Friday, June 26, 2009


Followers and Friends:
Whereas, the we have officially entered the lazy, hazy, crazy days of summer, and
whereas, the weather is delightfully warm and balmy, and
whereas, everybody is feeling a bit more laid back than normal,

I hereby proclaim TODAY, June 26 in the year of Our Lord 2009 and every Friday through Labor Day of this year to be Hawaiian Shirt Day.

In celebration thereof, every follower and friend of this blog is to wear a Hawaiian Shirt on this and every subsequent Hawaiian Shirt Day in the year 2009.

Aloha and Mahalo!

Sunday, June 7, 2009

The Secret to Surviving

In his classic song, "The Gambler", American troubadour Kenny Rogers asserts that "... the secret to survivin' is knowin' what to throw away and knowin' what to keep." In contrast, I am not a gambler; very little of my stuff is essential to survival. I need a strategy for making the throw away/keep decision. And I have one. If I don't use an item regularly or do not anticipate using it again, I will dispose of it. I plan to start with stuff I haven't used for the last ten or twenty years and with stuff I know I'll never use again. After having disposed of that stuff or restored it to a place of regular use, I plan to work my forward little by little to the present. My intent is to reach the point where I will have tossed, donated, sold, or otherwise disposed of everything I haven't used for the past year. Face it, if I haven't needed or used something for a year, then I probably don't need to keep it around. If I need it again, I should be able to buy, borrow, or rent one and hopefully give it back when I'm finished using it. The only problem will be stuff with historic or sentimental value -- wall maps from the Browningsville School, tobacco spears from Dad's farm, Grand Dad's plumb bob &c. With any luck, I'll be able to donate some of it to the Montgomery County, MD. historic society. Failing that, I'll probably inflict it on my kids. I've already started. I gave my machinist's tool chest and tools to my nephew who is a machinist. He will use them. It felt good.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

It's Only Stuff

My parents were part of the generation that survived both the Great Depression and World War II. As one of the last tobacco farmers in a rapidly urbanizing Montgomery County, Md. my Dad never really lost the depression mind set. In our family, hard work and frugality were necessary if we were to eat. Our habit of making much out of little was summed up in a little verse that my mother taught me as a child, saying: "Use it up. Wear it out. Make it do, Or do without!" My wife also came of age in circumstances that required work and the ability to make do with what one had. The net result is that we tend to hang onto stuff long after it has ceased to be useful just in case we might some day need it. I have lugged my machinist's tools to eighteen addresses in the last thirty-nine years just in case I ever need to go back to work in a machine shop to feed my family. They are good and useful stuff. I fondly hold onto books and magazines I have read and might want to read again and to books and magazines I have never read but that sound as if I may one day want to read them. Good and enlightening or entertaining stuff. Old radio equipment has followed me home from places as far distant as North Carolina because it's "good stuff" and might be fun to play with. When my grandparents died, the farming tools and my grandfather's mill-wright tools made the trek to my parent's place. When my parents died, a lot of these same tools took residence with me, not because I needed them or that they had sentimental value, but because I knew how to use them. I feel like I have half of the farm in my basement, but it's still good and potentially useful stuff. I have acquired stuff on impulse because I thought it might be neat to have. A lot of it has stayed with me. I have also held onto stuff because it was not good enough to donate or sell, but way too good to throw away. I am up to my knees in stuff! Sure, I use and enjoy some of it it, but I look at a lot of it and wonder why it's still there. And I look at too much of it and wonder what I was thinking when I dragged it home. I have finally come to the conclusion that will never make me happy and that stuff that is neither used nor enjoyed is clutter. It's time to start the process of de-cluttering, of getting rid of stuff I neither need, nor use, nor take pleasure in -- item by item and piece by piece. After all, it's not anything of real value. It's only stuff.