March 17, 2021–One concept the Hill Country Ice-A-Cane reinforced was that things that are always in the way are never there when you need them. The obvious items in short supply during the storm were waterproof gloves, emergency candles, and ice scrapers. I swear I move those from cupboard to closet to glove box to garage for 11 months and 29 days of the year. But during the two days (or this year, two weeks) that you really really need them, they have transmogrified into a parallel place-a-verse.

To prepare for the next -ocalypse, I started compiling a list of “things that are always in the way until you need them.”

Many of these are weather-related, since weather is a fickle courtesan, playing coy most of the year, then showing up in all her fury unannounced. When she does, you can never put your hands on:

  • Pipe insulation
    There is no good way to store those grey pool noodle tubes.
  • Wool socks
    They always end up as shoe polish rags.
  • Overshoes
    They don’t fit in any shelf or cubbie, and are usually caked with dried mud from the last rainstorm. So you either leave them out to trip over, or stash them in the back of the hall closet where they’re buried under old tennis rackets and raincoats.
  • Raincoats

They’re not all storm related. Here are some generic “things that are always in the way until you need them.” (Please know that some of these were suggested on social media, so don’t write to me.)

  • molasses (along with any recipe ingredient)
  • marking pens
  • ketchup
  • inflation needles
  • bicycle inner tubes
  • sunglasses
  • gas cans with working spouts
  • spouses
  • politicians
  • police
  • hitch pins
  • batteries

A common receptacle for these items exists in every household, though you’ll never see it featured on any of those chic home make-over cable shows or slick magazines. It is the humble “junk drawer.”

Every neatnik hates it; every do-it-yourselfer loves it. Every woman pretends it doesn’t exist. Yet every home has one.

Pull open the junk drawer and you enter a hoarder’s playground. Digging around in ours right now I find:

  • half a clothespin
  • paper clip, straightened to unclog a nozzle
  • lids to cups we no longer have
  • cups with lids we no longer have
  • pencils with no erasers
  • pull chains that fit no light
  • stoppers that fit no drain
  • 23-cent stamps
  • coins from countries that no longer exist
  • sporks
  • slotted screwdriver (but no slotted screws)
  • pocketknife with blades rusted shut
  • bent corkscrew, cork still screwed on
  • corks
  • half-melted birthday candle–either a 5 or a 2

I don’t care how organized you are. There are just some items that defy categorization. Where else, for example, do you store the thingie you use to keep the fizz in the half-finished bottle of beer? And why do you have a half-finished bottle of beer?

Don’t judge. I know you have the same drawer in your house.