Cleaning the attic (maybe) Part I

Okay, it’s been way too long since I’ve blogged.  A combination of procrastination, laziness and being pretty busy are my excuses, and I’m sticking to them.  But now Don & I are engaged in a project that may serve as a impetus to get back to blogging.

First, a preface:  Don & I are spending more & more time in Virginia, where we have a new business project underway (more on that down the road).  Spending more time in Virginia means that we’re also trying to make my mother’s home of about 30 years into our own.  An advantage of keeping the home is that there was no immediate need to clean out – but now, the need to sort, recycle and discard has increased.  An expression that Don & I often share when undertaking a project — whether it’s moving, building, or cleaning out — is that we’re “eating an elephant, one bite at a time.”  Right now, the part of the elephant we’re eating is the attic.

My mother saved everything.  I’m not kidding.  Shopping bags, grocery bags, bows, pieces of fabric, pillows, foam, you name it, she saved it.  On this chilly morning, I donned a sweatsuit, turtleneck, knee-pads (the attic is not full height, so all work is best done on one’s knees), gloves  and kerchief.  I was in charge of upstairs; Don, downstairs.  In my mind, all would be divided into 5 piles:  dump, donate, save, offer to family/friends, and go-through another day.  95% of the items I went through today were in the first two categories:  dump or donate.

I thought it would have taken more of a psychological toll on me.  I thought I might be filled with sadness.  Instead, the project made me smile and brought back fond memories of my mother and her pack-rat, find-a-use-for-everything tendencies.  Perhaps because she lived through the depression, the youngest of 5 siblings and a widowed mother (thanks to the 1917-18 flu epidemic), she hated to throw away anything that may have any kind of value down the road. We found virtually nothing of value, sentimental or otherwise, though.  So off to the dump (where possible to recycling bins)  already has gone many, many cardboard boxes, foam, god-awful raggedy old pillows, coffee cans, and bags of fabric remnants – a second load is waiting in the wings.  Set aside for another day for a trip are items destined for Goodwill or Habitat for Humanity — bedframes, headboards, lighting fixtures, salad bowls, luggage and the like.

One of my smiles for today related to Mom’s penchant for making sure her luggage was identifiable on her travels — be they a bus tour to Branson, Missouri, an Alaskan cruise, or flying up to see me in Canada.  Her first modest attempt was fairly demure:  colored electrical tape around part of the handle.

A couple of years later, though, either her eyes got worse, or she became more creative.  I remember the first time I saw this lovely piece of luggage make its way around the the baggage conveyor.  Had I been younger, I think it would have been a circumstance where I would have like to pretend I didn’t know the person retrieving the luggage, but I was old enough to not care.

For those of you who wish to replicate the look, Mom was quite proud to tell me it was accomplished by painting Wite-Out on the black canvas.  And I can attest it has held up quite well.  I wonder if a purchaser at Goodwill will be similarly impressed?

So tomorrow there will be another journey into the house’s — and Mom’s — past.  May I be blessed with as many smiles as I received today.

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