Wednesday, March 23, 2016

All the Things You Could Have Had


I hesitate to mention all the things you could have had ... if I'd know you would want them.

But aren't many of us in the same boat? Trying to down-size (dumb word), to rid ourselves of "things" that we look at without seeing or store away and then forget where we put them?

The old expression "time will tell" comes into play here. There is nothing wrong with those lampshades you see, except that we've never had occasion to use them these last twenty years.

And that rocking chair is in good shape. It's just that we have a few other rocking chairs.

The ten-gallon glass carboy that I used to make a batch of third-rate wine a quarter of a century ago, just to see how it was done, has been sitting under the stairs to the basement ever since. It's time to let go.

 But what about that wooden chest my grandpa MacIlvenna made as a toy box for me (or someone else) a half-century ago? Do you think my brother in Baltimore might want it? I know my sister has no interest, because I asked her, and nor does cousin Pat. We used it for many years to store our VHS tapes, but lightning struck the VHS player five years ago, and last year we threw out most of the tapes. It's time.

A Danish/English dictionary smelling of mildew? No thanks. You'll probably pass on the English/Danish companion volume, too. We told our neighbors across the street that they could have whatever they wanted. Heirloom martini glasses? Margarita glasses shaped like saguaro cactuses? Ice skates so narrow they fit no one. A deflated football (Wilson T.D.) that my high school coach, Mr. Smith, gave me a few days before I quit?

Of course there are plenty of things left for round two: A wooden squash racquet, slightly warped; a globe that shows how the world looked when French West Africa still existed. (Ah, those were the days!) A pair of Alaskan Trapper snowshoes that I haven't worn since college.About a hundred LPs, lined up against the back wall of the basement behind numerous stacks of slide carousels.


The one great discovery of this clean-up campaign (of which I was not in command) was that the Bose book-shelf speakers still work. I hooked them up to the CD boom box (which had developed a hum) and the basement filled with sound. 

Inspired by the spirit of "cast-offs" I dug through a box of old flamenco CDs and came upon a five-CD box set of Bill Evans live trio recordings called Turn Out the Stars. It may have been the last recording he made before he died.

I probably found it a little too frantic when I bought it, but it suddenly seemed perfectly joyous and appropriate to the task of weeding through some of the books that I have not examined carefully in years.


But that's a story for another time.

One artifact I came across and know I'll have to dispose of sometime soon is a work of art created by one of my colleagues at the Bookmen, a warehouse where I used to work. The artist in question is Joel Dale. He wasn't there long, but while he was with us he started a collection of packing peanuts which he later mounted into a display that he gave me when he left. It's an extraordinary set, and what makes the display more interesting yet, he named all the varieties. For example: sugar cube, T-bar, egg shell, crow bar (lightning type), Joshua's Boomerang, potato chip, dinner mint, geometric waffle, The Claw, steak bone, Spanish dancer (pink, white, green, and smooth varieties), Macaroni (I like that one), sea slug, double trouble, and along the bottom row, ten varieties of "infinity."



Joel was quite a character, but he outdid himself with that display. Well, the Bookmen was full of interesting characters, and every spring, on the first day when the temperature hits 70 degrees, I let myself off from work early, just like we used to do at the warehouse downtown.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Is it that we can't part with the memory? That's good. I guess it's that jogging the memory is what's good but without the item in question, how do we make sure we keep that memory lively? That's how I justify keeping all the stuff - or way too much of it at least. Pat