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Making headway in the basement, finding surprises

May 18, 2008
By SANDY MICKELSON, Messenger staff writer
Hooray and hallelujah, the tense has changed.

No longer do I want to clean my basement, I have started to clean my basement and I’m doing a darn fine job down there in the cold, damp dungeon with little lighting and an overrun of feathery cobwebs and dried up bugs of various persuasions.

OK, so it’s not that bad. I actually enjoy being down there, though it does get tiresome because my behind extends beyond the edges of the stepstool I sit on.

That’s when I come upstairs and snuggle under a blanket in my recliner to warm up and to release the ridges I’ve sat into myself.

Oh, the stuff I’ve found.

Back in 1968, Mom wanted to get me collecting Frankoma because she figured it would go up in value. She bought me the Republican elephant for 1968 and for the next three years, as well. I never really liked them then, and I don’t want them now, but the trick is to find someone willing to take them. Now that she’s gone, I don’t feel badly saying that out loud.

Mom was right about one thing — they’re semi valuable now, but only if you can find someone who is willing to pay what they’re valued at — or a little less. The same goes for my Michael Anthony Ricker pewter.

Back in the late ’70s, I sold advertising for the Greeley Daily Tribune in Colorado, and the pewter store at the Greeley Mall was one of my accounts. I was there the day Michael started to sculpt Christmas plates.

I stood there in awe of his talent, watching the intricate cuts, and let two little old ladies sneak in ahead of me to buy plates 2 and 3 in the series.

Then I must have had a brain bubble because plates 4 and 5 got away, too. I am, however, the owner of No. 6 of his Christmas plate series and of the free-standing statues that went with them, and I even talked him into giving me the No. 6 porcelain bell stands.

This was my only hang-the-cost purchase because I loved them so.

Now they’re sitting in a box in the basement with the rest of my wonderful stuff waiting for me to decide what to do with them.

I can’t draw a line in front of them if I’ve promised myself to downsize, but I also can’t sell them to anyone who hasn’t convinced me she — or he — would love them as much as I do.

See, if you make that commitment, you don’t have to sell, give away or throw out something you love. There’s always that conditional caveat.

It goes against the cleaning out, but some things are more important than a clean basement. That’s why I didn’t feel bad when the first part of my vacation last week took me to Springfield, Ill., to visit my sister, Barbara.

You know, there is the possibility of having too much fun, but I wonder if that excessive fun seemed more like stupidity to those who watched.

When I got home, I made continuous trips into the basement and the results actually surprise me. I’ve dug cross paths end to end and side to side and I’ve taken a 4-foot pile of stuff on a card table down to a sparse single layer of stuff.

When I get to the point that I do not have a clue what to do, I usually go upstairs to wait for my next great surge of ambition.

Those surges will be further apart since I bought into a quilt-block project at The Family Quilt Shop as a fundraiser for the Webster County 4-H Foundation. For $5, you get four chunks of fabric — everybody gets identical chunks — and you make a quilt block of any kind with them.

The first 12 blocks brought back to the shop get made into a quilt and raffled off at the 4-H fair to benefit 4-H’ers in the county.

I want my block to be part of that quilt, so I’m working hard on it.

Because I can’t count squat, several of my pieces are too large and must be cut down, which means more time is needed.

I may have to go back to the basement to work on something I know how to do.

So long friends, until the next time when we’re together.

Contact Sandy Mickelson at (515) 573-2141 or


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