You can’t play every weekend

“You can’t play every weekend,” is something one would say to a child.

Children need to be assigned tasks, duties, and responsibilities. It is what parents should do – parent their children. Guide the children. The parents do this. The parents decide how children will allocate their time. Children can’t spend their entire childhood playing. Nor can children make the important decisions in their lives – they aren’t the parents.

If you have done a good job as a parent, your children will become self-sufficient and no longer need your help. They will leave home and not come back to live with you. This is the mark of good parenting – the children grow up, and leave the nest for good. Of course, a parent wants the children to come back to visit, but not come back to live.

My children are grown, self-sufficient and successful. I see no reason why I shouldn’t be allowed to play every weekend.

This weekend I was at home. No play time for me.

 PROCRASTINATION

As an expert procrastinator, I have developed my skills in this area by thoroughly and systematically studying the subject. There are many kinds of Procrastinations, and mine is the purest, most desirable, and superior to all others. For me, procrastination is not about delaying task completion; I am a get-things-done person. My style of procrastination is focused on priorities. I have a sophisticated methodology of hierarchy mapping. Most important is that we live life, that is we do the things we love to do, not things that may be required by others such as spouses, significant others, the government, or anyone else you allow to control your life. For me, these Living Life items move to the front of the line, or the top of the list if you are a list-person. Family outings, camping, and hiking supersede any other request of my time or my focus.

At this point in my life, one would think the goal would be to play every weekend and more. Apparently this isn’t the case. Somehow there has developed a spousal expectation that certain things need to be accomplished. This is the result of an event that started 15 years ago.

THE HOUSE

The event was the house-remodeling project. This was an important and necessary endeavor, though it should be mentioned that I was single at the time. Carpets were removed. Interior walls were removed. The master bath was gutted. One bedroom’s wall was completely removed, opening up the area to be a large dining area. The other bedroom was converted to an office, leaving the master bedroom as the only bedroom in the house. At this point, I was satisfied with the progress. I had eliminated 67% of the bedrooms, meaning there was no room in the house for guests. Of course, company would be more than welcome to sleep in the backyard; something I heartily recommend and often did before re-marrying. If it becomes necessary to have guests (this apparently is Joyce’s realm of decision making) they can stay in our room and we will stay in the camper. We have done this. We have also sent guests to the camper.

Kitchen

The kitchen will eventually be gutted and remodeled as part of this project. I bought new kitchen cabinets (assembly required), which were stored in the garage for 14 years of the project’s timeline. Now being a bachelor and a backpacker, I require very little in the way of kitchen gear. A grill in the backyard, a knife and fork for meat, a couple plates, bowls; a spoon, a cup or two and a couple drinking glasses are all that is required. Having 8 linear feet of empty wall cabinets in the kitchen made no sense to me. So they were removed and relocated to the garage where they could fulfill an important function – the storage of camping and backpacking equipment.

Two years into the remodel project, I re-married. The remodel continued at a snail’s pace. It is good to take one’s time doing these things. You cannot rush quality work. Although there is not enough kitchen cabinet space for all the womanly cooking gear Joyce donated to the community property pool.

ACKNOWLEDGING ACHIEVEMENTS

As mentioned earlier, the project is now into its 15th year. While this may seem like a long time, recognizing the accomplishments along the way can give us perspective. It should be noted that we have spent over 1,000 nights camping during this period. This is a Living Life category and cannot be overlooked, minimalized, or dismissed.

Another important consideration, one that many don’t comprehend, is that Joyce and I have completed all the work. The accomplishment here is money that would have paid someone to do the work went into our retirement plan.

At times Joyce gets impatient with the apparent lack of progress on the project. So it is probably best to review what actually has been accomplished. Understanding is knowledge. Knowledge is power. So that this does not get lost in the dust of the years gone by, now is a good time to survey the project accomplishments.

Living Room

The living room picture window was removed and a glass block window was built. It is extremely energy efficient and provides soft ambient light during the day, not to mention no one can see in. Privacy is not something to be taken lightly.

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The next project was installing 30 recessed ceiling light fixtures in the living room and dining area. This was a major project. With little crawl space in the attic, it took quite a bit of work to run new wiring, cut precise openings in the ceiling, and install wall switches and the light fixtures. Today the interior is well lit, providing a warm ambience with energy efficient LED light bulbs.

