Friday, September 6, 2013

A Time for Every Purpose

We have finally reached a time in which the space is worth more than many of the items which occupy it.

   I remember being in college and being a young engaged girl, gathering things for the days when we would be cooking, cleaning, and setting up our first household.  We were married when I had one more year of college remaining, and so, I was a student commuting to clinical affiliations at hospitals all over New Jersey and New York in order to have seen lots of disorders and issues, and in order to perform the procedures we need to do safely and smoothly right from the first days of licensure.   Those were tough days. I had barely enough money for the weeks groceries at Pathmark from the generic aisle. I certainly didn't have money for sheets, tables, furniture, or towels.  We got a few things as gifts when we were married, but most of our friends were also young and poor.  Our dining area table was a card table and two metal folding chairs. I covered it with a vinyl tablecloth.   We had no couch, so we put my husband's twin bed from his last home, in the living room next to the wrought iron railing. I placed pillows in the back and covered the whole thing with a slipcover I got at a garage sale.  It looked like a couch.   We had a rent controlled brick apartment on the second floor which looked like a townhouse, and was very close to Interstate 287. The heat and gas for cooking were included in the rent.  I could get to New York City and many other places in thirty to forty minutes by car.
         In two years we had saved enough to buy a small house. It had been a summer home in the Ramapo Mountain Range near a lake.  We no longer lived in a convenient place, but I had graduated and was working, and didn't need the same level of convenience I had when I was in school.  Our big bed did not fit in our new house, and so we sold it. We needed everything but we were moving forward. At least we lived in a home we owned, which seemed like a step forward.
        There were four houses after that as our family grew and we continued to gather things we needed, as we needed them, often from penny saver styled newspapers, garage sales, or from friends who were moving or were transferred.
         When my husband's parents died, we accepted some things of theirs that we loved in our home.When my husband's beloved aunt passed, and my own remaining beloved aunt passed, we received things that found a place in our home.  Kids also bring things to your home.  With four, and eventually five children, bicycles come with birthdays.  Tall boys wind up with basketball hoops, and sporting equipment.  One son built kites, the type which lift him off the ground, and these are tough to store when assembled.
          When the worst happened, and one of our sons died suddenly, we had an entire room of books, games, toys, computers, dvds and videos.  We didn't feel as if we should sell or give away everything. I took a long time to go through everything.   We finished a smaller room in the lower level here. My husband built bookcases, and we lovingly placed everything there.  It's now a place where we go to watch a video, or play a video game, and remember some of the great times with our son.  (This is the room where our older kids painted a true sky with clouds that look so real, they appear to drift slightly as you watch them.)
           By the time my own parents passed, most of our kids were in college. It made sense to me to hold on to as much as I could from my parents homes because three, maybe four households are being set up in the fairly near future. A nice piece of furniture from one of my parents homes would not only be free to them, but it would provide a memory and a sense of continuity, whereas a laminate something from Wal-Mart or Ikea likely wouldn't, and it would cost them hard earned cash.   After my parents passed I rented a large storage unit, and for a time kept everything there. Eventually, there were indications in the bad economy that the storage company was about to go out of business.  We moved everything out just before they did.   We placed everything on the second story of a new barn we'd had built for general storage.
          Our daughter bought her first home a bit more than a year ago.  Happily, she chose to take with her some of the more expensive pieces of furniture that had belonged to my parents.  My daughter likes antiques, and presently her brothers like modern.   We let her take all the furniture she wanted, and other than buying a bed and major appliances, she had everything.
            So now we have reached a time that is unusual for us.  All of our lives, thus far, have been spent in the gathering mode.  Gathering comes naturally to most women. In the history of our marriage,there have been only a few times, when we were readying to move to another home, that we had garage sales, and decreased a substantial portion  of our household goods.  We were gatherers, and sometimes this had clear benefits.  When friends or relatives needed something, we usually had one.  We gave cribs and playpens to friends when we had used them for a couple of years.
            We have been lucky that in this farm we have good storage, but it would be foolish to keep many things which ultimately risk some damage. It's time to begin to find good homes for not only my parents things, my aunts things, but many of the things my husband and I have gathered through the years of our marriage.  We were gatherers for so many years, and this saved our buying very much new.  We bought mattresses new, and washer-dryers new, but whenever we could, we checked good garage sales, consignment shops and other less expensive sources for things our family needed.  Now we will shift some gears.   Finally, we have reached a point where the freed up storage space has more value than many of the items occupying it.
          So I have begun to take things to consignment shops as a consignee.  I sell things on Ebay. I took a lot of nice clothing no one ever wore to Goodwill recently. So much so, in fact, that I got a 20% discount when I bought a new autumn wreath for our daughter there.   Slowly but surely we are lightening the load here.  We sent some garden tools over to my daughter's tool shed recently. It's funny but I don't remember acquiring many of these tools. I wonder if I could give her some chickens ? I will save some things for our sons as they might change their minds about wanting some of the things we have here.
         It will be good to find homes for many of the things we don't use, or never found the time to use.

        These are often challenges for people with an interest in preparedness.  We buy or somehow acquire specialized tins for breadbaking, grinders for meat, grinders for grain and then we might not ever use these.  Space occupied by things we don't use is space that is unavailable for additional food storage which can be the most important of all.   When they first came out I bought a Soda Stream machine thinking that making our own sodas with minimal sugar or stevia would not only be cheaper, but would be healthier.  We have never used it.  My acquiring it coincided with a health kick all my kids went on where they rejected soda as bad for their teeth and general health.  It's funny that all the years we raised them I wasn't able to get that point across.  This year, I gave the Soda Stream machine to my daughter.