Small Talk: My basket has become a basket case

have, for many years, had a basket near my front door. I put things in it that I need to remember to take with me when I leave. The contents are getting stranger and stranger, as my household expands with a retired husband and couple of 30-somethings.

In the past, it might contain envelopes, a box of tissue or reusable grocery bags. Or you might find clean towels and church linens and a small vase of flowers for a friend. Another day it might have been some reading glasses and an apple for my snack, plus my water bottle.

Now, it gets fed things for both coming and going and, I’m pretty sure, from an alternate universe. I might find a handful of screws from an unknown source, batteries that are either new or dead, a handful of packing popcorn, one gardening glove and a can of WD-40. Or it might hold a package of kitty litter, three pennies, a nickel and a greasy Taco Bell bag. Around the holidays, it held outgoing cards, incoming cards, some stray ornament hooks and a string of broken lights.

None of this was my handsome basket’s intended purpose, and I can only imagine it is feeling a wee bit spurned, and certainly confused.

These days it might hold a power drill, nails and a spackle tool. Another day it was car insurance cards, junk mail and a banana. The next day it had a couple of W-2 forms, some Styrofoam balls for a school project — and a familiar-looking banana. Next came scissors, a pencil and the same abandoned banana, looking a little peaked. By the fourth day, I tossed the fading banana and cleaned the basket where some squishy banana had stayed behind.

Along with orphaned fruit, my poor basket is likely to be home now to a spoon, coupons for fast food, three French fries, oily rags and the TV remote. My once-tidy basket is now where I go first to look for my daughter’s cell phone, a missing sock or Jimmy Hoffa.

I am plotting to buy stair baskets that will be clearly labeled for each inhabitant of said house. Then, perhaps, I will once again be able to find the thing I keep forgetting that I put in the basket by the front door.

Jean Gillette is a freelance writer who has the good sense to put most of her junk in the junk drawer. Contact her at


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