Lost and Found

When we sold our place in Tucson, downsizing from two houses to one, there were several logistical problems. We unloaded most of the Tucson furniture. When it came to art, we brought it all home, and the only way to hang it was to stack it. That’s when our grandson said, “Grandma, it looks like an art gallery exploded in your house.” He was right. That’s exactly what it looked like then, and it still does. Having a collection of brightly colored oil paintings and watercolors of Arizona and Tuscany hanging on walls throughout the house has been a great antidote for the dark days of Covid-based isolation.

So furniture? Check. Art? Check. But when it came to books? Not so much. As my mother would have said, “That’s a white horse of a different color.” (I’ve never been quite sure what that means exactly, but she said it often enough that it must mean something.)

But boy did we have books—in Spades—both in Tucson and here in Seattle. You may have heard that old saying, “So many books, so little time.” In our case, it’s closer to “So many books, so few shelves.” Bill and I have both collected books through the years, including ones we can’t bear parting with. For him it’s his Websters’ Third. For me it’s my father’s copy of the Treasury of the Familiar. But there were lots of other books as well—including shelves of children’s books that we gathered for the grandkids. Guess what? The grandkids are all grown. Now we’re sending those books off to our GREAT grandkids!

So when the Tucson books came home to Seattle, there was no room at the inn. The boxes of Tucson books went into the garage as we told ourselves we’ll get around to sorting them later. Then Covid reared its ugly head, and the book sorting job got put off indefinitely.

We hired movers in Tucson. They went through the house and packed up everything, willy-nilly, and most everything made it through unscathed. The only known missing items were several pieces of hardware—one set for the electronic piano and one for the king-sized bed. Bill was able to find work-arounds for both of those.

Then when I unpacked my Indian baskets, I noticed something else was missing—my collection of tiny Tohono O’odham horsehair baskets and a beaded bracelet that my friend Loretta Hawk made for me while we were still on the reservation. All those items had sat on the entryway table in Tucson, and they were nowhere to be found. I assumed that sometime during the open house process someone had simply shoved them into a pocket and walked out of the house with them. I was sorry they were gone, but eventually you get over it.

Then, this past week that book sorting process we’d put off until later came to a head. Boxes of books came into the house and were sorted into keepers or goers. The goers went away, and the keepers went back on the shelves. When the movers went through the library in Tucson, they packed up the books, all right, but they also packed up whatever else happened to be on the shelves. And one of those was the box featured in the accompanying photo.

If you’ve read my Beaumont book Second Watch, you’ve already encountered Doug Davis, a young man from Bisbee, the valedictorian of BHS class of ’61, who died in Vietnam in 1966. You also met Bonnie Abney, the woman and a friend of mine, who was engaged to marry Doug at the time of his death. Their love story was told in the background of Second Watch, and Bonnie accompanied me on that book tour.

While we were in Tucson, Doug’s niece, who was still living in Bisbee, came to the house with several things that had once been Doug’s—among them a hand-crafted box with an old-fashioned sailing ship on the lid. So this week, when I was sorting through books, I came upon the box. When I opened it, the first thing I found inside was a tiny photo of Doug as well as the framed serial number tag for my first computer, that dual floppy Eagle that I used for years. But I found something else inside as well, or rather, several somethings—all those tiny and much loved horse-hair baskets, the ones I thought I’d lost forever.

I purchased the one in the photo, an unfinished Man in the Maze, so that people could see how it was constructed. And now they still can, because it’s back on display. I don’t remember doing it, but I’m sure that in the process of selling the house, I packed up the baskets and tucked them into Doug’s box for safe keeping.

This past week I heard that my long time friend, Estelle DuBose, passed away in Phoenix recently. She was born and raised in Beaumont, Texas, and that’s how Beaumont got his last name—in Estelle’s honor. Estelle was a philosopher/counselor at heart in addition to being a friend, and she gave me lots of good advice over the years. She told me once, “If something really belongs to you, it is never lost.”

I guess that means those horsehair baskets are really and truly mine.