Sorting Through Stuff

The kids and I spent Monday through Thursday of this week at my folks’ house, helping them prepare for their move to their new home.

They’ve lived in the company house at PV headquarters for 36 years now, so there is plenty of stuff to sort through.  We cleaned out closets, peeked into trunks, and mined under beds.  I came up with a few treasures, like this old Polaroid camera:



There was a lot of stuff up for consideration… like this stuffed Western cat (below), which we think was made by Bert… or maybe Elsie… or maybe June… and which we think is meant to hold up tall boot legs… or maybe it’s just for decoration.  I brought this kitty home, to my house, only because my kids love him, but believe me, there were plenty of handmade items like this — doilies, afghans, latch-hook pillows — that were on the chopping block this week.  Mom really feels that handmade gifts should be kept and treasured through a lifetime.  But a person just plain runs out of room eventually.  And a person also forgets what came from whom.  There was one latch-hook pillow with a horse-and-sunset design about which Mom told me a great story:  her mom, my grandma, had made it and given it to Mom as Mom was leaving for college in the ’60s.

Mom told me that story on Wednesday.  Then my sister, who was born in ’69, came on Thursday, and she claimed that she had made that latch-hook pillow.

Caught ya, Mom!  Mom will tell you anything if it means she doesn’t have to throw away or give away a possession.  You really have to watch her!



In all fairness, I must tell the story of the shirt below.  My parents own a ton of clothes, and we sorted through a lot of them this week.  Mostly they couldn’t part with much.  Then Dad decided that he could stand to send this shirt, below, to the Rescue Mission (because he doesn’t think he can get his arms into it anymore, which turns out is one of the surprise side-effects of withstanding numerous buck-offs).

Well, I had to cry foul right then, because I personally gave this shirt to Dad.  It was one of the first gifts I actually felt responsible for choosing and giving to him.  I picked it out at Corral West, though Mom probably paid for it, and I thought he was right in style when he wore it back in the early ’90s.

I couldn’t let this shirt go to the Rescue Mission.  So I brought it home.  Because I have tons of extra storage.  (Ha.)



It could come back in style, right?

For his part, Dad (who is still recovering from broken ribs, a broken collar bone, and a punctured lung) helps with the moving by sitting in his recliner and sorting through drawers.  His drawers contain long-johns and white t-shirts and thin black socks, yes, but also files’ worth of church bulletins, event programs, obituaries, graduation announcements, thank-you cards, and random photos that he’s saved through the years.  Truly, I can probably count on my fingers and toes the number of Sundays my dad has missed church in my lifetime.  And he has kept the church bulletin from every single Sunday.  He brings it home, folds it carefully, and stores it in his dresser.

In addition to the church bulletins, my folks have always found a lot of meaning in thank-you notes and greeting cards.  They display these items on their bureau before stashing them away in various drawers.  The gauntlet has fallen, though…

… because Mom is refusing to move anything to their new house — which is five miles away from their old house — which isn’t completely sorted through and loved and useable.  That means Dad is not allowed to move his bulletins and cards and obituaries without seriously thinking the matter over.  Good thing they aren’t in a big hurry to move out of the ranch house.  Both he and she have a LOT of ranch paperwork, half-finished photo albums, newspaper clippings, and general memorabilia to look through.


As I flitted between cleaning out closets and trying to keep the three young Blake children happy and alive this week, Dad would periodically call me over to his chair:  “Tam, look at this.”  And he’d hand me some obituary or Christmas play program or birthday card to read over.  And I’ll admit I read them all with interest.  A few I spirited away to the garbage can, but some articles I brought home to keep myself.  Like this program from the second ranch rodeo we put on, which Dad filled in with the calcutta prices for each team before folding it multiple times:



Next, this program from my high school graduation, which he proudly extracted from his underwear drawer:



And this picture of me in second grade.  Hey, fringe was totally in back then.  And so were clip-on earrings:



Mom and Dad and I cleaned and sorted in the old house on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday.  Then, on Thursday, my sister showed up with my niece and nephew and an army of 10-year-olds and 12-year-olds.  (Mom refused the help of the men who work at the ranch or the men who work on my Uncle Cody’s farm, though all offered their help.  She wanted a low-stress moving day; she only wanted to move a few select items and she didn’t want anybody asking her a bunch of questions or threatening to carry out anything that wasn’t nailed down.  So my sister brought the junior high kids, promising they would only do what they were told to do.  Yes, it took six of them to carry a mattress… but they got the job done.  Probably only because my son, 5-year-old Asher, was calling out orders all day long.  The kid truly thinks he is the foreman in pretty much any situation.)



In between loads to the new house, the kids found a little time to soak in the irrigation canal.  Below, our niece Tay and her friend Ella keep my kids afloat.  Thanks, Tay and Ella!



Phew.  That much is done.  Mom and Dad spent their first night at their new house Thursday night.  However, that does not mean their old house is empty.  Still a lot of stuff to sort through.  Oh well.  Gives me something to write about.

© Tami Blake

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