The Story of my Life
Louise Virginia (Weir) Frasier
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Mama never had very much stuff so the following is not a part of her life. I found it while going through some of her papers and thought it would have a place on this web site. It is dated 1992 – before the proliferation of home computers, cell phones, ipods, ipads, Blackberries, etc. Imagine what she could have said about that!
The time has come to write about stuff. I said “the next time around I’m not going to have any kids.” One daughter said “I’m not going to have any stuff.” Another daughter said “What’s stuff?” Then she said “Oh yeah, stuff.”
Two people announce their engagement. When they are old enough to do this they already have stuff. Stuff they can’t or won’t live without. She has her dolls, Barbies, etc. He has his baseball cards, his favorite cap, etc. They each have their collection of records, tapes, books, CDs, etc.! Then they have a wedding shower. They get 4 toasters, 3 punch bowl sets, other pretty dishes – they have no idea what they’re used for, a few heirlooms that have never been used for nobody knows what they are, and certainly not what they’re used for.
They return from their honeymoon and go back to their jobs. They work forty hours a week. They have 2 cars, buy a house, have a telephone in each room (with call waiting and answering machine). They have a television in the den, living room, kitchen, and bedroom. They have cable with hundreds of channels. They have bookcases full of best sellers. They also have washers, dryers, dishwashers, microwaves and air conditioners.
Then they decide the rat race is getting to them and they need to relax. They build a patio with barbecue grills and beautiful patio furniture. Now, they’re busier than ever so they decide they have to get an RV so they can get away from it all. Then they find that an RV is no fun without a boat. So they get a boat equipped with a fish-finder, water skis, life jackets, water toys, fishing poles, fishing tackle, sleeping bags, camp stove, coolers, lawn chairs, portable grill, a small 10-inch screen TV to watch while camping , and a portable stereo to listen to their tapes and CDs.
They hurry home from work to get the boat hitched to the RV. and get going by six o’clock. They’ve had to put extra security systems on the house for they are going to be away for two nights each week. They’ve paid extra insurance on their stereo systems, VCR, CD players, dozens of videos and CDs and records and tapes. They get to the lake at 11:00 P.M. (It’s a 5-8 hour drive). They get up at 5:00 a.m. to get the boat in the water among the hundreds, then they go buzzing off across the water. Watch out, someone will run into you for there are thousands of people there, who have also wanted to get away from it all.
Now they decide they have to have a baby so they can afford to work - their income tax is eating them alive. It’s really costing them money that they don’t have to work. So they have a baby for a tax deduction. One is not enough, so they decide they have to have another baby. But the health insurance payments are so high and they’re still running short of money, so they decide to have another baby. But now their babies are costing more and more for baby sitters, especially the week-ends when they have to pay for 24-hour care while they’re having fun (???) with their RV. and boat.
Then the kids are old enough to go to the lake, but they can’t go without their friends and there’s no room in the RV so they have to buy tents and extra camping items to accommodate them. The kids are also old enough now for braces on their teeth, dance lessons, little league, cub scouts, and girl scouts. You’re running faster and faster so you can get away from it all on the week-ends.
The cars are worn out. They buy new cars, a better CD player a bigger TV, take the kids to the movies, ice skating, bowling, and amusement parks. They have to get a nicer RV, and that boat just won’t do any longer, they need a bigger speed boat, for the kids are water skiing. Now you spend $100.00 every week-end for sun-screen, still someone gets burned so bad, you have to make a trip to the doctor and spend money for medication.
Now the kids are too big to go to the lake with mom and dad. You tell them they can have one friend over for the week-end while you’re at the lake. So the kids stay home and tear up your stuff. Stuff!!! Why don’t you just stuff it all, find a quiet place, and read a book. A paperback you get at a yard sale for a nickel.
Oh yes, now they decide they need something to do in their spare (???) time. A nice lawn where they can sit on the jewel-green grass under a spreading chestnut tree!!! So, first of all they make a trip to the local nursery where the nurseryman is also a lawn care salesperson. He tells them first of all they need a rototiller, hoes, rakes, seeds, fertilizer, spreader, hoses, and trees and shrubbery, and grass seed. “First have your lawn analyzed so you will know what trees, grass and fertilizers do best.” Now you’re ready. The salesman has also sold you a wheelbarrow.
