It’s been awhile, nearly 2 years…

since I have written on this site. It’s not like I haven’t thought about it, but four plus months of quarantine gave me the time. Who knew retirement could be so busy? In the past two years, we completed numerous house projects, traveled to many foreign countries–mostly in Central America, celebrated our newest grandbaby (first boy in years), wrote a book, explored everywhere in our new environs, and planted nearly 100 lavender plants over the septic field. Mostly, 2018 and 2019 was unpacking my life. So, here is where I left off.

February, 2016–The snow lasted for two months. I’d call this real snow as opposed to the realtors’ term of decorator snow. Our Boston girl, who braved the record-breaking storms of 2014, would call this nothing.

Sometime in March, spring rains plus snow melt sent a torrent of water cascading towards our house. Remember our steep driveway? Since water takes the most direct route, the river poured off our ski-run of a driveway into the garage, filling a small lake on the garage floor. We squeegeed and stacked sandbags as a temporary measure, then cut and installed a drainage system further upstream. Thanks to Cal Fire who provided bags and sand. Apparently, many roads and homes besides ours were deluged that winter.

Next, I set to salvaging what I could from soggy shipping boxes—nearly twenty boxes from our old house were stacked floor to garage rafters. Into new plastic containers, I tossed Sammy’s gymnastic attire, 4H uniforms, and yearbooks—assorted momentos from our adult childrens’ childhood. Stacks of plaques, a box of ribbons and medals from swim meets, another box of gymnastic medals—these were moved to higher places in the garage until our daughters have their own garages and can store their own memories.

Then there were the boxes of Dad’s things. Dad received more accolades than his four children (sum total) ever earned. Our loving father was accomplished, a fine man, a leader, but he saved everything—Mom’s cards from anniversaries, Valentine’s, Easter, Christmas, and our Father’s Day and birthday cards. It pains to dump these memories, but who has room for this? None of us are hoarders, neither was Dad, yet stacks of boxes attested to his OCD and his loving heart. I dispatched manuals from every appliance he ever owned. I shredded bank account reports and tax statements—no need to keep after 5 years—although Dad’s file box harkened to the 1960s. But recycling floral cards signed the same way every year for 64 years, “Always yours, John” or “Forever yours, Mary”—that takes a stronger person than me, his daughter. Kan-Mari helped.

One bin held Mom’s art lessons and artwork. Another bin held photos from Dad’s work and travels, another a stack of Dad’s treasures— basically things I couldn’t figure out what to do with. Dad’s awards galore: an inscribed rock mounted as a bookend, an SDG&E glass cap from a utility pole, a framed piece of carpet from the San Diego Civic Theater—all thank yous for a lifetime of public work . Someday, his great grandchildren may want this loot; in the meantime, the treasures rest in moisture-proof bins from Target.

Another conundrum is what to do with our family photos. You know the large framed ones? I tried to follow Kan-Mari’s rule of what “sparks joy” while “thanking” each piece, as I waded through the family history. I solved a space problem by inserting older versions of pictures behind the newer ones, creating a sort of evolutionary history like strata of the Grand Canyon. No doubt some photographer is slapping their head saying, “Noooooo!.” Who has room for this stuff? More importantly, each time we add a family member—child, grandchild, in-law—what happens to the picture before? Our family, like most, has seen its share of deaths and divorces.

Dale installed ceiling racks for the boxes, hooks for the bikes and tools. The garage began to look less like a dumping ground and more like a man cave. Okay, not quite. On to the next project—tackling the inside of the house.

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