Out: snowdrops, far too early. And Out: the washer and dryer we bought when we moved into this house almost nine years ago. It had been a week without laundry since I’d gone to the basement to swap loads only to discover that the rug in front of the washer was soaked (the departed was a Frigidaire front loader, the granddaddy, so the appliance guy said yesterday, of all the American front loaders around today) and that a pool of water was oozing out beyond the edges of the rug, dashing the first hopes I had that the door gasket had developed a leak, and that a quick transplant would get us up and running again. (Its partner the dryer was due for another belt replacement anyway, before we hand the house over to our tenant. Every two years or so the machine would get very squeaky, and clothes would start to acquire brown streaks, from getting trapped in the too large gap between the wobbly drum and the body of the machine. Not good.) So, on the phone to the appliance repair generalist, for diagnosis #1. Off with the panel at the bottom of the washer, and I’m describing what I see: one of the pairs of pistons that support the washer’s drum has snapped clean away. Their guess: water was leaking because the drum was spinning unaligned.
I’m referred to a specialist, and another phone consult. Nope: the water’s leaking because when that part breaks (says the voice of experience, I’m thinking) it actually breaches the washer drum itself. “I could come and take a look – it’s a $65 call out fee – but you really don’t need me to… Do you have a big family?” (I didn’t, I think, when we picked the washer and dryer out – there were only two of them then, and their clothes were quite small.) “Three kids, lots of towels…” I answer. “It’s too small for you, that machine,” and before he ends the conversation (to respond to the ever louder calls of “Daddy!” I can hear in the background), he reels off a list of makes and models that would be a better match. No Mr. Washie, sadly, my machine, but countless loads accomplished since 1998 – it must have been nearly 20, if you were to measure things in the appliance equivalent of dog years.
And so, In: their year 2006 descendants, just the right size for the new user. That would be my dad, single guy, who astonished me this summer (when I told him we were leaving, and on the lookout for a family to rent our place here) by saying he’d been mulling over making a move. Not downsizing yet, per se, but making a break and catching his breath, to think clearly about where and how he wants to live next. 40 years plus worth of stuff out of the home where he and my mother raised my sister and me, he’s poised to close the sale of my childhood home in January and hang out here for a while (with plenty of room to host my sister and her crew when they visit – and us, too). On top of everything else, he’s a gardener himself (although tending more to the vegetable end of the spectrum) – so the garden will be in good hands.
We’re lightening the load here, as well -- and so Out: a dump truck load of big trash (less what was spirited away from the curb in the night) scooped up and hauled away Monday morning (we watched the big claw grab it all up and over and into the truck as we waited for the school bus), 5 bags to the charity who picks up curbside, and 4 boxes of clothes to the next family in our hand-me-down chain. The kids have amazed me at how willing they’ve been to send things on to new homes -- Tuesday it was a van load of toys and shoes to Goodwill …
… except for these, which are now back In.
Because there was another flood, of tears this time. “Right, girls, snow boots. They can be here for Christmas if we order them this afternoon.”
Nine: “But mum, I’ve got the pink ones, from Eleven.”
Me: “I gave those away this morning – they were size five, and too small, no?”
And we were back a year ago, flashing on ordering boots and the color that she so wanted only came in her sister’s size and she would have to wait a year to have them come down to her (if everybody grew at just the right speed) and the sizes run huge anyway and they finally fit perfectly even with big warm socks…
… and I was on the phone to Goodwill: Can you find them? Can I buy them back?
I’m on hold for a bit. And then: Yes – and No: just come around to the donation door before 9:00 tonight and ask for Charles; they’ll be waiting for you.
And they were.
So finally, Out: one large bag of chocolates with a shiny silver bow, to Charles and crew at Goodwill. “You didn’t need to do that,” said Charles (“Did you see the look on his face?” asked Eleven, after I got back into the van, reaching into her sixth grade vocabulary list for “Bemused.” ) “And you all didn’t need to be so great about my daughter’s boots,” I answered. “Thanks, and Merry Christmas.”
It’s been completely unpredictable, the things that set any of us off, the first signs of the mourning for the life we’ve known here in this house. A few weeks ago, a friend’s sincere “How are you?” had me in tears in the sporting goods section of Target (and not, I think, because we’ll soon be an hour away from the nearest one). After all the things Nine had gladly sent on, the boots couldn’t go. So happy that they got to come back home.