Coping: 29-Acres of Organizing

With my consigliere due to show up at Uretopia in less than a month, we have gone into the “deep cleaning” mode around the ranch.  If my writing has been slightly unhinged lately, it is likely due to the big domestic changes underway.

The good thing about living on a 40-foot sailboat for 10+ year is you could never accumulate too much stuff.  When something new came aboard, something old went overboard or to the dumpster in the marina parking lot.  No such thing out here in the woods.  The weekly trash collection is fine for household waste, and all that damn used Styrofoam, and such.

The other stuff, though…OMG!

(Continues below)


Ever since we bought this joint, back in 2003, it was been one rehab and refurb project after another.  At some point, as we used to say, it’s “time to shoot the engineers.”

This week I concluded that I will perhaps never hang another piece of sheetrock. My last sheet of sheetrock at 68?  Lazy!

Most of the inside of the house as not one, but two layers.  It makes what deliberately looks on the outside like “just another trailer in the woods” have the same solid feel and acoustics of a stick-built house.  Even quieter.

But you ever part with sheetrock?  Even little hunks.  They can be used as heat shielding when sweating copper pipe, welding table covering…there are lots of uses.

I swear it would be easier to part with some of the stuff from my deathbed.

The same thing with small hunks of lumber.

I must have read 25 or 30 strategies on how to select which wood to keep and what to throw on the burn pile.  When you have a burn pile that will accommodate two cut-up 60 foot pine trees on a single match, you can make lots and lots of “cutting errors” disappear.  But which ones? ALL?

One scrap theory says you should only keep the wood that you have a distinct project in mind for.  All the rest of it?  Toss!

A little different take was the notion that nothing less than one board/foot be spared the local fires of hell.

If you didn’t take shop, other than  not being able to communicate with Donald Trump, Jr. who I assure you does know what a board-foot of lumber is, it’s a piece one inch thick, 12-inches wide, and 12 inches long. Of course a 1 by 12 is only a 3/4″ by 11.5″ piece, but let’s not quibble.

Sounded I had a workable plan until Elaine wandered through.  “Don’t throw that out! I have plans for it!”

“Well, where do you want it?  Do you want to use it now?”

Tact is not one of my strong suits when comes to “getting ‘er done.”  I just consider the task, turn off the brain, and work like a man possessed.  To do otherwise would give remorse and a sense of loss time to steal into the shop and hoodwink me.

The Tasmanian  Devil cartoon has nothing on me when I am in a burn-pile mood.  The Kubota sits with a bucket idling outside the shop door waiting for the bucket to fill with scrap so we can make another run down to the burn pile.

Truth is, the tractor idled for better than an hour at a time.  Parting with good wood – even less than a board foot – is one of the most difficult things there is.

Easier to send a child to college than a small piece of solid oak plywood that would maybe be useful for a tiny, itsy-bitsy cabinet.  You always know the kids will be back – after all parenting is learning to be a money dispenser.  But OAK Plywood or 7-skin Baltic Birch? No…tell me it ain’t so!

Then there are the boxes of things I haven’t gotten around to that would be nice to install one of these days.  I may actually get to  one of them this week.

That’s a built-in shop vac that I bought from HardLuck Freight back when.  1.5 horsepower, extra ducting, and a dandy accessories kit.

Not that I was a mess pot before…the 5 HP ShopVac coming through a Dust Right® Dust Separator  has worked fine.  It was that unit or a genuine Dust Deputy.    The decision, if you ever have the pleasure of a big shop, came down to the Dust Deputy I was looking at back-when didn’t have wheels on it.  Laziness counts around here, so I went with the wheeled unit, and it’s been great.

The rest of the tools were mostly pushed behind the mountains of scrap…but what with the big forest fires trying to choke people to death in the Pacific Northwest and our friends out in Burbank, I am done feeling guilty about the tiny bit of burning some nice, clear, and in some cases even sanded, wood.

What to do with a couple of full sheets of birch cabinet ply was solved by Elaine.  “I want some roll around cabinets under the windows in the guest room…”  “Uh, sure, lady….”

