Odds and Ends

A good friend moved to the area recently and told me about his ordeal sorting the disjecta membra from decades living in the same house. He was astonished by the volume of “stuff” purged before the move, and the number of things that had to be sorted, transported and stored. I believe a construction dumpster was involved in the purge as well as multiple trips to the landfill.

Another large dumpster sat in front of our old family home for days when we cleaned out the house after both parents had passed. I remember Dad laughing as we exited our”Basement of Many Things,”saying that one day he was going to come up those stairs one last time and close the door behind him, and then the boxes upon boxes of memoribilia, tools, toys and trinkets would be our responsibility.

Our big steel bin was 20 ft. by 8 ft. by 5 ft. That’s about 30 cubic yards, or at least 7 or 8 pickup truck loads. It took several days of hard work, but I filled that thing to the top, climbed on and jumped up and down on the contents, and then piled on more.

Thirty cubic yards…and that was just the refuse and the discards. There was an even greater volume of things given away, donated, sold at the Estate Sale and retained for a new cycle of transport and storage.

Don’t get me wrong. My folks were not “hoarders.” Their boxes upon boxes were organized and labeled and the tools were well maintained. Granted, there were quite a few things outside the box, and the entire collection of this and that was beginning to show signs of the understandable neglect you might expect when 87 year old knees find it difficult to negotiate stairs.

Their collection was probably not disimilar to the accumulated stacks and stores of any average American family from that generation, and my own, though theirs was amplified somewhat by their nostalgia and sentimentality. They were near the end of the line as caretakers of the memoribilia of several generations. They had keepsakes from their children, two sets of parents, two sets of grandparents and one of great-grandparents.

The very young do not typically value the past, and you will rarely see anyone under 30 in an antique store. You wouldn’t want to see them near a finely crafted piece of wood anyhow. They would paint it. So it was that my parents’ sentimental son ended up with a 16 ft. PODS container of items he wasn’t quite ready to let go. Half of my shop is now given to the storage of those items and the slow but steady sort and purge is ongoing.

My friend says our boxes upon boxes and accumulations of this and that are a testament to successful marketing and the materialism at the root of American society. I don’t disagree, and Tracey is beyond eager to see a construction dumpster parked in front of our own house. I will not resist when that day comes, though I suspect the contents of that dumpster will be skewed heavily in favor of my own possessions. Be that as it may, though wise men at their end know dark is right, my box of odds and ends will not go gentle into that good night!

Have you seen the price of odds and ends lately? The bushing I just used to repair my zero gravity chair may have waited 10 years in a box to be of service, but what was essentially free is now worth the $30 I didn’t have to pay for a replacement, and that doesn’t include shipping! The brush mower I converted to propane is running now only because the exact brass fitting needed to connect the low pressure hose to the load block waited for 5 years in another box. They no longer make the widget I used to repair the whatchamacallit, and what kitchen could function without the junk drawer with the extra bread ties, the 5-in-1 tool and the rocker for the pressure cooker??

Yes, I know. If it doesn’t bring you joy, get rid of it, they say. If you haven’t used it for a year, throw it away. They say that too, but I think my bushing and my brass fitting contradict that theory, and there is something soothing if not joyful about sorting nuts and bolts and washers and nails and screws. Have you seen the price of scews lately?

Admittedly, we could all do with considerably less: Less to eat, less time online, less wallowing out the recliner, indeed, less stuff, but also less time worrying about what other people need less of.

There is surely a balance to be found. I probably don’t need four shovels. I can get by with two. There is little to no chance I’ll ever use that length of still-strong hemp rope my great grandfather climbed when he dug wells by hand 150 years ago, but nope, I’m keeping my rope. And seriously folks. A man can’t have too many bushings. Or buckets. Or bolts. And books! You can’t have too many books!

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