Everything Can Be Used Again

There is a place for everything. Being caught in need of an item that you once had in your possession, but let slip away, is shameful.

Gumbands, cracked, mismatched Tupperware lids, and pantyhose with runs. There is a place for all of it. Store it neatly in dusty shoe boxes along the back basement wall, or under the bed. Shove it in corners, under the bureau, in the backs of closets, where the records used to go in the stereo cabinet and under the couch.

When the grandkids and grandnieces are little, they will love to play with the unmatched Tupperware in opaque blues, greens and pinks. They will sit happily on the floor and smack them together or stack them in untidy towers and laugh when they topple over. You laugh, too. When the kids get older, they use them as frisbees. Send them outside. Outside! Get out of my kitchen!

Plastic shopping bags crackle out of every nook and cranny, making a soft static sound in the breeze. Hide the bags when your daughter comes to visit. She will only throw them away. When she is gone, you forget where you hid them and start again. You never know when you will need a plastic shopping bag. With them, you can send the nieces home with squishy, over-ripe fruit (There was a sale!), or pop one over your perm in the rain, if you don’t have your plastic babushka with you. But you always have the plastic babushka with you.

photo by the author

photo by the author

- Beth Dugan is one of our favorite multiple-contributors to Dead Housekeeping and can be found at bethdugan.com


Buy store brand sour cream and margarine, unless name brands are on sale for less. Wash and save all of the empty containers.

            If you stay in the same apartment for a few years, the apartment with a smell of expensive paper and dry chicken bones and unscented lotion, you’ll build an impressive collection of flimsy plastic containers which shouldn’t be microwaved but have lids with satisfactory seals.

            As a likable older guy living alone, with an oxygen tank and an illness, people will give you foodstuffs. Keep those containers, too.

                                         drawing by the author

                                         drawing by the author

            Dedicate a whole pair of kitchen cupboards to saving them. They are good for mixing hues and rinsing brushes while you paint delicate watercolors in front of the TV, a sunrise over a rooftop, a pair of plums. You were originally a sculptor but money limited your materials and sickness your strength.

            If you snap at a helper for throwing one in the garbage, tell them it’s okay after awhile. Use a voice that’s resigned to being agreeable to the people you’ve come to depend on.

            The dry tubs are also a suitable place to leave a chewed bit of nicotine gum that you mean to resume chewing later.

- Meredith Counts