Cleaning Out The Shed

1 Sep

When my folks moved back to Baltimore from Roxboro, they had far more “stuff” than they could fit into the new house. The Vicarage was a big old place, built before the turn of the last century, with twenty foot rooms and twelve foot ceilings and it was packed. Because of my dad’s health, they had to move quickly and the house they (my mum, really) purchased was much smaller than the Vicarage. This would not have been too bad, if she hadn’t insisted upon keeping everything. My mother was a school teacher and my dad was a clergyman, and collecting books was an occupational hazard. Add that to my mum’s general hoarding, and they were just about run out of the house.

So. They bought a 10 x 10 Amish shed and put it on our lot, filled it with their excess belongings and honestly figured they’d be back from time to time to empty a box or two. Obviously, that was not how it worked out. The Squire and I have spent most of this week doing the dance they call “Cleaning Out the Shed”. We are not so much cleaning it out as spreading it around the carport. Between this mess and trying to finish up the last of the kitchen wall paper, I am fast losing what little sanity I ever had.

Pack-rattery runs in my family the way buck teeth and red hair run in more conventional families. My parents’ professions meant lots of books, so we have boxes and boxes and more boxes of books to investigate.  For better or worse, these boxes reek of mildew or The Squire and I – both first-class “bookies” – would cart all of them into the house for ourselves. Many of them are old and probably valuable. There’s one written by Vice-Admiral Lord Louis Mountbatten.  I just can’t bring myself to toss that one into the recycling, even if it does smell funky. Some of my dad’s books will go back to Sewanee for re-gifting, but most will have to be trashed.

But – why would a woman who lived in a third floor apartment of a retirement center have a garden hose under her bed? Why did we find FIVE packages of poker chips, four of them unopened. (Do you need poker chips to play pinochle?)  A box marked “Eleven drinking glasses. Twelfth packed elsewhere.” And no, I haven’t found it yet.

Now, the object of all this fun and games is to load the shed onto a flatbed and take it over to our church to store lawnmowers and the like. The way things go around here, it will probably vibrate into dust, like the Wonderful One-Hoss Shay, on the way into Joppatowne.

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3 Responses to “Cleaning Out The Shed”

  1. denise September 3, 2013 at 2:53 am #

    my parents are hoarders, too, and moved all their stuff to TN.

    Try sprinkling baking soda in the book and placing the book in a sealed plastic container for a week or so–may help with the odor, and shouldn’t hurt the book. Shake out the excess gently after removing it from the container.

    As for why they hoard, some people just can’t pass up a good deal, some forget they bought it or just wanted spares; it’s not uncommon for those who lived through The Great Depression and rationing of WWII to have hoarded things, too. There are other reasons.

    Best wishes going through the stuff–that’s the hard part.

    • thisendoftheswamp September 5, 2013 at 2:59 pm #

      I really think that is the crux of my mom’s problem, although other than books there seems to be very little that belonged to my dad. But really – as often as my parents moved, when my sister I started some behind-her-back cleaning, we were able to give each of our children Women’s Day magazines from the months they were born, AND bring home a copy of the income tax papers from the years WE were born. My dad earned $3,000 in 1942.

  2. This Mom September 3, 2013 at 3:09 am #

    My mother is the queen of pack-rattery! She is also known for handing me a box of “stuff” as I’m walking out her door. You know, things she thought I would like. Most of these things get tossed or donated but I just can’t bring myself to hand her the box back and tell her no. Good luck!

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