Friday, June 26, 2015

Friday Fun : : Memory Lane aka Cleaning the Attic

Anne McAllister is getting ready to make a move.

Literally.  After what is pretty much a lifetime -- at least my kids' lifetimes -- in this house, we are moving next summer.  It's been in the plans for several years, but we weren't ready, the DH wasn't retired, we had no specific house in mind. We knew the general 'where' -- Montana -- but not the specifics.

Then last month we bought a house.

We're moving.

Not right away.  You don't just pick up 40 odd years of life, dump it in a moving van and go. At least I don't.

But a year from now we expect to have sorted out those 40 odd years into the definitive "moving to Montana" piles and the "why have I kept that all these years?" piles, and heading west.

To that end, when our daughter was home visiting last week, she organized our onslaught against the attic.

Let me explain about the attic to those of you who live in post WWII houses with something that might be termed "actual closet space" -- we don't have any.

We have tiny closets -- five of them -- which includes the downstairs coat closet which was cut under the stairway and is, oh, maybe eighteen inches deep at the top, from which it descends to about three feet high at the back (beneath the stairs) before it gives up and ends in a wall.  One of the closets has a window.  One has drawers beneath it and a depth that is the width of a sportcoat -- barely.

But we have an attic. Anything of note that isn't immediately needed is in the attic. (Or the basement, but today we are NOT going there).  That includes clothes for whichever seasons it is not, books, Christmas decorations, books, furniture, books, bikes, books scooters, books, toys, books, outgrown clothes for all seasons, even the one we are currently in, packing materials, books, suitcases, and . . . did I mention books?

Not all the books that everyone else in the world has written since the beginning of time. No, not just those.  Mine, too. I've written 68 of them. I get 25 author's copies of each. (For some I got 100. What was I thinking?) I also get three copies of each foreign edition the publisher remembers to send me.  Over the years, while I may have missed some, I've definitely received a lot.

So . . . there are, um, books.

Under Dear Daughter's guidance -- and firm resolve and boundless energy -- we dealt with most of them.  Not just the books.  All of it -- the clothes, the furniture, the whatnots and whirligigs and everything else.

I have been mailing boxes of memories to sons every day for the past week. I still have a few more boxes to go.

Surprisingly, it hasn't been all drudgery. It's even, astonishingly, been fun (see Friday Fun, above)  We've shared memories, recollections, laughter.  We've uncovered more Matchbox cars than any one family who doesn't own shares in the company should probably have.  We have yet to find the youngest son's Construx -- though he insists they have to be there somewhere.

We looked through high school yearbooks and reminisced.  We have packed up two boxes of baseball trophies for one son, and wished he was here to recall the specifics of the games and tournaments in which they were won.

We've found two boxes of photos of people whom we absolutely do not know.  They look like fun and interesting people, and we all wonder who they are -- and how we got their photographs (could they have come with the house? The photos were from the 60s.  They went to the South Pacific. They had midwestern winters from the look of things.) If these sound like your photos, let me know and I'll send them on to you.  We also have the solid cherry rocking  chair -- which someone (not us!) painted white -- that belonged to our neighbors' grandfather.  Now we just need to find some descendant who would like to have it back.

So . . . we now have a stack of boxes labeled "Ready for Montana."  We have had full trash bins last week and this.  We've taken stuff still worth using to local charity shops.  And -- eureka -- we found the floor of the attic. I knew it was down there somewhere.  We had a busy week which was, fortunately, by Iowa standards, not a terribly hot week.

Mostly we had fun.  We sifted our way through most of our married lifetime of memories.  We looked back and it was good. We're looking forward, too, and that looks promising as well.

Like the Fisher-Price adventure people we uncovered up in the attic, covered with thirty-odd years of grim and not a little bit of life's experience, we have had Adventures.  It was so worth it.

Now that the attic is semi-sorted, Anne is tackling the tiny closets -- and writing a four book series about the Men of Hard Broke Creek.  

The first one, about Clint McCullough, will be out in the fall.  Ten years ago, when Clint left Montana behind, he thought he had all the answers.   Now he's back -- and it turns out he was wrong. 

His younger brother, Cole, was the hero of Last Year's Bride which for a while this month was free on all ebook platforms.  It might still be.  Please check it out if you haven't.  Clint gets a couple of very small mentions.


  1. it's is wonderful to know you can take your time moving! when I moved after 25 years we only had 1 day to pack and leave so buy the time we unpacked everything it was well over 2 years! Good luck on the new home!

    1. Charlene, I can't believe you had to do that! Argh! I would probably have to move everything then -- broken pencils, butter wrappers, my kids' childhood collections of stones from the backyard... Doesn't bear thinking about. Congratulations for doing so and coming out sane -- albeit busy uncovering things for the next two years!

  2. Great that you have foreign editions of all of yr bks!

    It must be fun to see them side by side, how the titles changed and all. I love it when authors have foreign editions on their sites and you can see them there.

    I heard that Japanese editions of romance books can even be illustrated, Manga style.

    Good luck with the move!

    1. Viv, yes, the foreign editions are fun. Also taking up a lot of space. So I'm sending several boxes to a Chicago area library which has indicated they are eager to have them for their patrons. I'm thrilled. I will take photos of all the covers before I send them on, though. I do have some up on my website, but by no means all of them -- just a smattering really.

      I do have a few manga books in Japanese. They are so cool! It's particularly exciting when one shows up on the doorstep. I have a Japanese friend who reads them and tells me how well they reflect the original. Of course, some of it I can see from the illustrations, but not all of it.