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Frans Francken the Younger, Chamber of Art and Curiosities (1636)
"Every human activity produces leftovers …"

Every human activity produces Leavings, leftovers. We installed a new screen door and ended up with a few parts leftover, not because we didn't follow the installation directions, but because we did. The door as delivered was capable of being installed in several different ways depending upon specific conditions. Almost everything's like that now, which means that installing anything will surely increase at least the net inventory of odd bolts or screws, and probably leave a single use, tin whistle piece of metal I won't be able to justify discarding, so I'll retain it Just In Case. Of course I have a storage problem in my basement, just like everyone else does. I've retained so very many Leavings that I cannot for the life of me remember what I have retained. I also can never find an odd screw or bolt when I need one, though I imagine that I certainly must have at least one of every kind known to man. If I do, I cannot find where I set them aside.

Years ago, a friend gave me a dozen old wooden Coca-Cola cases which I set along the wall edge of my massive workbench to produce an instant warren of little cubby holes, a genuine Curiosity Cabinet useful, I thought, for holding my Leavings, and it has been useful, though with 144 little cubbies, there are far too many for me to remember what and where.
The little jars filled with hardware, screws and bolts and such, do not so much display as contain. I have to take each down to see what's inside, and most, now, hold a mix of leavings, unlikely pairings, dissimilar siblings. My whole system amounts to a random access operation where chance determines whether or not I ever find anything. I ask myself if I'm feeling lucky. I usually tell my self that I'm not.

I always told myself that I would work hard to avoid becoming like my mother, who, by the time she was my age had retained a victorian house filled with her blessed keepsakes. I've probably failed, but only by degrees. Others' inventories of Leavings always seem worse than one's own. She retained so many keepsakes that they were essentially unaccessible. Later, much later, when she moved into assisted living, I had the dubious pleasure of clearing out the place. Of course, everything was automatically precious and nothing could just be summarily discarded, not even the three foot tall stuffed dog that sure smelled funny. I dutifully boxed up everything, hefting those boxes up and into the garage overhead, where they sat to await the Mythical Future Garage Sale of the Century which never happened. My older sister finally found some organization that agreed to take the whole inventory sight unseen. Most of it, I imagine, they shipped directly to the municipal landfill.

I yesterday hand-trucked the last three boxes of leftover floor planking to the basement where they and their six brothers will idle in repose until, as The Muse imagines, we install it somewhere in the basement. Of course, there's not enough to cover any room there and we have three boxes leftover from the living and dining room planking, a different kind of flooring and perhaps just enough to cover a closet. With most of The Grand Refurbish, I've been scrupulous about taking out garbage. On garbage day, contractor bags get hauled out of hiding and workrooms get vacuumed. We've made a few timely trips out to the landfill to dispose of carpet just about as soon as we removed it. Other than cans of paint and a few odd screen door parts, I've added little to the net inventory of Leavings this time, other than new tools, which more than make up for all of the new odd bolts and screws I've
not retained this time. Every human activity produces leftovers, Leavings.

©2021 by David A. Schmaltz - all rights reserved

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