Oh, the news is bad. (please keep reading—it gets better!) 2021 shaping up to be the same pandemic nightmare as 2020. By the time the husband and I are in line for our jabs—the goal post is always moving farther away—it won’t be the proper strain. We’ll have to continue our life punctuated by social media news and zoom calls and wearing masks to the store.

And I have a pain in my right hip. Visions of total hip replacement fill my head, when it’s probably an IT band inflammation from getting out of my kitchen chair in an awkward manner, because the freezer is in the way . . . descriptions like this will bore you to hypnotic nothingness.

And starting any blog with the phrase “the news is bad” will permanently interfere with anyone wanting to read it to the end. And it being winter and all . . . .

So, to lighten things up, I’ll ask some questions—rhetorical or not—which means, I think, that I already know the answer. But I really don’t.

How many vacuum cleaners do you have?

I am astonished to report that we own five roll-on-the-floor types, two handhelds and one Roomba style. Oh, and a shop vac. One of the roll-on-the-floors is a quaintly mid-twentieth-century, a canister that floats on air. Really. Next is a refurbished canister—all metal and heavy as s**t and more powerful than the Jetson model I just mentioned, but no beater bar. Purchased a high-end European upright with beater bar for the putty-brown carpet we inherited when we bought this house, but, well, stairs. Sent away for an American-made small metal canister with a carrying strap AND beater bar attachment. Thus stairs.

I could say that I have a personal attachment (pun intended) with all my vacuums. I come to love them, cherish them, thus why I can’t get rid of the ones I rarely use. Reliable work-horses all, steady, plodding. And not a one is the new, bagless sort.

The husband and I went out looking for bags for the powerful metal canister—a venerable model. Sewing machine/vacuum stores. Didn’t have them. Thought maybe there would be some stuffed into the back of a closet, but no. “They’re all bagless now,” we’re told. I say to the husband, “What about the millions of bagged models still in people’s closets and garages? Who’s looking after them?”

The behemoth online warehouse site still sells those bags, thankfully, and can usually deliver in one or two days.

How many waste baskets to you have?

Recycling has increased my waste basket inventory two fold. Nearly every room has two—I realize, as I write this—that I should buy two more for the guest rooms, and the living room. I am woefully lagging in this critical need.

With consideration for the oceans, I prefer metal or woven waste baskets, but we do own several plastic ones. Cardboard boxes are popular in offices for recyclable waste, at least that which one isn’t obliged to shred, but unsightly. They sit next to one’s plastic garbage can under one’s desk.

And lastly, how many computers to you own?

Two desktops, two laptops, two phones, two pads. Not to mention the dead phones in a dresser drawer, waiting to be recycled somewhere somehow. Computer sharing doesn’t work for the husband and me, because our opinions about filing, how the desktop should look, and archiving differ and resulted in arguments until we separated our cyber props.

Perhaps the points of all this is comparison, our stuff, and FOMO. I compare possession of multiple vacuums to the one sole machine we had when I was a child and was perfectly operable for the tasks at hand. The point of talking about stuff is to lay bare the multitudes of stuff we own that, as the decades have shown, differences in culture and lifestyle demand we need or eschew. And FOMO, the fear of missing out, is somehow part of our DNA, surreptitiously inserted by marketing strategies that are vaguely malicious. Gotta get that iPhone 12. Look at that spanking new Subaru on sale at Costco. Man, we need a new carpet.



About Jill Zeller

Author of numerous novels and short stories, Jill Zeller is a Left Coast writer, 2nd generation Californian, retired registered nurse, and obsessed gardener. She lives in Oregon with her patient husband, 2 silly English mastiffs and 2 rescue cats—the silliest of all. Her works explore the boundaries of reality. Some may call it fantasy, but there are rarely swords and never elves. More to the point, she prefers to write as if myth, imagination and hallucination are as real as the chair she is sitting on as she writes this. Jill Zeller also writes under the pseudonym Hunter Morrison


Stuff — 10 Comments

  1. I am weeding out. Easier for me to send my Mom’s portable vacuum cleaner to the thrift shop ( died in 2004) than to get rid of the 20 cases of my own remaindered books. I’ve started to stack them up, cover with a table cloth and use as furniture.

  2. Our old vacuum cleaner(which once belonged to our in-laws, which gives you a sense of its antiquity) was given to my older daughter about five years ago. We got a Dyson hand-held, which is wonderful in every way (it even keeps up with all the fur Emily graciously leaves about) except battery life–it keeps needing to be recharged about half-way through the house.

    Books, on the other hand… I swear, they’re off procreating in corners and stacking up while I sleep.

  3. One vacuum – an upright with a ‘forever’ bag and a rug beater, though we eschew carpeting in our digs. Three waste buckets, two of which are metal with plastic liners (go figure). All of these were acquired through our insurance co. subsequent to being burned out back in September (along with a bunch of other folks) here in the rogue valley. In addition to the above-noted items we were also supplied with a place to live (temporary) and all the basic household items including furniture and such things as towels, flatware and such right down to hotpads. It pays to have good insurance

  4. With major allergies I adore my Rainbow vacuum. Got it second hand decades ago. Had it refurbished around 15 years ago and so far its still going. Instead of a bag it uses water to catch the gunk which means no fine crap coming out through the bag and aggravating my sinuses and lungs.
    And I don’t have to find bags!
    Books do breed. I need more walls for book cases. I was doing a bit of weeding a year ago – a few piles on the stair case to donate to the library sale. Then covid happened so there they sit …

  5. Used to be one vacuum for each floor of the house, i.e. three, as carrying one up and down stairs was dangerous (balance issues). When the oldest, used for the attic guest quarters, broke I didn’t replace it as the attic is very rarely used – now I just use a broom and mop there, twice a year or when someone wants to come and stay.

    6 wastebaskets, including the double one for separating waste in the kitchen, and a cardboard box for recycling paper.

    3 laptops, one at work (we have bring our own device), one for working & general use at home, and my old XP machine that is the only one my ebooks and beloved old music players want to communicate with, to be loaded with new files.

  6. We have one vacuum sweeper. It sucks.

    My wife and I each have an iMac, an iPad, an iPhone, an unused Kindle, and whatever other computers we don’t know about such as the ones in our car. My wife got her Kindle when she needed cataract surgery. She put it aside when she got her iPad. I got an old Kindle for the sole purpose of being able to download ebooks I buy from Amazon. Never used it to read with.

    We have a two-layer trash can with half of it being for recycling, and 5 other trash cans.

  7. A blog I might right about book-possession would be too damn long! Great to hear these vacuum stories.