Elimination of a Safety Hazard

Recently I’ve been writing quite a bit about getting rid of things that only serve to clutter my house. Old trophies, files, books, it’s been quite a chore trying to tidy up, but I’ve been finding it gratifying just the same. Heaven only knows what new things a somewhat emptier house will attract.


I mentioned a few months back about converting my porch into a place I could play my guitar and then to a place I could eat breakfast. But I recently lost a room.


I moved into the house at 177 Ardmore on November 1, 1981. As I looked the house over deciding whether I wanted to buy it (actually it was love at first sight and not a hard decision at all) I remember very distinctly asking about whether there was any space in the attic. I was told no, but there was a small hatchway in the bedroom closet. I had to take a peek. Sure enough, at its highest point it was only about four feet high, but what I saw was storage, storage and more storage.


I would soon have the small closet hatch replaced with a larger one with a pull-down staircase in the bedroom hallway, and I added a permanent light fixture. I started putting all kinds of things up there; Christmas decorations, suitcases, old vacation photos and files, all kinds of things I didn’t need immediate access to. There was no flooring when I first moved in, but gradually added some insulation and large plywood sheets. It was incredibly functional.


Until it wasn’t.


I don’t remember what I was doing or even how long ago it was. Six or seven years ago? I cut myself on the staircase mechanism and bled more than expected, but less than I might have. What if it had been worse? In a later misadventure, I miscalculated exactly where my foot was in relation to the next step down and slid down, missing about the last two. Again, it hurt but could have been much worse.


Recently, I wanted to consolidate some files. I started to pull a box of folders down, and then realized that the box was just too heavy to safely carry down the stairs. Thinking better of things, I pushed the box back onto the attic floor and took three trips to bring the files from that box downstairs. Any of these three incidents would be a reminder to be careful when dealing with my attic, but taken together, I had but one choice.


It was time to move everything out of the attic and not risk injury by putting stuff up there again. But where would everything go? 


If you go to my Homeowner page (and yes, this article could go there too, but my book clean-up got there first!) you’ll note that I suddenly had an empty shelf about six feet long. I had two large suitcases in the attic that could go up there if there was enough vertical space. It was a little under two feet high. As if the gods were smiling on this project, not only did the larger suitcase fit just barely fit, the smaller of the two suitcases just barely fit inside the larger one. 

Next on my list was the Christmas decorations, stored for only two or three weeks a year. They belonged in the attic. Not much of a Christmas person, I had just one box, plus two wreaths (why two?) and a short, artificial tree. There was still room in the closet next to the suitcases for the box and wreaths. The tree found a home in the corner of my living room in a nook covered up by the end of my couch. One of the wreaths will soon disappear.

The Physical Shin

Last update: August 7, 2022

The John Shinnick Website

This is my newly empty attic.

The plywood floor looks better here than it does in reality, but it did the job for years at little cost. But in recent years, getting up and down with loads of stuff just got too problematic.

I had a box of glass vases. Now I use the vases to decorate the empty space on my bookshelf. I had a box of old vacation photos I brought down. They were marked only in batches by the country I was in, and I didn’t recognize any of them. No memories were evoked. I got rid of them. There was about half a box of old golf shirts from a tournament I used to play in annually with some friends from the Walnut Creek area. I consolidated them with other specially marked shirts for future disposition. Consolidation was doing wonders to save space.


I finally got down to one last box, which contained three backpacks and a couple of other unused leather containers. Why three backpacks? I don’t even hike. The most recent acquisition was bought in anticipation of taking more long bicycle rides than have actually taken place. One came as the package for some long-expired emergency supplies. I don’t know about the third, but two will go, as will one of the wreaths.


As will other things by the time I’m done. Clothing is a likely next target. Lots of duplication, unused items and things that just don’t fit anymore, though if I ever get back to 185 they might. But CDs/DVDs are also due for a paring back. And in the several nooks and crannies of my house and garage are many once thought to be treasures that just take up space. But those are projects for another time.


As for my attic, it looks like mission accomplished. It is as it was when I moved in, empty, except for the flooring. Most of the contents has found a home, at least temporary. I never finished off the hatchway; when not in use it appears as a slab of unpainted, untreated plywood. I’ll get to that later. The rope that pulls the ladder down hangs about two inches above my head. I may shorten it but will likely keep it ready for use. Though I have no plans to enter the attic again, the next owners may be as young and wreckless as I was when I put the hatchway in.

Empty Attic.jpg