Busy work

Oh, I wanted to keep my mind outdoors—in the crazily ripening accidental tomatoes (they are ours twice removed, literally), in the too-long grass, in the crows hopping among the first authentic red-brown leaves of fall. But repeatedly my eyes fall to the living room floor and the two trays of my daughter’s childhood crafts junk I’ve put there to pick through– an auxiliary to TV-watching, I naively thought a few days ago. Somehow I’ve managed to watch only gripping British films and BBC serials in the last few days, and the tantalizing, annoying, mixture remains untouched, a still life a little crazier than but sharing major colors with fancy gelatin salads featuring suspended fruits inside. As a sworn recycler, I can’t just “throw it out”, but must unwind pipe-cleaners from plastic spoons and single chopsticks and donate or deposit everything separately. Some of these chopsticks–the spares from many meals at a single Chinese family restaurant–are carefully wrapped in gold lame ribbon. In the trays are eight kinds of stickers (including home-made ones reminding me of moon and stars cutouts on proverbial country outhouse doors), and 17 kinds of large beads. Some stickers are threaded through with gimp. There are pen caps and perfectly good crayons, shiny alphabet letters that don’t stick to anything and doll brushes, cutouts from art museum catalogs and sewing-store ads. On a trip downstairs just now, I noted a doll’s picture cut out of the packaging in a sun-burst shape. I shake my head and swear I will get down to business tomorrow. Would it make it easier to take it outside and lay it on a blanket under the winking autumn sun?

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