29 November 2012

True Treasures

by Deborah Elliott-Upton

By the time you are reading this, we will know if someone won the whopping 550 million dollar Power Ball lottery. If it is me, you can be sure I am doing the same thing you would be doing: trying to believe it happened while deciding what to spend that much money on.

Think about it. Pretty much after we paid all our bills, bought new vehicles and a mansion, took care of family members we'd like to help, there's still way too much money for any one person to spend.

At least that is what I think. I've not had that much in my bank account to really know.

My husband said I could buy my own library although he already believes I have too many books as it is. (As if that could be possible!)

We had a discussion recently about our sliding into a hoarder lifestyle. After being married for so many years, we have accumulated more than we need. Trying to part with most of it isn't easy. I do identify with those people on "Hoarders" who have true attachments to their "collections." I hope my stash isn't looked on by others with disdain as the ones participating on the television show, but one man's trash is another's treasure.

My husband sat at his computer in our shared office when I popped in and said, "We have got to get a handle on our clutter. We need to get rid of ten things a day in this house if only it's ten pieces of paper."

He spun around in his chair to face me and glancing around the room, said, "We can't live that long."

I sighed dramatically. "I didn't mean my papers!" 

Both of us knew that was a losing prospect. Writers seem to always have papers they feel they must keep.

I'm a hard-copy kind of writer. I think that comes from losing so many files on computers long ago. I realize the chances of losing them now are not as much a problem and to be honest, I know more about how a computer works these days so I'm not as apt to hit the delete button by mistake. I also have found a computer guru who tells me nothing is truly deleted on a computer. He found deleted-by-mistake photos my daughter and her husband took on their honeymoon– photos that couldn't be duplicated. Having the correct software, it seems, makes all the difference.

Which may be one more reason we must be careful if we're writing things on a computer we wish we hadn'tlike perhaps things Casey Anthony had on hers.  Mystery authors take note: crimes are often solved by what an expert can find on a computer that was supposedly "washed" of evidence a criminal thought he'd erased. One more case of dirty laundry telling all when its discovered.

My treasures are my papers...the ones containing my written work, of course, but also the ones of snipets of ideas for future story ideas or characters...the honest-to-God letters someone wrote to me (especially from those who have passed on from this world) and the photos that I can hold in my hand. Those are my true treasures.

My husband once told me he'd won the lottery when he convinced me to marry him. I guess I'll keep him, too.

That doesn't mean I'm not going to buy a lottery ticket though. The idea of that library he promised appeals to me.


  1. Good column. One of the sad things in life is realizing that some books have to go.

  2. Robin keeps threatening to thin out our Halloween and Christmas decorations. I always answer, "Go ahead," which paralyzes her. Neither of us really want to do it, but since the kids are longer "kids", it does seem a little much. But we have been threatened with grandchildren sometime in the not-too-distant future, which justifies (in my mind at least) our inactivity--the grandkids-to-be are gonna love all this stuff!

  3. There is no such thing as too many books - just not enough time. Sigh. But I know what you mean about thinning the herd. We're downsizing right now to move to smaller digs, and let me tell you, it's a tough call all the way around. My personal rule is that if it hasn't seen the light of day for three years, toss it.

  4. I have found a solution for most of the things I must part with by giving them to someone who appreciates and needs them as I once did. My kids received portions of the ornaments for their Christmas trees (I know they care about some of those, too!) I give a lot of books to the V.A. hospital. Clothing is always needed at shelters and ANYTHING I can do for the military is first on my list. I urge everyone to give something to others if you can.

  5. Well, I'd say if your bookshelves look anything like the one in your photo, you've got nothing to worry about when it comes to being a hoarder. Wish mine were that neat! LOL


  6. Dixon, mine look neat, but they are stacked three deep...hence the problem. My husband likes to mention if only we had the money I spent on those books. I gently remind him I would be a lunatic if I couldn't buy books. And then he says, oh well...that's silly, isn't it?

  7. I admit it, I am a hoarder. I hold on to things that have a special meaning to only me. My children will be forever confused when they go through my stash after I’m long gone. They will find an old valentine from the 3rd grade from a boy I thought I would have married. He of course never knew of our engagement. They will find a stray bullet, a gift from a police officer I was dated … don’t ask. Random coins from other countries, train schedules and Broadway playbills, etc. I, of course, remember why I kept these mementos. My children will think they never knew the real me or at least, the me before them. Perhaps, one day I will write down those memories and let the “stuff” go. Great article, Deborah. Thanks for reminding me of the cop, he was a cutie….

  8. I think you still win. Mine are only two deep, but the books lean willy-nilly. lol


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