Autumn Housecleaning

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By which I mean, The Autumn of Our Lives.  When I first burst upon the blogging scene, I found a site titled A Hundred Things – A Hundred Days.  It was the tale of a woman trying to make her house neater by getting rid of accumulated, unneeded, unwanted, stuff.

At first, I thought she was writing about one item a day for the 100 days, but soon found that she was jettisoning 100 items, each day for 100 days – for a total of 10,000 pieces.  It could be a bag of screws, or a pile of paper.  It could be no-longer-worn winter boots and socks, but, a hundred things went out every day.

Both the wife and I are a bit OCD.  Children of Depression/ WW-II-raised, just-in-case parents, we have also accumulated far too much stuff in our house.  Wooden mop and snow-shovel handles, bits of metal – I’m like a magpie – odd nuts and bolts, old dog tags, split rings, chunks of leftover, and found, lumber.  We add shelving and storage units till there’s hardly room to walk or work.

I was only semi-joking when I told the son that, when we die, he’ll need to get a dumpster, and spend a week throwing things out.  Something needed to be done.  I started with the garage.  We can’t get a bicycle in, much less a car.  Plastic plant pots – empty, but never thrown away, the boxes from a new humidifier and printer, now broken down and thrown out – repair parts for a motorcycle I haven’t owned for ten years – the broken automobile tail-lights I replaced.

There were three weeks where I put out two full bags of garbage, not just an almost-full one – three weeks of two Blue Box recycling bins instead of one.  We gave the Kidney Foundation two boxes of goodies and, a month later, two more boxes went to Diabetes.  I’ve dropped off unneeded but usable items at the Salvation Army Thrift Store on my way to get my daily newspaper.

I gave the daughter several keys to locks which no longer exist, as well as several short lengths of light chain, which she can use to produce mobiles, wind chimes and other crafts for sale.  I opened a small box about twice as thick as a deck of cards.  From the weight, I expected to find a random collection of fasteners, but instead got 8 feet of chain heavy enough, but not long enough, to tow a car.  Why would I save that??!

I got rid of 20 tee shirts I never wear to the grandson, 14 of them from Jethro Tull, Moody Blues and Billy Joel concerts. I have a box with newspaper clippings, ticket stubs and concert programs.  I plan to ask the second-hand music shop if the programs would be of any value to them.  Included were jokes, cartoons and other items, some of which you’ve seen and others which will be added to future posts.

I gave the coin dealer at the market a margarine tub full of duplicate foreign coins, and received two packs of quarter-sized mounting brackets in return.  The young store manager bought out the lady who owned my second-hand book store for years.  To him, I gave a box of my old science fiction books, and have seven more boxes I plan to take in over time.  Many books are in poor condition, but he should be able to sell at least some of them.

The more things I throw away, the more things I find that I regret either finding, or having to make further decisions about.  I found six half-inch worm-gear hose-clamps – just like the four I bought to hook my rainwater barrels together.  We’ve lived here for 14 years.  We lived at the last place for 13.  I found peg-board tool-hangers and storage containers from my workbench at the house before that.  In one of the little trays was a complete set of 1/16th to ½ inch bits for my electric drill, lost and unused for almost 30 years.

In the same box, which sat on and made using my table-saw in the garage difficult, I found the wife’s portion of the family silver.  She had forgotten that she had it.  It’s actually only silver-plated flatware, produced by Wm. Rodgers & Co.  Back in the ‘30s and ‘40s, when money was tight, people were enticed to go to the movies with giveaways; attend a show, get a spoon, see a flick, get a fork.  When a bunch were accumulated, you got a free blue velvet tie-pouch to store them in.

I threw out a leather business card holder.  It contained a business card from every job I held where I rated one.  It also had cards from fellow Purchasing Agents, salesmen and technical reps I dealt with for years.  These were guys I ate, drank and partied with.

While much of what is getting tossed is just unlamented junk, things like the card holder delineated our careers and lives.  They are full of nostalgia, meaning, and fond memories.  Sadly, now, in the autumn of our years, they only create and gather dust, and take up space.  The cleanup continues.

 

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