THE ATTIC – This is a good time to go through junk in my attic. It’s not too hot. During a Texas summer, attics are fit only for empty suitcases, unwanted picture frames and Christmas ornaments. Speaking of the latter, have you noticed that during the summer someone goes into your attic and tangles up your Christmas tree lights? Here is my own attic collection including empty suitcases and a dusty box containing old and yellowed newspapers. The papers belong to one of my offspring. As a child, he collected newspapers reporting important events – like a Wednesday or changing of the seasons. Now he’s gone and these newspapers aren’t. We all know the drill in our current society: kids grow up in their parents’ house, gradually collecting furniture, clothes, books, all sorts of electronic gear. Then they leave for college, even if the campus is across the street, taking with them the bare essentials such as a change of clothes and all their electronic gear. After college, children used to get their own apartment and a job. Since today’s college graduates can’t get a job, they move back in with their parents. But eventually, the kids do leave, usually after the parents have changed the locks. But the offspring don’t take everything with them. Here, for example, is a desk and a chair. They belong to my daughter who used them for years. Now she has her own place, but absolutely refuses to take this desk and chair because “they don’t make the right statement” in her new abode. I didn’t ask her to debate, just take. This large plastic bag is full of T-shirts. In earlier days, I traveled the globe searching for the perfect martini and cigar. Each time I would return from Hong Kong or Moscow or Marfa, I would bring all my children T-shirts saying “Eat More Poodle” or “Death to Capitalistic Scum!” If your own children have left home and you have an empty nest, maybe it’s not so empty after all. Look in their rooms. Do they still have that “Seniors ‘04” banner on the wall, next to the giant poster of Che Guevara? Is there still a Playboy under the mattress and beer cans under the bed? You could call your heir and announce, “I’m cleaning out your room. Need the space. I’m opening a tanning salon and pit bull recycling center.” Or, you could say, “The Health Department was over here yesterday with a final notice.” Maybe just: “You know how you always said you wanted another sister?” When I would return to my folks’ home for a visit and a loan, I recall that on each trip I would notice fewer possessions in my old room. What clearly happened was, each time I backed out the driveway to depart, my father would say to my mother, “Is he gone yet? Good. Toss out another unused college text book -- but not the Playboys.” Ashby gathers dust at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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