They start the rototiller, the man usually does this, but she’s there ready with sun hat, gloves, sunglasses and plants. He rototills, hits a rock or an old root, the tiller bounces and kicks him in the side. He swears. She’s anxious. Now the ground is plowed, but it has clods or lumps in it. The salesman hadn’t told them about that, so back they go and the salesman said, “Oh, I forgot to tell you about this attachment that goes on the tiller.” You buy that, go home and use it. Now the moment has come for you to put on the fertilizer and plant the seed. Now the hoses come into use but you have to make another trip to the store for sprinklers. The lawn is planted and now you make another trip to the store for post-hole diggers to plant your trees. The trees are in and fertilized. Now it’s time for the shrubs and flowers. You make another trip to the store for a digging spade. You put the shrubs in, put the bulbs in, plant the flower seed, plant the roses. Thorns? She tears her glove and swears. Now they’re finished. They stand back and watch the sprinklers.
A neighbor comes bounding across the new and un-green lawn with a couple of dogs. Back to the store they go to get some fencing and signs,. They put the “stay off the lawn” signs up. Now the neighbor is mad and says you’re an unsociable SOB. They go to bed tired but happy. They’ve created something, spending about $4000.00 to do it. They hear thunder in the night – a pleasant sound – the rain will make their Eden grow.
They get up in the morning eager to see how much everything has grown. Has the grass seed sprouted? They look out the window – My God! A lake out there.
Three weeks have passed and the grass is up and growing, the trees are putting on leaves, the shrubs are growing, the flower seeds are up, but what is that tall plant with yellow flowers?? Why are the tree leaves curling? Back to the nursery. The plants with yellow flowers are dandelions. They must get weed killer at once and spray it on. Nobody had mentioned a sprayer before, but it’s time to buy one along with a lawn mower, lawn edger, hedger, weed-eater, etc. The tree leaves are curling because of a fungus. They have to spray for that also. Now they are making daily visits to the nursery for fertilizers, poisons for insects, fungus and various other diseases.
Now it’s winter, all the equipment has to be cleaned and stored. All the roses, trees and shrubs have to be bedded down for the winter. Back to the nursery for mulch to protect the young tender roots.
It’s spring again (isn’t it beautiful?), now they decide they must have a sprinkling system put in, and a riding lawn mower is a must.
By now there are no more barbecues on the patio or gossip over the back fence, because all the neighbors are mad at them for throwing things at their cats and dogs.
They make the kids play in the street, for they don’t want their grass ruined. Now they have to put an automatic timer on the sprinkling system, so the sprinklers will work while they leave their teenagers locked out of the house with who ever will let them stay with them, so they can fly to Las Vegas or Hawaii or Mexico City for which they’ve spent hundreds of dollars for plane fares, hotels, rental cars and fancy clothes.
To hell with the boat and RV. let them sit in the driveway…….
The lawn-makers had such good luck with their lawn, they decided to grow some vegetables. Wouldn’t those homegrown beans, cucumbers, squash, and especially tomatoes be good? And they would be free too!!
They marked off a corner of the back yard (digging up their previously tilled, planted fertilized, sprayed and watered lawn), after much thought and measuring. In February they began studying the seed catalogs, enjoying the beautiful pictures of the cabbages, etc. They studied gardening books purchased at the local bookstore.
March came and they prepared the ground, mulching and fertilizing. They ordered seeds – decided where they would plant what. Some things might do better if you bought plants instead of seed.
Finally, the big day came. Some sweet peas were planted along with the radishes, lettuce and onions. OOPS! Before the seed had time to sprout it came a flood of rain which covered the seed and buried it so deep that it never came up through the soil. Hope springs eternal so they planted again. Everything came up and looked so pretty. They were watering and spraying and weeding everyday now. Then old Jack Frost decided to put in a final appearance. Killed everything but the radishes. They had so many radishes they didn’t know what to do with them. In a week they were so fat and puffy you couldn’t eat them.
The sixteen year old nursery salesman garden specialist told them it was too late for those things. “It’s time to plant the beans and squash and set the tomato plants.” They take his advice and do this. The plants grew, the gardeners watered, fertilized, weeded and sprayed for insects. The bean vines grew 4 feet tall, bloomed and bloomed, so pretty – No beans! The squash did wonderfully well. They cooked squash, they made squash bread, they froze squash, tried to give neighbors and relatives squash, but no one wanted any. They put squash in crates on the front sidewalk (in front of their now unused RV and Boat) with a sign saying “free squash”. The police gave them a citation for littering. No one took any squash.
They finally pulled the vines up and planted some late turnips. The tomato vines grew, bloomed and flourished. “Look, there is a ripe tomato. How good it is sliced.” The next day there were 4 ripe ones. A week later the kitchen counters, the basement the garage shelves are full of tomatoes. Look at all the ones on the vines. We’ll go buy some jars and cold pack can them. Oh yes, we also need a canner and canning equipment,. They can and can and can. These beautiful quart jars of tomatoes have only cost us an average of $20.00 a jar. But, next year we’ll have the jars and equipment and it will be cheaper to can them.
