BOXES AT BOX HILL

It’s going to happen.  Early in the morning, twenty days from today, an oversized van is going to roll into my driveway and remove the accretion of forty-two years.  The house has already changed.  I’m reminded of the occasional newspaper story about the home of a deceased recluse being found filled with boxes with narrow paths between them.  I’m getting there.

Step carefully!

Most drawers and closets have been emptied; the closets now echo with nothing to absorb the sound waves; the curio cabinets are, curiously, empty and dark; there is no art remaining on the walls.  The continent-spanning railroads of the basement are dismantled and their assets have been packaged up for sale next Saturday.  Along with them are the dusty antique Atwater Kent and Radiola wireless sets from the 20’s which were to have been restored.  Not everything on the list gets done.

Just in time for Christmas giving.

The tools from the perf boards above the stained glass and woodwork benches have been packed and the benches will be dismantled and moved.  The empty frames and mats from the framing bench have been packed and the bench will also move.  The files from the office have been packed but the boxes opened a couple of times as I frantically sought some datum.  The computer and its display and printers remain, not to be moved until the movers box me up.  Pearl is apprehensive, wanting to be by every box as it’s packed.  She finds security in her litter box, her food dishes, and her side of the electric blanket at night.  Come to think about it, so do I.

I’ve had moments of feeling overwhelmed as closet after cabinet after room revealed mountains of “stuff” that had to be sorted down to movables.  How could it ever be done?  The cliche answer: one room at a time.  And, it has happened that way.  Still, each zone has its nasty surprises.  Last night, preparing to attack the storage end of the basement I came across three portable file boxes filled with the records of a contentious business situation in the mid 90’s.  Can I dispose of those?  Tough; sort of like a security blanket.

All spaces have revealed the things that were put away for later, but later is now.  Some are sent to the curb — about seven barrels so far — but others are boxed up for ….. later.  I went through a video phase for a few years in the 80’s and I used to ask my late wife, “When are we going to look at these tapes?’  “When we move to Medford Leas.” she would answer.  I’ll be ready.

I did purge the scrapbooks from the 60’s, transferring “important” things to the family memorabilia file.  The photo albums from the late seventies on through into this century will be moved and I’m going to look at all of them when I “move to Medford Leas.”  Inevitably, however, the occasional heart-stirring item pops up:  cards Marty Lou and I exchanged with hand written personal notes added;  home made birthday or Father’s Day cards or sketches of me from my daughters; pictures of us looking impossibly young.  This is all bittersweet but I’m on track.  I had one moment of near-meltdown last week as the enormity of the symbolism surged through me.  But, it passed.  My life outside of the house won’t change, and there’s a whole new world of people and activities to be added.  I even got my first invitation to a neighborhood brunch which they hold every couple of months.

My daughter, Sigrid, has been a great gift basket of physical and moral support.  She has dug in and just plain packed while I would dither over how to optimally load each box.  She has been a catalyst in helping me to decide what goes, what stays for the contents sale, and what goes to the curb.  She and her husband, Bob, moved pounds and pounds of my art (a van full plus my back seat and trunk) to the townhouse last Sunday.  More of that is going to happen now as we want to move the breakables, some of the antiques, and the things that are hard to pack.

My buddy, Barbara, has also pitched in, giving up some days to pack the kitchenwares (she delighted in purging my spice cabinet of contents dating as far back as the 80’s) and plates, and my collections of cloisone, bohemian glass, and pattern glass.  She has also seen to my nourishment and recovery after physically demanding days.

I cancelled a club photo expedition to the Canaan Valley in West Virginia, and a club field trip at the Cedar Run wildlife refuge to focus on sorting and packing.  I have, however, tried to get away for a bit on weekend days.  For one such trip Barbara and I hiked the two mile trail around Amico Island.  It was a beautiful day and the woods and the adjacent Delaware River were lovely.  Here’s the interior pond on the island.

Amico Island Pond

Another trip took me to a favorite spot, Wheaton Village near Millville, NJ.  There was a terrific craft show going on.  Glass pumpkins were evident and I watched them being created in the glass house.  Hmmm, I wonder if I could put a furnace in the new basement???

The process and a result.

19 Responses to “BOXES AT BOX HILL”

  1. terryfic3d Says:

    Congratulations Ralph! I know all too well how overwhelming this is. I’m glad I went to your open house a few years ago to see your trains! That was such a treat.

