


The contents of the Little Rock storage locker arrived Tuesday. By a miracle of muscle and puzzle-working, the two Bekins guys (Freddy, Armadillo Trucking of Amarillo, Texas and his local helper Jose) fit everything into a 10x20 storage space. There was a liberal seasoning of imported Arkansas dust over most of it -- still, after being loaded and unloaded at least twice.

Joe's mother -- maybe his father, too; I don't know who was in charge of this -- evidently never threw away anything. Five years ago, when we packed this stuff into the LR space and moved his mother here, we found a big trashbag fill of pillbottles. Empty, and too recent to be "collectibles" -- just carefully collected. We gave away lots of small appliances, bed and bath linens (there'd been a tornado a few months before and people were still recovering), some furniture, books, bedsprings (disposed of the mattresses), empty bottles and such, houseplants, clothing... Stuff. We shipped more clothing and a roomful of furniture and necessaries, including books and tchotchkes, out here; Joe's mother lived in assisted living, then a skilled-nursing home, where she had more space than most such places offer for her personal stuff.

We stored stuff we couldn't get rid of and stuff we didn't have the heart to get rid of while she watched and stuff we wanted to think about before giving away. I think there were a few things we should've saved, like Joe's toys from very early childhood; some of them are probably worth money to collectors. Goodwill in Little Rock, or its customers, made a killing on that.

Now it's here. There was no point trying to go through it thoroughly there; we just had the whole thing moved. Bekins tags and numbers every piece... including the set of empty new plastic storage shoeboxes, nested carefully. We'd ended the move-out spree by throwing some stuff into the storage unit in desperation and panic; we had a plane to catch.

So the It that's here includes a couple of recliners, several hassocks (one round and pea-green) and a really ugly Hide-A-Bed sofa, also green, the late 50s-early 60s style with pointy legs. Between this and the other storage unit, we now own six rocking chairs.

(We don't exactly have a cat, but there's one who's trying to move in. I think I've found a deterrent -- a roomful of rocking chairs. Now we just need a room.)

In that other storage unit are the furniture that wouldn't fit in the skilled-nursing joint, plus a chair, some baskets, superannuated bookcases and such, and lots of our own books and periodicals.

We now own a 1940s ventriloquist's dummy, one oar (OK, to be fair, I guess it's a canoe paddle) and two boxes of fishing lures, several side tables handmade by Joe's grandfather at least a hundred years ago, several chairs that don't rock (except one that would rock once and fall over because a leg got broken in transit), a sewing machine and its cabinet, an Army uniform and two footlockers of V-mail, a globe from, oh, late 50s-early 60s (I wonder what extinct nations are on it), some odd bookcases, three beds, three chests of drawers, a gateleg table I can't account for, one secretary desk (made by grandfather, I think, now painted an unfortunate but changeable shade of green), some great big lamps with flowers painted on them, many pictures but I've forgotten of what, at least two sets of dishes (one of which I know to be broken in the first move), a shell collection and a trophy largemouth bass, a barometer, five or six trunks with contents we don't know or have forgotten, and somewhere in there... somewhere... an autographed sketch of Pogo.

The next six months are going to be like Christmas, but with more dust.

We live in a smallish flat, the upstairs half of a duplex. We're already cramped, partly because we have lots of books, most of which we actually use. That gateleg table's too small for a dining table, which is the one piece of furniture I'd replace cheerfully. And I don't want to get rid of this stuff either, except for the green sofa and a hassock or two. (We'll keep the needlepoint footstool.)

Thanks to a friend, I also now own a pair of Belgian linen and lace toast cozies. Toast, not toaster. Friend asked an antiques dealer what they were, having inherited them. Oh, said the dealer, those are to put over a slice of toast in the rack, one each. I am in awe that such a thing exists, and told her so, and when we got back from Arkansas there they were in the stack of mail.

I have no least inclination to get rid of them either -- they're pretty, and I like lace, and it pleases me obscurely to own a pair of toast cozies.

So now I'm worrying. Is the thing that made Joe's mother keep those pill bottles contagious? Or am I acquiring some weird gravity that draws stuff like toast cozies and vintage ventriloquist's dummies to me, and gets them stuck? Does it, in some way, serve me right?

Posted at May 28, 2004 01:05 AM