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The meaning of “Ugh” boxes

As planned, Eleanor and I went to our storage units again today for another session of sorting and groaning. We spent all day Friday there, when I should have been working, digging through boxes and finding buried “treasures” that we have not missed in the past year at all.

There is a particular category of box we call the “UGH” boxes, because of the sound we inevitably make when we open them and find a collection of what the movers euphemistically called “miscellaneous”. The best “ugh” boxes contain a wide range of stuff we absolutely do not need, yet which is just a bit too good to throw away directly. Thus, we have to sort through it, pull out the trash, find homes for numerous other items, and re-categorize the few things we are actually planning to keep.

Friday we sorted through at least a dozen “ugh” boxes, and ended up with 440 lbs of trash. I know the exact weight because the Waste Transfer Center weighs us going in and out. There’s a $39 minimum charge each time we go through, up to 760 lbs, so we are trying to keep our visits to the dump to a bare few. We also brought about eight boxes of stuff to friends and relatives over the weekend.

Today we met friends, a younger couple with a large house, and they took a pickup truckload full of stuff — and they’ll be back on Monday for more! Even still, our storage units are still more than half full. Upon examination, it appears the major culprits are: (1) furniture; (2) food; (3) books. Eleanor stored a lot of her pantry because we thought we’d be back in six months. There were about 20 boxes of non-perishable foodstuffs stored, which we have been sorting and sharing with anyone who will take some. Of course, some of it has ended up in the Airstream, too.

As you might guess, I read a lot. My library is not particularly large for someone in the writing profession, but nonetheless I have more than a dozen boxes of books stored. I decided to sell or give away all the books except a few exceptional or rare ones. Today I culled out eight boxes of books and they are loaded in the back of the Armada for dispersion on Monday. Some will get mailed to friends, most will end up at the local used-book store.

I kept some of my favorite authors: Paul Theroux, Stanislaw Lem, Primo Levi, Ian Fleming, Philip K Dick, and a few others. I also kept a few favorite references, including my collection of caving books and mushroom books. It took me years to get those together. All the Peterson’s field guides (birds, mushrooms, wildflowers) will go in the trailer for future hikes. The Heinlein collection will go to Brett, who appreciates science fiction. All the popular authors who somehow managed to slip into my library but who I never liked, will go to the used-book store: Dick Francis, Stephen King, Clive Cussler, etc. We kept a few Agatha Christies for book swaps — they are almost as good as cash in a campground.

Charlotte beach party.jpg

After logging six hours at the storage units, we came back to Charlotte for a fire, roasted hot dogs, s’mores, and a big paper-burning session. Goodbye, decade-old tax forms, pre-2000 credit card statements, maintenance records of cars and closing documents from properties we no longer own, divorce forms from 1989, and much more.

Charlotte sunset.jpg

It is a huge job, culling down the detritus of decades, but I think of it as a spring cleaning long overdue. Except perhaps for a rocking chair, nothing we relinquished today will be missed.

3 Responses to “The meaning of “Ugh” boxes”

  1. terrie Says:

    glad all that stuff back to 1989 made a good fire for you…don’t worry…you will collect more….

  2. Rhea Says:

    That is such a great feeling, getting rid of stuff. I am doing that, too. And I hope to one day take to the open road…

  3. adam Says:

    Burn Baby Burn! Love that feeling. I recall burning reams of asignments and recollections when I graduated from college. Better than making a collage.