So, we’re back here in Washington Crossing, Pennsylvania. Wash Xing, for short. (Yes, that’s where General George crossed the Delaware on that frozen stormy Christmas night in 1776 to defeat the Hessians in Trenton, and no, there’s not that much here to commemorate the event that changed the course of our nation’s history without which we would be carrying British passports.) The day is a glorious one: sunny, not so warm, but not raining, as it was for the past few days. (Complaining about Eastern weather is something I do with verve.) We’ve been settling in, after our cross country drive. Praise is due to the driver, husband Roger, for missing the tornadoes in Tennessee by three days. That means nothing much has been done here yet. Rather, we’re getting used to how things work in our little condo again, in the Traditions of Wash Xing retirement community, and dusting off the dust on everything.
That’s what seems to bother me about being here, if you want my opinionated opinion. It’s nice enough…I’ve spent my life in the East…but everything seems old and dusty and I have to adjust my attitude to the cold, the crowding, the crummy weather, the close Northeastern smallness of mostly everything, and the looking back instead of looking forward. (And FYI, not everybody in this retirement community is retired.)
Case in point, I’m getting less tolerant than ever about miscellaneous junk and extraneous belongings. I spent the day cleaning out a bookcase that housed my old Innovation Course materials. (For those of you who don’t know, for six years I gave an elective course on Innovation in the MBA curriculum at Rider University in Lawrenceville, New Jersey.) I threw out the copious copies I collected, saved for the day when I would give the course again and need to supply students with handouts. That day never came again. In the meantime, I realized what a really good course I developed and delivered there. Students’ feedback was marvelous. (Of course, I kept those.) Makes me wonder why I never got that feedback from the faculty or Rider University Administration. In that bookcase is a book on Innovation waiting for a publisher. More on that in a moment.
Another case in point, we hired a handyman to replace the battery in a beeping smoke detector fourteen feet up on the bedroom ceiling. (Some day we’re going to arrive at our condo and there will be no beeping smoke detectors. That’ll be the same day our nanny government ceases to institute protectionist measures that harass seniors in their most vulnerable moments. I’m not holding my breath.) Gone are the days when either me or Roger get up on our 6-foot ladder and try to do the job ourselves. (If I got up there, I’d discover I didn’t have my reading classes with me to read the nearly invisible instructions on how to change the battery. Even so, I probably couldn’t do the replacement anyway. If Roger got up there, coming down could be life threatening! Our mechanical skills have dwindled to slim and none, and our physical skills are deteriorating from the little we started with.) The handyman was ours for an hour at the minimum, so any other work that needed doing in the remaining 59 minutes could be done. This was my opportunity to discard the large, and now dead, fiddle tree in the living room.
We got this plant a little after moving into our house in Lambertville, New Jersey, in 1994. You could say assuredly it was now a very mature plant. And dead-on-balls accurate to call it a tree, to quote My Cousin Vinny. I’d been looking at that tree for years, wondering how I would get it out if we had to move. It was a hydroponic plant, which means that it didn’t have soil but rather heavy ceramic stones that got even heavier from the liquid fertilizer you watered the plant with. Wet rocks. Nothing heavier than wet rocks. That plant always grew rapidly and I had made several cuttings which were now also mature and tree size.
Our condo decor consists of large, live, green, natural plants which negate the need for items of interior decoration that we acquire anyway from unnecessary shopping sprees, which accumulate right along with the stuff you once needed but don’t anymore. That’s when we’re here in Wash Xing. When we’re not here, which is mostly always, the plants get cranky, if not croaking entirely, despite that Luba, our cleaning lady when we’re here, regularly comes to water when we’re not here.
We arrived here to find the original fiddle tree without any leaves….a sure sign it’s dead. So, out it would go, now that I had an able-bodied hired hand to carry the heavy thing out. He cut it up and fit it into the garbage bin, along with another smaller, though still heavy, version that never did grow well. I’m hoping they have those mechanical arms to lift the garbage bin up on the Waste Management truck, because human lifting would require the Jolly Green Giant on steroids. Maybe the fiddle tree will sprout roots and grow in the landfill. Let it not be said that Lorraine and Roger do not do their green part for the environment.
Roger found a pair of boots in the closet. Nice sleek Italian leather ones, long unable to accommodate the vastly different shape of his current foot. (They say our feet get bigger as we get older. No doubt. You’d spread out too with somebody standing on you for a lifetime!) He went to throw them out but put them back in the closet, unable to toss them at that moment and perhaps waiting still longer for the day when their practicality returns or when someone more courageous than he will throw them out. That’s the idiosyncracy of clutter. You think its practicality WILL return. And when it doesn’t, somebody else will notice its out-lived usefulness and throw it out. That doesn’t happen either.
Without the large tree in the house, the living room looks a tad bare. It’s only because we can now see the walls for the trees! I love the clean uncluttered look and look forward to some shopping to fill it back up with newly purchased clutter. The bookcase is only partially cleared, still holding the ten binders of Innovation lectures by subject. They await a publisher who will cast my clutter to commercial product–the book I already wrote from copious lecture notes now residing in the binders–perhaps from a mature historical perspective rather than a current one and from true expertise in the area rather than highly honed opinion. What you don’t know is that I submitted book proposals to three prominent publishers at the time and was rejected by all (although I was led on by one for six months, then rejected by a long and drawn out attrition of interest). And for those of you who have suggested that I write a book from my ramblings, know that that’s what I’m doing. You’re reading it and it’s published in unsolicited submissions as non-fiction opinion pieces about shopping–the avocation of women around the world–agglomerating clutter, and the idiosyncracies of life in maturity.
And that’s exactly what I look forward to while being here. More to come from Wash Xing, where General George crossed the Delaware on a frozen stormy Christmas night in 1776…..