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Published: Wednesday, 3/20/2002

Spring break begins in the backyard

So where are you going for spring break? If you're a homeowner, it's probably the same places I'm going - to the garage, out onto the muddy lawn, into the cluttered, musty basement, and up into the attic.

Talk about a contrast! What spring break means to the young at heart who have the money to match their fun-in-the-sun travel plans translates into the annual spring work routine for the rest of us. Am I jealous? Darned right I am. I admit to being forgetful, but I surely don't recall going on such faraway gatherings with school friends. Scrounging enough money for the Saturday afternoon movie and a box of Milk Duds was quite an accomplishment. Our big trip was to Devils Lake when the dance pavilion opened for the season.

While the college set romps on the beaches in southern states, we set aside this season to clean, sort, and primp the house inside and out. About a hundred years ago or longer, someone came up with the idea of spring housecleaning after families had been cooped up in their homes all winter. Each spring my grandmother hauled the rugs out of the house, hung them over the clothesline, and beat out the dust with a wire beater, and coughed as much as she huffed and puffed from the exercise.

Yard clean-up in these parts will be a little more tedious than usual this spring because of all of the twigs and branches that fell to the ground in the February ice storm.

Anyone with an ounce of wisdom knows that it's best to do the spring attic and closet cleaning before hitting the spring sales. Sorting things to get rid of should tell us that we should not have bought all that stuff last year, the year before, and the year before that. If you want a good headache, add up what you spent for the stuff you are giving away or gathering for the garage sale.

You can never get your money back, but it is rewarding to give our mistakes to a worthy cause where they are appreciated. My heart did a flip last Saturday night at the Croswell Opera House in Adrian during the play I Love You, You're Perfect, Now Change when in one act, the stage scenery featured a green-and-gold striped wingback chair.

I donated the chair to the theater, and seeing it put to good use was reward enough for a spring break 2000 mistake.

For years I was certain a pair of wingbacks by the fireplace would be appropriate for the farmhouse. After seeing only oversize chairs in furniture stores I bought a pair of smaller used ones. Then came the chore of searching for fabric and asking a friend with a truck to haul the chairs to an upholsterer.

After a more than $700 investment, the upholstered wingbacks were delivered. You guessed it: As handsome as they were, they just didn't fit. After pushing and rearranging the twin chairs for three weeks with the help of the cleaning woman and the neighbors, I woke up in the middle of the night and decided I had to admit that I had made yet another buying mistake, and this time a very costly one. I had to find a home for one of the chairs. The Croswell staff graciously accepted them, and I was equally thankful.

Now if I can just figure out what to do with the six boxes of discards already gathered during this spring break. I do know one thing: Once the discards are in the boxes and taped up, peeking is a no-no. There is too great a chance for second thoughts.

Surely I would change my mind about the bedroom clock, marked down to $5, that ticked so loud it kept me awake. I remember, the clock is in the bottom box on the left.

Mary Alice Powell is a former Blade food editor. E-mail her at mpowell@theblade.com.



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