That will solve the plywood storage problem.  And the young son of OM2 who comes up and does a bit of helping now and then will be putting up some sections of gutter this weekend.  Which will clear out even more of the shop.  Jeez…I may get to a tool inventory, yet.

Elaine’s got her hands full with the screen porch.  Because she is an artist, and loves to paint, she has an amazing paint collection.  There must be 50-colors in use in our house…25 in the Egyptian-style second bedroom alone.

This would be fine if they were in the small tempera or Testors enamel bottles.  These are in one quart and one gallon cans.

My buddy the major and I are conspiring to get her back onto canvas and paints that will fit in a briefcase.

It has been said that as we get older, we tend to forget things.  It’s not true out here, though.  Elaine’s been coming up with tools that took the “one way ride” to the House and were never to return to the Shop or the Electronics bench.

Now I have TWO of those high-end $60/a/pop crimpers for automotive and household wiring.  Who knew?  Three pairs of ViseGrips too.

Finishing touches in the shop may include some practice work putting in laminate counters.  It’s not difficult, and it really makes a shop look grand.  Got the trim router…   That and good lighting.  The LED shop lights we have are great and having a clock and big thermometer on the wall?  It let’s us know how far behind we are on projects and when we can expect to break a sweat.

At some point, my office will come up on the  cleaning list.  I’m dreading that.

There’s all the test gear for the new book (Dimensions Next Door) and seven HF ham STATIONS though only linear amplifiers for three.

Toss in the Junior End of the World Seed Vault, the direct satellite weather receiver, a couple of VHF rigs and scanners… three computers, enough discrete components to fix anything and…well, do I need a spare antenna rotator?  Really?

It sounds like an overwhelming task.  And it is.  But now that Texas is “out of the oven” for another year and we can move without leaving a drip line, we are thinking about putting this place on the market as a complete, turnkey tree farm which would make some soon-to-retire folks from Houston a dandy new home. It’s been a lifetime project for us, no reason why someone else shouldn’t get to pick up the ball and run with it.

Did I mention it doesn’t flood?

Solar Flare Prepping

Turn things off.  Unplug wall warts if you’re really worried.  Park in a steel reinforced parking garage (and bring a hacksaw in case the gate fails, lol).

Seriously, I am not too worried about it.

If we all go Poof!  Then I was wrong.

More when I get out to the shop and get a Round Tuitt.  I know there are several of them out there… Elaine found my stash of nine bottles of sake.  That may take priority.


Looking for 2-3 people to read Dimensions Next Door.  Non-fiction…let me know if you’re good at proofing.  No pay.  Just the 50-shades of language abuse that will leave you crying for more. Proofing marks expected promptly.  Will be ready for readers in about 2 weeks.

Depending on the sake and the Round Tuitts.

Write when you break-even,

25 thoughts on “Coping: 29-Acres of Organizing”

  1. Ahhh…. The upside and downside to a supply dump. You have what you need when you need it and yet, everything you don’t when you don’t.
    Sort it, call the neighbors and deal with what’s left. Give them beer.

    • I keep a medium-sized rubber mallet by my computer. When errors pop out at me, I smack them pretty good and just keep on writing…

  2. “The good thing about living on a 40-foot sailboat for 10+ year is you could never accumulate too much stuff. ”

    LOL LOL LOL LOL… I hear ya clucking old rooster.. I have been there done that.. a few years ago I started to toss.. for some unglodly reason the wife wanted to park the car in the garage. I had books.. a couple of thousand of my favorite books.. for some reason I loved books of building plans and patterns and research material.. then the tools.. wow I love tools.. I am still not allowed to walk into a hardware store by myself I have to have a chaperone.. and why did I keep the household budget back to 72… LOL LOL it was an eye opener.. so I started to sell things at the daughters rubbage sales cheap.. she would give me guff about being to cheap I told her the idea Is I want it gone so mom can park in the garage..the bad thing was I had a beautiful wood mill.. and a really really good router.. anyway I always planned on making four poster bed.. never even took it out of the box.. sold it for a hundred dollars and screwed up and sold that really really good router with it..
    I downsized.. put the books in boxes for a quarter or gave them away.. now the wife can park in the garage..
    What is the midwest definition for the way I was … a pack rat that is it.. LOL LOL..
    Now the kids built a thirty five by sixty garage.. I am curious just how long it will take for them to fill it..
    good luck and have fun.. let the wife decide on a lot of it other wise you’ll be just like me and figure out a way to creativly store it LOL

  3. I regard books as friends – you remember when ‘that odd guy’ at so-and-so’s party recommended a new book (Red Storm Rising) and you were pleased to discover a new author . . . or when you found a classic had sequels or new science fiction . . . but then my sister (who never reads) was pushing me to make some money (good reason) and had no concept that some books will never be sold even if I was ‘on the street’. Never.

