For the weeks leading up to the start of the weaving course I was in a bit of project limbo. The Katie loom was out of bounds, as I needed it for class. I didn’t want to put anything on the floor loom, as there might be a task set in the class to do at home that I’d more easily weave on it. The knitters loom was free now, but I’d been intending to use it to teach a friend weaving so I didn’t want to put something on that yet.
I did a lot of planning of projects on my To-Do List, but you can only do that for so long. I bought some leather conditioner and, with Paul’s help, treated the leather sofas. I baked. I did some mending. I planned out some knitting machine projects. And finally, I knit a scarf out of some colourful i-cord I bought at a destash sale.
And then forgot to take a photo.
Three weeks ago my Dad’s neighbour died, at 87. Last year she decided he should adopt her cat when she died. He agreed so long as it was written in her will – no chance of fights with her relatives over who got the cat. Off they went to a solicitor and it was revealed that her last will had everything going to a cult she had been involved in previously but wasn’t any more, and didn’t want her estate going to now. When it came to choosing a new executor she didn’t know who to choose, so Dad volunteered.
Oh boy, is he regretting that now. So much work. So much stress. When it first happened he was so wound up that I was truly afraid he’d have a heart attack. And the woman’s house… tiny but filled with so much stuff, all mixed in together. Like a fractal, really. Every room, every cupboard, every drawer, every shelf, every box, every bag, every basket filled with the same combination of objects: cards, letters, cat calendars, Christmas decorations, ornaments, jewellery, stationary, craft supplies, crocheted and knitted soft toys, snacks, religious item, table linens like doilies and such, scarves, candles, soaps, money and documents. The only kinds of objects that weren’t mixed together and spread through most parts of the house were her clothes (her wardrobe was surprisingly well-ordered) and cooking utensils (she didn’t cook).
It was like someone had got her old house, picked it up and shaken it vigorously, and tipped it into this one.
She had no children, her niece is sick and her nephew said “just chuck it all in a skip”. That’s the point where Paul and I got sucked into the vortex that is clearing someone’s house. And it’s a good thing we did. Among the mess we’ve found some amazing old things.
Most of the work has been sorting things into categories. I spent half a day with a friend culling and sorting craft supplies, only to find several baskets and boxes of it later. I spend another half of a day sorting Christmas decorations, only to find several baskets and boxes of it later. She had eleven Christmas trees. ELEVEN. I think she’d saved every greeting card and letter and calendar of her entire 87 years – all mixed in with everything else – as it filled two large recycling bins. I never want to see another greeting card, and my dislike of Christmas has deepened into a full-bodied loathing. I’m beginning to shudder when I see yet another cute picture of a cat or a dog, cut from a magazine or calendar or pet food packaging.
And yet… everything about her belongings spoke of a woman who loved life. And people. And animals. She had a zany and colourful fashion sense and was creative and artistic. She was spiritual but not set in her beliefs, as she had items relating to just about every religion that exists and even a book on alien abduction. She lived in the moment. She didn’t own much of worth but she enjoyed what she had. People near and far loved her. There wasn’t a snobby bone in her frail old body. I’d like to have met her more than just the once.
But I am very thankful that Dad has agreed that he won’t become anyone’s executor again!