Just saying ?NO? to the waffle iron

We crave simplicity.
But we also crave waffles.

Not waffling on certain appliances.
Not waffling on certain appliances.

Suburban life in America today ? at least in Fairfax County, Virginia ? is delineated by appliances. Crock pots, coffee makers, toasters, bread machines, no, I cannot add waffle irons to this list of junk.
I love my waffles.
The ultimate luxury on a Sunday morning when I was trying to keep my feet warm as a child, on the cold floor of my Montana home, was sourdough waffles. Made from a starter passed down from an ancestor in San Francisco during the gold rush, those waffles gave me some kind of bliss I cannot define.
When a houseguest from Russia, Vladimir, blew up our microwave several years ago, we didn?t replace it. I have always been spooked by having something that radiates in my kitchen so I haven?t missed it.
Vladimir is also remembered because he came home with a bag of salad one time?he was working all daylight hours and often missed our dinnertime?and as he dumped the salad on his plate, my husband, noticing it was not labeled ?organic,? commented that it was GMO.
Vladimir freaked out.
You have GMO here? You eat it? Really?
Discussion ensued.
That?s when I realized that Europe is really actually a lot smarter than us. And that there is a different way of living out there, whether it is in Russia, elsewhere in Europe, South America ? or as yet undefined.
Somewhere here along the wavy line of my life, I figured out that I get to decide a lot more than I had previously thought. I get to decide, for example, just how cluttered my life is going to be.
I see around me lives that are cluttered by stuff; we fill basement living spaces with Christmas decorations, outgrown clothing, wedding presents we?ll never use. Well, what is in YOUR basement?
Having moved across the country three years ago, I have been cleansed.
But I am once again at that stage: Do I want to lend some of my living space to this toaster? Really?
Where do we draw the line between clutter and luxury?
My husband has a clear idea what clutter is. To him, anything in sight is clutter. He likes to move clutter from his viewscape. One time, when I was on a river trip, he disposed of my cork collection, and he moved my stuff around, hiding it in drawers and unlabeled boxes in the rafters of the garage so I couldn?t find it. I could hardly blame him; it was certainly valueless to him.
But I just ended up acquiring more. Not just wine corks, which of course, came with a bottle of wine attached.
One time while camping I had the urge to make waffles. Wouldn?t that be nice? Maple syrup dribbling over the edge of a warm, satisfying waffle on a clear cold day in this granite boulder-strewn meadow just south of Tahoe?
When I saw a waffle iron made for use on a gas stove I bought it for my husband for Christmas.
?Great,? he said. ?More clutter.?
Just now I saw him move my pruning shears, which I had left on a countertop. He put them in my son?s inbasket. When I give up looking for them, I will buy a new pair. That is how clutter accumulates.
Clutter belies other issues, clearly.
But it has a direct line to a primal need for simplicity.
Open space, clear skies, let me out.
My husband and I agree that clutter is unwanted. But where do we draw the line?
For me the line is clear: Take my old running shoes, take my television, for god?s sake please take my broken printer. Printers.
But do not take my waffle iron.

By Maile

Maile Field is a writer living in Northern California. Born in Hawaii and raised in Montana, she earned her master of fine arts in nonfiction at George Mason University in Virginia. She encourages constructive criticism.