Button, button. Whose got the button?

In the 70's and 80's my grandmother owned a yarn shop called Lee's Yarn and Things in Layton, Utah. She loved that shop, or at least I'm pretty sure she did.

I have vague memories of visiting her there, walking up and down the crowded isles. I can almost remember how it smelled yet I'm not sure if this is a real memory or just one I have made up. Her shop closed sometime in the early 80's because she was spending more on stock than she was selling.

She and my grandfather divorced sometime after that and she moved into a condominium and so did the entire stock from her yarn shop. Along with the yarn came the Avon and Bowling trophies and magazines. My grandmother suffered from "hoarders disease". She kept everything. It didn't matter if it had value, whether monetary or sentimental, if her hands touched it, she kept it.

I'm not sure how other people who suffer from this maintain their homes, but my grandmother had a strange sort of organization about hers. Her house wasn't always neat and tidy, but the things she hoarded were well organized. Take for example the cat food tins. Once empty, she removed the label and washed the tin. She had nice stacks of cat food tins and labels (paper clipped together) on her kitchen counters. In her bathroom medicine cabinet were tiny little balls of hair, her hair to be exact, all lined up in a row. Her entire house was this way. I found hundreds of rubber bands twist tied together. Empty egg cartons nicely stacked. The entire place was full. Top to bottom including the basement.

My grandmother wasn't dirty. She didn't smell bad (well except when she "layered" her perfume). She had a lot of friends and spent the majority of her time at the bowling alley or with her boyfriend, Gene. Eventually she moved in with her boyfriend and her condo became a house for her cats (she had two) and a storage facility.

In 2000 I approached her about renting the condo from her. My lease was up on my apartment, my roommate was moving to Spokane, moving back to my mom's house was not an option and I couldn't afford a place of my own (that didn't offer the deep discount a family member would). This meant I would be responsible for seriously and I do mean SERIOUSLY purging the condo. Initially we (my boyfriend, now husband) used the dumpster on the property. We quickly filled this. To be frank, we filled it in a day. And that was only the tip of the iceburg. Slowly, each week after the garbage truck came, we would fill the dumpster again. And again and again. Finally we realized, at that rate, that we would never get the condo emptied before it was time for us to retire and we rented a U-Haul, invited a couple of friends over, and filled it. Took it to the dump and dropped it off.

All the yarn, all the needles, all the patterns, all the latch-hook kits and netting. All of it. We just wanted it out and didn't have the energy to sort through it, price it, organize a yard sale. We didn't want to store it forever we just wanted it OUT. This was prior to eBay becoming huge. Prior to Craigslist.

In the mix of "yarn and things" were buttons. Steel tool cabinets full of buttons. Organized by size and color. Not appreciating the value of the buttons, I emptied them all into a box with the intention of throwing it out. My paternal grandmother asked me to give them to her rather than dumping them, so I did.

Since that time, I have realized the value of everything we threw out. To me, it was "just yarn". To anybody with half a brain and a penchant for crafting it was a gold mine. What I wouldn't give to be able to have that stock of yarn, needles, googly eyes and patterns. Luckily, I still have the buttons. I "reclaimed" the box of buttons from my grandmother on Friday. And what a box of buttons it is.

My daughter and I are currently sorting through them, trying to organize them all by color and size. Some of them are really, really cool and some of them are regular old buttons. But I'm so glad that I have them. I think my grandmother would breath a sigh of relief knowing that we hadn't thrown away everything.

Oh and hey, there is always that California Raisin Halloween costume. But that's a post for another time.

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