12-Step Program for Refrigerator Magnetaholics?

I have a thing for refrigerator magnets. I realize it’s hokey, bourgeois, tacky and a sign of feeble intelligence. But I love them. They make me smile and, sometimes, guffaw. My penchant for excess is clearly apparent by simply looking at my refrigerator. [I was sorely disappointed to learn my dishwasher door was not metal. That’s probably a good thing as I tend to dribble coffee down the door.]

I don’t even pretend they’re utilitarian. I don’t use them to hold notes, children’s artwork, grocery lists, or medical appointment cards. They are there because I like them. Although when Chef Boy ‘R Mine was little, I had alphabet magnets near the bottom so he could play with them. The magnetic poetry is not on the fridge because I like to sprawl on the couch with the nifty magnetic board and compose my pearls of verse.

Some magnets I bought as souvenirs and others were gifts. Some my son made and some were made by friends. Many were given to me by HMOKeefe. Some I bought just because I liked them or they spoke to my heart.

When I painted the kitchen several years back I packed them away. For reasons I don’t understand and certainly can’t explain, they’ve languished in the closet all this time. During the holiday housecleaning frenzy it occurred to me while cleaning the surface of the refrigerator that I ought to perambulate my lazy butt over to the closet, fish them out and put them back on the fridge. And so I did.

I feel like I’ve reunited with old friends.

Among the puppies, quotes, Wizard of Oz characters, tropical fish and goofy photos are the Unemployed Philosopher Guild’s magnetic finger puppets. If you’ve never seen these things you really must meander over to their website. My favorite is Freud and his accompanying couch. But then again I’m uncommonly fond of Frieda Kahlo. Not to mention Schrödinger’s cat and Pavlov’s dog.

My magnets are not confined to the refrigerator. I also have them on my filing cabinet at work. I haven’t added to that display for a few years now. It’s time to remedy that.

As for alternate locations at home, for years, I’ve been trying to find the right sized piece of sheet metal without grooves to cover one side of my antique filing cabinet so the finger puppets can go live there. I’ve explored the possibility of magnetic paint, but I’m not convinced it will hold the heavier magnets and, besides, we all know how I hate painting. [And if you don’t, please understand that I would rather clean the cat box with my tongue than paint. While cleaning the cat box in that manner is never necessary, painting is and the bitching and moaning that occurs is legendary in its intensity.]

I really do have to get the puppets out of the kitchen to protect them from grease and the occasional flying food spatters. And the cat. She likes to pull them off and play kitty soccer with them. I’m a little tired of finding Dorothy Parker under the church pew though I think if she were still alive she would have something really funny to say about lying under a church pew.

Somewhere I have a package of 50 magnets the size of business cards with adhesive on one side. Their reason for being is to turn business cards into fridge magnets. When I bought them I did so because I figured making my own magnets would be a big bunch of fun. I’m going to throw in the towel and just go buy some more. [Lost Things drive me crazy. It doesn’t matter if I want them or not, their status as Lost is a challenge that makes me feel like a failure when frenzied looking is of no avail.]

Frankly, I think we all have some silly thing we collect not because we need them, but because they make us happy. My shoe collection is another, but that deserves a post of its own as do the reading glasses and watches (all of which need new batteries). And of course there are the cow and barn images.

I have a friend who has a display of antique toasters – at least a hundred of them – that are stacked two and three high on the top of his kitchen cabinets. I have an uncle who collects clocks. Every wall in his house is covered in clocks. I believe they number in the hundreds. My brother and his wife have every movie released on video tape or DVD in the last 20 years. My father acquires old computers he works feverishly on to get them running. He does nothing with his successes as most of them are such old technology they are useless. My mother is into glass birds and painted birdhouses – both collections are getting completely out of hand. [I am so dreading dealing with my parents’ house when the time comes – they’re getting close to needing intervention for hoarding.]

So, what is your silly thing? And how to you justify it?

Maiden Mother Crone (The Arrival)

Maiden Mother Crone

I have taken dozens of photos, scrapped hundreds of words, and pulled on my hair. I cannot capture the images and I cannot find the words to describe what I’m seeing, but my Maiden Mother Crone triptych is in my possession. And it is phenomenal.

I’m nearly speechless with awe.

I began blathering about this last year when my friend, the art historian aka The Bitch Across the Hall, snagged some student work. I threatened to steal hers, but as the conversation with the artist, Melissa McCloud, progressed, I found myself commissioning my own set. I fretted for some time trying to figure out how to pay for them only to receive the news that Dr. B.A.T.H. was giving them to me for my 50th birthday.

Melissa McCloud

My 50th birthday, all around, was an occasion that kept me in happy yet overwhelmed tears. The significance of the triptych to my turning 50 is so apparent to me that I’m puzzled when I have to explain it to people.

The average of menopause in this country is 50 and I’m right on track. Menopause is sometimes referred to as the crone stage of life. I’m still mothering my son, albeit in quite different ways, but the hallmarks of motherhood are passing. I’m entering, mostly gleeful, the crone stage.

Here it is Easter weekend. I have in no way marked Easter in the Christian tradition or Ostara in the pagan tradition. I have sat around wiggling my nose hoping to end up with a bunch of completed projects without putting in the time and effort.

It wasn’t working.

I forced myself to pick up the camera and try again. It was an insult to the artist and to my friend not to acknowledge this triptych. In moving about the house trying to capture their beauty, I’m slowly gathering steam.

The Working Drawing

The three women are carved balsa wood. Layers of balsa were glued together (laminated), cut and carved. At my request, they were heavily textured and stained the same color as my woodwork and most of my furniture. I wanted them to slide into this house like they’d always been here and to appear as if they’d organically grown with the barn on this hillside. And they have.

Carved front and back.

There’s no place in this house they wouldn’t be perfect. My struggle is to find the right place where I can see them often and touch them often. They beg for touch. (Besides which, I never get the opportunity to fondle a well-endowed set of breasts.)

Some years ago, I whined and pleaded my way into another piece of art featuring the torsos of three women (Artist: Sherri Weeks.) The multimedia piece has hung in my study for several years now and I never tire of looking at it. In anticipation of the Maiden Mother Crone arrival, I have been preparing the study for installation which has involved a thorough gutting, cleaning, wall repair, dithering about color, and the application of 8 million coats of paint. I have whined.

I have also stalled.

The Other Women

My plan was to install the triptych under the painting and on top the bookcases that serve as a credenza. The one trio of women would mirror the other.

For some weeks I worked feverishly on the study and other weeks not so much. The closer I got to finishing, the more my energy levels waned and then I got zapped by Carlos the Cruddy Cold (who may turn into Boris Bronchitis).

The camera is just inadequate.

Without the ceremony they deserve, I picked up the triptych on Friday. My inertia deepened when I couldn’t get them to photograph well, I couldn’t describe them to my satisfaction, and I couldn’t find the energy to finish the damn study.

Frankly, I’m tired of the chaos of the study project. I want nothing more than to sit in there gazing adoringly at my six women.

Winter is over, the triptych is here and I feel ambition welling akin to the swelling of the branches that will result in leaves and flowers on the plants in my as yet neglected garden.

The women whisper to me to get on with the next stage. The earth has turned, the sun has returned, and the time has come.

The women must be listened to.