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Doohickeys and hubbies (03/06/2006)
By Janet Lewis Burns
by Janet Lewis Burns

I kid you not - Websters New World acknowledges whatchamacallit as a legitimate word, defined as a thingamajig. What's more, if you ask for your doohickey, you won't be grammatically incorrect. The dictionary even defends the comical word as being "a small object or device whose name is not known or temporarily forgotten."

Pat and I discovered plenty of these things as he cleaned out (more like "cleared-out") our kitchen cabinets. Everyone is entitled to one "this and that" drawer and a "toss it in there" closet. Where else would one expect to find a weenie warmer or a user's manual for a wringer washer?

Though I was asked to supervise, I wasn't given much clout. It got to the point that I not only never used something but I didn't even know what it was. There were replacement parts for a stove we haven't had for five years and Tupperware covers with no body.

Tin lunch pails the kids used in grade school eons ago put a lump in my throat as I argued, "Well, we should hang onto them. They could be valuable collectors' items one day." Wrong! It was high time to sever the sentimental attachment and to let go of odds and ends of cookware I'd had since day one. (They jiggle on the glass stovetop anyway, and their handles are dangerously loose.)

The store-bought potato ricer had bent beyond use the first time I used it (thirty-some years ago). With Mother's misplaced ricer in hand, we had to ask ourselves, "have we had a hankering for riced potatoes since?" It fits right in with retro aqua and harvest gold plastic in the third trash bag.

I was allotted two pie plates, two cookie sheets, two covered cake pans, and two bread pans. Is Noah taking inventory? Pat's reasoning is sensible. "When are you going to bake more than one of anything anymore? So I've giving you a break here. Don't press the issue." I hate it when he's so practical!

Some of this stuff may have been garage sale bargains. Let's not go there! I realize that we'd best learn to tolerate garage sales and flea markets because I hear that they're really big in retiree circles.

The closet at the top of the stairs is meant for coats, umbrellas, and fashion boots. They're in there - somewhere. Heaping with doodads and whatnots, I've trekked that drawer from house to house. It's all I have left of Mother's treadle sewing machine. There it sits behind a can crunching contraption and a closet organizer still in its box.

One day I went out in the garage, Pat's territory, to search for the stepladder. (There are sure a lot of whatchamacallits and widgets out there! Ahem!)

I spotted two rakes, all bent up from golden autumn days when our three kids and I roughhoused in piles of leaves and played hopscotch in the driveway. I noted that dilapidated, splintery handled broom, which I had used to sweep up many children's messes.

On a ledge sits that wood cabin birdfeeder, its tarpaper roof torn and seeds left inside to rot. It's one of the feeders I once kept replenished all winter as they swayed in the front yard's beautiful, full, weeping birch, before a freezing rainstorm destroyed it.

I never quite got over the loss of that tree, somehow an appendage of myself. Seems I've had to get accustomed to many appendages, like that doohickey for picking up things and fetching objects from cupboards and shelves. There's even a thingamabob on my clothesbasket, which allows me to pull it up and down the steps.

I've learned that my way might not always be the most efficient. When a hubby takes charge of household duties, be prepared for some serious gismo and doohickey control. No complaints from this recliner!

Desperate housewives - eat your hearts out! 


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