The tomatoes are still coming, they decide to freeze dry some, but the freezer in the refrigerator is full of squash so they decide to buy a freezer, they can really save money with a freezer. “I didn’t know freezer bags were so expensive. Oh well, maybe we can reuse then.” They froze dried tomatoes.
The turnips did well, but no one in the family liked them. The neighbors didn’t know what they were, but they didn’t like them either; however they would trade a few for some of their homegrown delicious beets.
Altogether, they had about $20.00 worth of vegetables (counting the beets they traded the turnips for) that cost them about $4000.00. Of course, they do have the jars, the reused freezer bags, the canning equipment and the freezer for next year.
Gardening time again! This year the early vegetables did fairly well, but who can use a hundred heads of lettuce before it gets too rotten to eat. The snow peas are so slow they have to pick them and save them for a week before they have enough to cook,. The beans took the rust this time and didn’t even have the pretty vines like last year. They decided not to plant so many squash and that was a good thing for they took the blight and didn’t have any. The tomato vines seemed to just sit and not grow or anything. They had a few tomatoes about as big as baseballs for a couple of weeks, then the vines just wilted and died. But they still have the jars for next year.
The utilities are a little high with all the watering and the new freezer – they decide to unplug the freezer.
The jars looked so sad sitting empty so they decided they’d have a yard sale – maybe somebody will even buy the freezer, the canner and the gardening books. The neighbors beets didn’t do any good this year – they decided to make it a neighborhood yard sale.
But, weren’t those home-grown tomatoes good? Yum! Yum! Yum!
Now our Stuffers have made $15.00 on their yard sale – getting rid of all their equipment except the push lawn mower, which they saved for the front yard. The riding mower had given them so much trouble – even running over one of the sprinkler heads and dumping the rider (her) off. They took it to the flea market and sold it for $75.00. After all, they had used it at least 20 times.
With advice from their coworkers they decided it was time for them to exercise to replenish their muscle tone and energy. The kids could always use a pool and they wouldn’t have to be running them to the public pool anymore. After all, the kids are paying $.75 each day to use that public pool, plus money for snacks. Think how much we’ll save with our own pool. We’ll even have low and high diving boards.
They consult the pool specialist and find out they will need to dig up the sprinklers, remaining lawn, garden, trees and shrubs in the back yard. No problem! Next thing is to get a permit from the zoning committee. The yard fence is not sufficient. They will have to put in an eight foot fence around the pool with a gate that locks. They forgot to ask about insurance until the pool was in. They had a few nice family swims but then the kids said it was no fun to swim without their friends. Then they decided they’d better find out about some insurance. Expensive! But still they are saving all that money not taking the kids to the public pool.
Well, now that the children and their friends are enjoying the pool it’s time for them to get away from all that noise. Their coworkers were right though, they do need that exercise.
He decides to take up bicycling and she chooses jogging. Off to the sporting goods store they go. Several hours later they come out equipped with a 10-speed bicycle with all the accessories: a helmet, bicycling shorts, gloves, shirt, biking shoes, headband, goggles, stereo with headphones, heart monitor, pulse meter, compass, water bottle, etc for him. She has all the proper necessities for jogging: jogging outfit, shoes, sunglasses, hat, headband, wrist bands, stereo with head phones, heart monitor, compass, ankle weights, and a mileage meter to see haw far she jogs.
The next morning they’re ready to start their programs to get into shape and work off that stress. What a beautiful summer morning! She goes one way and he goes the other way. OOPS! He falls off the curb and breaks his leg. She jogs a block and is attacked by the neighbor’s dogs who are still mad at her for throwing things at them. They have another yard sale and make another $15.00.
Now they decide they really do need the exercise; how about getting a weight bench. They went back to the sporting goods store. This time they get a 60 year old salesman that works on commission and tries to make enough money on each customer to retire on. This time he almost succeeds because they decide to order a complete home gym. All they’ll need to do is convert the basement. They now have every kind of machine they will ever need plus an extra set of bar bells for the teenagers. Again, they found out it was no fun for a teenager to lift weights unless a dozen or so girls were there watching which cost quiet a bit for drinks and snacks (and the new refrigerator and microwave and stereo speakers necessary for the basement). They decide to get the full benefit of the equipment they’ll join a health club and let the instructors and other members show them how to use their equipment to the greatest advantage. They found out the family plan was cheaper so they enrolled the entire family. This was not such a good idea for five people never have the time or energy to go to the health club at the same time. They did however find out how to get rid of some of the canned tomatoes from several years ago. All they need is a $300.00 juicer and they can make their own nutritious, healthy juice.
Their daughter insisted that since they’d bought the barbells for the boys, it would be only fair if they bought her a trampoline. Whoop!!! More insurance. A trampoline is no fun without onlookers and competition.
