Stuff I’ve Lost, Stuff I’ve Found

Before this summer, I wasn’t aware of how how much it means to me to be able to walk to a specific spot and find the very thing I am needing. Of course, I always knew it pushed unhappy buttons when the paper scissors was missing from its hook or when the birthday card I just bought at Hallmark for a special person went inexplicably AWOL. Having just done the biggest switcharoo of my life to date, I find myself constantly fighting the temptation to be super-annoyed by the things I cannot find. That school laptop charger cord, for instance- where could it possibly be? The cheese grater- who needs cheese anyway? (Me! Us!) That grey shirt I bought 2 weeks before we moved- I have no idea. I can’t even remember if I bought it here or there.

Years ago I often read a book to the children titled Letting Swift River Go. It is the story of a little girl whose home was in a spot where a reservoir was being constructed to supply the thirst in the big city nearby. All the familiar things in her life were removed, one by one, as a dam was constructed at the end of her valley. At one point she was catching fireflies in a jar, and after a few hours of enjoyment, her parents explained to her about fireflies. “You have to let them go, Sally Jane.” The end of the book is her grown-up self, riding in a boat over the drowned village where the fishes now swim, with fireflies winking on and off all around her. “You have to let them go, Sally Jane.”

I quote that to myself often this summer. Nothing on this earth is meant to be always accessible, always static. Well, maybe charger cords are meant to be there, but apparently they haven’t gotten the memo. It’s a happier life when you can let things go.

Doubtless my cheese grater is in one of the kitchen boxes that hasn’t been unpacked, but it was coming apart anyway, and a new one is in order. That’s another thing- as I sort out on this side of the move, I keep wondering, “Why did we bring this along?” There is a clarity that comes with having done without for a few months; one discovers what would truly be missed.

I was unpacking books and realized that the box with my favorites was not among the crowd. This was serious. I distinctly remembered packing them all together- the Michael O’Brien and Elizabeth Goudge ones- from their favored shelf. When I went out to the stack of boxes in the shop and shifted through things, I found not one, but five boxes of books. Oh dear. We’re shy a few shelves, and that’s saying it nicely. The hopeful plan is to have an office with floor to ceiling shelves, but currently that is Gregory’s bedroom. I could definitely live well with only a few woodworking books. I did pitch one that was completely in pieces, but Gregory fished it out of the trash and tenderly put it back together with tape. “Mom! How could you? This is a Drew Langsnor book!” Never mind that it was written in 1978 and has boring black and white photos.

I’ve lost my inhibitions in this move, too. Just kidding. I still have plenty. I know you don’t really believe me unless you know me, because how can you be a blogger and have a private life? Let me tell you about meeting the lovely Shari from “Confessions of a Woman Learning to Live.” When I told her that I love her blog, she said she reads mine. So we were already acquainted with each other, but both of us knew that we don’t really know each other, because we don’t actually tell all. We just explore in depth what we do tell. Haha. Moving from an area you have lived in for 34 years does require more courage than I previously suspected. I have found lots of nice people in northwestern PA, kind and welcoming people who are happy to make space for us here. Even the mailman is thoughtful, and the neighbor brought us fresh corn from his garden.

We are making steady progress on the house. You might say “slow and steady”, but it is progress. Alex did all the trim work while Gabriel was at work. When the little Kia he was driving this past year clunked, he and Gabe spent hours looking for a replacement online. They found one at a dealership nearby and Alex immediately started doing the normal teen-aged-boy routine of upgrades and tint for the windows, etc. I named his car “Squirrel” because it was such a distraction while he was supposed to be doing trim. It is in the shop for inspection and some maintenance currently, and the trim got finished.

Our master bathroom is the big project in the works right now. Gabriel is doing the tile, and then all we need is the vanity. Last night he was sitting at the table with his head in his hands, feeling depressed about all the stuff that should be done before winter. I told him it’s the problem of the DIYer who can do anything. He ends up doing everything, whether it’s practical or not. Then I told him I don’t care about closet doors very much and maybe he should go to bed. It’s what he does when I sit with my head in my hands. We help each other like that.

We’re back to school now. Last week I took the children to get their annual supplies. Experience has taught me that taking the whole tribe at once is overwhelming, so we went 2 at a time. They are freshly supplied with mechanical pencils and pretty notebooks and stickers. We don’t have to do the new wardrobe/shoes thing, but they love this tradition of being turned loose in the back-to-school section. Addy has already done 12 lessons in arithmetic because she was too excited to wait for the official start. The other children laughed at her, but she stoutly held her ground. Yesterday I sorted through the stuff, organized the books one final time, negotiated the spot for the communal pencil sharpener, and set up each child’s desk. School is mostly upstairs, with Olivia in the sunny dormer area of the girls’ room. Gregory will study in his bedroom, and the two younger ones will be under my eye in the actual schoolroom. This routine will be good for us all after the chaotic summer.

Here are a few pictures of finished spots in our home. While tools and supplies swirl around us, and boxes trip us underfoot, we work at making places that feel peaceful.

Admittedly, it’s only a few spaces, but they help us feel home.

One thought on “Stuff I’ve Lost, Stuff I’ve Found

  1. So good to hear from you in your new home! I think about you frequently and wonder how the settling in is going. We worked almost 1.5 years on the house we now live in, so I feel your pain. (Worked on it evenings, weekends, snow days, and holidays.) It helps so much to have a few organized spaces of serenity … love all the pretty touches you are adding already!

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