Monday, August 22, 2011

You can’t be a minimalist if you’re sentimental

I had a perfect holiday, doing nothing with my sister Jen.

The first day it rained and we spent the afternoon clearing out the top drawer of Ma’s sewing chest. It’s much easier to do that kind of job with someone else, especially if they are sentimental as well as practical. There are times when in order to be able to throw things away, you need permission from someone who is also emotionally engaged with the material. We only had one tiny temporary tiff, relating to a pair of damaged, rusty scissors in a scabbard made from the finger of a leather glove. I wanted to keep it as an example of Ma’s recycling (the finger of the glove) but Jen wanted to chuck it because the scissors were rubbish, and the scabbard was not made with care. “Come on – two staples! Not Ma’s best effort!”

She was right.

Meanwhile, I have at home a pewter ash tray made by Pa at school in the 1930s. No-one wants it, but no-one wants to chuck it out. Jen and I can remember Pa lying on the carpet in front of the fire, reading aloud his latest article for Farm and Country so Ma could make editorial comments. He would be smoking, and using this ash tray. I’ve had it in my kitchen for three years (since Ma died) and Jen has agreed to have it now. When she’s fed up with it, I’ll take it back.

Aug 2011 046

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