That Overflowing Scrap Wood BoxMonday, January 31, 2011
|Ale and my soon to be lacquered sofa, 1971|
A surprising way of celebrating a new year is losing all your email addresses. Let me explain.
In Mexico City this newly married man liked to spend his weekends in a makeshift shop where I had a very good bench saw I had purchased from a departing American executive. I also had a portable paint gun and a nice Black and Decker linear and orbital sander. With this equipment I made home furniture which I finished with a very smooth automobile lacquer finish. The shop had a little bathroom where I had my little darkroom. I soon found out that carpentry and photography where not compatible in close proximity. Saw dust and negatives seemed to attract each other.
In that shop I had a large wooden box where I kept pieces of precious wood I did not have the heart to throw away. I had Mexican pine, some Far East sandalwood and exotic woods that I did not know came from my future home of Canada. When the box was full I was told by friends that I would have to empty it out (throw it away is what they meant) and then I was to start all over again. I never did manage to follow the advice and my box was brimming with useless pieces of wood.
At my age of 68 I have thousands of books, bookcases, and stuff that has followed me (and my mother and grandmother, of my father only his King James Bible occupies any space) from Argentina to Mexico (twice) and from Mexico to Vancouver. Then there is the stuff that followed us from Burnaby to here and the closets have stuff that my daughters don’t want to take. Then there are 13, steel, four drawer filing cabinets filled with pictures and negatives and slides that are the only proof that I ever lived here. What to do with it all?
I have often harped here how I once considered becoming a Catholic brother so that I could be sent, at a moment’s notice to a mission in Africa. In a suitcase I I would have packed a couple of pairs of black socks, a an extra pair of black shoes and whatever clothing I would need. The Bible I would keep with me. I can imagine the relief and lightness of now really owning anything and being able to move without the burden of leaving something behind.
One solution that I have pondered (but not all that seriously) is to go with Rosemary and our cats (would arson investigators catch on to that?) to visit Ale in Lillooet for a weekend. I would make arrangements with a professional arsonist to burn my house down. Rosemary and I would come back to the tragedy of smoldering ashes. Would it be a relief of pressure of now knowing what to do with the stuff?
While my library has gotten very large, but stopped in its tracks in January 2010 when I vowed never to buy one more tome, the phone numbers of my friends and contacts in my hard copy diary has diminished alarmingly. I can now call Paul, and Ian, my daughters. I can call home and talk to Rosemary. Or I can call my first cousin and godmother in Buenos Aires. There is Juan Manuel Sanchez. But the rest of my friends and contacts have gone away to other places. They have gone to places that exist or to places that I believe do not. Some simply do not want to be called or I have lost touch with or they lost touch with me. The book is slim.
But not the 2000 emails in my in Thunderbird in basket. No matter how nasty I try to purge them, they seem to remain. I delete the sent messages and the trash. Then there are all those email addresses in my Thunderbird address box and that neat feature where you type in the first couple of letters and like magic the rest of the name spits out in an accurate prediction of one’s wishes.
All that is gone. My computer’s hard drive packed in its registry and the drive is now corrupted. Fortunately I had learned my lesson from a past similar experience and every picture I had in my hard drive, every picture I have taken with my iPhone and every Word document I have written I had transferred months ago to an exterior hard drive (a mirrored one which is two hard drive in one). But I had never bothered to back up my addresses. It is sometimes difficult to print out that address book. One method is to screen capture from A to C and so on and then print those. I never did that.
So if you have gotten to here and you have written to me and I have corresponded back, chances are that I will no longer do so. Some of the addresses are attached to web pages. I can find those. Some I can get from a phone call. But there are some I may never retrieve.
But then I can retrieve them. John Chan at Powersonic Technology Inc in Richmond says he can get at my Thunderbird (and those two downloaded podcasts of Writers and Company which featured an extensive interview with John Le Carre, sorry no accent, no Spanish keyboard as of yet) addresses for $25. But I wonder if I should? Could this be but a small and perhaps satisfying immolation of things that matter but not so much when they are gone?
Time will tell.