Enough Said

Enough Said
A sampling of my columns and why the hell is my picture SO big?

Friday, October 18, 2013

Ciao, that's hello and goodbye in Italian (original title)

It's time for a new passport

Published 10/17/2013 12:00 AM
Updated 10/18/2013 12:28 PM

We're going to Italy, at least that's what my husband, his cousin and a couple of his friends decided. I'm ready. I'll go. Just sign me up.
Problem - when the decision was made, my husband and I didn't have a passport. In this day and age of global interactive initiatives between cultures, who does not have a passport? Even Elmo has a passport, or at least his picture is on a passport cover.
It's finally time to expand our horizons and travel beyond our borders. The last time we left the country Ross Perot was running for president and we went to Nova Scotia and did the whole Cape Breton loop. We were allowed out and back in on the legitimacy of our driver's licenses. Now we need a universal form of identification which supersedes the legal viability of all current IDs, including our Connecticut driver's licenses, credit cards and every supermarket, pharmacy and other store rewards card hanging from my key chain.
Obtaining the paperwork was easy, it's online and in a little cardboard stand-up in the post office. We can do this, I thought, until we realized we needed to find our birth certificates. No problem, I knew right where they were.
Observation - you know you're getting old when your original birth certificate is so out-of-date you may not use it as an actual certificate of birth and must obtain a new one. The new ones are called the "long form" birth certificates and $20 and remembering which towns we were born in, got us new ones.
So, I filled out the information needed to apply for my passport. I was instructed to use a black pen and only to fill in the designated areas, using my best penmanship. My husband used a black pen but because his idea of written communication looks like the beach at low tide after a flock of emaciated seagulls have been fighting over the same clam, it was barely legible. Then we were off to AAA for our passport photos.
I had combed my hair, applied foundation and even eye makeup. I always do that for a driver's license, I mean really, I'll be stuck with that photo for so long why not primp to get my passport glamour-shot right. Even with a morning's worth of preparation I still looked like my mother subsequent to an afternoon of gardening in the middle of July.
I had an old passport. Barely out of my teens, I got to spend a year in South Africa. I handed the old passport in with my application and photo for a new one. The post office employee gathering our paperwork humorously declared my old passport ancient. He loudly exclaimed to a lobby full of customers who were impatiently waiting behind us, as we declared ourselves non-subversive, that he hadn't seen that color passport cover in a reeee-ally looo-ong time. I got it a year before Neil Armstrong walked on the moon. Maybe I should have slipped it in a nice little Elmo cover.
Once we handed in everything to prove we were, who we said we were, we had to raise our right hands and swear to an oath. Mr. Post Office-funny man recited so fast, that all I could do was nod and say I do or I will. I felt like I was checking one of those little (nobody reads the fine print) "I agree" boxes on the computer. All I know is that I love my country and I certainly won't do anything to subvert her.
Aver detto abbastanz, that's "enough said" in Italian, I think.

Saturday, October 5, 2013

To Downsize or not to downsize, (original title)

House stuffed with family memories

Published 10/03/2013 12:00 AM
Updated 09/30/2013 05:26 PM

A friend of mine went from a large home with four bedrooms to a more manageable smaller house with three. Another shed four acres, a formal dining room, five bedrooms, three-and-a-half baths and a two-car garage, for a double-wide with a carport.
It's called downsizing and it's something I want to do - now. Problem is my big house is full, not only with rooms of furniture but with people. The people, children with spouses, I'm not worried about, they're looking to upsize just as soon as they can, it's the stuff we have accumulated which concerns me.
We have lived in this house going on 10 years but a lot of the stuff we brought with us has been around for the more than 30 years we have been married. Do we really need my husband's beer stein collection stored in Huggies diaper boxes? They were packed away when the spare room in our old house became a nursery 29 years ago. To be fair, somewhere there's a demitasse spoon collection of mine which has more than 300 spoons from all over the world. I haven't seen them since before I was married but I feel an odd kind of comfort in knowing they reside somewhere near the beer steins.
My attic looks like the local town's transfer station on a Saturday morning, without the big green dumpsters.
It's like an archeological dig up there, the floor sectioned off by kid and college year; books and bedding tells me who and when, by how far back the piles reach. I have half a dozen sets of extra-long dorm sheets for the years our children actually lived on campus; a new set each year was mandatory because color tastes changed and lack of laundering habits did not. There are comforters, clothes baskets and enough plastic bins to fill the storage aisle at Wal-Mart - actually they came from Wal-Mart.
We have funky multi-colored lamps and a papa-san chair that went from dorms, to apartments, and back to the attic so many times that I'm not sure where it is now, probably in one of those big green dumpsters.
Adding to the college flotsam and jetsam are the good, the bad and the totally unnecessary detritus of four households. Our daughters and their husbands have stored their accumulations up there while their upsizings have been put temporarily on hold. Our mound of still-sealed boxes from our move a decade ago remains stacked in a corner alongside a few leftovers from my mother-in-law, may she rest in organized peace.
I want to rid ourselves of our stuff.
The plan each year has been for all of us to proceed to the attic to peruse, sort, throw away, and organize. Attic cleaning is tricky though, it cannot be effectively accomplished in any season other than late fall, although late spring might work. Summer is too hot; the decorative Christmas candles became lovely red and green blobs sprinkled with silver and gold glitter. Spending time up there in July would be deadly. Winter is too cold. I'm sorry but wearing my down parka, gloves and a scarf are more conducive to snowshoeing than attic cleaning; three pair of snowshoes are hidden up there, too.
If I think about what actually has to be accomplished regarding the cleaning, editing and organizing of the attic, basement, closets, cabinets, drawers, cracks and crevices we have filled with the tangible collected memories of our lives, the task is daunting. I might actually consider staying put until my leftovers are stacked next to those of my dear departed mother-in-law, may we rest in peace in hoarders paradise heaven.
Enough said.