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Decluttering day & a boatload of memories

March 26th, 2018 at 05:30 am

I was in a decluttering mood yesterday, maybe partly because it was a little too chilly to do much outside.

I decided to go through the messy pile of loose recipes I've torn out of magazines, gotten from friends or printed from online. The vast majority of these recipes, mind you, I have never gotten around to trying. And some of them are 6 to 8 years old!

So I threw out some that no longer interested me and started making category piles of the rest so I could more easily find them if I was looking for something.

I decided to try one recipe for a vegan "cheese" sauce that I was very happy with. It's easy to make: just blend together cooked potatoes, carrots, onion, garlic powder, paprika, those fortified yeast flakes and raw unsalted cashews. It looks very much like a creamy cheese sauce and it was great poured over broccoli. Would also go well with other veggies or pasta. It's a keeper.

Trying out more of my recipes is one of my goals in semi-retirement.

The other decluttering activity I started was cleaning up in the attic. I had been collecting empty cardboard boxes for years in anticipation of the day I would move, but I've sort of decided I'm staying put. So I carried out most of those boxes, which took up a lot of room, and put them in my car so I can drop them off for recycling later in the week.

I organized some other stuff, but really just scratched the surface. It needs a vacuuming of there too, and there are lots of dead insects. It's a finished attic, so it could look a lot tidier once I commit to spending some time, but at this point, I'm not ready to part with old love letters, cards from friends and family or the several filing cabinets full of writing samples from a 30+ year career as a writer. They're not really needed now but it's hard to let go....it's part of my identity.

I came across a note scribbled in pencil from a torn sheet of paper. It was from my mother, and upon reading it, I instantly realized she left this note for me when she was midway in painting a large wall mural in my home. That was in 2001. She was letting me know it would look different later when she had a chance to do some highlights and add some colors and so on. Couldn't throw that away, either. Imagine...if she had been Picasso talking about La Vie, that note would have been worth a million. Mom's note is priceless to me.

While in the attic I came across a beautiful pen stand my grandfather made for me 35 years ago. It was meant to be a gift upon my graduation from law school, but I dropped out after finishing one year.

I remember my grandfather as a very taciturn, grumpy old man and I can't remember a single time when we even had a real conversation. At the time I announced I was headed to law school in Boston, he didn't really say much at all. I think he said, "Really?" in a surprised kind of way.

There were multiple reasons why I didn't continue with law school, but one problem is I really didn't have my family's support.

On the day I announced I had dropped out of law school, my grandfather asked why, I responded, and that was that. It was never really discussed. My grandfather still gave me this beautiful desk set done in marquetry; he was a master craftsman.



It was only in hindsight, many years later and with the benefit of further reflection, that I realized that my grandfather was disappointed I didn't continue in school.

If he could have just said a few words of encouragement, it would have made a big difference, but he was not a talkative man. My father was not in my life at the time. I have a few old photos (2, to be precise) of grandpa and grandma together and smiling. I don't know if he wasn't happy in the marriage or what, but during my entire childhood he was a cross old man who spent most of his retired life in the basement, creating his marquetry.

My grandmother tried to shield us as children against his irritability by shushing him and saying "not in front of the children." A shy kid, I was always a little afraid of him.

I believe he was a good man (despite my genealogy work revealing he spent time in state prison in the 1930s and was basically a gangster in his younger days), but he just didn't know how to express his feelings.

This is why decluttering can be such a painful process for me; it stirs up old memories that have no resolution.

I've now run the kerosene heater for 19 hours, and am pretty sure I'll get 24 hours out of it when the can is empty. Still, power outages around here can extend far longer than that, which means if the kerosene heater is really to serve its purpose, then I'd be having to run around to find kerosene (which could be iffy in a widespread outage) just to keep the thing going for longer than a day. So it's still an imperfect solution.

Hmm, what else? I've identified a velvet pillow in need of a hand wash. The bath tub still needs a good scrub.

3 Responses to “Decluttering day & a boatload of memories”

  1. kashi Says:

    That cheese sauce is on my short list of things to try, too. Glad to know it was good. I have similar piles of recipes!

  2. rob62521 Says:

    That desk set is gorgeous! As I find out things about my family, most of whom I never knew, I realize it is just that, history. I think I'd look at the fact that he took the time to craft such a wonderful piece and still gifted it to you. I wonder if he wasn't talkative because he didn't want to talk about HIS past so he didn't feel he could comment on anything you did.

    I went through the decluttering of cook books and recipes awhile back. I had all these cookbooks and kept telling myself that I wanted to use them. Ha! I finally made myself go through them page by page. If there were more than ten recipes I had tried and liked or really wanted to try, I kept the cookbook. Otherwise I copied the recipe on an index card and put in my stack to try. I donated about 15 cookbooks total and I think I got maybe two recipes I really would try. I tried them and they were OK, but nothing to write home about, so those index cards went into recycling.

  3. Bluebird Says:

    PS, I have the same issues with declutttering family stuff, it's emotionally exhausting in a way. I really have to prepare myself beforehand. I have no problem decluttering anything else, thank goodness!

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