Reluctantly, I called a friend who is a real estate agent and said, “Let’s go ahead. Put the sign up.”
It was early March. I had procrastinated far too long, and I knew it was time to sell the home in South Farmingdale where I have lived for more than 50 years, and where my late husband and I raised our four children.
Then, to prepare for a sale, I called Nancy, a friend my daughter’s age who has become a major part of my life. She is my adviser and declutterer. Despite her youth, she seems to channel my mother, a disciplined housekeeper. While Nancy’s smile and voice are gentle, there is steel in her eyes when she looks at my treasures, such as paper shopping bags from trips overseas and matchbooks from as far back as my honeymoon.More ExpresswayReader essaysReader essaysGet published in NewsdayCartoonDavies' latest cartoon: Key to the White House
Because I love her dearly and also need her desperately, I have agreed to review at least one drawer daily.
One day, it was the kitchen utensil drawer. I placed everything on the counter. Items included a zester for grating, grapefruit knives and a cheese slicer. Then I counted my spatulas — five. I imagined Nancy (or was it my mother) gasping in horror. But there was a good reason for five spatulas.
The large one with the worn handle and the metal tip was the first item I bought the week after I got married. My love and I had left Manhattan immediately after our wedding and driven to Cleveland the next day for his job. I was totally in love and oblivious to the fact that he believed in a big breakfast.
I came from a household where a big breakfast meant two cups of coffee and sometimes a jelly doughnut on Sunday, so this came as quite a jolt. Anxious to please, I bought a spatula at Higbee’s, the Macy’s of Cleveland, to make scrambled eggs. (Ironically, I forgot eggs on that trip.) So, of course, I couldn’t discard that one.
Next to it on the counter was a straight, narrow spatula, the kind every mother uses to flip grilled cheese sandwiches. When you have four children, you make a lot of them. My children are grown and don’t visit much anymore, but still I may need that spatula. I’m keeping that one. Nancy will understand.
The next two were smaller, and with different handles — precisely what Martha Stewart uses on TV for cookies. The long-handled one provides the right leverage for chocolate chip and oatmeal cookies, and even brownies. The shorter-handled spatula allows the precise touch needed for fragile butter cookies around the holidays. It took quite a long time to locate both in stores, and it would be irrational to discard either.
The fifth, made of turquoise plastic, is the only one suited for use in a Teflon pan. Need I say more?
Next to the five spatulas were two whisks. I remembered exactly why I bought them. One summer when we entertained a great deal, I was preparing a barbecue, and a guest offered to help in the kitchen. Grateful, I accepted. Then I heard him ask for a whisk. I don’t embarrass easily, but I did that day. I didn’t have one. I wasn’t even quite certain what a whisk was. My helper noticed my reaction, and said, “Don’t worry. I’ll use a spoon.” Of course, whatever he was making, perhaps a sauce, curdled. So the next day I bought two whisks, one large and one small.
So that’s why I have five spatulas and two whisks. So what should I do? I can’t put these treasures in the container Nancy provided for rubbish. I can’t take them with me. I believe the only answer is to call my real estate agent and suggest he specify that in the description of the house, utensils are included.
Reader Anne Donlon Achenbach lives in South Farmingdale.