cleaning the attics with Sam

                “How in the world did we end up with four queen sized air mattresses?” I asked after we emptied the crawl space over the garage. I stared at the mound of camping equipment on the garage floor where we usually parked the minivan.

             “I guess we bought one every time we needed one. The double thick one for the family reunion. The last one for the anniversary company and the rest for camping in the Smokey Mountains,” hubby ventured.

             So many memories tucked away in the attic. We rediscovered the tent he used in North Dakota where he worked with Habitat for Humanity. We haven’t used it since nor the dining canopy from our family visit to the Smokey Mountains. Such great memories with no sentiment. We sold all of it, including the blow-up boats he used for one family trip down the Elkhart River decades ago.  The dried and cracked inner tubes went in the trash. I think we used them three times. Memories came out of storage. Selling most of it added cash for an upcoming vacation when we will not be camping.

             We saved the camping equipment and boats to use later and never did. We never read the National Geographics then or now. Grandkids never played with either the plastic toys or the wooden train set we saved.  I thought we tossed that covered basket long ago.

That’s the thing about attics: they store treasures and trash. Leave some “just in case” items long enough and they become trash. Others become collectibles as I discovered at an estate sale where a family member said, “If it went into the attic, it never came out.” That statement explained the vintage Boy Scout uniform, the unassembled 1960s car kit and collection of vacuum tubes from a time when kids built radio sets.

             In the shop attic, we found the ghosts of projects past, present and future. As I pulled out buckets of wooden sticks, old computer air fans and solid cutting boards, he said, “I used lots of those in … I am making … and I want to keep those to build …”

             I sighed, rolled my eyes and suggested, “surely some of this is just scrap wood for a weiner roast while Sam (our grandson) is here.” He reluctantly agreed. We carried out thin sticks, stubs of 2 by 4s and broken slabs of particle boards. Yes, they might be useful for some future project if my husband lives another 100 years. However, I doubt he lives that long. Nor do I think we need the scraps as much as I need the space to walk through his shop without tripping and breaking another bone.

             This project began after we cleared out a late friend’s estate. Ever since then I have been on a mission to clear out, reduce, eliminate, and diminish the clutter in my life. Long before I invaded my husband’s workshop, I piled up baskets of scraps in my sewing room and tossed out old, cheap plastic sewing machines that needed expensive repairs. I looked again at the doll I had kept since childhood. Its rubber bands that once held limbs and head in place had disintegrated. I realized I didn’t care about the doll anymore. So I sold it on Ebay for parts.

             Memories linger in our attics. We found a few treasures from our past. We also found books that had simply deteriorated from dry rot, brittle inner tubes and rusty cans with a dab of dried paint. Most importantly, beneath it all we found space to think and start storing stuff again.

About jottingjoan

retired former newspaper writer. Many children and grandchildren. One husband.
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