You know I took the week off from writing to focus on the Organizing of Stuff. A lot of gear has sat heaped in garage, attic, closets, and laundry room these last two years while I’ve focused on home improvement. Some of it never really got unpacked after the move; some has accumulated since then.
I blame garage sales. Accumulation is totally not my fault. Clutter and I are enemies. I figured: one week and clutter is dead. I, Bold Clutter Slayer, will Overcome All.
Sigh. I forgot that the Organizing of Stuff requires the Building of Shelves. Which requires the Painting and Trimming of Shelves. Which kept the house in chaos the whole time I was trying to slay chaos.
I WERKed until I dropped into bed exhausted most nights, sweaty but too tired even to take a bath. I got a lot done (including building several seriously large shelves in two rooms using scrounged materials and $15 worth of fasteners and trim). But I didn’t do a lot of what I was aiming to do.
There was one glorious moment, though. On Monday morning when I woke up, I took a mental look behind me and I saw all deadlines completely met. I cast a mental look ahead and saw that I didn’t have a single commitment to anybody in the world. I didn’t so much as owe anybody an email.
I only had to answer to me for one, solid week. I can’t tell you how light I felt.
As the days went on, things began to pile up again, both in my inbox and my brain. But that couple of hours Monday morning was worth everything.
Seven teenagers from a rural Australian town go off for a remote weekend campout. They return to find the country has been invaded, with their own area being one of three points of entry. All the adults have either been rounded up or killed, leaving these seven first to save their own lives then to become guerrilla fighters.
Definitely not great art, but some good characters. Self-reliant, resourceful country kids (and game townies). Decent character development. And the movie has some fine booms and crashes.
Can’t recall which freedomista turned me on to the book a couple of years ago, but thank you.
Cop frees a trapped dog. And then …
You must watch this video. I swear. All the way to the end. (H/T C^2)
Back to work now. It’ll be a relief after all that vacationing. Thanks for sticking with me.
It’s an old .22 single-action plinker probably not worth a gunsmith’s fee. That morning I met someone who claimed to be a gunsmith and he was such an ass & irritated me so much I finally tore into the thing myself. It was either fix it or get one of these. Which I really don’t need.
Maybe I didn’t really have to tear it down into such itty-bitty pieces; I don’t know. This hoogie-ma-jigger here turned out to be the whole problem.
Instead of turning the cylinder (its job), it was keeping the cylinder from turning. It also kept me from being able to remove the cylinder to see what it was hanging up on. Taking the gun apart was educational. Putting the hammer and trigger back together was like getting a Ph.D. in cussing. But I did it. Works now. Pretty proud of me.
Then the back fence and the tree came down. Somebody else did the work. I just helped with the Heaping Up of Things. That and shouting, “OMG!” at the most hair-raising moments. I’m sure he found that helpful.
Monday I went to the beach. I laugh at your assumptions about bikinis and sunlit basking. This is a scary gray beach where you see sights like this.
And where you find the unexpected sitting on the sand (the chair, not the dog).
The place made me feel like writing ghost stories. If ever there was a haunted beach, it’s this one.
Ava carried our picnic lunch on the walk out. After we ate cold chicken breast and veggies, I removed her backpack and leash and she did zoomies like a crazed puppy the entire mile back to the car.
Yesterday I commenced the Official Organizing of Stuff (the ostensible purpose of this entire week’s break). I began with guns, ammo, and gear. It took all day.
Not because I have so many guns, mind you, though I’m sure I have enough to make some guy in Boston think I’m a dangerous, paranoid weirdo.
If I were really a sufficiently paranoid weirdo, I’d take better care of these things. The reason it took all day was that it took at least half the day to find everything. Much of the other half was taken up re-labeling mystery boxes and cleaning guns that have lain neglected at the backs of closets ever since I moved back from the desert two years ago.
You do not leave guns unprotected in random places in the NorthWET. They rust. Fortunately, only a few were affected and those not too badly. A.G.’s WD-40 trick took care of that little problem. (And not to worry, I used WD-40 only on the exteriors. Despite the miraculous wonderfulness of WD-40 — it being one of the four fundamental forces keeping the universe intact and functioning — I know it’s a Foul Sin Against Nature to apply it to gunworks.)
