A Pocket of Resistance: An Old Man’s Tasks

About a year ago, my niece, Dr. Kate Jewell Hanson, commented to Maureen and me that her father, my younger brother Joe, was a “putterer.” i applauded her assessment, but questioned the accuracy.

From what i’ve observed, Joe’s puttering is like painting their entire house in Queechee, Vermont. It seems like every time i call him, he’s doing a major putter.

i, on the  other hand, am a piddler, not a putterer (except on the golf course where i am not a very good putterer but do it a lot more than i should, or is that a “puttee”?), i have become more of a piddler, as our mother would have said, after stopping real work when i left Pacific Tugboat Services almost two years ago. i keep coming up with all of these magnificent ideas of incredible home improvements, which quickly become a bunch of tasks that need to be done before getting to the real one…and only one or two actually getting done.

Then, of course, i go way, way off track. Example: we have been working toward reducing all of the crap we have in our makeshift garage attic, made by my father and me with some old scrap plywood and discarded closet doors. A major part of that hoard upstairs is artwork that has been replaced in the house throughout the years. i like nearly all of that. So rather than giving it away, i looked for other options.

Since the first house Maureen and i have owned, i have had an office. This was primarily because i have always wanted to be a writer, and i have a rather ridiculous amount of books. The current home office is one of my favorite places on earth.

So what do i do with the artwork. i have made a second office in my garage workspace, the third car port in our three-car garage. i have kept a lot of my father-in-law Ray Boggs’ garage workshop pieces and tools. i have my own workshop and yard tools. Now i have a desk my father made for Sarah and the wall is now covered with artwork and photos of Blythe, Sarah, and grandson Sam.

The picture wall with tools and projects in progress, two since the late 1970’s.
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The screw-off area surrounded by a bunch of reminders i should be working. The white desk is what my father made for Sarah.
Ray's workbench i moved from his garage with tools and lots of stuff.
Ray’s workbench i moved from his garage with tools and lots of stuff.

After this bit of piddling, i decided to get organized, as in eternally not getting there. My sister Martha, brother Joe, and the goofy guy gathered at Martha’s home on Signal Mountain a little over a year ago to select photos from our parents, Aunt Bettye Kate Hall, and our grandparents for a digital keepsake Martha is scanning.

Both Blythe and Sarah had requested to have their grandparents’ photos not used in the project. So what we did not put in the project Martha, Joe, and i began, i took to Austin. But there was not enough time to adequately distribute them, so i brought them back to the Southwest corner. Added to that is a rather incredible amount of paperwork saved for books not written. i realized when going through the paperwork nearly all of the Navy related documents included my SSN, which must be redacted before tossing, or shredded.

Temporary shelves i just added to store the photos and paperwork i plan to reduce to almost nothing.
Temporary shelves i just added to store the photos and paperwork i plan to reduce to almost nothing.

So i made the shelves, found most of the stuff in a myriad of storage places and collected them. The intent is to go through them, keep the actual photo or paper if it might mean something to daughters or other family members, record them digitally, and shred or otherwise dispose of what i don’t keep.

i figure if i continue at the current pace, this will take me about forty-seven years, nine months, and seven days, or my one hundred and twentieth birthday.

But my garage is becoming my getaway place. i have an old computer speaker system, to which i hook up my iPod, which has 4700 songs on it from my 45’s, some LPs, and CD’s. i plan to add my cassettes and the rest of the LP’s and maybe even a couple of boxes of reel-to-reel’s up in the garage attic, which will more than double the current music list. This task will take about as long as the sorting project.

For now, i put the iPod on “shuffle,” sit at my (Sarah’s) desk, look at photos of my loved ones and some cherished artwork, write some stuff, play solitaire, read, or just sit and listen to Jimmy Reed, Ella, Frank, Dvorak, Handel, Jimmy Smith, Nina, and many others.

While listening, i think life ain’t bad. There have been a bunch of hiccups, and there are still some things that need to be fixed (besides the unending list of projects). Even with the hiccups, i’ve had a pretty good life, and no, it ain’t bad. It ain’t bad.


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