Spring cleaning a few months early


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Judy Baar Topinka

Well, we did not make the wassail as predicted, though we had bought all the makings. My visiting son and daughter-in-law, Maj. Joe (Pepi) and his wife, Christina, and I did a "spring cleaning" instead, attacking the mounds of things which build up in the house and in the campaign van after a year and more.

I think the washing machine was going non-stop for 24 hour runs as we washed every throw rug which could fit into the tired, old Kenmore in the hopes that we would not blow it up with overloads.

If whatever we came across could be washed, it was, including the featherbed and pillows in my campaign van which allows me naps between state stops. In the van, too, we found the many remains of trips past, including half empty snack bags, an isolated M&M or jelly bean or two and some 2-year-old Fiddle Faddle. The kids and I argued whether the Fiddle Faddle would still be edible, as more than likely, it would be.

My son suggested that my cleaning methodology had to be updated. I was always of the conclusion that if you opened the front and back doors, the wind would blow the tumbleweed out. Armed with three vacuum cleaners, two of which from my infamous visits to estate sales, we made sure that there would be no "tumbleweed" to blow.

My patient and organized daughter-in-law, Christina, took on the Judy shoe project. It seems I probably had all the shoes I had ever owned still with me. Now, with somewhat mangled feet after two, botched bunion surgeries, the chances that I would wear some of these shoes again were slim to none.

And so we tried on every pair?"the good, the bad and the ugly, kept those that fit with modifications courtesy of Dr. Scholl and gathered the others for a run to Helping Hand's Thrift Shop in Brookfield.

And then it was the trips to the Scottish and British Homes in North Riverside and Brookfield. We have a practice of donating every floral arrangement which may come our way in the holiday season to the homes in the hopes that more folks could enjoy them than just us.

We made a decent attempt at getting rid of accumulated paper on the kitchen counter, where I like to do my work, as well as in the house's "office" area which accumulates piles of papers which migrate from the kitchen. Sadly, I rid myself of multi-year-old travel brochures of places I would like to visit, but probably will never get to see considering my political schedule.

And, what would Christmas be if one could not get to area stores to return items which did not fit, or were duplicates or otherwise did not make the cut of what to keep, what to jettison. There is nothing like trying to take back items when one is still running into last-minute Christmas shoppers.

All the retailer representatives we dealt with were exceptionally pleasant in spite of long hours and crotchety shoppers who were being overwhelmed by the joys of Christmas. God love the salespeople as their's will truly be the Kingdom of Heaven!

All thoughts of going to see "King Kong" were abandoned, because we were just too tired at the end of the day to go to a movie. About the most we were able to do was to catch the Pompeii exhibit at the Field Museum.

Since they now live in the shadow of Mt. Ranier in Washington state while at Ft. Lewis, they were interested in seeing what kind of trouble an active volcano can cause. Hopefully, I can get them back on leave next August when the new Tut exhibit comes to the museum.

We took our tour of the area to see the Christmas lights which get more profuse every year. We were sure that many of the displays had professional help because, surely, we could never duplicate some of the intricate lightworks which we saw.

It was nice to see the newly restored and lit Riverside water tower and the decorated trees. It was sad to see the empty stores and know that more would be leaving the village soon, seemingly most of the block at Forest and the water tower. Whatever is going on in that building to force the departure of so many businesses?

It was so good to have the kids home for Christmas as the house radiated happy, family noises again. The sadness comes when their leave is over and they have to return to their military posting. I am sure that others are experiencing the same thing. I think of all the lucky families who still have their kids living nearby. Well, maybe in the future.

And now, to all of you readers and as we go into 2006, a Happy New Year with great health and prosperity from the Topinkas to you.

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