Thursday, October 28, 2010

Downsizing, Upgrading and Rearranging

As of yesterday morning, I no longer have a television. Truthfully, I was not using it as a television before, just as a glorified video screen on which to watch movies from my large DVD collection, but I decided to put it in an estate sale and see if I could get some few dollars for it. I got the set (a 28-inch analog behemoth that weighed between fifty and sixty pounds) for free years ago from Dex, whose neighbor was getting rid of it. Now, I’m collecting dollars, slowly, from such random sources to purchase a new, larger, high-definition flat screen TV, which I won’t use as a TV either--still, it will make for a far superior home theater experience, and take up less room, despite its greater width.

All of Daddy’s remaining clothes and shoes are also at the sale in Bethesda. Any money gleaned from them will also go toward this hypothetical entertainment system. I think he would approve.

Except for the odd rainy day, the weather’s been beautiful, and I’ve taken advantage by walking to school. Autumn means the crabapple trees are laden with thick clusters of rosy, inedible fruit, and ornamental landscapes are being changed to reflect the cooler temperatures. In other words, it’s pansy season.

Tuesday afternoon, when I turned into the Key Bridge Marriot parking lot, a huge yellow rental moving van with a hydraulic lift on the back was stopped in the No Parking zone. Aboard were dozens of those steel bakery carts, the square-column sort about five feet tall with ten shelves which are rolled out of industrial-size ovens stacked with trays upon trays of loaves of fresh bread, croissants and pastries. Instead of baked goods, these were stacked with flats of blooming pansies, probably 500 plants per cart. Several of these loaded carts were already sitting on the sunny asphalt, while another was descending with a fat man on the lift from the truck. When I walked back from school hours later, the truck was gone and all the pansies were installed in the flowerbeds.

I love fall walks. There are drifts of yellow and tangerine leaves on the stone steps leading up to campus, the sort of picture that might be turned into the basis for a wonderfully complex jigsaw puzzle.

My sister has just diagnosed me as an extrovert, a label I never, ever, thought anyone would put on me, though it is true that lately my social life has been particularly active. Not only have I been keeping busy with TAing (my first student came to see me for help during my office hours this week!), and with estate sale work (we are booked solid through the beginning of 2011!), I’ve had friends over for dinner and tea, and gone over to other friends’ for dinner and tea, and driven to the Maryland Renaissance Fair (in costume, of course—my friend is supposed to send me a picture), I also helped out with a friend’s wedding reception.

I missed the exciting denouement of the service (the kiss) because I had to duck out early to make sure that the sliced cheese that Susan and I had carefully arranged on large platters was out on the tables in the fellowship hall with the plastic wrap removed before everyone started flooding in. There was no bouquet-catching (bloody or otherwise), but it was a truly happy occasion for me and for the more than 150 people who assembled to fellowship and wash down the cheese, crackers, grapes and nuts with apple cider and ice water. There was white-iced spice cake and flame-colored roses and gerber daisies. Beautiful and fun, with little waste of food or energy, the whole event was planned in less than six weeks, since the Marine groom is likely to be shipped to Afghanistan soon, and the bride wisely chose to forego some celebratory details in favor of more pre-separation married time. There were still flowers and candles aplenty, small children warbling during the service and running around at the reception, heartfelt toasts to the happy couple, and—in lieu of the usual paper guest book—the groom’s mother had pieced a quilt of fabrics representing the interests and experiences of husband and wife, which, stitched together into a new creation of blended beauty, was bordered in white, a plain area for those who attended the wedding to sign in permanent marker with their best wishes and congratulations. I thought this a lovely image and gift to bless their marriage.

I continue to downsize and rearrange my possessions, with an eye to upgrading not only my household technology, and my creative output (maybe not jewelry, yet something attractive and lucrative!), but also my connections with my friends. I want to have more people over to visit, to make my living space open and comfortable for guests. The first major test of my progress towards this goal is my upcoming Christmas party (already slated for early December, before everyone’s holiday calendars fill to bursting), to which I’ve invited a large number of sweet people, each of whom has been so kind to me this last difficult year. I think I may even set up a tent with hot refreshments and a space heater out in the apartment courtyard if my little apartment reaches overflow capacity. I fell asleep last night dreaming about this. It’s going to be a lot of fun.

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