The Landing

For the past 22 years, there has always been a room in our house where junk goes to live.

This is an after photo, obviously
It started with our first apartment. The second bedroom holding wedding presents that were far more generous than our poverty-wage accommodations.

When we moved into Dun Elsie, the house was so big, it appeared empty. There were rooms we hardly ever used. But as our family grew and we grew together we expanded to fit the house. Our stuff accumulated and it needed a place to go when it was not being used.

Think of it as a purgatory for items that aren't quite ready for the garage sale, thrift store, basement or dump. 

Many of the rooms in the house have taken their turn - particularly in the early remodeling days when we would move everything out of one room to refinish it. After all that remodeling work, not all the clutter would return, some inevitably would get left behind in one of the out-of-sight rooms.

Over the years, we have come to live in the more of the house, so there are fewer out-of-sight rooms.

Lately, the room in question has been the landing - a square room between the three bedrooms upstairs. The heirloom settee got put up there at Christmas to make room for the Christmas tree and never came back down. We decided we liked having our chairs next to each other by the fire, Amy and I, so we can rock and read books on rainy days. 

Grace's old dresser got put out on the landing there when it was no longer needed. It had been filled with dress-up clothes and princess crowns. She has out-grown these things, it seems. 

Hidden in a corner was our old bed. Bought before the girls came along from guy in Oregon who used to run around England buying up antiques at estate sales, shipping family heirlooms to the states for young childless couples to furnish their homes with. We'd replaced it with a new bed long ago, but its carved legs and hand carved trim was too nice to put down in the basement. 

Yet it was the books that needed the most work. There were three bookshelves overflowing with books. Books sent to me by publishers for review when I was editing Books brought home from church. Handyman and how-to books that I culled from thrift stores. I used these old books to teach myself home repair and remodeling. These books marked both our ambitions and our achievements, our dreams and mythology. Gardening books, remodeling books; books purchased at the local library book sale and books lent and given by friends and family. So many books that still want for reading. 

Then there are the other books, well worn and piled in stacks on the corner shelves. These books, kids books, learn to read books. Books, alas, the girls have grown out of. 

Lindsay will be a teenager next week. How is that possible? Here is the Bernstein Bears "Spooky Old Tree" the book we had to read to keep her on the toilet long enough to toilet train her. Here is Danny the Dinosaur -- a book that I read so many times to Grace that I have it memorized. It was the childhood book of my friend Kevin, with his name still in the front. 

WE found my clip books with articles and columns from my years in the newspaper business, as well as a business card from when Amy worked writing for the Cascade Cattleman down in Klamath Falls. 

There were scrapbooks stowed away on a corner shelf. Most are only partly filled with pictures. 

We found old photos of the run-down house we encountered 22 years ago, cold rooms with apartment furniture and broken windows. There were pictures of where I lived and worked in Carlingford, Ireland, and a picture of Amy and I - still just college sweethearts the day before graduation. 

Lindsay has three baby books started, Grace had only a page or two filled out in hers -- not much time for scrapbooking when you have a three year old to chase. I was full time in nursing school when Grace came along, I was gone more often than home back then and Amy had to manage both girls on her own. 

We are sentimental about the books that will never again be read. We sort a pile of Christmas books and save them, for those we turn to year after year. We set aside the ancient books - the children's books passed down from Amy's dad and aunt. Children's books from the 1940s that our children now have grown to love. Tuffy the Tugboat, Uncle Wiggily and my favorite, the surreal masterpiece Mister Dog. There are the books from Amy's childhood - Amy's Long Night and the Little House on the Prairie books. She loved the Laura Ingalls Wilder books so much that she read them aloud to me when we were first married. 

So too, do we set aside those special children's books of our generation that we can't bear to let go. In each of these, between the pages, lies a memory of a moment in Lindsay and Grace's life - a memory we hope they will pass along to their children.  

WE are making a pile for the library book sale, and I have a few nursing textbooks to give away. I've found a friend who wants the old bed that we just don't any place to put. 

Our house was empty once, now it is filled and cozy. The settee, which has been handed down from Amy's grandma, is now cleaned and has a prime position on the landing next to a full -- but neatly organized -- bookshelf.

It is the perfect place to sit, and read a book. 

1 comment:

  1. I still love Danny and the Dinosaur and remember reading it to Lindsay! Kevin would approve mightily as well :)