Dearest Rachel –
So last night, they were predicting that we would get a serious case of precipitation throughout today. It was to start with rain around midnight (because at that point it was around 40°F or so), and turn to snow overnight. The good thing was that we up in the northwest side were not expected to get as much as those to the south and east of the city (although you would think that would be counterintuitive, given that things are always colder when you go north – but then you have to consider ‘lake effect’ snow, and it makes so much more sense. Chicago natives will understand), but that’s no guarantee that things will be at all navigable around here, unless you count it in a relative measure. After all, stuff builds up quickly.
In a way, today’s weather is a perfect metaphor for how the house is on the inside, especially as I prepare to have Kris in to clean the place after an extra week away (she was dealing with a sinus infection, rather than the case of Covid all the cool kids have been getting). I find myself find myself having to dig out from under the accumulation of stuff on a regular basis, lest I wind up with the place looking much like you left it.
Okay, that’s probably an exaggeration. Actually, it’s definitely an exaggeration. But I need to be careful as stuff comes in, to deal with it as soon as I get it, because it’s amazing how fast things begin to clutter up.
Let’s start with the refrigerator. I’m afraid I haven’t shaken your habit of keeping sauces after we pick up a meal from one place or another. As a result, there are all these little cups sitting around in there, with very little identification as to what they are, or might be, or how long they’ve been there. Once they get to be that much of a mystery, they probably shouldn’t be messed with. But I don’t seem to have the heart to throw them out any more than you did. Or maybe you just taught me that well.
However, last night, after coming home from picking up groceries at Meijer (I’d gotten a coupon in the mail for $10 off a $50 purchase, so I figured I might as well use it before it expired, and stock up before the snow storm), Daniel had asked me to pick up a burrito for him at Chipotle. Honestly, I wasn’t feeling the place – it’s sort of thing that would happen to our family fairly regularly, as you recall. We could never agree on where we wanted to get our next meal, and so we’d stop at multiple places along the way. It’s nice, having that many options to work with around here.
All of which is fairly irrelevant at this point, since – as I said – I really wasn’t feeling like having Chipotle, or any other takeout place for that matter. Besides, I just picked up so much stuff from the grocery store that I might as well make a meal out of that.
What I ended up making was this sort of thing you probably would’ve been proud of me for. I bought a fairly wide loaf of bread, and I simply slathered on some leftover pizza sauces that we’d kept from a couple of different places, topped it off with a few slices of provolone, and stuck it in the oven to broil and toast. You would’ve liked the look of it, but I keep remembering after the fact that I should probably be more intentional with my photographs; I didn’t think to take a single picture of them. Yes, them – did you think one slice of pizza toast would be enough for me? I did three of them in succession; enough to empty both cups of sauce.
Like I said, you would’ve been proud of me.
Of course, it’s not just food that builds up over time; that, at least, has the virtue of being edible, and thus can be easily brought down to a more manageable level. There’s also the mail and other stuff that piles up on the dining room table. I do try to get rid of as much as I can as soon as it’s brought inside, but certain things, like bills, can’t always be dealt with immediately. And then there’s the coupons. This is where I probably am of the same mind as you were – I’m likely to use these at some point, so I’d better hang onto them. And in no time flat, there’s a whole ream of coupons piling up on the microwave table. It’s ridiculous. At that point, it becomes obvious that I’m not going to use them all up – but which ones do I keep, and which ones do I throw away? So I suppose today, while Kris is going through the house, I should sift through the ones I have, and at least get rid of the ones that are expired. It’s not much, but it’s a start.
You probably wouldn’t be quite as proud of me when it comes to keeping up with the mail; if nothing else, I don’t bother to pull out the envelope windows before dropping them in the recycling bin. The way I see it, honey, that’s part of how things got so cluttered in the first place, where you needed to take care of separating and cleaning everything before sending it on – believe me, other people don’t do that level of work on every last letter or every last tin can. Who has that kind of time? Leave it to the professionals, that’s how I see it.
Meanwhile, we can’t forget the napkins, either, oh no. Sure, we go through some of those every day, but given how often we do takeout, and how many napkins these places give us (not to mention that Ellen trained Daniel amazingly well not to need much in the way of napkins – I don’t know how either of them do it), those pile up on the table like a snowdrift in and of itself. It’s crazy; I probably should start using them like paper towels, just to bring the pile down to a manageable level.
All of which leads back to the fact that this isn’t entirely metaphorical; we’re actually dealing with a snowstorm out there, and an ongoing one, no less. It’s the sort of thing where you want to clean it out (especially since someone’s coming over), but you know that it’s going to be covered up in the next couple of hours, so why bother?
At least I think I’ve figured out how to use the snow thrower – and how, for the most part, not to get it thrown back in my face. I was going to just clean off the straightaway portion so that Kris could pull in, but once I got started, it was just easier to keep going. Before I knew it, I’d cleared everything but my car, and barely ten minutes had passed. I wish I’d had this thing figured out sooner.
I also wish you’d been there to see it. I’d woken up with a dream about having to do exactly this – shoveling the driveway – and you were there in the kitchen to greet me with a cup of hot chocolate. You told me you melted a few of those chocolate drops in the milk – the ones we picked up back in April 2020 (I’ll let the internet figure out what those dates and numbers mean), and gave me one of those smoky looks. Let’s just say it’s not a dream I want to wake up from, especially with the realization that you’re not there.
Still, this is life, and I’ve got to live with it. It ain’t much, but…
Take care, honey. We’ll talk later.