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Now that we have the first few days of March under our belts, I feel the urge to sort things out and tidy up and that means it’s time for a little Spring-cleaning. The cabinet where I keep all my photography paraphernalia, stuffed to overflowing, collapsed last week. The sides fell out and the shelves caved in, so I think I’ll begin there.

Rummaging through the mountain of albums, boxes, frames, lenses and miscellaneous bits and pieces that is taking up space on the basement floor, I come across several items that are a complete mystery to me. I have no idea what they are but dare not throw them away in case they are an integral part of something really important. Who knows, in the months to come I may be kicking myself for not keeping this metal thing that resembles a miniature launching pad for a rocket, the round plastic piece with length of elastic attached or this vicious-looking item that might have been used at one time for slicing hard-boiled eggs. I’ll put them over here in the KEEP pile.

The boxes, for the most part, contain negatives of all the pictures that I ever shot.  I don’t know why I hang on to them but it’s interesting to think that if I laid them end to end they’d probably circle the earth at least twice. I’ve always told myself that if the photos themselves ever went up in flames or became a sodden mess in times of flood, I’d have the negatives to fall back on (not literally, of course) but they’re all housed in the same cabinet so that argument simply won’t fly.  However, there may be a use for them in the future so I’ll just put them over here in the KEEP pile.

There are more than 40 albums, relics of a pre-digital era, each dedicated to its own particular person or subject.  Some, like the one holding photos of flowers, are so full that the post-bound covers strain to contain them. Others, slim collections on topics that will probably never see any further additions, fill the gaps between albums given over to everything from grandchildren to frogs. I hope to pass all of these on, along with copies of all my blogs, to my kids one day, as family heirlooms, so I’ll put them over here in the KEEP pile.

Underneath a heap of empty, plastic protective sleeves that, at the first touch, slide all over the floor, I find what look like some ancient studio spotlights.  I wonder if they work. The wiring feels brittle and there’s a distinct smell of burning as I plug one of them in and switch on. Momentarily blinded by a searing light, I recover in time to see sparks flying from the outlet and quickly disconnect before the circuit breaker has a chance to plunge the whole house or even the entire neighborhood into darkness.  One might well suppose that these dodgy pieces of equipment would be destined for the garbage bin but isn’t it just possible that some clever person could fix them? I mean, my husband is always looking for the odd little chore to pass the time when not actually working, repairing the car, mending the plumbing, or cleaning out the gutters. I’m sure something like this would be a piece of cake.  I’ll just put them over here in the KEEP pile.

Scattered about too are dozens of matted 8 x 10’s, entries from various competitions, some successful and many not. I don’t have the heart to throw the duds away. I practically had to pledge my first-born in order to borrow the violin for that still-life and heaven knows how many hours I waited to get the shot of two skippers on a dandelion. What if the ducks were swimming right to left instead of the reverse or the bee was somewhat out of focus.  They all represent precious time spent behind the camera, moments of agonizing over composition, lighting and timing.  I’ll just stack them neatly and put them over here in the KEEP pile.

Should I keep the filters?  Now that the digital camera has taken precedence in my camera bag I wonder if I’ll ever use them again. But supposing that modern marvel of technology breaks and I’m forced to drag out the old Minolta one more time. No, perhaps I’d better keep the filters.  And  how about all these slides, rapidly fading into oblivion?  I really must copy them onto a disc before I lose them completely. Some of these books look like they might have been around when the Brownie camera was introduced onto the market, and there’s hardly anything left in this spray can of adhesive that my mother almost used instead of hair spray that one time.  Perhaps I’ll hold onto it though; there might be enough in there to mount one more picture.

The only things left are some instruction manuals for cameras I no longer possess, two light bulbs that may or may not work and a few doubtful batteries. I could fit them all in this empty box, just in case I ever need them, and put it over here in the KEEP pile.

I don’t seem to have thrown much away. Never mind.  I’ll put the cabinet together again and shove everything back in. Maybe I’ll have another go at it next Spring.

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