Sunday, June 15, 2014

Downsizing “The Smalls” My Way

About a year before retiring and moving into our RV, we made every attempt to downsize our belongings.  Storing is not only expensive, but can be hard on your stuff.  The heat cracks furniture wood, the mice make nests in your cardboard boxes and there were things no longer needed (extra furniture or work related)—why save?  We did a very good job downsizing for the first attempt, but after being without a couple of years, there was a realization that so much more could go.

sentimentalshawdowboxThe most difficult items to downsize are the small sentimental things.  The birthday cards and letters, small inexpensive, but meaningful gifts, and personal items of family (living and gone).  They take space, are rarely looked through, and collect dust.  We have been to a few estate sales and it is just sad to see treasured items like this unceremoniously tossed into the trash.  I decided that our “treasures” would be dealt with on our terms, not by someone else.

I finally tackled “the smalls” a year ago and came up with some good solutions.  All the cards and most of the letters were scanned.  Saved on the computer, external hard drive and in the cloud.  A few “especially special” letters were kept as hard copies—they are possibly the few the family will keep after we die.  The cards and letters were the bulkiest to store.

The personal items will become part of a shadow box display with background pictures of the individual owners (grandparents, siblings, and parents).  This way they can be viewed often by us and visitors and sealed from dust.  Another keepsake the family will most likely hang on to.

The gifts (a carved hand displaying the peace sign, a little book of poems telling me how special I am [of course! /smile/], work-related commemorative trinkets, and a couple of friendship rings) I finally gave away with the exception of the rings (one onyx and another turquoise) and one work item for hubby.  These items were sentimental only to us and would not interest anyone else.  They are gone, but not forgotten. 

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Magic Moment–#15 Fathers

strawberry_jamEvery summer my Dad made jam with fresh berries—usually strawberries and logan berries.   He made enough to give a couple jars to each of his kids (five of us) and keep several for himself.  The jam was quite tasty and used almost every morning in our house on toast or pancakes.

A couple of years after he died (2001), I happened to remark to my husband’s supervisor how much I missed his annual jam gift.  Not sure how the subject came up--we were at a company function just making idle chat, about this time of year, around Father’s Day.

A few days later I find a couple of jars of homemade strawberry jam on the kitchen counter.  Unknown to me, the supervisor made jam for his family each year too; and that year he made sure I had two jars.  Well, you know what an impact it had on me;  I have a hard time writing about it without getting tears. 

A very nice man made another special memory for me on Father’s Day.

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Magic Moment–#14, I Spy

HarrietIn the sixties, there was a surge of spy topics in books, movies; and in real life, the Cold War.  I was fascinated with the subject; religiously watching the popular television series, “Man from U.N.C.L.E” and reading “Harriet the Spy” (the book came out 30+ years before the movie).  Although the book was more about childhood problems and emotions, I was mesmerized by Harriet’s “spy” habits  and wanted to be just like her.  (Just to put this in perspective, I was 10-11 years old at the time.)  After finding a pair of old glasses (no glass, just frames) to disguise myself and purchasing a small spiral notebook with my savings, I setup a regular spy route each day with a stop at Malley’s drug store/cafe after school (this was when Malley’s was still embedded in the neighborhood before moving to the strip mall), hanging around the teachers’ breakroom door during the day (remember how cigarette smoke billowed out of there?), and in the evening sitting outside the neighbor’s open window.   I wrote diligently in the little notebook about everything I saw and heard, even making a sketch now and then (yes, the photo on the right is a sketch I made of someone in Malley’s Drug). 

SCAN2731When did the routine stop?  Probably when I turned 13 and entered junior high.  My world turned upside down about then. New and bigger school, a whole new set of “problems” and other priorities.  But, I look back on my spy career with fondness.  It seemed so damned exciting at the time.  Watching people, and they didn’t know I was there (I told myself that, anyway /smile/). 

Maybe this is why I like to people watch today.  Wondering where they are from, what their families are like and if they have secrets.  Imagination is a good thing—it keeps us young.

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