Treehouse (foreground) and Creek House with board-and-batten siding appearing.

Clearing Out All But the Love

Treehouse (foreground) and Creek House with board-and-batten siding appearing. Treehouse, the garage plus with studio above (foreground), and Creek House, both with Craftsman details appearing.

In a month and a day, I’ll hand the keys to Terraphilia to the buyers.

Over the next few weeks, I have to finish the master bath (it’s close); sort, pack and move the contents of the house and guest cottage; and clear out the garage and shop. Of course, Creek House and Treehouse need to be ready for me to occupy as well. Yikes.

I still have some writing deadlines to meet. But as of today, all of my spare time goes to organizing, packing, and deciding what I no longer need. So at mid-afternoon yesterday, I headed out to the garage, thinking I’d spend an hour or so downsizing my gardening supplies.

On the way I decided to clean the barbecue, which has sat unused on the back porch since Richard died a year and eight months ago. I figured I could sell it.

Now that it's clean, the 16-year-old barbecue looks pretty good. Now that it’s clean, the barbecue looks pretty good.

Only once I had spent most of an hour scrubbing, checking to make sure all three burners lit, shooting a couple of photos, and looking at new barbecues online to get an idea of what this one might be worth, I decided to keep it.

It has a history: Richard and I bought that barbecue sixteen years ago when we moved to Salida. It was our summer kitchen the whole time we lived across the alley in our little renovated 1902 brick duplex.

Of course, everything I have has a history. The fact that I am trading 4,100 square feet of space for a little over 1,400 (garage included) generally keeps the “it has a history” excuse from being too compelling. In the case of the barbecue though, I decided that it could serve as my summer kitchen again at Creek House.

When I finally made it to the garage, my neighbor Bev Gray came over to help. She cleared all of the garden-clutter off the shelves and helped me decide what I wanted to keep (who needs five dozen plastic pots?) and what could be donated to the local Habitat for Humanity ReStore store or recycled.

Tidy shelves of camping gear (above) and garden stuff (below). Tidy shelves of camping gear (above) and garden stuff (below).

By the time we finished, the piles of gardening stuff to keep had diminished considerably.

I donned my face mask–I have serious respiratory allergies–and swept that part of the garage thoroughly. Then I headed inside and took a lovely long soak in the tub in my almost-finished master bathroom tub-shower area.

After which I imagined writing a blog post. Until I remembered I needed to call my dad and check in. By the time I got off the phone, my brain was fried.

I couldn’t resist going out to the garage one more time before bed. I had to admire those newly clean, organized and spacious shelves. And move a couple of boxes of books to the “library book sale” stack in the car….

When my energy for sorting, re-purposing, organizing and packing falters, I have only to walk down to the other end of the block.

Seeing the progress there reminds me of where I’m headed, and why I’m putting all this time and effort into sifting through the detritus of my life for what I want to carry with me as I go onward.

Treehouse from the shop loading dock. (It's name comes from the vantage point of the studio, which feels like its in the trees.) Treehouse from the shop loading dock. (Its name comes from the lofty vantage point of the studio.)

It’s not a bad thing. Most of the memories that come with my stuff are good ones, or at least sweeter than sad. I have been fortunate in many ways, recent losses aside.

That the love of my life is no longer with me is undeniably hard. Still, I am determined though to walk forward with just sort of love we shared, as a way to honor our time together. That steadies me somewhat as I look at how much I have to do in the weeks ahead.

I’ll be ready when the time comes, I know. Just as I know that Creek House is exactly where I need to go as I walk this new life on my own.

With love. Always.