Paring Down Part 1: Denise’s Story

P1160152The time has come to pare down – mainly paring down the boxes and boxes and boxes of items we haven’t looked at in 25 years. Most are stored in our crawl space under the dome. The crawl space is 4 feet high and has a gravel floor, so you can imagine walking, bent over double, in hopes not to crack your head on a beam or a light bulb. Then imagine trying to carry heavy boxes at the same time. It’s a job for strong backs.

crawl space base

The crawl space is divided into two sections because we have a utility trench running down the middle. Mark built shelves in the near section for household maintenance items. Unfortunately there’s no passageway to the back section except at the far end. He had deep shelves, 3 high, built on both sides in the back section running the full length of the dome. They hold huge boxes of old family items, (such as letters, years of tax returns, old checkbooks, memorabilia, some old kitchenware and a few paintings I’d forgotten I’d done). But most shelves are filled with boxes and boxes of Mark’s old electronics.

How to pare down? There were a lot of old packing material and empty boxes which had become soggy. We brought things like that to the dump as there was no nostalgia attached to them. And I had an American Association of University Women (AAUW) group which was giving a yard sale so I took as many useful items there as I could. It was for a good cause: making money for scholarships for women.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAfter that, paring down became a sore subject. Then Hilary came to visit with Robbie (and Charger) for a full week. She made it her mission to go down to the crawl space and get the ball rolling. She brought Mark down and sat him on the old camping potty.

“Here are the rules,” she told him. “I will bring you a box. You look through it, and when you’re done you have three choices. One: it goes to the dump. Two: it goes to a good home. Three: if it’s something you’ll use it’ll go to your workroom upstairs. But nothing stays here that we’ve looked through, and nothing comes back down.”

2013-08-08 14.08.19That plan worked for Mark. Day after day they went down there. Boxes were pulled out and thumbed through, papers were read, memories were talked about, and knobs were fiddled with. And each box was labeled with “Home” (goes to a good home), “Trash” or “Keep”. Then Mark was sent to take a nap.

Hilary, bent over double, lugged tons of stuff up the stairs. We took 4-5 trips to the dump placing items in front of the dumpster in case someone could use them, and often the next person who pulled in picked them up. And eventually Jason came and brought even more to the dump in his big truck. Hilary’s car was filled to the brim with things going to a good home, or at least hopefully going to a good home. Mark’s workshop, unfortunately, also got filled up.

2013-08-06 10.57.43I was allowed to go down on the last day to see all the empty shelves. I was amazed. Beautiful job! There are still more that are filled but this was truly wonderful and a bigger start on our paring down than we could have done. And we haven’t made a huge dent since.

We waved good bye to Hilary and Robbie (and Charger) and watched her drive off with her overflowing car and head down the mountain for New Jersey.

Next time .. Part 2: Hilary’s Story

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Tis the Paring Down season. We helped my folks “pare” down their place. Four pick-up truck loads to the dump for a total disposal weight of 5300 pounds. Congrats on your pare down. It’s serving as inspiration to the rest of us.

I don’t know how I missed this. Oh yes I do! We were in Utah and by the time I got home it was way way down in the pile and I never saw it. What a great story though. It’s so good to see both how Mark took the job on so gracefully and how wonderfully HIlary framed the task so it would happen that way. Bless them both! Denny, I always love your stories. Thanks so much.

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