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The Acquisition of Things

Winnowing Out

· Winnowing Out,Sorting Junk,Personal Space

We are storing a single mattress on its long side in the closet under the stairs. Back in the day, it came in very handy when we had a plethora of houseguests all at once including a cousin recovering from a skiing accident who stayed with us for a month. The mattress hasn’t been used in two years or is it three now? The friend, who gave it me at the time, when I put out the word that I needed such a thing, does not want it back. So there is no obligation there.

Behind the mattress is part of a desk that is being stored in the closet because it won’t fit in the attic with its sister piece that does fit in the attic. Nobody wants the desk so why are we storing it in the first place and why are the two pieces at opposite ends of the house? Future archaeologists will ponder this question: “What is the significance of these two bizarre pieces of broken down furniture found 100 feet apart at this site?” Will they rejoice when they figure out the two pieces actually go together? And then will they further ponder what led to the desk being divided in the first place? Maybe the desk will then end up in a museum. My in-laws tried repeatedly to donate the piece to American heritage and folk museums, but to no avail. The desk is valueless, despite its being poorly wrought, not particularly handsome when brought into the light and being from an indeterminate period of poor craftsmanship at the beginning of the 20th century. And did I mention it’s impossible to use? The drop down writing shelf which serves as the “secretary” door does not actually line up with anything but air, so there is nothing to support you as you write, straining the hinges to the point of snapping off.

Behind the desk are, wow, our golf clubs! Ten years ago, we took up golfing, even took lessons with a pro and we are actually quite bad at it. But it was fun as long as we played with people who were as bad as we, and as long as there were no experienced players behind us to frustrate. Picking a bizarre tee time in unpopular, out of the way courses in foul weather was key. Even today, we would love to be able to go out to the driving range and remember those days, but no! We have to jigsaw the mattress and the desk out of the closet and then duck down and drag the clubs out. Then we will need a rest, maybe a glass of wine. Then decide it is too late to go golfing after all.

This long closet is well proportioned, lined with shelves and is well lit. The shelves are stocked with board games, beloved paperbacks, old movies (yes, we still have a working VHS player as well as a DVD player). During the Harry Potter craze, I had this fantasy of creating a cozy closet under the stairs. There were bean bag chairs for the kids to sit in if they wanted to read. However, I believe I was the only one ever to sit in the bean bag chairs and read. It was cozy!

In any case, all is lost now, because you can’t get to any of the bloomin’ books or games. And since you can’t get to anything anyway, you might as well store the holiday wrapping paper in there, and the back massage seat cushion from Brookstone with Shiatsu and deep tissue options that nobody uses, and two rickety folding chairs that match a folding card table we finally tossed out long ago—although we still have four wads of tightly folded paper for the archaeologists to puzzle over. These we jammed into the leg joints to keep the table from collapsing.

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