I've spent the last few days attacking my mother's closets. These are no ordinary storage spaces; they are the stuff of legend, the key word here being "stuff."
There is the Gift Closet, the Party Closet, the Game Closet, the Craft Closet and on it goes. In honor of her 75th birthday, I flew down to Long Beach, rolled up my sleeves and dove in. She'd long lamented the disorganization that had somehow taken over. A recent adventure involving Johnny Law had brought this feeling of dread to a embarrassing peak.
Not long ago, a stay-at-home neighbor had noted a couple of young punks jumping mom's backyard fence and called the cops. Apparently, there were some bad guys on the loose and mom's house seemed like a good hideout. And so, the LA County Sheriffs showed up, the Long Beach Police and soon my mother's house was surrounded by NINE cop cars. Mom gets a call at work from an officer asking about exits and entries and other helpful information.
And so, to my mother's great horror, a fleet of law enforcement went through her beloved home, guns drawn, and flung open each and every closet looking for the wayward hoodlums. "OH, NO!" she thought to herself, "Not the closets!!!!" She was mortified over what LA's finest must think! In particular, she cringed over the one closet that had not been opened since the 70s which held shelves of discount yarn and other crafty items from the macramé era.
Therefore, when I uncovered items such as her wigs from the 60s, rotary phones, her mother's mink stole and about 8,000 holiday themed tablecloths, it was decades of history coming actively to life. At one point, I pulled out an 8-Track player with an Elvis Presley tape still stuck in it. We immediately plugged it in to provide an appropriate soundtrack. (Mama Iva is something of an 8-Track connoisseur and has quite the collection - see above for a partial showing.)
In fact, the entire inventory is focused around entertaining. She has a huge stash of decorations just for her annual Super Bowl Party. The handsome cardboard dude above is propped out on the porch chair to welcome party guests - Mama Iva is the Queen of Hospitality. I can't tell you how many punchbowls, flower vases, snack dishes, board games and other shindig paraphernalia we came across. Half of her garage is taken up by a portable dance floor that she had commissioned.
This is one of my favorite things about Mama Iva - her willingness to party at any time of day, for any occasion. After she picked me up at the airport on Friday evening, she asked if I was okay with having champagne for dinner. Hell, yeah! I thought she meant to go with the food but she'd managed to find a recipe for poached salmon that included a hefty two cups of the bubbly. Whatever was leftover, we soaked up like two giggly sponges.
Then, we broke open bottle of Merlot and threw on a Duraflame. I put on my 'Dean Martin's Celebrity Roast: Frank Sinatra' DVD circa 1970-something (an Xmas gift from Mama Iva) and we played a hearty game of Tri-Ominos, which should never be confused with Touch n' Tuck, an 'instant needlepoint' game that we found underneath all my baby clothes.
It was good to be home.