Mom decides she needs some time away from the family. She’ll join an aerobics class and since she would be spending money on that, why didn’t he do something alone and join a golf clue. So he did.
Now the kids that come to swim were always fighting and besides their kids are bored so it’s back to the public pools again. After all they have a coke machine, snack machines and they even have a jukebox and video games.
They had a glorious season with their pool and nobody had sued them, but now even though the pool is heated, it’s outside and really swimming was taking so much energy, they couldn’t seem to find enough vitamins to replace it. But a hot tub wouldn’t take any energy so they had a hot tub installed alongside the exercise equipment in the basement. Oh, it felt so good to sit in the hot water relaxing and listening to an old fashioned battery radio they’d bought at an antique store for $600.00. It seemed every care was forgotten and every muscle in hour body was butter. After an hour of this you get out and found indeed your body was butter. You couldn’t stand up but finally made it to the shower where you thought a cold shower world be good. You stood under the shower a good long time, turned the water off and found you couldn’t reach for a towel or step over the edge of the tub. Your body was so stiff it hurt to even get your breath.
Now the pool and hot tub are drained and covered; the exercise equipment sits sad and dusty.
The kids have gone to college.
Now, our Stuffers are alone at last. At their very strong insistence all three of the children are going, not to out of town colleges, but out of state colleges. Surely no one would take dirty laundry across state lines for mom to do.
So here they are in their mid forties, still working, but they are winding down. The final payments have been made on the RV. and boat, but they are still making payments on the three car garage they had added to properly store them, and they had to add extra parking space outside for their two cars plus the extra car they picked up for the kids to use when they come home. They only lacked four payments on the pool which had been filled in a couple of years ago with a beautiful rock garden. It even had a small fountain and pool but the frogs somehow got in the pool. Sister said brothers had put tadpoles in. Now the frogs were croaking so loud the neighbors were yelling at them again. They decided to turn off the fountain and let the pool dry up. Of course this caused a terrible stink for a few days. They also stopped watering the rock garden and the flowers died; but a flower is a flower and the pretty yellow dandelions don’t seem to need water.
They had decided to keep the hot tub, so when the kids come home bringing friends they could use it. At the same time, they were praying they’d never come and stay long enough to use it. They seemed to be tired all the time now so the exercise equipment was covered with plastic. They were even too tired to move it all into one corner so they left it as they had set it up.
Their neighbors had mellowed some through the years and they suggested they all get together one night a week for bridge. A few years before they would have suggested poker, but now poker seemed too wild for their middle ages.
He noticed he weighted the same on the scales but for some reason he had to buy pants two sizes bigger and he fastened his belt three notches longer. When he could get away with it he unbuttoned the top button of his pants.
She noticed her skin seemed to have lost its sheen and her shoulders were sloping. As a matter of fact, she was sagging all over from her eyes to her toes. Her rear end had not only sagged; it had flattened out and she was at least two or three inches shorter. She tried to hide this from even herself by refusing to look in the mirror except for the time it took to put on her make up to cover the wrinkles. She also began to wear pants with elastic waist bands and huge tee shirts that were several sizes too big.
When they came home from work, whoever got there first had to put the TV. dinners in the microwave. Weekends they were always so tired they didn’t go out to eat, but would often order pizza to be delivered. They most often did this when playing bridge with the neighbors; pizza was better if shared.
So passed the winter. The kids came home for Christmas, but thank “whoever grants us little favors” they left immediately after opening the gifts. They either had jobs or studying to do. The plane tickets and ski resort reservations I saw in their luggage must have belonged to someone else.
The New Year was celebrated by watching a Stephen King video with the neighbors, but all four went to sleep around 9:00 pm and woke when they heard the noise at midnight. Another Year!!!
Then it was spring time again. And as I said before, “Hope springs eternal”. They were somewhat rested after the six months of bridge and TV. dinners. They began to discuss what they could do to get them out of the house during the warm months. None of the kids were coming home. One son was going to Alaska for a month, to which they gladly contributed one thousand dollars. Alaska is a long way from home. After much thought and discussion they decided, since they had never tried this before they would join a bikers club. Off to the motorcycle store they went. They decided to start by buying one and “She might get one later”. They bought the very best they had in stock plus matching jackets, helmets, gloves and boots. They talked to other bikers and had a group go along with them to make sure they got the correct equipment. They joined the club.
Oh, what fun it was, with her behind him, the wind left behind them. They made a few short trips and took several rides making sure the sky was clear. They went to a club meeting and decided for the 4th of July holiday the club would take a trip together. They would go up in the mountains and camp for ten days. It would be a 2000 mile trip. They would sleep in tents and cook together over a big central campfire. Their old camping “STUFF” wouldn’t work because they have to get special light weight stuff especially made for bikers. It will be a lot of fun. They’ll sit around the campfire at night and sing camp songs and tell ghost stories and look at the stars.
