The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

Michele Bender

June 14, 2014

MICHELE M. BENDER | Time to can clutter

— I’m “downsizing.” Sixteen years ago, this house was perfect for me. I gave parties. Friends came and stayed for weekends. Great insulation protected visitors from highway noise.

Yep, I had the time of my life.

But I’m 16 years older, and my friends are, too.  They no longer travel like they did. Parties wear us out by 10 p.m.

When I was a kid, even though I was a girl kid, I knew where seniors lived. I’d knock on doors seeking grass cutting and snow shoveling jobs. That breed of kid is apparently extinct.

I’m the one in peril. Treacherous junk threatens to swallow me alive. I feel like one of those wingnuts on “Hoarders.”

And more than half of it isn’t mine! Any day, I  expect one of those “Got Junk?” 18-wheelers to arrive.

My family moved in the sense of relocation, but as for possessions, we merged.

When Aunt Bessie from Jersey moved in with my grands, she brought four bedspreads, a few lamps, a table or two.

Then Aunt Ethel moved in with a sofa and color TV.

When Ethel and Uncle Ed moved here from Philly, they packed an Atlas moving van and nobody remembered what belonged to who anymore.

My mom bought a two-bedroom ranch, smaller than the house she had before. At that point, Hubby and I were purchasing a three-story, five-bedroom house because we planned to put his office there. We acquired all the furnishings Mom couldn’t bear to part with.

A commercial on TV urges you to shop at Pier 1 Imports and buy what speaks to you. Fortunately, when we had a store, nothing talked to me.

Thank God, because the stuff I have now won’t shut up: “Pack me!” “Dust me!” “Better take me … I have eight drawers!”

I could continue to live in a house … just not this house! I can’t cut grass, rake leaves or shovel snow anymore. I can’t afford astronomical trash collection fees, or mega-astronomical taxes.

I can’t afford to live in a museum.

Gee, middle class was fun!

Now, I’m off to a one-bedroom apartment. And I didn’t do this before … WHY??

In her book “Under the Tuscan Sun,” Frances Mayes writes: “The house protects the dreamer. Unthinkably good things can happen, even late in the game. And it’s always such an amazing, unanticipated surprise.”

Bit by bit, our lives tell stories that have never been told before. I should have learned that by now.

My story will have new locations, new characters, new adventures. And I won’t be far away, a mile and a half from here, just around the corner.

In the meantime, would any of you like to adopt a plastic yard flamingo?

Michele Mikesic Bender is a Johnstown resident and a member of  The Tribune-Democrat’s Readership Advisory Committee.

1
Text Only | Photo Reprints
Michele Bender
  • Michele Bender MICHELE M. BENDER | Scenic road to recovery

    I thought this busy summer wore me out.
    Father’s Day afternoon I flopped in my recliner and forced myself to do some bookkeeping. I licked an envelope and gasped. No spit, only blood ... as if Hannibal Lecter just served me lunch.

    July 27, 2014 1 Photo

  • Michele Bender Licorice lends a paw

    I bet you expected to find Michele Bender’s column here today.
    She just came home from the hospital. She’s doing fine but resting, so I thought I’d lend a paw.

    June 28, 2014 1 Photo

  • Michele Bender MICHELE M. BENDER | Time to can clutter

    I’m “downsizing.” Sixteen years ago, this house was perfect for me. I gave parties. Friends came and stayed for weekends. Great insulation protected visitors from highway noise.
    Yep, I had the time of my life.
    But I’m 16 years older, and my friends are, too.  They no longer travel like they did. Parties wear us out by 10 p.m.

    June 14, 2014 1 Photo

  • Bender_Michele Those oldies, but goodies

    Twice yearly Hollywood marches out a platoon of war movies.

    May 31, 2014 1 Photo

  • Michele Bender Living life out loud

    “If I make it to Medicare,” I declared, “I’m going to throw a party people will not forget! It’ll be something no one’s ever done!”
    Well, I made it to 65.

    May 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • Watch the stars come out

    Every spring, I catch drive-in movie fever. We are blessed to have three outdoor theaters in a 30-mile radius. Movies under the stars … heavenly!

    May 3, 2014

  • Michele Bender Bye, bye, Easter birdies

    Animals fascinated my mom. Riding the train between Johnstown and Philly, she saw horses, pigs, sheep, cows … a Mattel See ’n Say of farm critters.

    April 19, 2014 1 Photo

  • Bender_Michele.JPG MICHELE M. BENDER | Whisper sweet nothings in my ear

    “Your call is very important to us,” growled the crabby lady at the utility company. “Please wait for the next available representative.”

    April 5, 2014 1 Photo

  • Bender_Michele MICHELE M. BENDER | Sock it to me

       

    March 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • Bender_Michele.JPG MICHELE M. BENDER | What happened to Christmas?

    Headaches rarely bother me. I always felt sorry for folks trapped in the Advil/Dristan web.
    I woke up at 4 a.m. Dec 17 with a headache that probably registered on a Richter scale. (People in New Zealand experienced aftershocks.)

    March 8, 2014 1 Photo

Poll

What is the biggest key to reducing gun violence in Johnstown?

Tackling the area's drug problem.
Controlling folks moving into city housing.
Monitoring folks in treatment centers and halfway houses.
Tougher sentencing by the court system.
More police on the streets.

     View Results
Order Photos


Photo Slideshow

House Ads