Thursday, August 18, 2011


Yesterday's clean-up effort, mentioned in these pages, reminded me of a long-intended and I think essential chapter on material possessions for my new book, This Is Not Me. Since I write this in the bedroom, thanks to the convenience of the laptop computer, let me look around and take inventory of some of the things I own.

There is, of course, first of all, the bed--a double bed that takes up a good deal of the space in this small room. Bed linens, a duvet. Pillows. A newspaper, waiting to be read. A dog--though I would not wish to claim "ownership" of this fellow living being. George is sleeping blissfully. He owns even less than the monk's bowl and robe.

Above the bed, two sconce lamps and between them a painting made by Ellie's's mother in the 1930s. On my side of the bed, a a bedside stand with my CPAP machine, a book, a cup of tea--now empty. In the drawer, various sundries like an eye relieving pad stuffed with lavender, and other items that have been there for so long untouched that I have forgotten what they are. On Ellie's side, a white table with her pile of books, some read, some waiting to be read; and, on a lower shelf, piles of magazines. Gourmet, Sunset, the New Yorker, and so on.

Against the wall on my side, a built-in that consists of numerous drawers and cupboards of different sizes and, above, book shelves. In the drawers and cupboards, clothes. Winter beach clothes: sweaters, sweat suits, sweat shirts. Pajamas. Several paris of shorts and light-weight pants. A couple of tall piles of t-shirts, those at the bottom of the piles largely unworn. A drawer for socks--a few dress socks and numerous pairs of thick white athletic socks. A drawer for underwear and handkerchiefs.

On the bookshelves: books, of course. Dozens of them. Novels and books of poetry. Non-fiction. Several shelves of books of spiritual interest, including a wide selection of the writings and translations of Thanissaro Bhikkhu. Knick-knacks. A brightly painted Mexican wood carving of a howling coyote, a birthday gift to my Coyote self from Ellie. An old tin box. A stuffed frog, sitting way up at the top. A couple of baskets. A small plein air painting, and a small hard-edge abstraction made by Ellie. Family photographs. A small Egyptian deity carving, brought back from a long-past journey down the Nile. A telephone. Another, smaller laptop than the one I'm using now. A cup full of pens and pencils. And more...

Across from me, looking out into the garden, a small table with a laundry basket. Hooks with robes. An old watercolor of an East Coast harbor scene. A wicker chair, with cushions and a folded blanket draped over the back. French doors, offering a view past the bamboo wood chimes into the patio: an Adirondack chair, painted green, with small matching table. A fake (plastic) weather-proof wicker chair, a tile-top metal table and two chairs to match. Many, many pots, with plants of every imaginable kind. A small collection of sea shells, weathered white. Two umbrellas with stands, one open, one closed.. A jacuzzi.

On Ellie's side of the bed, two floor-to-ceiling closets with mirrored sliding doors and, between them, a built-in chest of drawers. The closets are filled with hanging clothes, summer and winter, and with shoes. The drawers with carefully folded clothes--more carefully folded, I must say, than mine!--and with her many scarves and other accessories. The top drawers have neat trays with eyeglass cleaners, scissors and other necessities for nail care, polishes and nail polish remover. On top, a small round mirror, a vase with flower patterns, a decorative etui (a word familiar to me through my addiction to the NY Times crossword!) a photograph of our first two King Charles Spaniels, a photograph of myself, mugging for the camera with a navy baseball cap with the word FOOL in large letters on the front and, on the wall to one side, two small framed "portraits" of women, I'd guess from the 40s, done in embroidery silk.

Not an exhaustive inventory, perhaps, but enough to remind myself how life so easily gets cluttered with belongings. So much stuff, even in this one small corner of my life. And I haven't even started yet on the other rooms in the cottage, let alone our place in Los Angeles, the storage locker... Sometimes it's useful to take inventory, even if only as a practice in awareness.

1 comment:

mandt said...

George Carlin has a hilarious wrap on 'stuff'. You can find it on U Tube----very funny!