Thursday, February 05, 2009

The family potty chair and other stuff


I present herewith in all its splendor the family potty chair (or invalid chair if you prefer), another of those items I'm trying to figure out where to put when it moves north to south. I'm sure it would have been worth a fortune had I not scrubbed it thoroughly many years ago, touched up the finish and had a friend add the flowers and fruit (Evy was into what is known in some circles as "tole painting").

It has had a long and useful life (although not in my generation), passed from sick bed to sick bed across Lucas County when needed, but always returning to my grandfather's house when its mission was complete. It is a marvel of functionality. The chamber pot was placed on a small platform under the seat, the lid lifted, the invalid placed and all was ready.


I suspect it started life as a plain straight-back armchair, but whoever modified it did a good job. The lid is carefully cut with a neatly inset knob. The only sign that it might not have been designed to serve necessity is the fact the back spindle that would have held the whole thing together a little more securely has been removed to facilitate manipulation of the chamber pot.

It's lived in four of my living rooms over the years, but has never provided very practical seating. I've glued (but never screwed) the lid into place, but it always seems to come loose and slide around under the bottom of whatever unfortunate ends up in it when every other chair is full.

It's always interesting to confront your stuff when preparing for a transition. I like my stuff and don't regret for a minute acquiring it, but figuring out exactly what to do with it is another matter.

The great burden here is paper. I thought the digital age was supposed to lessen the paper load and save trees. Apparently not. My mailbox is a good example of that. Most of my correspondence now is by e-mail, so fewer interesting things arrive, but advertisers see that it's filled regularly any way. Some of this is just silly. Take banks. Some years ago, banks decided they wouldn't return cancelled checks. OK. But then they replaced that once-a-month mailing that included a statement with envelope after envelope full of advertisements for credit cards, car insurance, life insurance and investment opportunities (when there still were investment opportunities). I get at least one a week from two banks. Go figure.

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As it turns out my long-time friend Mary E. is moving from Mason City to southern Iowa, too. Serendipity I think. So we talked about that for a while over coffee in Chariton Monday and then I went down to her 40-acres-and-a-house Tuesday for lunch.

I'm delighted about this. Mary E. is (a) one of the world's great cooks; (b) good company; (c) a good friend although we go months sometimes without talking to each other; and (d) an inspiration because of her eternal optimism.

Neither of us live in the past (I do like to poke around in the past as this blog illustrates, but have no interest in going there), but I live mostly in the present with one foot poised to step gingerly into the future. Mary E. just jumps. One thing you've got to watch out for if you encounter Mary E. and you probably will because, as she says, Iowa is just a small town between two rivers --- she always has plans and one of those plans probably involves you.

I get a kick out this move because I recall well when those 40 acres first entered her family. Who would want to live THERE? she asked. Then she spent more time there, primarily as a caregiver; and then she ended up with it; then she started putting it in order to sell; and then she fell in love with it. Southern Iowa's like that.

So Mary E. and I spent some time talking about our stuff. She has more than I do to confront --- and she has grand piano and I don't, thank goodness!

1 comment:

Ed Abbey said...

If it weren't for the companies that still send bills via snail mail, I wouldn't even check the mailbox.