In case you ever need to know, a toothbrush and a slightly dull fileting knife will get dog hair out of shotgun mechanisms. Okay, maybe you wouldn’t recommend that method for your $6,000 engraved Italian sporting clays gun, but it works in a pinch.
I realize this all sounds terrible, as if I’ve been some sort of sloven, letting my gear get so foul it can only be scraped clean with a knife. But trust me, most of the gear was well stored and in good shape despite my best efforts to neglect it and lose track of it. And I’m joking about the knife. Mostly.
I wrapped up with the Glock and my brother’s old Cub Scout .22 that I somehow inherited.
The Organizing of Stuff is a nasty job because you have to make a huge mess hauling things out, sorting, and cleaning them before you actually get anywhere. So there you are, trying to solve casual, but mostly hidden, disorganization by creating total chaos from one end of your life to the other. Ugh.
But it feels good when it’s done.
Well, except for those “what on earth is this?” items and those “I thought I had that but where could I possibly have put it?” items. And worst of all the “I don’t dare throw this out, but where the heck am I going to put it?” items.
This coming week looks like a nice, long pause between rounds of deadlines. So I’m taking time off.
I hesitate to do it because I have this terrible fear that all you lovely readers will stampede to somebody else’s blog if I miss more than a few days and never return.
Yeah, I know better. If you’ve put up with me so far, I have faith you’ll put up with me a week from now. Besides, even in my absence, there will probably be conversations going on in the comment sections. And there are always Amazon links in need of clicking. (Yeah, shameless plug. Sorry.)
In any case, every time I say that blogging will be “lite,” that’s exactly when I get inspired to write something brilliantinsightfuldevastatingly witty else. So who knows? Possibly I’ll even get a chance to prep and advance-schedule a few blog entries to magically appear.
Mostly, I’m going to stick around the house and perform serious Organizing of Stuff. Not just preparedness stuff, as I wrote about the other day. But stuff-stuff. After two years of constant construction chaos, I want everything finally neat and in its place for the cabin-fever months ahead.
I’ll also be working with a yard guy to take down old fencing, remove a nasty-looking tree, and lay the groundwork for as large a veggie, chicken, and (maybe) bee area as my tiny property will hold.
But I might also go wild & crazy and take Ava out to the ocean. There’s an interesting beach within day-trip distance, but I haven’t gone there since returning to the NorthWET. It’s about time.
Yeah, that’s a mouthful. But that’s also a lot of camera for $50.
Until recently, I’d never thought about getting home-security cameras because a) I have nothing worth stealing and b) not many bad guys are going to choose a house with three dogs. But just this week the thought crossed my mind that a camera at the front door and another at the back might not be a bad idea — if I could afford them and if I could set them up myself.
So I thought I’d toss this out for discussion.
Anybody here have experience with modern, inexpensive security cameras? Got recommendations? Any pitfalls to watch out for?
I would definitely want ones that would record sound as well as video (just in case I ever had to deal with a “We swear, honest, cross-our-hearts-and-hope-to-die we knocked and identified ourselves as police” situation). Motion-activated would be good for the front door. At the back door, it might just end up recording a bunch of dogs going in and out.
This year has been the busiest I’ve had since back in my 20s when, for a brief, delusional few years I worked like a Silicon Valley maniac.
I don’t approve of work. I discourage all my friends from doing too much of it (and “too much” can have a pretty liberal definition). So how did I get into this state?
I ask myself that all the time as I bang nails and computer keys (mercifully not at the same time, but as tired as I’ve gotten a few days this week there’s some chance I might mix up the two, nailing my keyboard to the wall — hey, now there’s an idea — or trying to coax sensible prose from a cedar shingle).
Some delightful people (thank you B&F!) sent a big box of homemade fudge this week. Well, not exactly homemade. The wife of this charming couple owns a sweet shop where she handmakes fudge in an old-fashioned kettle, and that’s where these tasty treats are from. Chocolate, vanilla, fruit flavored, with nut toppings (my favorite), and without. And OMG, are they sublime.
I don’t eat a lot of sweets. But those times when I neeeeeeeed them, creamy and chocolatey is what I have to have. Now I have pounds of sweet consolation.
And this is the week for it. Cats and dogs and neighbors and deadlines and the demands of old houses — oh my!
