After a marvelous rain on Friday – over an inch and a half total! – we headed back up to Grafton yesterday to continue that slow and kind of difficult process of starting to clear out Cheri’s mom’s townhome. Did I mention there is a lot of “stuff” there? Every drawer and cabinet and countertop and under every bed has been stashed tons – lots of tons of “stuff.” Some of it, to be sure, has only functioned as ballast to keep the home from floating off into outer space, and that by most accounts should be fairly easy to dispose of, unless hearts also get involved with things. For instance, I think Cheri’s folks have saved nearly every greeting card they ever received. Displayed on every shelf of the buffet, packed in box after box, the simplest thing would be to just bid them adieu and render them as residents of the trash can in the garage. However, that would apparently be cruel and unacceptable, at least until every single card has been reread, and the sentiment talked about, and ….
Some things, however, are indeed worth saving. You recall the pie safe I refinished for Cheri’s folks decades ago? Well, the pie safe housed the collection of green depression glass that Cheri’s mom had collected over the years. When I say collection, just imagine the Smithsonian groaning under the weight of all the glass! I really have no clear idea how many pieces of glass, from dinner plates to salad plates, to dessert plates, to ice cream cups to six or seven different styles of glasses, and serving ware, and vases – she even had found somewhere a green depression glass bug sprayer – the kind that you pump the handle and shoot probably DDT over all the flies in the window. Like I said, I couldn’t even guess the number, but I would estimate more than ¼ ton of glass, all resting inside the pie safe.
Just a little education, in case you are wondering about depression glass. It’s not glass that is sad, or has trouble getting going in the morning. The glass actually was pressed glass, produced literally during the years of the Great Depression. No one had any money, and so food manufacturers worked to persuade/bribe customers to buy their product by putting a piece of glassware in each box. It was cheaply made, but very affordable. Over 100 different patterns were developed by 20 different manufacturers, and it came in clear, pink, pale blue, amber – and green, along with some other fancier colors.
Although cheap during the Depression, it became very collectable, and still is so today. Apparently, Cheri’s mom had a goal of collecting every piece known to humankind, because the collection is pretty enormous. One day a couple of years ago, as her mom was wondering what to do with all the glass, we spontaneously mentioned that since someday we will care for the pie safe, we could do the same for the glass as well.
You would have thought the Hallelujah Chorus started playing. At that moment, the glass became ours. Of course, I had never really seen all the green glass in one place at the same time, so in my mind, it just seemed like a reasonable collection. We all do foolish things.
After Cheri’s mom died, I started thinking of how to transport the stuff back to Fargo. Cheri’s brother in law was kind enough to haul the pie safe, and so I opened it to get ready for him to do that, and the realized the enormity of the project. Do you remember the last scene in Raiders of the Lost Ark, when the Ark is crated up and put in a government warehouse. As the camera pans out, you begin to see row after row and shelf after shelf of an unbelievable amount of things in storage. If only…
We took laundry baskets and carefully stacked towers of trays and glasses and such in them, since they were just heading 120 miles south, and would be fine in the back of the SUV. Here’s a little insight: glass is heavy. Glass is actually stinking heavy, and thinking that you can fill up a basket normally meant to carry towels and t-shirts with stinking heavy glass is a fool’s errand. I filled up seven baskets, barely being able to lift them, and then moved to the boxes, and then some other boxes. After filling up the back of the car, I almost thought it was going to be like one of those comedies where you see the front wheels lift off the ground…
Well, we got it all in, and were fortunate there was a tailwind to help with the gas mileage, as we drove the long trip home. I should also tell you that I inherited from my father a real irritation in hearing things rattle anywhere in the car as he drove along. Guess what? Glass rattles. Now, I knew it was going to do some, at least until we got onto the interstate, but it’s remarkable how many patches and bumps and dips there are as you drive along a road you have driven a thousand times before. Every bump or dip brought with it a clunk or clink, as though it seemed by the time we were going to be home, we would have baskets full of glass shards.
Actually, it wasn’t quite that bad, until we hit one bump and things shifted in one of the baskets. Instead of them clinking together, two of the pieces decided to make beautiful music together by squeaking against each other, sort of like how it sounds when fingernails hit the chalkboard. This sound brought Cheri to the point of her eyes turn blood red, and she started trying to climb around to stop the noise. Of course, every time she turned around, the squeaking stopped. When she sat back down, it resumed. The battle went on for a good 40 miles, until we finally made it to the driveway, and stopped the agony.
Well, I’ll save you the rest of the details, but let me just say that finally, a day later, we have the pie safe in position in the entryway, and most of the living room filled with green glass – everywhere. Somehow, supposedly we are going to put it all back in the cupboard, but I wish now we had taken a picture before unloading, because it is going to be akin to solving the Rubik’s cube or playing Tetris. What a lovely summer Sunday activity.
Yet, to look at all that green glass is also to remember Cheri’s mom and the pure joy she felt when she discovered a new piece, or when we were able to give her something for birthday or mother’s day or Christmas. And now, it is ours to enjoy and to use and to cherish. I just hope the boys marry some girls someday who also will cherish and love these things, because I’m afraid they might be lost in the sons’ hands…
Take care of what you love, and love what you take care of. Whether handed to you, or discovered somewhere, the things we cherish are special parts of our lives. Of course, far less than any living thing, but when you are able to smile, and nod your head quietly as you look over something you enjoy is a joy itself. Just don’t take it for long-distance rides in the car…
Word for the day: macushla. Pronounced muh-KOOSH-luh. This is one of those words that are simply part of a different culture. In this case, it’s Irish. It’s kind of a mashup of two words, ma chuisle, which literally means “my pulse.” It’s also translated as “my vein,” or “my blood.” The romantic interpretation is “my darling.” Go up to someone you love today, and call them “macushla” and see what happens!
After 43 years of ministry, Randy Cross lived his "fourth life" and shared about retirement, living boldly and intentionally in our world. To be sure, there was some North Dakota thrown in.