An 89-year-old aunt went into care, and for reasons having to do with bureaucracy and the need for an injection of some serious Socialism into our economic model, two years have to pass before her house can be sold without the government grabbing the proceeds.
And because I'm a full-time student chronically under-/unemployed, I'm in it in the meantime, keeping an eye on it, doing the upkeep, taking on improvement projects like removing THE ONLY WALLPAPER ever put up since the house was built in the 1950s, tearing up carpet that I'm certain I saw attacking Earthlings in a Roger Korman movie, and organizing the cellar.
Here's the cool part: my aunt and her (now deceased) husband have left behind an unassuming ranch-style house whose contents would put Pacific Northwest survivalists to shame, as befits their generation. The operant philosophy seemed to be: buy it if it's on sale, even if you don't have an immediate need, because one day you will, and you won't get the deal you can get now, and the more we have, the greater our protection against The Dark Times Before We Could Afford So Very Many Paper Towels.
It's not hoarding in the sense that the place is packed; it's more a really, really good example of redundancy. The cellar is a Forty Thieves' stash of Tupperware, coffee makers, pots and pans, miscellaneous nuts and bolts, square baking dishes, round baking dishes, bundt-cake pans, pie pans, baking trays, plastic flowers, ceramic fruit, and hand tools. Suits, dresses. Furniture with a distinctly laminate finish.
There is enough bug spray to lay waste an entire zip code, rolls of cling wrap to send a hundred Helicopter Parents into conniptions, and an infuriating wall of toilet-paper rolls that teases with the promise of sweet, sweet hygienic security, but which turns out to be single ply, the worst kind of prank ever played on the American consumer.
And everywhere -- EVERYWHERE-- plastic shopping bags. Wrapped around bowls, aluminum trays, the puzzling ten containers of Quaker Oats, around the plastic pitcher, bearing the handwritten label "plastic pitcher."
There are plastic shopping bags full of carefully folded plastic shopping bags.
I've almost run out of the five gallons of laundry detergent, but there are enough bars of soap, baking soda, and borax to make ten gallons of laundry detergent from the homesteading website. Which I can do because there are also plenty of buckets.
I find myself giddy over the fact that I have access to five plastic basins, drawers of non-electric kitchen appliances (an EGG BEATER with gears!) an endless supply of hand towels, potholders, and batteries, enough wax paper to pack a truckload of homemade cookies into the (ample supply of ) cookie tins, and don't even get me started on the toothbrushes. Candles with matchbooks, saved over decades, to light them.
I have things I wanted but for which I could somehow never earmark money: An immersion blender. A coffee grinder. Parchment paper.
I have bottle scrubbers of various sizes. I have a metric ton of assorted spices. And if I ever get really bored, there is an entire wall of VHS-recorded TV shows and movies, emphasis on John Wayne and Columbo with some Streets of San Francisco making a respectable appearance. For the total ambiance, I can watch while burning ancient Avon candles in a dusty fog of Sweet Honesty or Cotillion.
I found a bottle each of B&B and banana liqueur, which I drink in the small aperitif glasses that are also in abundance. I can't hold my liquor, which means that after a couple of tiny red glasses of hooch I dance in the kitchen to the (supplied) radio, lie on the floor nose-to-nose with one of my rabbits and say, "We've gone the distance, Man," and follow around one of my cats, calling out "SHAKE YOUR MONEYMAKER, EMILY!!!"
There will be a Salvation Army run with the lesser possessions, and I need to find whatever toxic-waste disposal program will take the five cans of Raid from the cellar, but for now I'll stroll to the garage, open the door, and revel in my untold wealth of trash barrels.
Behold the Suburban Warlord.