I Am a Cast-Iron Frying Pan

I am a cast-iron frying pan.  Or maybe a griddle.

Like the pan, I perform really well once I’m heated up.  You know the rule for pancakes, don’t you?  Throw the first batch out — the pan probably wasn’t hot enough.

When I begin a new project, especially one that requires a bit of stretching to wrap my arms around it, I take time to get to the fully effective stage.  The warm-up is marked by false starts, distractions and intermittent bouts of panic.

So it’s been the last few days as I’ve been home contemplating packing.  I try out various strategies — mainly in my mind — and find myself thinking of reasons they won’t work and should be abandoned, or at least postponed.  The UPS guys brought about 100 boxes yesterday.  So far, I’ve filled exactly one-half of one.  Turns out it’s premature to pack, because I haven’t edited my belongings enough.  

Another stab in the dark related to the basement.  We have probably eliminated about 25% of the stuff that was clearly junk and could just go to the curb.  We’ll take about 15% with us, which leaves 50% of the basement contents in limbo.  Since I don’t have the time to sort, clean and try to sell it, I decided I needed to get someone to haul it away.  I collected recommendations on businesses (GotJunk is a franchise!), or guys with trucks, who would render this service.  But I didn’t pull the trigger and call any of them, because a) it drove me crazy to think I’d be paying for something I could accomplish for free by continuing to haul it to the curb, and b) I wondered if this was the most effective use of my limited time?

Various packing strategies played out in my mind:  weed, clear room in the basement, pack and store boxes down there.  No.  Leave the packing to the movers and focus exclusively on weeding.  No, focus only on my personal stuff this week, and leave the rest.  OK, if I focus on my stuff, should I first pack the items that will come later with the movers, and then the stuff I’ll be taking down next week?  Or should I just leave the stuff I won’t be taking with me next week for the movers or Mr. NYer to pack?

You get the idea.  Paralyzed by too many potential paths of action, I am stranded at the inaction interchange.  Not to say I haven’t been busy.  I’ve had movers in for estimates and been occupied doing the kind of stuff that eats up time on the telephone.  I’ve run errands.  I cooked dinner last night. 

And I’ve been engaged in micro-weeding.  Instead of packing all the photos in boxes, I’ve decided that I can whittle the collection down if I sort through each and every one of them and weed them out.  Kicking myself at this folly, I decided to march into my computer room and clean out one desk.  I would pack up what was going, and weed out the rest.  That’s where the half-box came in.  A good amount of stuff found its way to the trash.  But there was that in-between again.  I had a perfectly good telephoto lens for an SLR that I no longer owned.  Throw it out?  Ouch.  What about the six skeins of thread I purchased when I decided I was going to learn how to do filet crochet?  Still in original packaging!  Not to mention the books and records I’ve already mentioned repeatedly.  And the items of furniture.

When casting about for basement clean-out guys, one friend advised me to call another, who “has a pick-up truck” and “loves this.”  I called, and before long, Joe, aka My Hero, came to my rescue by agreeing — enthusiastically — to help us by organizing a moving sale in our house.  My Hero knows exactly what sells and what doesn’t, has a pricing philosophy which I won’t reveal, and said he’d enjoy doing it.   We compared calendars and agreed on a weekend AFTER I’ll be 1,000 miles away in Alabama.  I hesitated for a  nanosecond about committing Mr. NYer to the work, the prep and the weekend, but knew it was a great thing.

Finally, I think the pan is hot.  I went upstairs and rummaged through what I’d already weeded, pulling out article after article that could be included in the moving sale, and excluded from the moving van.  I designated a room for us to collect the items and started to pile things in.  When Mr. NYer came home, I filled him in and, eventually, won him over.  We’re starting a list of furniture to be included.

Of course, I’m still weeding on the level that takes time.  Yesterday I found a dozen of my mother’s hankies.  Do any of you remember when women carried little whiffs of linen around with which to delicately wipe their noses?  Those I found were trimmed in lace or printed with floral patterns.  A few were hand-embroidered, and there was one just for Christmas.  While I remember my mother tucking one of these up her sleeve, I also know that even she had stopped using hankies in favor of tissues, which she came to see as infinitely more hygienic.  But she kept her best hankies for some reason and, since she did, I guess I felt I had to as well.     

I emailed my sisters, reporting the discovery and asking if they wanted any of the hankies.  My sensible sister replied, “Only if they’re in good shape, I’ll take two.  NO MORE.”   Seemed like a good rule, so I culled them and assigned two to each of us; the other six are destined for the house sale.   Next I found both my parents’ wallets, complete with ancient credit cards, IDs, Medicare cards and really worn out school pictures of the grandkids.  Why on earth do I have these things?  Out, except for the one wallet that’s in good shape, which I set aside for the sale.  Next I unearthed a cache of 3-D holy cards depicting various scenes in the life of Jesus.  These, offered at my Grandfather’s wake in 1971, were universally seen as awful even then.  I don’t offer them to my sisters.  

And so it goes.  Tonight, I share the plan for the great, purifying and cathartic moving sale — and the timetable — with Soon-to-be-Abandoned.  Tomorrow, I hit my closets.  The iron is hot.


One Response

  1. I have my father’s blockbuster card in my wallet! He died 7 years ago this March!

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