They have to make several shopping trips to get all the proper stuff they will need. They’ll need a new light weight tent, sleeping bags, pans, pillows, water bottles, coffeepot, backpack for their clothes, lantern, etc. etc. Whoa! Where do you carry all of the stuff? Oh, you buy this neat little trailer that you pull behind the bike – you can customize it to match your bike and it’s only $6000.00
Vacation is finally here. They each have two weeks saved up. Finally the big day has arrived. They have everything loaded and head off to meet the club at the gas station. The sky was a little overcast and the weatherman had said there would be general rains with thunder clouds all over the country for the next several days. But, when has the weatherman ever been right? They had double checked to see their house and stuff was safe. They had even changed the door locks so the kids couldn’t get in and tear up their stuff should they come home. They had also checked the seats, the trailer hitch, each other’s helmets, etc., and away we go!!
They were only 20 miles from home when the drizzle set in. That is not heavy enough to wet you; you only have to be more careful driving for the road is slick. Then they saw lightening and heard thunder. But the wind is blowing real hard and it doesn’t rain hard when the wind blows.
They traveled 500 miles that first day. It had drizzled, but not really rained all day. They stopped and discussed things a bit and decided they’d stay in a motel that night for most of them really had sore rumps.
The next morning they leave on the second leg of the journey. Their rumps are sorer than when they stopped last night. It rained off and on all day, but they made good time. They decided to stay at a motel again for they meant to complete their trip before the next days end. It rained again the next day, but their rumps were not so sore or they had gotten used to it. The next morning they all met, had a nice breakfast at McDonalds and decided to more or less go their separate ways that day.
She was the map reader, he was the driver. She had him turn left when he should have turned right. They had to back-track 50 miles. It was still raining intermittently. They arrived about dark at the appointed campsite. The other members of the club were there and had a small fire going. Everything was pretty wet, so the couldn’t get the fire going good enough to cook much. They all ate cheese, crackers and beans. It took several hours to figure out how to set the tents up and they were all pretty damp, cold and tired so there was no camp singing. You couldn’t see the stars either, it was still fairly cloudy. Tempers were short.
The next morning the sun was shining and they all forgot their ill humor of the evening before and had a nice breakfast. The men took a walk in the damp woods while the girls cooked and cleaned the stuff up. Just as the girls finished cleaning up the breakfast stuff and started to join the men for a walk in the woods it really began raining. The wind blew some of the tents down. This evening there wasn’t even a small fire because everything was so wet and windy. No singing again and they had cold beans again for dinner.
The next morning they awoke to sunshine again, but our female stuffer told the male stuffer in no uncertain terms to “Stuff it” and to take her to town. She was going to ride the bus home. Well, there is still 10 days of vacation left and if she rode the bus home, he would too. She said but you have to ride the bike and take our stuff home. He said to hell with the stuff. We’ll sell it in town or give it away and he never wants to hear the word stuff again. They practically give the bike and stuff away, and go to the local store and buy a suitcase to take their personal stuff home in, on the bus.
They fight the rest of the summer.
Just after Labor Day, when the stuffers had spent a lot of money for a marriage counselor, they were notified that the cycle they had so gratefully given away in July had to be returned to them. They had let the buyer take over the payments, but he had not made any of them and the banker said the loan was still in their name and he strongly suggested that they repossess it and bring the payments current, since they had no right to sell it in the first place. For a few minutes his heart sang, he would get a second chance as a biker and wouldn’t that 2000 mile ride back from picking it up be nice. She had also read the letter though and after one look at her he said “I’ll just get on the phone and have it shipped back UPS”. When it arrived, they only had the bike. No stuff. No helmets, stereo, headphones, CB or travel trailer. They pushed it – it wouldn’t start – into the garage alongside the boat, and locked it away.
A few days before this, on labor day week-end, the son whom they had so joyfully helped with finances to go to Alaska had dropped by and said,, since he was going to school in Florida, could he leave his snowmobile and Alaskan Husky there? They had sorrowfully said “yes”. Oldest son also came home for the holiday and brought his stuff – sailing sloop, wind surfer, etc. – since he was going to school in Canada. While making room for this stuff, they discovered in shifting stuff around they had 14 CB radios, a ship to shore unit and three sets of walkie-talkies.
