Stuff, Glorious Stuff
Our house is now stuffed full with old furniture, boxes of classic books, paintings of questionable merit, brand new casserole dishes and a rice cooker we may never use. I, of course, am delighted. G is not. “I will not tolerate a living room filled with junk,” he declared, only an hour after the marvellous stuff had arrived.
My siblings and I inherited two houses filled with assorted detritus, antiques and collectibles from my mother’s cousin about five years ago. More the result of wartime thriftiness and love of history than hoarder-style mental illness (i.e. no filthy diapers, clogged drains or mouldy food, just dust and piles of mail), the houses nevertheless took years to fully clear. The final distillation was a storage locker in Innisfail, Alberta with the last sticks of furniture I couldn’t bear to part with.
My brother and sister in Alberta took what they wanted to their homes. But I, being a nomad until recently and now living across the Rockies in Vancouver, could only stomp my foot and whine about missing out on all the good stuff.
Now G and I finally have our own place, but very different tastes. He likes minimal, modern and solid; I like sentimental knick knacks, patterned forties fabrics and the dusty smell of antique wood.
Thus far, he has won out on the decorating front, seeing how we don’t have money to buy retro pieces at Vancouver prices and I had no way of getting the bits from the storage locker.
Until now: My brother’s neighbour makes a trailer-run to BC every year to pick up furniture for his antique shop in Innisfail. See? The trailer is empty on the way out! For gas money, he kindly brought out an old drop-leaf table, boxes of classic boys’ adventure stories from the ‘30s, and—my favourite—a baking cabinet, known as a Hoosier-style cupboard.
Admittedly, the stuff is all still occupying the living room in a random fashion, but now it’s here, G is starting to melt. The table is quite sturdy, he remarked. And the Hoosier is a beautiful, hardworking piece of history—modern in its own way, with a metal pull-out work surface and functional cubbies for storage. G and the Hoosier made friends the other evening over a lemon-oil restorative rub. My plan was to hide it out of the byways as my office desk, but G has now offered to let it reside in the pantry/his office. So we shall see.
It’s a bit like bringing home a stray puppy, I think.