Saturday, March 24, 2012

George Carlin Was Right About.....Our "Stuff"

A long time ago the late comedian/satirist/truth-teller, George Carlin, had a very funny routine he did on our insatiable need for "stuff'.   Well, truthfully, I am pretty sure he used another ---shall we say---more colorful word for it.    The gist of the whole routine (which nearly everyone in modern society can relate to) is that we ALL have stuff and that can lead to all kinds of problems.    Like where to put our stuff.  Or storing stuff.   Or hiding stuff (valuables).    Oh, and one other thing is that it leads to containers for our stuff.    You know what I'm talking about, I am sure.  

If there is one thing we have plenty of in this country (USA), it's an abundance of containers for our stuff.   Big ones, tiny ones, rented spaces, crammed places and whole stores that cater to one audience: People in search of the perfect thing to contain their stuff.   

So it should come as no surprise that one day while browsing on Craig's List, Larry came across an irresistible listing.    It was a used (but still perfectly functional) Rubbermaid storage building.  They sell them at Lowe's, Home Depot and Wal-Mart to name only a few of the places that carry these storage buildings.    He had looked at them numerous times at Sam's Club where they had the MOTHER of all snap-together, molded plastic storage buildings that was big enough to live in if you had the good sense to get rid of some of your stuff.    It actually had windows, a sky light, places to put shelves, faux flower boxes on the outside and a rather realistic looking "barn door".    I wouldn't have been surprised to find out that it had instructions for installing electricity, running water, a toilet, draft beer on tap, and a satellite dish.   I guess if they had marketed that thing as the ultimate "man cave", they would have sold out the first day they had them.   

Needless to say, he was not charmed by the rather large price tag that went along with that building so he sighed heavily and continued his search.    He needed a small outside shed because most of his yard tools were in the garage or leaned rakishly against the end of the house, where they were exposed to sunlight, rain, hail or to tempt the passing would-be thief.    (Yea, like someone is going to steal your rusted, bent up rake!  But I digress......)  

So when he came across the one for sale on Craig's List, his eyes lit up.    The price was right, it snaps apart so bringing it home would not be a huge issue and the pile in the garage and end of the house had grown intolerable.   He called the guy selling it and before you know it, he had it home and re-snapped back into a functional storage shed.    Problem solved----sort of.  


Those of you who have sheds know what I am going to say next.    A short time after he got the shed we had one of our famous hurricane warning things that we get usually once or twice a summer.   Sometimes they materialize into the real deal (Ivan, 2004).   Sometimes we just get a lot of rain and not much else.  No matter which kind it turns out to be, we still have to go through the drill of putting all the yard art, lawn chairs, loose anything into a suitable place until things literally blow over.    So he ran around like all the rest of the people in town, throwing things at the Rubbermaid bin willy, nilly and trying to strip our yard of anything that can be turned into a projectile in a 100+ mph wind.    We've seen what perfectly innocent things can do when they go flying about the yard and cartwheeling within inches of our bay window.     You do not need to tell us twice that loose things must be tied down or put in a closed container when a storm approaches.   

Well, that was several years ago and while the storm we were preparing for never materialized, we somehow forgot about all that stuff in the Rubbermaid building.    I think he might have retrieved one or two flower pots but the vast majority of the things in it basically served as a home for the tiny tree frogs that came to inhabit and LOVE the little storage shed.   

Now that we've retired from our "day jobs", Larry has a lot more time to ponder things that he can do to improve the old homestead.     And so it was that he happened to go by the shed the other day and he casually opened the doors and took a peek inside.    It was pretty much crammed to it's green, plastic fake rafters with all that stuff he put in there a while back.   Neither of us could remember when it was so suffice it to say, it was several summers ago.    And it hit him that the stuff he had squeezed into the back of the shed was impossibly trapped behind bags of potting soil, mystery boxes, lumber, rakes, flower pots of all kind, yard art and a rather large family of tree frogs, staring at him with bulging eyes wondering what he intended to do next.  

He had only one choice----well, maybe two choices.    He could-----gasp----get rid of all that stuff!   Or he could organize it a tiny bit better!    And that is the choice he decided to make.    Among the piles of stuff he had in the garage was a haphazard stack of pallets---The kind that many stores use to hold their merchandise in a warehouse.   When deliveries are made, often a forklift will pick up the whole pallet and move the entire thing to the warehouse.  They are made of cheap wood and nailed or stapled together quickly and without a lot of thought to design, other than functionality.    He had asked a friend to save some for him since his friend happens to work in a place that gets these pallets so much that they have to dispose of them.    A fresh supply arrives almost daily.   

Now it so happens that using pallets for "re-purposing" is all the rage.    You can look on Pinterest, do a search for "pallet furniture" and you'll find that there are a lot of creative souls out there who have found new and interesting ways to use these pallets to make coffee tables, wall art, shelving and almost anything you can think of that involves wood and nails or screws.    They take the pallets apart, cut them up into useful boards and without too much expense have some pretty cute and almost indestructible furniture.   

Larry had been collecting the pallets for some time as a free source of wood for just such a project as improving his little shed.    And after I sent him several links to projects made using pallets as the raw materials, he got inspired to make some shelves for his shed. 

First, he had to cut the wood down into some usable sizes.    He set up a cutting area outside of the garage and got out his Skil Saw.     He also kept a crowbar handy since the nail -brad thingies they use and the methods they employ to put those pallets together make them really sturdy.   

Keep a crowbar handy for prying
A Skil Saw will save time and work
After he got the pallet torn apart into usable parts, he used wood screws and some carpenter's glue and some other odd pieces of wood that were taking up space in the garage and fashionedthem into a serviceable set of shelves.    The estimated investment for the entire project was $5.00 and his time.  

No, they aren't for House & Garden but they work just fine!
Then he reloaded the shed with all the stuff that had come out of it.   Before the shelves were added, in order to get to things in the back, he had to practically unload the entire shed.   Now, with shelving at the back and a few thing neatly piled up toward the front, he can actually step inside, greet the frogs and get to anything on the back shelves.     He might have to move an item or two, but the things stored there are much more accessible and less frustrating to pull out.   

Potting Soil, Coolers, Screen House and assorted stuff
Flower Pots and yard art
Rubbermaid Storage Bin reloaded. (The tree frogs are in hiding!)
So yes, what George Carlin said is definitely true about humans and their stuff.    From what I have seen with my grandchildren, we start at an early age acquiring stuff and the quest apparently continues until we finally get enough of it and start downsizing.    We have not quite reached that stage in our lives, although we have given away, donated or tossed a large amount of things from our house since retirement last year.    Until we arrive at that time in our lives when we start divesting ourselves of stuff instead of investing in it, we need to figure out smarter, more efficient ways to store all of our good stuff.   

I'll bet you have some things that could be stored better, too.     We all do, or so it seems.    If you have a brilliant, cheap or innovative idea about how to store stuff, please share on the comment section.     I am sure George would approve from wherever he is now.     ;)
Happy Trails,


1 comment:

  1. Great idea, Larry, and a funny, breezy post, Marcia!


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