Daughter made it home for the holiday also. She rode her motorcycle, “Oh, did she forget to tell them she had also joined a bikers club?” Would they mind if she left her bike and other stuff there for the winter? So they make more room. They didn’t remember buying all those bicycles. Where did that tandem bike come from? Hey, look at this! Where did these 20 skate boards, ice skates, roller skates, tennis racquets, racquetball racquets and volley ball nets come from? Where’s our volley ball and basket balls? What happened to our bats? They really didn’t remember buying all those canoes and rubber rafts, they knew they had one each but where did that other raft come from and five canoes? Someone else must be storing stuff in their garage. Hey, big brother, over there is your jet ski that you got the first year you went to college 7 years ago.
Autumn was here again and they had settled the differences between them. The midlife crisis had passed. Another winter was at hand. They still had their jobs. Too much togetherness was not good. So they decided to take up hobbies. They spent a few weeks thinking about this, and browsing over the hobby books at the book store. Then it came to her. One of her coworkers had brought in the most beautiful bell to work that she had made. Ceramics!! She could take classes at the local college and learn to make beautiful things. She could even sell them, for weren’t they much nicer than the ones in that expensive gift shop? She enrolled at once.
Meanwhile, he had gone to an auction with a friend that had an antique store. That was it. He would buy antiques and refinish them. If he bought only the ones that needed refinishing, they wouldn’t cost so much. He could sell them and make a tremendous profit. He decided this would be strictly a one man – no expense operation. He didn’t need to take classes, he would join the antique refinishing, buying , selling book club. He even got the first book free. All he had to do was agree to buy 10 in the next year for $65.00 each, and they even gave him a free scrapper. That ugly word “money” was beginning to creep into his mind more and more now. Every little bargain you can get is good. With three kids in college, even with the few expenses that could be deducted off of his income tax was just a drop in the bucket.
Finally, his first book had arrived. The first chapter told him how much relaxation and fun he was going to have with his new hobby, it also assured him that with a little planning and a lot of hard work fun, he might turn his new hobby into a profitable business. They would tell him how to do this in a later edition. That magic word “profit” set his blood to boiling and his head straight to the clouds. So he joyfully read the second chapter, which explained the tools and equipment that he would need to begin. There were also special catalogs which could be ordered for $15.00 that would allow him to order the paint, stain removers, and paint and stain, etc. at discount prices. He joyfully read the next chapter and began then and there to draw up plans for the new storage shed in which to store his exercise equipment. If he was going to do this, he was going to do it right and the basement was the ideal place to do it. She agreed, and she would take only a small corner for her ceramics.
The shed was built, men were hired to dismantle the exercise equipment and move it to the new shed. A hot tub company was called to remove the hot tub. Workers were hired to repaint, replace the floor, put in new electrical outlets, build cabinets and tables for each of them. Necessary tools and equipment were purchased for both of them and organized in their new cabinets.
She was well into her ceramics by now. The instructor had told her it would be much cheaper if she brought her stuff to her for firing instead of buying her own oven or firing kiln,. She made a small ash tray, poured it herself, painted it twice. It was so pretty. She had only made three trips to have it fired. She only had this one small mold, so she made a couple of dozen of them and painted them different colors. Too bad the smoking scare is on and everyone has quit smoking. She heard ashtrays may become collectors items. She decided to branch out and get a few more molds – they’re only $20.00 - $100.00 each. She hadn’t intended to invest that much money into her hobby, but if the molds cost that much, she might as well go whole hog and buy an oven. It would save her numerous trips to the firer, and they had raised their prices. She had to purchase a few books to assure she got the best use of the oven. She bought a dozen different molds. She made about three trips a week to the ceramic store for clay and paint. Maybe she can buy some catalogs and purchase the stuff at a discount through the mail. Well, she’s still going to save money even if hand crafted items are a little slow on the market right now. She’s got the kids and other family and friends that she’s been buying expensive gifts for. She’ll just start making all the gifts and they will have special meaning because she made them. She had forgotten all about the boxes of stuff she had that had been given to her by her family and friends, who were hand-crafters. Some of the stuff she had no idea what it was and some was just pain ugly.
Christmas is just around the corner. She’ll; never have time to pour all those gifts she wanted to make. She’ll just buy the green ware then she’ll just have to paint it and fire it. It’s Christmas morning. Why is everyone just looking dismayed when they open their gifts from me? Mom, our stuff is so pretty, can we store it here??? Sure just leave it in the Christmas boxes and put it downstairs in the basement. Over in the corner which is filled with finished and unfinished pieces. This has been so much fun for the two months it lasted. But now it has to be put on hold. She has to get busy – she has a June wedding to plan.
Daughter had brought her roommate home for Christmas. They’d been rooming together for four months and recently decided to get married in the spring. She would quit school and work full time at Taco Bell until he graduates and then she’ll go back and finish. Mom and dad were a little upset at the news because they have spent at least a hundred thousand dollars for the last five years she has gone to school.
