the ghosts in cardboard boxes

I’ve lived with ghosts in cardboard boxes for too long.

Unrelenting characters from stories now long gone.

Brave and solemn tokens calling out to write a song.

I’ve hauled those heavy ghosts and now I’m done.

There hasn’t been a lot of wood working in the workshop this week, but there has been a lot of working on the woodshop.

Say that five times fast.

My wife and daughters have gone to visit her family for the week and this has afforded me the rare opportunity and extra time to spend all of my time in the garage, save meals and sleeping. I suppose I could have made some shavings and sawdust, but with my vise hardware in transit I was at a natural pause in that process, and it seemed like a good time to get something else done.

That something else meant finally dealing with sorting through the last remaining pile of boxes that I inherited when my dad died (almost two years ago now). This is no small task.

In March of 2014 I had finally cleared the garage from all of the boxes left from our move two years earlier. The garage was mine, or so I thought. That didnt last long because in May of 2014 it was literally stuffed wall to wall and piled to dangerous heights with everything that made it from my parents’ house to ours. I wanted to cry every time I looked at it.

Little by little I carved out enough space for a work table, and then a little more so I could move the boxes back and forth and feel like I was getting somewhere. Several yard sales and lots of trips to the local thrift shops later I worked it down to a pile that took up about 1/3 of the space. That’s the third you don’t see when I’m taking pictures for the blog, but I see every time I walk through the garage. The third that I stare at as I’m working and that I had to squeeze around just to open a window from time to time.

It’s the third that’s full of all of the most difficult choices. Not only was all of my stuff from my childhood in that pile, but also the pictures, the keepsakes and the tiny remembrances of the people I’ve loved and lost. My grandparents were in that third. My brother was in that third, and now so was my father.

This week has been about that third. I’ve re-organized shelves, re-configured storage spaces, re-visited the past, resisted the urge to burn it all and walk away, and finally realized that saving the important things is an art. And a wonderful thing is happening. Although I have to throw away a thing or two I have come to terms with the ghosts in some very tactile ways and I am beginning to enter a place where I am no longer haunted by them, but comforted by what remains. I’ve gotten to revisit their lives and remember the best about each of them, and that is a gift.



The other gift came from my wife.

When I told her a few weeks ago that I wished I had set up shop differently so that my workbench was under a window she said “well, why don’t you move things around”?

Surely it couldn’t be that simple? I thought it over and came up with a hundred reasons why it wouldn’t work, and finally with a plan to make it happen.

This week has been about making it happen. About finally clearing out the cardboard boxes and storing the rest in proper order. By doing that I have been able to shift my work space to the window as I had wanted with enough clear wall space for my workbench-to-be and my tool chest to sit right beside it.

The saw till is already on the wall and my tools are making the final migration to the Eastern light on the other side of the garage. And I  should say that I was floored by how easy that part was. Having most or all of my tools in a chest made that transition the easiest part of the job.

The work is nowhere near done, but that’s what the rest of the week is for. By the time my vise hardware arrives I intend to be ready for it.


One Comment Add yours

  1. Wonderfully written James. Here’s to ghosts in the Woodshop and connecting with strangers.

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s