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Going, going, gone: my great pre-move giveaway

We have just spent a whole morning planning closets for our new loft. We have discovered extraordinary things. Who knew that you could pull your pants out of a wardrobe on a handy-dandy sliding rack? Or that your full-length mirror can be stowed the same way? But the Number One discovery is this: no matter how cleverly we outfit our closets, they’ll hold about half of what we currently own. This is what comes of downsizing from spacious to snug.

I remember when we shared one pokey bedroom closet in a house dating back to 1906, when working folks might own three sets of clothes: everyday, Sunday best and something black for funerals. Our clothes fought for space on a single rod, and a jumble of scuffed shoes burst forth every time you opened the door. In the kitchen, a single bank of fiberboard cupboards held our chipped, mustard-cloured stoneware, which we were proud to own because the cups matched the plates.

Then came the years of aspiring and acquiring, of specialized gear for making ice cream, pasta, french fries and crepes; of Cuisinarts in two sizes, an electric wine cooler and gleaming bar tools used once. Years of boardroom-worthy suits and decorous pumps; of Goretex jackets and rain pants (you can’t hike in Ireland without rain pants); of assorted silk frippery bought on sale because I couldn’t resist the price and felt like having something new that day. Years of cashmere sweaters that put my former scratchy woolen ones to shame.

“You can never have too many cashmere sweaters,” I once remarked to a young salesclerk who was wrapping up my latest purchase, a lavender turtleneck.

She answered, “I don’t have any cashmere sweaters. Too expensive.”

“Someday!” I said, with the airy assurance of one who planned to be stocking up on cashmere for decades to come.

These days I am stocking up on nothing. I’m in serious give-away mode. Some people would organize a yard sale, but I can’t bear the thought of displaying my cast-offs to the world, even if I had a yard and a brilliant spring day on which to fill it. Besides, I get a buzz from giving my dust-catchers (all of which I wanted, or even craved, at some time or other) to people who could use them. I haven’t even started this process, but time is running out. I need takers for the following:

* Black straw hat with grosgrain ribbon My first hat, purchased for my mother’s memorial service. Very Audrey Hepburn, but requires a smaller head than mine.

* Beaded silk scarf with trailing fringe by Ralph Lauren Absolutely stunning in a grande dame way, but so heavy it gives me a kink in the neck. A younger dame had better take it off my hands.

Annie Hall pants, circa 1978 From the first collection by the many-years-defunct Clotheslines, an upstart Canadian label still renowned in some circles for individuality and fine workmanship. My husband used to laugh at my “clown pants,” but I loved the way I could sleep in them on a transatlantic flight and bound off the plane without a wrinkle.

* Sunbeam electric mixer A wedding gift from my mother, who believed that every woman should bake. When I want something sweet, I go to the bakery.

* Aforementioned bar tools We mostly drink wine, and precious little of that since my husband went on the wagon to give his liver a rest.

* Cast iron grill pans, well seasoned, in two sizes Bought for the trusty gas burners I’m leaving behind. Cannot be used on the scratch-prone glass toptop at the loft. Already replaced by one of those non-stick numbers, which are nowhere near as good for searing.

* Encylopedia Britannica Purchased for our son, and supplemented for years with expensive leather-bound updates. Do kids still use old-fashioned, printed encyclopedias? Does anyone?

And there you have it, folks. Just a fraction of it, I realize with a sigh. I’m awash in a tide of detritus. If you happen to live in Toronto and can drive by with a van (or at least a capacious trunk), you will be, for one moment, my lifeboat.


Posted by Rona

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