You’ve been hearing for a while about our big project of going through every little thing that El Guapo and I have accumulated over more than two decades in our cozy house and big barn, but I don’t know if what you’ve been imagining can account for the scope of the project. Perhaps you think that we’re looking at a bunch of furniture, a quantity of clothing, pots and pans, too many Christmas decorations, a tangled pile of hangers and a drift of drawings from five different first graders. Yes, all that, but that doesn’t begin to cover it.
This isn’t a house that would be considered for a reality TV show on hoarding. When it hasn’t been through a flood and renters with an unaccountable tolerance for chaos, it cleans up relatively well. But that doesn’t mean this is at all simple. I’m a saver of things, and that manifests itself at every level.
For example, this morning I decided to see if the photo boxes we’ve kept for years might be consolidated a little. Looking through what I’ve saved, I found envelopes for photos of a couple of international trips, mementos from my LDS mission of decades ago, and my stockpile of photos of nieces and nephews. And then I found this:
It’s not what you think. Yes, some of the photos were bad–out of focus, too far away. But I think the idea I had in mind when I penned the label “blackmail” was something we might hint at disclosing to the fiancé of one of our daughters (middle school hairstyles), rather than anything that might later result in criminal charges.
A quirk of mine that fits with my wanting not to waste things is a desire to see the best stuff used for the premium purposes, with the less important projects making use of stuff that wouldn’t make the grade for more important work. I’ve had kids come to me in the past asking for photographs they could cut up for a school project. I don’t want my favorite shots carved up that way, but what about that snapshot where Limonada was in focus, but the rest of us weren’t? Perfect for a collage.
Which brings us to the envelope containing a few photos that most other people would have pitched. They were kept around to fill a possible need, so that photos of higher usefulness wouldn’t succumb to the scissors.
Are you beginning to see the actual scope of this project? (And are you rolling your eyes? I thought you might be.) I’m not just going through stuff that most people would have around the house–I’m wading through the envelope of “bad photos for collages and blackmail,” and other things like unto it. Crazy, I know. This quirk of mine has plenty of downside.
Ever the optimist, I acknowledge one upside: without this envelope, I doubtless would have thrown away the image you see here, Liebling and Fiddler with a cousin, all sporting rhubarb-leaf parasols. It’s just crying out to be the cover art for a book about an alien abduction, don’t you think?
[Images: yours truly]