Saturday, January 23, 2016

Inch One Hundred One: Purging

Warren has been redoing the storage setup in the basement, dismantling the old, rusted metal shelving units and installing new coated wire shelves instead. As part of the overhaul, he has pulled off every item that was on the shelves and set them out on the basement floor. The two of us have been going through the piles, deciding what stays and what goes.

There are a lot of "goes."

It is always amazing to me what we—the universal "we"—hold onto for that elusive "someday." The basement overhaul has been a classic example of the human inclination to stash away stuff. Just stuff. I'm as guilty of it as anyone.

One of the big ticket items (in terms of bulk, not price) on the shelf was the old canner, a behemoth that my mother bought at a yard sale probably in the 1970s and that I took over several years ago. The thing is heavy and massive. Along with it was a plastic tub full of canning miscellany: two sets of tongs, a canning funnel, assorted rings and lids. 

And about six dozen canning jars, most of which were the pint jar size.

"What about this?" 

I looked at Warren. I looked at the canner. I looked at all those jars.


Warren was concerned. Was I sure? Was I just getting rid of it because I knew he wanted to cut down on the items that would go back on the shelves? Should we hold onto it a little longer?

No. My decision was firm and final. 

The canner has served my family long and faithfully. My mother's canning days are long over. The truth is that mine are too. Canning takes an enormous amount of physical energy. I have enjoyed it in the past, but at this stage of my life it is life energy I do not have in quantity and what I do have I would rather spend in other pursuits than canning.

I said out loud, "I'm never canning again."

Warren did not protest, did not offer reasons why I might can again. He just nodded and said "well, we freeze a lot of the garden stuff."

So the canner and the tongs and the funnel went into the Goodwill pile. (The canning jars are headed to coworkers at Court for special projects.) They were joined by other items—some odd baking pans, a tortilla press, an old plastic model that never got made, an old yogurt maker. Some of this and some of that. And then box by box, sack by sack, we carried the items upstairs and out to my car so I could make a Goodwill run. 

I had sorted through and purged the Christmas boxes, primarily the ornaments, a few days earlier. Some of those I set aside to send to Portland later in the year, closer to the holiday. The rest joined the exodus to Goodwill.

Earlier in the fall, I had pushed my sons to give me some clue as to what paintings by their grandfather they would like to have. Ben took it to mean I was focusing on dying and said he would rather enjoy the time with me and focus on making memories. So when I pulled the Christmas ornaments, I cautioned him and his brother Sam that this was not an indication of my eventual demise, but rather an indication that I have too much stuff.  I warned them that one day they too would be 60 (which I will be shortly) and realize that they had too much stuff. 

On Monday of this week I drove to Goodwill and pulled up at the donation station. "Everything in the back seat of my car," I said to the worker, and helped him unload it all.  

I still have too much stuff. But let me tell you, I felt 100 pounds lighter when the last item came out of my car. The Goodwill employee started to thank me for my donation. 

I waved him off. "No, no," I cried. "Thank you!" And I drove off, leaving behind all the sacks and the boxes.

And one very heavy, very old, and very used canner.


Laurie said...

That is one of my major goals this year, April, to purge my stuff. Feeling lighter would be lovely.

Darla said...

I mean to purge. I really do. Then on my recent trip to empty Moms apartment I boxed up things and brought them home. But I didn't ship any furniture home. At least I can be proud of that part.

Sharon said...

Ah, yes. I always thank the goodwill guy when he takes all of my 'not needed anymore' stuff. It feels GREAT.