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One of the perks of having one’s mother move in with one is to have it confirmed–by the movers at least–that though my birth order makes me the third, in fact, I’m #1.

I didn't put it there, but I'm not taking it off either.

I didn’t put it there, but I’m not taking it off either.

Swear on my mother’s storage unit that this is what came out of the well-wrapped box among many boxes that arrived at my house last week. Jean Reasoner Plunket painted this watercolor of most of my siblings over the course of months in 1968. I can still remember coming home from school and sitting in my sister’s room none too happy about having to sit still. How I hated that hairstyle but loved the blue plaid dress that I can easily conjure up beneath that white collar. So now this portrait hangs in my house near the dart board, which seems appropriate. Of course, since I have another sister not pictured here, we hung her much larger portrait nearby as well. She came into the picture a few years after this one was done so her reward was more glory than the rest of us. Funnily enough, the painting of her wound up across from a movie poster of her that already hung downstairs. I will spare her and you that ironic photo gallery.

I must hand it to dreams–sometimes they know what they are doing. The last couple of nights I’ve had the funniest anxiety dreams, so finely crafted, so detail-oriented, so nuanced that I couldn’t (and certainly won’t now) articulate a mixed-up miasma of complicated feelings any better.

Sadly I’ve forgotten the first dream, but the second one involved most of my siblings and our mother and a dollhouse version (that actually does exist-as do my siblings and mother) of my mother’s house. The task at hand while I slept was moving this dollhouse from one sibling’s house in Richmond where it has never set foot or foundation, to god knows where. (I’ve never been very goal-oriented.) Even though I knew exactly how it could be transported and knew that the correct vehicle to do the job was my old minivan, (which in fact did drive the dollhouse from my mother’s house in Maryland to her new place in Philly–seeing the miniature house roll across Locust Street was a surreal experience) which in the dream was sitting in the old Egan driveway in Maryland right next to all sorts of bizarrely proportioned vehicles that couldn’t possibly have fit the damned dollhouse in them, this information did in no way help the situation. Nor did communicating such information in the nicest and then perhaps the not nicest way to various and sundry relatives. The many obstacles that were never overcome and the multiple wrong-sized vehicles that one sibling (guess who?!) kept showing up with nearly made the dream version of me pop an aneurysm.

How much better for me that I woke up from the dream not in a cold sweat but rather laughing at myself–and perhaps at a sibling or two. Now that’s a good dream. Sometimes I do have such affection for my brain–especially when it’s sleeping.

My horoscopes have been impressively good of late. Mine today didn’t say one thing about getting dressed and brushing my teeth, though. It took me a while to realize I’d better improvise.

Too bad the recent horoscopes didn’t foresee the tree falling at my mother’s house during a snowstorm two days after I left it forever I hope and four days before new renters/eventual owners move in, I REALLY hope. It didn’t hit the house, but did block the street in such a way that the county snowplow ignored it and barreled onto a neighbor’s lawn to create a new street which all the other neighbors used, thereby ruining these nice neighbors’ front yard.  After other nice neighbors took a chainsaw to the tree to open the road, they had to shovel 8 inches or more of snow for many many feet where the plow had not gone. I’m sure all the neighbors miss us so.

From what I gather, the tree is still blocking our driveway, which is real handy when you’re trying to empty a house and let a garage door guy and moving truck in. Not my turn to deal with this weekend, no matter what my horoscope says tomorrow. These people moving in from California will soon learn that there’s a good reason no one wrote the lyrics, “Maryland dreamin’–on such a winter’s day!”

I can’t tell you everything I left behind at my mother’s house that will be occupied by the new almost owners on Jan. 31st because the almost owners rent from us for a month or so before settlement, and I really don’t want them finding this blog and realizing that they don’t actually want the stuff I couldn’t bribe Salvation Army, the county bulk trash pick-up folks, the group home next door or anyone driving by the house to take.  Handily ping pong is very in now. Susan Sarandon thinks so, too, and has invested in ping pong clubs called SPIN in a couple of cities, so having a semi-functional ping-pong table in the front yard is quite community-building, if you ask me.

It’s amazing how much one can get done when one (that would be I) doesn’t give a shit. And it’s amazing how upset I was driving along a certain unnamed street to get on the Beltway to head back to Richmond (where I belong) to realize that I had left a just-purchased, unopened pint of Ben & Jerry’s Cherry Garcia fro-yo in the freezer. That hurt.

The last time I moved out of one house into another was fifteen years ago, but with moving kids to college and into and out of apartments over the past six years, my moving muscles are fairly supple. There was a stretch of my adult life where I moved every year or two. I’m sorely tempted to revert back to my super-efficient cleaning routine from those years–vacuum upon arrival; vacuum upon departure.  Life was so simple then–gross–but simple.

Now it’s frenetic and gross. I’d think about getting a vacuum robot, but I’d fear for its life. Those aren’t dust bunnies under that bed–they are dust Grizzly bears or dust King Kongs–or at the very least clues to the sort of creatures who live here.

I’m back!