It must be the sun becoming warmer (or shining for a change) that has had me doing some cleaning. It could be the fact that the cobwebs have taken over the house and clearing them out always involves moving everything in a room. Let’s call it spring cleaning, that sounds more hopeful when it’s still mid winter.
The truth is that things have been weighing on me of late – big things, huge things. When my father died he left a collection of some of the biggest machines any ordinary man could own. A couple of them I always saw as hobbies but there was a point where it crossed over into obsession. The time has come for us to dismantle it. There is a huge building that houses 2 large stationary steam engines and all that goes with it including a steam turbine generator and a sawmill run by diesel and steam. Equipment so large that a rigger will have to be hired to get it out and moved.
It’s fairly easy to ignore that building with everything in it. Walking into it is a time capsule of sorts but it weighs on you. We are not getting any younger and the idea of leaving that to my kids is not appealing.
Every year about this time we make lists of the things that need to be done, sorted in order of importance. This list begins by realizing that your kitchen is so cold and could be fixed in an hour or two with very little effort. You just have to wait until Spring to do it. This is the list that extends through the year consisting of all the maintenance and repairs that every homeowner has.
There is another list and that concerns the cleaning out of the property. It’s the death cleaning or döstädning as the Swedish call it. This has taken some time to embrace, probably because it’s my childhood home – there are memories I’m not ready to let go of and it causes me to hang on to things that no one would understand. In talking about it Bill very astutely said “These were your father’s dreams not ours”. That one comment changed my perspective on a lot of things. I’ve gotten to the point in life where my list of long term dreams is beginning to be whittled away. The sawmill is an example. Ten years ago we thought we would use it. There are always people who want lumber cut and it could also be useful to us in the repair of our buildings. Last year we realized we were probably never going to use it and said it out loud. We found it a home with someone who will use it and take care of it and be part of his dream.
The steam equipment is another story.
The out buildings are the bigger problem but there are things in the house that present similar challenges. There’s the piano. A huge, rosewood Chickering square grand – built about 1870. It needs a full restoration. No one plays, no one ever played it (well my mother hacked out a couple of tunes and my uncle would play something wildly out of tune when he visited – all vivid childhood memories). It is large, heavy and no one wants it. I’ve contacted museums, previous owners, piano restorers, craigslist, social media offering to give it away if someone will move it. Nothing. That leaves taking it apart and getting it out of here. I’ve been saying I was going to do it for two years but haven’t, probably hoping something magical will happen. It’s got to go, now it’s come down to what pieces I will keep. (Yes, more junk in storage – baby steps).
I realize that I’m entering into old age (although I will always be 27 years old in my head) and in the paring down of dreams comes the need to get rid of stuff so no one else has to do it. Döstädning, death cleaning, not a sad thing at all but really done with an eye to the future.