Our stuffers were also a little upset thinking about their baby sharing her bedroom with a man before they were married. She had a nice double waterbed so that was ok, but this idea would be hard to get used to. Their worries however, were not necessary for alas the roommate was not a stuffer. He took one look at her room and said “What in the H is this? You expect me to sleep in here with all of this junk?” Now in all her 23 years no one had ever called her stuff junk. She said “this is not junk. It’s my stuff, and I wouldn’t let you sleep in my room for a million dollars.” They had a small argument and threatened to cancel the wedding but things calmed down and he was given a choice. He could sleep in a sleeping bag in big brothers room or the top bunk in baby brother’s room. Every place was so full of stuff he finally called and asked his mother if he could use her credit card to get a motel room for a couple of nights. He over slept at the motel and was a little late getting to the house on Christmas morning. Everyone was up and excitement was in the air. His dearly beloved said, “Oh, just wait until you see all the neat stuff mom has made for us.”
After all the gifts were opened and the wedding was being discussed dad stuffer and brothers went up to the attic and brought down four huge boxes of the family heirlooms. Everyone spent the afternoon unpacking stuff. This would all be daughters since she was the only girl. Roommate said a little too quickly , “I think all the heirlooms should be given to the oldest son.” Big brother said, “Oh no, sister is the only girl and it should be hers.” At this even sisters face fell, for even stuffers can get fed up with stuff – especially other people’s stuff - and she knew those boxes had been in the attic way before she was born, untouched. It was decided, though, the heirlooms would definitely become hers when she married.
In the excitement of Christmas day, very little was said about the engagement. The next day, mom said we have to discuss this for June is only five months away and there are a lot of plans to be made. It would be a morning wedding, at 11:00 am on Saturday June 2. They would have a sit down lunch for the reception. Male stuffer suggested they call roommates parents and invite them to come down New Years eve and help make plans. They will also plan a tea for the people who will be involved in the planning. Roommate put his foot in his mouth by suggesting that they clean the heirloom silver tea set to use. Everyone’s mouth fell open and they starred at him. No one could speak at first, then sister said, “You mean you want to actually use great, great, great grandmothers silver? That’s the silliest thing I have ever heard. No one and I mean no one, has used that silver in 200 years.” Roommate got up and left the room.
January 5. Ad in local paper.
Spoiled family. Needs to get rid of excess furniture, CB radios, Bestseller hard back books (unbroken binding, never opened), how-to books. You name it, it’s here. Need extra space.
The next few days a few newly weds and small children came by. The kids came home and each of them grabbed up their stuff before mom and dad sold it.
Every thing the children didn’t take was sold. They made a $1000.00. It almost paid for the engraved wedding invitations. They decided to limit the guest list to 200.
The end of January Pop stuffer took roommate for Pizza and told him he would give him money for a down payment on a house and an extra thousand dollars if he would talk sister in eloping. Roommate liked the idea. Sister balked and said if he didn’t want this beautiful wedding she would find someone who did.
Mom stuffer and daughter got busier and busier. Pop couldn’t find a place to sit and rest so he took to hiding in the RV. Mom stuffer found him there one day, sitting with his head in his hands. He would take his TV dinner there and get his six hours of sleep while Mom stuffer was planning. Days when he would get home from work a few minutes before her he would slip into the garage and crawl under the boat cover and dream about the ads the boat salesmen run.
Mom stuffer and sister were planning a garden wedding. Gardeners had to be hired to follow a master plan their wedding consultant had made. They were paying the consultant $500.00. She gave them a break because she was Pop stuffer’s sister. The gardeners studied the plans. Yes, they could do that and they would do it for $4000.00. This was a reasonable price for they would leave the arch under which the couple would stand. Mom stuffer said yes, that was fine. After all, the wedding dress and bridesmaid dresses are costing over $10,000.00 and you couldn’t have them all standing around in a field of dandelions.
The first shower was held in March. Roommate’s parents came again with a big truck of heirlooms. He was their only child.
April 1. Ad in local paper.
Complete home gym for sale. Brand new, with many extras. Cost over $20,000. Can be bought cheap. Can‘t be used for health reasons.
A few people called. A couple of people even came and looked. One man came and said he would give them $5000.00 for it, even though it was obsolete. The new stuff is all operated by computer and it’s easier on your muscles, and easier to use. Pop stuffer was outraged and said a firm “NO”. Buyer walked away shaking his head and said if you change your mind call me. A family came by with pre-teen kids, the boys spotted the weights and the girl saw the trampoline. After much begging from the kids, buyer said he would give $25.00 for the weights and trampoline. Stuffer considered this offer. The trampoline has cost $1200.00 but it hadn’t been used in a number of years and $25.00 is better than nothing he decided to let the guy have them. Let him worry about the extra insurance and the food it takes to feed weight lifter’s girl friends.
