Column: You are what you own | Opinion


It was a romantic idea, I admit, to go from a perfectly framed almost new house in a planned community in Scottsdale, Arizona, to a 200-year-old house salvaged from 300-year-old remains on a winding road. in Ipswich, Massachusetts, but here we are.

And things are, shall we say, different in small town New England.

The Pilgrims and Puritans (I could never keep them quite clear) had strict ideas about what was appropriate and what was not, and apparently it was not appropriate to build large cupboards and cupboards, places where you could store a lot of things. I guess it was considered mundane and outrageous to have a lot of stuff.

So I moved into my antique home knowing full well that my family and I would face a terrible shortage of closets and storage space.

I have no one to blame but myself.

You might expect a home with a shortage of closets to compensate with an excess of shelving. But no. Puritans condemning closets full of clothes weren’t going to condemn shelves full of stuff.

When we moved into our house off Linebrook Road, I inherited the downstairs bathroom, the smallest bathroom ever built outside an airliner, and with even less storage space. There is a dollhouse-sized medicine cabinet above the sink and a corner barely the width of the toilet for the toilet, with two shelves above the toilet. I call them shelves; I am generous. It’s two wooden shutters – those shutters that hang outside your house to cover your windows, with diagonal slats – turned horizontally and nailed into the wall, to act as shelves. As if installing real shelves would be scandalous, an admission that the inhabitants of the house had capitulated to the iniquitous desire to acquire things.

In this tiny bathroom space, I survive on a system: (a) Daily demands block the medicine cabinet. (b) Anything not needed every day goes on the slatted shelves above the toilet.

I tried to get creative with the limited space, slipping four small rectangular wicker baskets onto the two shelves to hold my immoral abundance of bathroom effects. However, anything that goes into these baskets is quickly forgotten.

The shelves are above eye level, so when I want something in one of the baskets, I have to pull it out of its place and go get it. Each trip to toilet baskets is like an archaeological dig into the depths of my own decadence.

This week, for example, I picked up spare blades for my Gillette Sensor razor. In my exploration of the wicker baskets, I found several toothbrushes my dentist had given me over the years, sample-sized tubes of toothpaste, a small squeeze bottle of something called “treatment located”, a packet of “refreshing eye gels”. and a small leather travel case containing the essentials I would need if I ever had to leave town in a hurry.

I found athlete’s foot powder (although I’m not an athlete), shaving cream (although I have a beard), shoe polish (never used), a hair (never used either) and several packets of cough drops (I feel fine). There was a roll of mud-colored bandage gauze, a shoe-shine brush (never used), a range of combs in sizes and colors I would never be caught dead with, and a stash of hairpins. hair (why?). Oh – and boxes of laxative tablets left over from a long-forgotten colonoscopy prep.

I’m only giving you a partial inventory here, you understand.

I also found a travel-sized bottle of hairspray, another roll of gauze bandage but in neon green this time, a stack of pandemic-era disposable face masks, another comb – and a pharmacy bottle containing cyclobenzaprine residues.

So I’m perfectly prepared if I develop muscle spasms or my hair gets messy. and i’m really ready if i drive someone crazy enough to run me out of town.

But I clearly don’t have enough stuff on my shelves, because I don’t have razor blades.

Doug Brendel lives off Linebrook Road in Ipswich, with his mountains of mostly useless stuff. Enter the maze if you dare, at


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