B&F — you are the absolute masters of Perfect Timing.
As I work, thoughts churn through my head, from complete drivel to … well, things that are probably still complete drivel, but on a much higher plane.
Spiritual people and assorted left-wingy sorts are always talking about everything and everyone being interconnected. That has always sounded like nothin’ but woo to me. And repulsive woo, besides. Hey, there are millions, maybe billions, of people out there I really, truly wouldn’t want to be “interconnected” with. How about you? Would you like to be “interconnected” with Charles Schumer? Or my freeloadng neighbor? How about with Charles Manson?
No, let’s just let that whole “interconnected” thing stay in the realm of woo. Yet of course there is truth about that butterfly that flaps its wings in China and …
But that hurts the brain, too.
What strikes me harder and more often is how non-connected we are. And yes, that is connected to the anniversary of the monstrous assault on the Weaver family. They went up their mountain to be left alone — and the whole might of the federal government descended murderously upon them.
Yeah. Well, that’s “interconnectedness” in a not-so-good way.
But where were we when Sam, Vicki, and Striker were being cut down by federal vengeance? Maybe we were having a party or flying home from a European vacation or making love or not even born yet. Some of us were hunkering down, having no idea we were going to be hit by a monster of our own — Hurricane Andrew. Very strange that momentous things, horrible things, go on without our notice.
(Odd, random thought: I recall that during the siege, some news commentator blamed Randy Weaver for the fact that some of the fed agents from Florida couldn’t be home with their families as Andrew crashed down on them. Hurricane Andrew was Randy’s fault? The murderous siege was Randy’s fault? People can be sooooo strange.)
This is, of course, the first half of a Margarita talking. Margarita and chocolates. Whoa. Sin and degradation. And if you don’t like it, baby, too darned bad.
While writing this, I’m also emailing with C, the chief cat trapper in our little local rescue group. She’s a very cool person. Younger than most people who get involved in this work (you usually have to reach a Certain Age before you qualify as a Crazy Cat Lady). Very pretty, too.
She’s also deaf, having lost her hearing at three during an illness. She reads lips so well that sometimes she “hears” better than I do, and she’s got such a sense of humor and such a direct, easy manner that she makes it easy for everyone else to relax and not worry about treating her as if she’s “special” (in the short-bus sense of the word).
Being around her gets me thinking about perceptions and how they differ. For instance, she just emailed about how very much she likes K, another volunteer. I like K, too. But many people don’t. She’s bossy and has all the subtlety of a Mack truck. I’m not sure I could work closely with her without one of us challenging the other to a duel at dawn. But you do know where you stand with her.
C noted that, unable to hear K, she doesn’t perceive some of the bull-moose forcefulness in K that alienates or frightens so many other people. I never realized how much of K’s persona might be in her voice. I try to picture what C perceives. No go. Not possible.
Heck no, we’re not all Interconnected by gossamer threads of woo. We’re amazingly disconnected. It’s a wonder sometimes that we can forge connections with each other at all.
Tomorrow C and I will go out and — so she insists — catch feral kittens with fishing nets.
But for now, I’m into the bottom half of that Margarita and had better just shut the heck up before I say something that, tonight, is Terribly Wise and that I will regret tomorrow.
Sorry for “lite” posting yesterday. I’m deadlining all this month while also trying to paint, trim, and partially re-side two walls of the house.
I bought shingles and cedar boards in April in a wild-to-the-point-of-insanity fit of optimism. I dreamed spring would shortly yield to summer. Yeah. The supplies sat in the yard getting rained on. Now, we’ve got a brief eyeblink of dry weather. So I’m juggling: work-work in the a.m., improvement-work in the afternoon, dogs and housework … somewhere.
I’m also getting to know a video camera sent by Terry Bressi The Checkpoint Beater. The only previous video camera I owned weighed about 20 pounds and was bought from an ex newsguy in the mid 1980s. Its cassettes and for that matter its batteries were five times the size of this fancy little gadget. And need I say this one has much greater capabilities?
Very cool; the new “Terry-cam” is designed to be strapped on or mounted to various surfaces for filming action (bike treks, rollerblading, snowboarding, and presumably cops violating citizens’ rights on the highway).
