Ephemera and Detritus

November 29th, 2021

No one told me that one of my main jobs as a parent would be to constantly sort through nonsensical piles of ephemera and detritus in order to tidy up the house. Given their choice of toys, my daughters will assemble a pile that consists of a few random legos, one stuffed animal, some tiny plastic doll accessories, a few paperclips, one magic marker, three rubber bands, and…. you get the picture. I find myself making multiple trips back and forth and up and down trying to find the appropriate bin for each object. 

My OCD, unfortunately, will not allow me to shove things into a pile and forget about it. That’s why my “junk drawer” is organized efficiently into categories, and it’s also why I recently bought a used cedar chest to store some family heirlooms. I still have every journal of my entire life in a series of boxes in the closet. The level of organization in this house is pathological. 



things that exist or are used or enjoyed for only a short time.



waste or debris of any kind.

Speaking of ephemera and detritus, one of my favorite local creative resources is the River Gallery School in Brattleboro, and my favorite event of the year happened this past weekend: Angels + Beasts. It’s a holiday-ish workshop where you make sculptures out of… stuff. I don’t know any other way to describe this activity except to show you my woodcutting angel:


I bring my kids to this event every year (except that black hole of last year), and I have a similar experience every year: I really want to hunker down and get creative, but they need a lot of help and redirecting, so I end up feeling like a thwarted creative and, at the last minute, resentfully dashing together my creative idea with the hot glue gun whilst ignoring my family. 

This year was extra lively because I brought friends who are new to the area. I did warn the kids that the hot glue gun is… hot… but you know kids and hot glue guns. 

No? You don’t let your kids play with hot glue guns unsupervised? You’ll just have to take my word for it. 

Anyway, it wouldn’t be a festive holiday workshop without a few third-degree hot glue gun burns. Also, Phoebe finally lost her gray snaggletooth that’s been hanging in there for dear life — when she tripped over a box and landed on her face on the hardwood floor. 

The good news is, we didn’t lose the tooth, because of the mask. Yay for masks! She got an extra dollar and a special letter from the tooth fairy for this epic battle.

The next morning, she came into my room and asked me, “How come I never see the tooth fairy? Or Santa Claus? Or the Easter bunny? How come I never see any of the magical creatures?”

This broke my heart a little, because it seemed like the beginning of the sad decline into knowledge, aka “figuring out that my parents have been lying to me this entire time.” Still, I answered the way I usually answer such questions:

Hmm, good question, I don’t know.

I picture my kids telling their future adult friends about how stupid their mom was, and how she could never answer any questions. Yet, she was so good at tidying up! 

And speaking of ephemera and detritus

And speaking of ephemera and detritus

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