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Anne Horrigan Geary: Notes and nostalgia on the refrigerator door

Once upon a time, there was a new refrigerator. It was white, shiny and the door was pristine. We vowed to keep it clear of clutter because we had messy refrigerator doors before, but that was when the kids were little and their artwork deserved pride of place on the door, at eye-level with the petit Picassos. Now the painters have their own appliances, and we have a retirement home to decorate as we please.

After about a year of the clutter-free look, we decided to put our emergency health info into a tidy plastic sleeve, complete with a magnet on the back. In times of distress, it is best to be prepared, so the refrigerator door was adorned with one tidy appendage. File of Life, it’s called, and we have used it in the time of an unexpected hospital visit. Now, it contains our COVID vaccine record cards. When we need one, we photocopy the original and take a copy to whatever venue requires it.

Months after that first desecration of the door, more blemishes arrived in the form of appointment cards and an ocular grid to test for macular degeneration. All those pieces of our medical puzzle seemed depressing, so we decided to liven up the door. Cleaning out my Mom’s apartment, I found old photos of the kids, in frames conveniently backed with little magnets. Now, we have baby Michael in a little Christmas-red velvet suit and James’ kindergarten photo, where he is nattily attired in his first-ever navy-blue blazer and Kelly green bowtie.

Thanks to Shutterfly, we have more modern photos, too. There are family gatherings at holidays and cute photos of our visiting cats. A selection of magnets is sprinkled around the photos. My favorite is the Martin Luther King Jr. quote: “Everything that is done in the world is done by hope.” We also have lists of handymen, directions for feeding the cats when their owners are away, cartoons and recipes.

My most popular and often requested recipe for Irish soda bread had been copied many times and the current version is splashed with buttermilk and wrinkled around the edges. Once it fell off and landed beside the refrigerator, then slid surreptitiously under the machine into the dust bunny hideaway. Luckily, it was rescued before March 17, so no one went without their lovely round loaf. Since one of our number hails from North Adams, we have a summer schedule for the SteepleCats crowding out the cartoons. It didn’t help us get to a game, but at least we knew when the games were that we were missing. There are plenty of extra magnets to add more clutter, and at least the door looks festive until a hard slam knocks multiple magnets to the floor. The cats are not amused.

We have never claimed to be neat freaks; but occasionally the door is the neatest part of the kitchen. We are happy to revel in the imperfect world of pots which didn’t get put away, and a windowsill full of plant starts which often fall out of their pots before they root.

At suppertime, two naughty cats often sit on the island, waiting for someone to notice how starved they are. These same kitties sleep in a windowsill or on one of the stools near the island. They certainly are at home, and we will miss them tremendously when they move into their new house. We will probably paper the refrigerator door with kitty photos to ameliorate our sadness at their leaving. Looking at the bright side, we are shopping for a new refrigerator. When it arrives, we can begin again the task of deciding what deserves a place of honor on the door.

Anne Horrigan Geary is a regular Eagle contributor.

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