Dad would sort a box of washers, bolts, screws and nuts for relief from cabin fever. It’s a real ailment and I’m not looking forward to it, as I’ve inherited dad’s inability to stay focused when the weather keeps me inside for a long length of time.

About the only thing he wouldn’t get bored with was cutting up empty boxes into tiny squared pieces for the trash man. According to dad, the people who pick up the trash have a hard fast rule – nothing larger than a two-inch square can go into the trash bag – but then again, Dad claimed he had a long talk with Tiger Woods about his inappropriate behavior.

While collecting boxes for dad to cut up, my pantry would look like someone ransacked it in the middle of the night. Everything would be out of their boxes, scattered about, as if someone got hungry at midnight and couldn’t figure out what they wanted. From macaroni and cheese to Hamburger Helper, the boxes were stolen and given to dad, a couple at a time, to keep him busy. Sometimes it’d backfire on me when I didn’t have the directions since I had dismantled everything.

At one point, during a really snowy winter, I got so desperate for boxes I even raided someone's trash. It wasn't as bad as it sounds. I was going to work and noticed someone had at least 20 empty trial-sized dog food boxes on the top of their trash can. I figured I was doing both of us a favor by picking them up. I needed the boxes and they wouldn't have to worry they might blow all over the neighborhood before the trash guy got there.

I'm preparing now for the onslaught of a cold and snowy winter. We’ve had a good run of having minor snowfalls the last couple of years so I’m thinking it’s going to catch up with us soon.

One day we're going to be enjoying beautiful fall weather and then wake up to another polar vortex. I'm not going to fight the squirrels for the acorns but I've been collecting pinecones on my daily walks and have a huge box full and they're still falling to the ground. Along with the hedge apples lined up in the garage, it looks like I've got big plans to make something spectacular – although I’m not sure what it’s going to be yet.

There are all sorts of things on the internet on ways to decorate with pinecones but not so much for the hedge apples. Besides being ugly, their smell becomes stronger with each passing day. I was going to try and clean them out and make candleholders for Thanksgiving dinner but decided they aren't even worthy enough for that. They're supposed to be good for keeping spiders away but at this point I think I'd rather just deal with the insects.

Maybe I’ll just get out the scissors and start collecting boxes.


-- Sandy Turner lives in Independence. Email her at