    • Ralph Berglund Says:

      Thanks, Terry. I have thought more than once about your having just gone through all of this. Hope you’re enjoying your new venue. Missed your input at last Wednesday’s board meeting.

  2. Ken Curtis Says:

    Wow, Ralph. Seems like one chapter in your life has ended and another one about to begin. Sure looks like you’ve done a ton of work getting ready to move. Good luck to you. I assume you’ll be continuing photography and writing this blog as you are a good writer and I enjoy reading about your adventures.

    • Ralph Berglund Says:

      Thanks, Ken. Yes, I really posted because since I’ve been so preoccupied with the move I’ve not been out shooting very much (I envied the Cranbury and SJCC trips to Canaan Valley), and I needed a post fix. I certainly intend to continue my photography. I can’t imagine what it would be like to stop, especially since I’m still learning. And, I intend to continue the journal as long as I’ve got something to post. As I noted in the post, my life outside of my home won’t change; I’ll just be sleeping and eating and editing and printing at a new place.

  3. Sally Vennel Says:

    Ralph – I know what a job it is. having moved 11 times myself but never after so long. The next one will be the hardest. Perhaps we will be following.you. We have two good friends in Medford Leas and I will email you their info. I can’t begin to tell you how much I have enjoyed following your blog. Well done and keep it going. You inspire me!! Will you be on the Island next summer?? If so we must get together. Good luck to you.
    Sally

    • Ralph Berglund Says:

      Thanks, Sally. Yes, I’ll be back at the shore again next spring; I’m twenty minutes closer! Let me know by email who your friends are at the Leas and I’ll keep an eye open for them … out of the 600 people that live on the campus.

  4. Hilda Howell Says:

    Good luck Ralph in your move. I’m sure you will enjoy your new home. I love reading your blogs and seeing your
    photography. Thank you for sharing your talent with us. Give our love to Sigrid and Kirsten and the family.
    Love, hilda and jim

  5. MikeP Says:

    Sorry you missed those trips… but there will be many others. Thanks for the look into the future. I think I should probably start now… then maybe I will be ready in 25yrs… 🙂

  6. Kathleen Lapergola Says:

    Best of Luck with the move Ralph!!! Thanks for the update and photos. Glad I am not moving!!! Enjoy your new home!!

  7. Nancy Krieger Says:

    There was a great art class in that basement as well…….
    Must have missed you at the Wheaton Craft Show – one of the real gems of South Jersey. Wish you all the best at Medford Leas.

    • Ralph Berglund Says:

      Thanks, Nancy. I thought the Wheaton show was much better than when Barbara and I had a booth there a few years ago. I enjoyed it. Also enjoyed seeing you “across a crowded room” at the club last Tuesday.

  8. Linda Kamholz Says:

    Enjoyed reading your journal, Ralph. As I’ve said before, you are a wonderful writer.
    Tomorrow will be 36 years in our house and although my intentions are good about cleaning out one drawer at a time, I never seem to get around to it. I should read your entry every so often — perhaps it will jump start me into actually getting something done. Good luck with your move — sounds like you have a good support team. I’m sure you’ll have plenty of stories to tell about this whole experience. Looking forward to it.

    • Ralph Berglund Says:

      Thanks, Linda. I’m pleased that others enjoy my writing. After too many years of writing dry technical docs or business letters and agreements I’m enjoying the freedom of some stream of consciousness. Sometimes captured images get me moving, but sometimes an image is compelled to fit the blog theme (as in the boxes image). Either way, it’s fun
      BTW, relax….you’ve got another six years.

  9. denisebushphoto Says:

    Wow! I’m overwhelmed just looking at all your ‘stuff’! I’m glad you could get away from it to enjoy the fall weather and color. Best wishes in your new home!

    • Ralph Berglund Says:

      Thanks, D. Basement hobby sale over. (Lots of trains left if you need any.) I can see the top of the hill, now. Eleven days until T- (Truck) day. Have enjoyed your WV series along with those of Ken’s. Can’t wait for life AM (after moving).

  10. Claire Winward Says:

    Dear Ralph, How special of you to share these thoughts and observations with us all. Obviously, you are a very “together” guy! Value for the wonderful life you and your wife created and now looking forward with enthusiasm to the new “life” you’ll generously share with us all. Love ya, Claire


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