You load 16 tons …

… and what do you get? Another year older and covered in sweat.

Spiders: why did it have to be spiders? Last week I turned 56. No, please hold your applause. Coincidentally, I also helped my daughter move into a guest house, which had stood vacant for a year. When the former occupant moved out, the spiders and rats moved in.

I was on my hands and knees vacuuming spiders and rat droppings under the furnace, under the sinks, and under duress. Science lesson: birthdays are directly related to the pull of gravity. Kneeling, squatting, and sitting down are a snap. Standing requires an act of Congress and a rosary. Since Congress can normally only agree on naming November “National Turnip Greens Month,” you are likely to become well acquainted with every dust bunny on the floor.

When I finally managed to return to a vertical position, the same gravity caused fluids from my arthritic knees to migrate South. Leaking fluids from various body parts is also directly related to aging, but that’s a subject for another science lesson.

The upshot is that cleaning and many trips up and down the stairs of my daughter’s previous residence resulted in my feet swelling enough to necessitate the purchase of clown shoes. (Clowns: why did it have to be clowns?)

Years ago, we spent three years in Spain. While my friends were collecting Lladros (ceramic figurines for which you must sell two kidneys and your first-born child in the States) we collected slabs of marble. My daughter decided that she wanted the marble for her new home. This is where the title of this blog comes into play.

Where I once had the muscle tone of a gymnast, I am now able to successfully lift a box of toothpicks (as long as they don’t have the cellophane fluffy stuff on the end). I could always get a career making balloon animals. They’re much lighter than marble, and I already have the shoes.

Skeletons in the closet

I used to be a Navy wife, which meant moving every two to three years. Coincidentally, my closets only got cleaned every two to three years. Each time I unpacked boxes at a new house, it felt like Christmas. All the useless crap that got boxed up looked like cherished treasures when I reopened the box in my new home.

Since I moved to my present home, I spent last winter wearing a men’s work glove on one hand and an oven mitt on the other. You’d think that upon cleaning my closet for real, I’d be delighted to find a matching set of gloves. Not so. Without that magical cardboard cube, there was no Christmas feeling to the six-year old dental floss, and roll of breath mints I found in my winter coat pocket.

I have a walk-in closet about twice the size of my bathroom. With two shelves on top, you’d think that I could neatly store blankets, winter clothes, a red hard hat, rubber chicken bookmarks, and copies of my book, which can be purchased at the Adoro bookstore for $9.95 plus postage and handling. I’m just sayin’. “Neatly” is the operative word. You do not want to sneeze in my closet, lest the vibration bury you in an avalanche of epic proportions. Fortunately, my Doberman is trained to dig people out from under the rubble.

My point is (and I do have one) that closets should not be used as a delayed disposal system. That’s what Rubbermaid plastic storage bins are for. I still have my second Barbie doll (the first one melted on the windowsill), and a Raggedy Ann and Andy, all carefully stored in a bin, because having dolls sitting out on a shelf is kind of creepy. I swear their eyes follow you around the room.

Cleaning the closets requires a certain amount of courage. When I finally had to look at the jeans that barely fit three years ago, it caused a two-day ice cream binge of remorse. My flawless logic said that continually kicking them to the back of the closet would make me thinner.

What kind of household project could I possibly do to follow-up the closet fiasco? That was decided for me yesterday, when a Great Dane on my back porch apparently thought that screens are for pussies. Nothing was going to stand between him and a squirrel. Consequently, I bought a 25 foot roll of screening material. I think I can fit it in my closet if I move the red hard hat.