Monday, October 30, 2006

What I'm Doing

After this summer's CPE experience, I've really started examining all of my actions. I suppose it is a natural result of the method used in CPE in an effort to become more self aware. So when I begin acting in a different manner, or doing things that are a departure from the normal schedule, I start wonder what's going on. I really believe that we work out things that hare working in and on us emotionally and spiritually in our physical environment. That's the first thing.

Second is my husband's and my ongoing dealing with "stuff." When my grandparents died or downsized or went into nursing homes, my parents took in all their "stuff." China and furniture and pictures and placemats and linens and shoes and vases and papers and books and ... They gave much of it away to myself and my sister, to cousins and relative and large amounts to Goodwill. But they kept quite a large amount. When my mother moved after my father's death, she began to unload even more of the stuff and when she died, my sister absorbed quite a bit into our households. (Actually, I still have garage and storage unit full of "stuff.")

When my husband's mother died and his grandfather, he became the executor of his grandfather's estate. And his grandfather had a incrediable mountian of "stuff." We have been dedicating every other Saturday to going through that stuff. My parents and grandparents and his as well had what I call the "depression mentality." It's a result of doing without for so long in the 1930's and then having things rationed out in the 1940's. It shaped their thinking and their way of being. I heard so many times "Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without." They never threw anything away because, hey, you never knew when you might need it again.


The husband's grandfather's attic was ... overwhelming. It was full. There were boxes of stuff that had been packed up in 1938 when his grandparents moved to New Orleans. The newspapers are dated 1938. There are boxes of stuff that had been packed up in 1948 when they moved back to Atlanta. So many of these boxes were obviously never ever touched. There were toys from his mother's and his uncles' childhood that were played with and then placed back into the original packaging. There is clothing, shoes, hats -- all in boxes and just packed away. There are entire boxes of household goods that were packed away when his uncles died in 1971. Opening these boxes is like entering into time warps. There are boxes of "good stuff" -- linen, china, silver and the like, packed away for a "special occasion."


The attic was hot then cold for years and years. The roof leaked. Racoons chewed holes in the eaves and nested in the boxes. Squirrels lived in the attic. Mice made themselves a home. Most of the stuff in the attic is just ruined. And it makes me so very very sad. It was all packed away "just in case" and "for a special occasion" that never came. It was never used much or appreciated. The shoes and clothing was not given to people who could have used it. The special occasions never came. Is it better to have a ballgown ripped while dancing joyously or to have it rot on a hanger and then used as nesting material for mice? And now my husband and I are spending so much time and energy clean it all up.

I have been bringing home a few items -- trying to salvage them. I've brought home some hand painted china things that were broken and I am trying to mend them. I've recently washed some of the evening wear (even if it was not meant to be washed) and I've washed some of the quilts. I found a green tole tray that was really nasty. I washed it up, sanded out some of the rust and sealed it with poly. I found an old mirror that the mice had really made nasty and cleaned it up. I found a relatively cheap silver bowl that someone tried to polish more than 50 years ago and left the paste on to dry. I tried to salvage it. I'm trying to salvage something out of this mess.

We are given blessing/money/resources to use and not to hoard. We aren't supposed to dig a hole in the ground and put our stuff in it -- we are to use our stuff. John Wesley would say we are to earn all that we can, save all that we can and give away all that we possibly can. The stuff in the attic was not "saved stuff" -- in a way it was totally wasted stuff.

I am making myself a quiet place in the house -- in the only place that I can and that would be our bedroom. I'm placing some of the things that I am salvaging in my new space. I'm combining my stuff -- that came from my parents and grandparents and my husband's stuff that came from his family along with our stuff that we purchased together to make my space. And I am giving away huge bags and boxes of stuff to those who can use it. I've sent a lot of kid's stuff and books to Slidell -- and some of my clothing. I've given away stuff to the church and Family Promise.

And I am gluing broken things together to see if something of value can come of it.

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