Finishing Up

140929 DawnThe sunrise view from my current bedroom window is amazing, especially in the spring and fall.

The dumpster project, now affectionately called, is almost complete.  Two more days before it goes.  It’s been a crazy journey.

The attic was finished Saturday morning.  Everything that was going was pitched out of the window a few days before and I spent the last two days sweeping, then vacuuming with a shop vac.  During the sweeping phase I finally decided to wear a respirator, the dust was extreme.  My father and I figured the last time it was swept was around 1946 – no lie.

It was a sentimental journey through the rooms on the third floor.  Sentiment mixed with disbelief that so much stuff was just thrown up there and forgotten.  Houses had been cleaned out.  Things I recognized from my grandparents homes and some from my great grandparents.  Fear not, most of it was categorized, packed and stored away.

There were treasures.  Big boxes of crap that had to be gone through, piece by piece because there were treasures.  My grandfather’s Hamilton pocket watch, a makeup compact from the ’20s belonging to a great-aunt, a small model train engine, books from childhood.  Photographs tucked in with report cards from my father’s elementary school days. There were scrapbooks and letters and journals from my high school years, reminders of a distant past now seeming like someone else’s life.  Toys, games, puzzles, all holding memories for me and my siblings of rainy days spent together. I don’t think anything was ever thrown away.

It has also lifted a great weight. It had felt as if that third floor was crushing down on the rest of the house.  A job I knew I was going to have to do in order to make my childhood home into the home I will spend the rest of my life in.

The last few days have been spent cleaning out and moving things around on the second floor.  All of this with the knowledge that we will be dealing will structural issues in the bedrooms, mostly crumbling lathe and plaster.  Nothing at all has been done up there since the early ’70s.  There isn’t heat up there (and currently it’s without power – a story for another day).  There was water damage years ago so ceilings are beginning to go.  These are the photographs you won’t see, unless I’m getting ready to do something with a pry bar and a hammer (respirator in place).  The photos recording before and after.

The grand motivation to all of this has really been the need I have to transform a room into a place to put my looms, my fiber, my fabric, my books.  Creativity for me doesn’t happen without making a big mess but I need that mess to be contained in it’s own space.  I brought home a third loom (yes, I now have three), last weekend.  It’s so large and heavy it will have to remain on the first floor so the two on the first floor will have to move to the second.  Along with the last two looms I’ve brought home has come their previous owners stashes of fiber.  Fun stuff but if you can’t see it you don’t use it.

I use situations like the looms as motivation to deal with the things I don’t want to do.  It really works for me.  That and having a 20 yard dumpster dropped in the side yard.  I work well under pressure and having that there really did the trick.  Although the past couple of days have seen decision fatigue set in and it’s become easier to throw things away. Fortunately I also have that saving gene and understand the importance of seeing the handwriting of my ancestors.  Things are categorized and saved and put back into the attic.  This time with some notes attached so in another 80 years or so when someone feels the need to clean out they will have a better idea of why this stuff was saved.

 

Throwback Thursday and Some Thoughts on Cleaning Out

540707 Alix-Martin Wedding (14)

The date was July 7, 1954, my mother and father’s wedding day.  This photograph, of all of them, is my favorite.  All the players are there, both of my grandfathers are looking on with smiles on their faces.  I recognize aunts, uncles, cousins, grands.  The photographer for this event was AMAZING.  Every shot was beautifully composed, exposed and printed.  This was back in the day of Speed Graphics and 4×5 sheet film, hand processed, hand printed.

The main reason for this post today is I’m waxing nostalgic about my mother’s wedding dress.  I threw it away yesterday.  I’m assuming that will be the most painful thing I get rid of and it wasn’t without trying to keep it, honest.  The dress was disintegrating, things had lived in the bag, it was stained.  I brought it to my sister’s house just to have confirmation that I was doing the right thing (there really wasn’t an option).  While there I took the scissors to it and cut off the train of tulle with the had applied lace and folded it to keep, the rest went into the dumpster.  There’s no going back on that one.

I’m taking solace in the fact that we do have those amazing photographs and those are really more important to me than a mouse and bug infested piece of satin and lace.

 

Getting Serious

140917 Dumpster

We moved into the house at Fort Pelham Farm in 1967, I was 11 years old.  The house has a huge attic.  It has two rooms that are finished on each end and open space surrounding it.  No one ever goes up there.  It’s not that it’s creepy, it’s just the repository for the things no one can part with.

When my mother’s mother broke up her household in the early ’70s boxes of things were brought up there.  Wedding gowns, the winter clothes, toys, games, all of the stuff from my father’s childhood room and home.  Papers, photographs, vintage containers of all sorts.  Furniture, good and bad.  All of it found its way there. To my knowledge nothing that ever went into the attic ever saw the light of day again.

There are also a few things that need to be taken care of  – restoring power to the second floor, dealing with bad insulation, cleaning up a mess left by masons years and years ago.  All of these little things go hand in hand and I have to get rid of stuff in order to tackle those jobs.  Painters will soon be here to scrape and paint the peaks of the house repairing the third floors windows at the same time.  I don’t think they can get to the windows right now, sigh.

It’s starting to feel like I will be staying here for quite some time – it’s taken a while to feel that way.  I have made do with the second floor as a place to sleep with my clothing piled high on spare beds most of the time.  I visit our home in Enfield and recently have begun longing for a cozy, comfortable place of my own here.  The first floor is comfortable enough but it has always been more of a place to entertain rather than live.

The second floor has peeling wallpaper on every wall.  Carpet over wide pine floors dating to 1970 or so.  Plaster falling from ceilings reminds me of a Dickens novel I once read sans the cobwebs.

There was some furniture that I wanted to move to the attic and I went up there yesterday to check out the situation. (Yeah, it could be said that I’m part of the problem but I can’t part with the antique rockers that my grandfather brought up here). The stairs leading to the attic are more like a modified ladder they are so steep and narrow.  Once up there I realized what a real problem the mess is.  I had thought I could just pitch stuff out of the window onto the lawn but that was before I realized just how much stuff we are talking about.  Did I really want to handle any of it more than once?

A 20 yard dumpster was put next to one end of the house about 15 minutes ago, it will be here for two weeks (or less if I can get things done).  I’m sure I will feel as though a great weight has been lifted. Now I just have to muster the energy.