“To where?” She asks.

“California,” I answer.

“You hated L.A.”

“San Francisco, then.”

“Too cold and foggy.”

“Palo Alto?”


She speaks without lifting her eyes. I hate when she does that. It’s a teacher thing.

You can tell that we’re talking about moving again.

It always comes down to this Titanic of a house we’ve lived in for 38 years.

Titanic is the closest analogy for this old house, where winter is the iceberg, and there’s no way to steer around it.

Trouble is we never sink; we take the hit and keep rowing.

She, who is the bookkeeper for this ship, figures it out every year at tax time, and she always comes up with the same dialogue.


“We can’t jump into a lifeboat, because we’ve got too much STUFF!”

Now we’re getting to my point. We’re tethered to STUFF! Most of it is hers. I have a laptop and 12 hoodies.

Her strongest card in our game is that she’s great with numbers.

Some guys marry for money, others for love.

I married her for her smarts. I even dated for smarts. That’s how I got through school. Thank you, Rosemary, for the calculus thing.

I’m not good at numbers. Verbs, nouns, sentences and great endings, yes, but not numbers — you hear what I’m telling you?


Each year after doing the numbers, she says the same thing.

The Devines’ dining room breakfront holds the Joly family heirloom dishes that have been handed down since they fled Canada when the Fenian raids ended in 1871. Photo by J.P. Devine

“Well, we can’t afford to stay here, and we can’t afford to move.”

She’s right. We’re the prisoners of Zenda Rangeway, because we have to deal with STUFF!

See the attached picture? That’s only the dining room breakfront that holds the Joly family heirloom dishes that have been handled down since they fled Canada when the Fenian raids ended in 1871. Don’t get her started on that.

She’s descended from people with names like Achille Joly and Telespore La Pointe. You don’t mess with immigrants with names like those.

Stuff. Everything in there is fragile and gold-rimmed, or appears to be gold-rimmed. It gets dusted every 10 years. And there’s more, furniture and photo albums, 16 of them. I don’t even know who those people are.


She has wooden boxes of costume jewelry she’s collected since she was in college. I can’t even find my wedding ring and St. Christopher medal.

Here is the real point of this column. It’s a story older than anything in the Bible, where Eve wanted to leave that apple to her boys, and you know how that ended.

Your kids don’t want your stuff. You know what I’m saying here? If it’s not software, isn’t on TikTok and Facebook and updated every week, they don’t want it.

I don’t care if you have Betsy Ross’s original flag bedspread. They don’t want it.

Dinnerware? My daughters live in Los Angeles, earthquake and Stage 5 fire country. Their grandmothers’ stuff wouldn’t make it through a 7-point shake, and those happen every day when a truck rolls by. End of story.

I try one more. “How about Ireland?”

“One Irishman is enough for this lifetime.”

The thanks I get.

J.P. Devine is a Waterville writer. 

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