Stuffer decided to try selling the exercise items individually. A nice “thin” lady in her early twenties came by. After an hour of flattery he sold her the calibrated scales for $10.00. So it went over the next few days. It took two weeks, but it was finally all sold. He had raised $4000.00. Well, at least the shed was empty. He thought how nice it would be if he could take his sleeping bag in there to sleep. No, he remembered he had sold the sleeping bags at the first sale for $5.00. The $4000.00 would almost pay for the reception, which was to be held at the country club. The club is only charging $20.00 a plate. No rent on the hall. Everyone would have to buy their own drinks, except for one bottle of champagne at each table.
The big day has come. As pop stuffer is walking down the beautiful flower lined walk to give his only daughter to that silly young man he realizes that he’s only given her stuff. He’s never given her a minute of time and she’s a stranger to him - A stranger who likes stuff.
Mom stuffer has time for Pop again. She also has time to look around now. Look at that shabby old furniture. How had they overlooked it before the wedding. I hope none of the guests noticed. Pop stuffer said, “So it’s 30 years old, but no one has ever sat in it in those 30 years.” How long has it been since we watched a TV show or listened to music? We haven’t watched a video since the neighbors came over for New Years a few years back. Oh yeah, last time we watched T. V. was in the RV at the lake, our little 10 inch black and white.
She said, “You’re absolutely right”. We’ve been to busy to actually sit. I’m going to sit. I’m going to take lessons and learn to crochet. I’m just going to sit and watch TV and crochet when I’m not at work. He said you take the lessons and crochet all you want to. I’m 54 years old. I am going to find someone to give the rest of this stupid, stupid stuff to and I am going to sit and sit and sit. They were doing a little mild arguing about this, when they heard a car drive up.
In bounded brother number two, with 2 Great Danes, a 6-year-old boy, and a 2-month-old baby in his arms. Behind him followed a girl with three kittens. “Who are the kids?” They are mine. Girl already had this little boy and the baby is ours. No we didn’t have a wedding. Weddings and divorces cost too much. Since you’re on vacation for two weeks, will you keep the kids and our pets so we can get away? We thought we would pick up the snow mobile, trade it for a new model and go to Alaska. Mom stuffer said “This is too sudden”. Pop stuffer said “Take your snowmobile, kids, dogs, cats, and your free love and go to Alaska to stay.
Baby brother said O.K. if that’s the way you want it, I will and I’ll take my other stuff too. Free lover spoke up and said “Stuff? Where are you going to put stuff? You don’t even have a place for me and the kids.”
Our stuffers now yelled, “What, no place to live, do you have jobs?” Oh yes, they have jobs. They would both start working at a local clinic in three weeks. It will be an evening job. “Will you baby-sit?”
Pop stuffer went out to get the mail. He came back with a small package - it was the 10th and last of the how to refinish and market antiques book. He didn’t open it. He said “Excuse me” and went to the basement where the other nine books were sitting on the shelf, unwrapped. He picked them up, threw them all in the recycling bin, took a bunch of keys from a rack in the kitchen and returned to the living room. He removed one key and handed the rest of the bunch to brother number two. He said, “Here’s the key to the house, the boat, the motorcycles, the garage and the storage shed. You mom and I are going to retire.”
Retire!! We’re going to see the U.S.A. We’re going white water rafting down the Colorado River. We’re going on the mule train down the Grand Canyon. Both stuffers had a vision, a sudden recall of their motorcycle trip and their sore rumps. They said at the same time, “No, we’ll forget about the mule ride.” They went to the garage to get the RV and it wouldn’t start. Everyone had followed them out. O.K. it won’t start, it’s too old anyway. We’ll just buy a new one. They went looking and found the one they wanted for $120,000.00. Older brother said take the boat. Sister said put the bikes on front. Roommate said take the canoe on top. Baby brother said put the motorcycle on the back and tow the car. Oh, and you’ll need a CB.
Stuffer locked the RV. “No one puts anything in or on this baby except me.” No attachments, hitches, additions, etc.
We’re going wherever the wind blows us and wherever the road leads.
No maps, no plans, no how-to books, no music, no books. If we want to read we’ll stop at a yard sale and buy a paperback for a nickel. When we’ve read it we’ll stop at a yard sale and give it to them. I’m through with stuff.
Lady stuffer had a half finished something in her hand. Crochet. He grabbed it out of her hand and threw it in the garbage. He said, “I said no stuff.” No bought stuff. No crafted stuff.
The day came. They got into the RV. and pulled out of the driveway.