    One of the hallmarks of civilization is reading, and the storage of knowledge. Without this, what are we? Animals, merely animals.

  4. Scrap Wood

    My grandfather built and ran a sawmill in the Appalachians during the Depression. At some point before I knew him as a small child he built himself a three drawer nightstand from half inch solid walnut boards. A sturdy, heavy thing, even the drawer pulls are walnut. (The drawer boxes are plywood).

    I loved him and learned a good bit from him, but always found the nightstand embarrassing. The drawers were of uneven size in an odd manner. This nightstand was one of my inheritances from him, not because it was in his will, but because the relatives got first pick.

    One day a few years ago I was looking at the nightstand and a lightbulb came on in my brain.

    The drawers were not oddly sized because grandad was an idiot. The drawers were oddly sized because he made maximum use of odd scraps of high quality solid walnut lumber that were leftovers from that old sawmill!

    That nightstand has been a prized possession ever since.

  5. What is it with humans anyway? You sound like the brother from another mother of my hisband who is the ultimate pack rat. The garage, the crawl space, his “room” in the basement full of “stuff”. Over fifty years of “collecting” the stuff that we “might” need someday is not as uncommon as I thought. You have shown me that this is a universal problem! But, just when I am on the verge of going bonkers and resorting to wholesale mayhem to reduce the mess, something breaks. Then he will calmly go to “a box” known only to him and pick out the tool, the whatitz, the 2 and 23/32 piece of copper pipe and repair the problem. UGH!

  6. I would love to read it, but can’t afford the time to be a good beta reader for you. I will buy it when it comes out and give you a review.

    Having spent a long summer downsizing, prior to moving to a retirement home, I feel your pain. I’m sure you will find that the tool you had not used for 10 years and disposed of, will need to be repurchased within 6 months of your arrival in your new home.

    I found the hard choices I made for this new phase in life, were not too bad. I still have a very full life, and rairly miss those things I set aside.

  7. George
    For your next abode why not get a Land Yacht better known as a bus. That way if your new locale doesn’t work out just bug out! There about forty feet long just like your old boat and will keep your stock pilling odds and ends to a minimum. Then you too can get your kicks on route 66!

  8. Hi George,

    I’d be glad to proof your manuscript. I often see the typos before I read something. I let them go since the content is what matters in your columns. I don’t know the formal “proof marks”, but I’ll be glad to do my best. Thanks for the previews.

  9. I have a buddy just a few miles South of you that has been trying to sell a nice house and ackerage off and on for a number of years. I agree your best bet will be a retiree who doesn’t really know what he is getting into. A lot of pro’s and con’s, but one of my favorite parts of the country.
    I am available to help proof your manuscript. Sounds like something I am interested in.

  10. My dad had a nice plastic round tuit.He passed it to me. Later I got a wooden round tuit. Life happened and i lost both of my round tuits. Now I just do things as they happen like took 30 mins to change the back up light bulb in the truck. One T25 head and one #2 Phillips plus test. Then back to wondering where I lost my 2 Round tuits. Maybe because I worked with metal was why I lost them?

    • Yeah, you can’t use a round tuitt on metal…that will screw them up for sure. Best using a sonnjer round tuitt on wood and a later round tuitt on plastic. For serious metal work, we recommend a willsee. The largest of projects (or for tool steel) make require the use of two willsee’s and a Leavitt.

  11. Elaine has an Egyptian room!!? You must post photos!

    (PS What’s the book about? I’m an old National Spelling Bee contestant, and would volunteer as a proof-reader).

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