I promised Terry I’d review it on the blog. But you and he will pardon me while I catch up to the rest of you in the 21st century. My video camera learning curve is steep. I’ve just about got the thing figured out now. Next step; learning how to edit out and post a small clip to show you.
Anyhow, here are some outstanding links for you while I stick my nose back on the grindstone.
And a lot. And a lot. And a lot more. And then more on top of that. They built ornamental fences and archways and hanging gardens and benches and canopies and screens. And they put in ponds and fountains and birdhouses and … well, you name it. And they built a fence and hung stuff on it and nailed stuff to it. And they made “clever” use or old tires and washtubs and plumbing pipes.
And every time they ever went on a vacation or to the beach or to a garage sale, they brought back more stuff — make that capital-S Stuff — and added it to the tiny, tiny backyard. Broken toy ships, driftwood, sea shells, old teapots, several dozen air filters from heavy equipment that became plant stands, ashtrays, etc., etc. etc.
I think you’re getting the idea by now that there was a LOT of etc. in that yard. And we are talking about a tiny, tiny, itty-bitty space.
The initial effect was quirky and charming. But it didn’t take long to discover that everything had been badly done. It was all rotting and near collapse. Over the last two years, I knocked down, dragged out, and had hauled away roughly 16 pickup loads of trash. Some was from the house or the garage. But mostly it was pieces of that yard. Even after giving all the metal to a scrap dealer and a lot of the wood to folks with stoves, I’ve probably already spent close to $1,000 in landfill fees.
And still … the yard was like the Thing That Ate [Name the Mid-Sized City of Your Choice]. I’d sit out there and want to scream. I wouldn’t even know where to begin to make it better, since much of what was left involved Heavy Lifting and intelligent planning.
So I finally just bit the bullet. For the last two and a half days, a nice yard guy and his hardworking young person-of-dubious-citizenship-status assistant have had the run of that yard while I mostly hid inside.
This is what they tore out of there. After nearly two years of trash hauling.
We still have to tear down and replace the fence (which was sort of makeshift in the first place and is now falling over due to posts not cemented into the ground). And remove one, maybe two, trees. But that’ll be later. At least what’s inside the fence is now officially non-trash.
AND we’ve made space for a 20 x 24 raised-bed (eventual) veggie garden.
I think I’ll go out and roll in the nice, fresh, uncluttered MUD.
I’ve been deadlining the past couple of weeks and have about a week and a half to go. The work is going well, but doing a number of small projects at once crowds my brain. I’m also going gangbusters on house projects in my spare time. (Ah, spring! It brings out the constructive insanity in a body.)
All that’s to the good, and life is dandy fine. Don’t get me wrong.
But the last few days have also brought a steady stream of itty-bitty time-wasters and irritations. Not one is of the slightest importance by itself, but you know how it goes. After a few days of having the cat wake you up at 3:00 a.m., losing your Internet service repeatedly, having a dog vomit on your shoes just when you’ve almost gotten that idea you’ve been struggling with, answering too many phone calls, and trying to replace a defective (yes, you warned me) car part for something less than the cost of the federal debt … well, today I feel like a) crying, b) kicking a dog (any old dog), or c) taking up chemical abuse.
I’ll do none of the above, of course. But I figured I owed you an explanation for my lack of brilliance and productivity.
There. Having gotten that out of my system, I’ll probably think of something just devastatingly witty and insightful for tomorrow.
Uh … but don’t count on it, okay?
It’s times like these that I wish I had a wife … a nice “helpmeet” to prepare healthy meals, take care of the pesky details, and ensure that the world is kept away while I capital-C Create. Or a gloriously efficient and nearly silent assistant who could just Handle It All. Not that I’m comparing myself favorably to the greats (what nerve), but I’m very darned sure that Michelangelo couldn’t have been Michelangelo and Shakespeare wouldn’t have been able to write Shakespeare if they had to wait for the Internet repairman, cook their own meals, or worry that the library lost the book they absolutely knew they had already returned.
Heck, forget the greats. Even the mediocres need mental space to create. I’m pretty sure Thomas Kinkade couldn’t have painted all that glurge and John Grisham couldn’t have written all those potboilers if they didn’t have somebody else taking care of life’s little necessities for them.