Mountain Family: How to coexist with a packrat | VailDaily.com
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Mountain Family: How to coexist with a packrat

Alex MillerVail CO, Colorado
Special to the DailyAlex Miller
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Editors note: Due to non-stop meetings, choir concerts, Mothers Day, etc., this is an encore edition of Mountain Family.You say tom-a-toh, I say tom-ah-to, you like to retain everything youve ever acquired, I prefer to pitch anything Im not using at the moment and hope I never need it again.Maybe not the most lyrical reinterpretation of the old song, but one of the many points of diversion my wife and I must deal with is our respective views on stuff. My ultimate ideal is to be like KwaiChang Caine in the old Kung Fu show, where I have this one little bag that has my flute, a toothbrush, a change of underwear and perhaps a little trail mix. My wife would like a semi-trailer in the backyard for the many things that fall under the category of you never know when you might need it.If you look at my car, then look at our garage, you can gain an instant understanding of where Im at versus my wife.Growing up, my dad was Lord of the Garage. It wasnt neat, but it was his, and my mother never made any claims on that space. Somehow, I screwed up when my marriage began and failed to pee in the proper corners to assert this territory for myself. Our two-car garage has never housed a vehicle, but it does have a thrift-stores worth of clothes none of us will ever fit in again; pieces-parts to things weve long since lost or sold; items retained out of pure optimism theyll be used some day; and true junk that simply needs to be identified as such and disposed of.My car, on the other hand, contains nothing almost. Sure, its got a booster seat, and a snowbrush (which I used yesterday, thank you very much). And its not that Im obsessive-compulsive about neatness or anything, its just that my car is the only place Ive established a hegemony, complete rule over a domain where I can say no junk, no clutter, no nothin!The pack-rat personality extends to my wifes computer, where she struggles to cope with thousands of e-mails that have clogged her laptop to the point where the thing can barely open a Word document anymore. Nothing gives me greater joy on my own laptop than when I successfully clear my inbox of everything.And then theres stuff thats tangential to the packrat thing, falling, I guess, under the nest-feathering urge that drives many women. Every morning, I try to open the Denver Post on the table in front of my Corn Flakes, but I never can quite get it because we have a centerpiece on the table, which typically consists of a mat of some sort, a couple of candles, and a dried-flower kinda thing. A man can live to be a thousand and never understand such items in what I call the doily class of stuff, but we endure them because, well, we love our wives and comprehend, albeit vaguely, that these things are hugely important for some unknown reason.The oldest son dreams of having his own place some day that has glass-and-aluminum furniture, white walls and nothing else but his Mac laptop and maybe one magazine on the translucent coffee table.I wonder where such an impulse has come from? And how will he do when a doily-bearing woman enters his life? It may not be pretty.Great age and wisdom has taught me that fighting over doilies and the like is tantamount to arguing with a Muslim cleric over Sharia law: youre not going to get far with reason. No, its better to let it slide and keep a hopeful eye out for signs of softening. Like once every year or so, my wife fusses grumpily in the garage for a day and sorts, organizes and gets ride of some stuff. A path clears through the crapola and all is good for now.Just so long as I can keep her away from my car Managing Editor Alex Miller can be reached at 748-2920, or amiller@vaildaily.com.


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