We bought a house filled with junk. Is that normal, to buy a house filled with other people’s crap? When we first moved in six years ago the owner of the house was using it more or less as a storage facility for boxes of Rainex and mini blinds.
Much of the china doll tchotchke and cases of air freshener have been slowly removed over the years but when we agreed to buy the house last fall there were still remnants stuck in dark, damp corners of the unfinished basement. Industrial mop buckets, reels of linoleum, old peanut cans full of screws, nails, drawer pulls; they all bothered me—making me feel verklempt just looking at them—but nothing drove me more nuts than this rusty old water softener that has probably been in that basement since the beginning of time. This thing is so ridiculously large and heavy, I’m almost positive a crane dropped it in place and they built the house around it.
Determined to once and for all be rid of the elephant in the room (literally) we gathered the beefiest friend we knew and tried to lug it up the back stairs to be towed away on town clean-up day. With our friend on the bottom and The Professor at the top they strapped it to a dolly and started up the stairs. By the second stair The Professor felt the step moan and dip and no amount of pulling was getting it any farther. Not wanting to let go and send the thing crashing to what would most likely be the middle of the earth, The Professor hollered for help. I started sprinting from house to house searching for a neighbor who could lug this thing all the way up, then when no one was answering jumped in the car and drove to the nearest friend’s house. Three men later they had finally extracted the water softener from the basement.
A week passed, clean-up day had come and gone, the pile of detritus we put out back had mostly been removed, minus one small item–the tank, gleaming in all it’s rusty glory. I ignored it, hoping the city just didn’t have enough room in their truck or maybe they just needed to get a forklift or something and they’d be back to pick it up. Another week passed and there was no sign that it would be going anywhere. As a matter of fact after a few days of rain it had started sinking into the ground, getting comfortable in it’s new spot.
Then Wednesday morning there was a knock on the back door. An older gentleman in a baseball cap and worn blue jeans wanted to know if I wanted that big tank that was sitting out back. Trying not to show my immense enthusiasm I said, “Nope, you can have it. But it is very heavy.” “Oh, that’s fine.” he replied, “I’ve got my trailer.” I watched out the back window, silently cheering him on. It took him about 30 minutes but that old farm boy single-handedly got that beast on his trailer and hauled it away, leaving me there, mouth agape.
What this all has to do with mango salad, I haven’t a clue. But maybe spring cleaning, and mango-cucumber salads with spicy vinaigrette make us feel alive and healthy. With tomorrow being Memorial Day you could possibly be off to a picnic or cook-out in which case this would be a great salad to take along. You can make it up to an hour or two in advance and it holds up delightfully, possibly even improving, as it sits.
Have a lovely long weekend!
This is a great picnic salad because you can make it up to 1 hour in advance and it won't wilt. If you are worried about the basil turning brown, you can slice it, wrap it in a damp paper towel then stick that in a resealable plastic bag or wrapped in some plastic wrap. Then toss it into the salad right before serving.
- 2 tablespoons lime juice
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cayenne powder (you can add more or less depending on your tastes)
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 2 ripe mangoes, peeled, pit removed and sliced into strips
- 1 English cucumber, seeded and cut into strips
- 1 small bunch lime basil (or regular basil), thinly sliced
- Whisk together all the dressing ingredients in a large bowl.
- Add remaining ingredients to the bowl with the dressing and toss to combine. Taste and add more lime juice or salt if desired.