Then we moved on to building a wet bar. I know, kind of silly since we rarely drink alcoholic beverages, but it was a fun project.

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We had a strange hallway set up adjacent to the guest bathroom. The hallway had two sinks — I guess for guests. This was in addition to sink in the bathroom. So we removed all of it, including the wall and flipped the opening to face the living room. This flip required that the drain be flipped also, not a minor job by any means. Renting a large commercial cement saw, I removed a 12″ X 30″ section of the cement floor, re-plumbed the drain, and refinished the opening with new cement. New copper water lines run in the ceiling and down to the sink.

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Granite tiles were used to construct the counter top. Glass shelves and mirrors cover the walls, with glass blocks to finish off the project.

Derailed & Detoured

Before I could move on to the next phase, we developed a new problem. The pre-cast cement wall around our property was disintegrating, becoming a safety hazard and a threat to national security.

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Also, on two sides of our property, we needed to retain dirt that had been previously retained by the decaying wall. The house remodel was put on hold — not my fault. I removed a few thousand pounds of cement walls, excavated yards and yards of dirt by shovel and wheel barrow, built a retaining wall foundation by manually compacting the soil in a 2 foot wide by 150 feet long trench. Then I moved over 50 tons of gravel that was delivered to the front drive, to complete the foundation.

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Lastly, I hand laid several hundred 75-lb blocks to complete the project.

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I should mention that Joyce assisted on the project.

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Soon after, we built a couple walls in the front, commissioned the construction of two iron gates, and installed those.

Master Bedroom Closet

Moving from the unexpected and time-consuming retaining wall project, the master bedroom closet needed immediate attention. Actually there was nothing wrong with the closet. The problem was that Joyce had more shoes than Imelda Marcos and more clothes that Zsa Zsa Gabor. New flooring and an 8-foot fluorescent light fixture were installed.

IMG_0325.JPG (2)I built new storage fixtures, and commandeered 20% of the storage for my use.

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80% of the closet was allocated to Joyce.

Additionally she was given domain over, and ownership of, the closet in the office, which she promptly filled to overflowing with clothes. The rest of her stuff took up tenancy in a large portion of the garage.

Master Bedroom

Since the closet was finished, I figured I might as well finish the master bedroom. Or maybe I was pressured to do so. I can’t remember.

This project took awhile. Seeing that I needed give weekends priority to backpacking and camping, leaving only evenings available for this project. Most evenings I am not home, but am traveling for work (and hiking in between remote assignments). Anyway, I can report that the bedroom has been completed.

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IMG_0319IMG_0321The master suite is almost done; except the master bath, which is still gutted.

Heck, most of the world’s population doesn’t even have a bathroom, and we have one that is fully functional and indoors. The 2nd one (master) can wait. Besides, I need to figure out how I can add a urinal to the bathroom and then sell Joyce on the idea.

Garage as a roadblock to Progress

It was 11 or 12 years into the remodel, when a new obstacle reared it’s ugly head: the garage needed attention. There was so much stuff in the garage that not only could we not park a vehicle in it, we couldn’t even get in.

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Something had to change. So I focused all of my remodel neurons on the garage. The rest of the house could wait because we would need the garage as a workshop, and a construction materials & handling area to manage the demands of the balance of the house’s interior remodel. Besides, all we really need is a roof over our heads.

Joyce did point out that the roof over our heads has leaks in it. So I added a new roof to the remodel construction To Do List. It will move up my priority list if the leaks get worse.

I am now into year 3 of the garage project. We really need to throw everything out, or better yet give it to charity. Basically we need to get rid of all of Joyce’s stuff. Plus the Christmas decorations take up significant space. We don’t need the decorations; since we spend every Christmas vacation in our camper and some of that time I usually take a backpacking trip. This entire disposition of stuff is still open for debate. So for 3 years I have been, as time allows, meticulously organizing the garage. I am making progress, progress that can be measured in cubic centimeters of recaptured space.

Joyce did not want the “assembly required” cabinets to be installed in the kitchen. She wanted something more substantial, elegant, and of course more expensive. So I decided they would make acceptable garage cabinets. After assembling them, I have to hand it to Joyce for an excellent decision; they would not have made either of us happy installed in the kitchen.

DSC03031This is where I am today. In the garage phase, moving at a carefully calculated and deliberate cadence, organizing and storing valuables and other stuff into the newly installed garage cabinets.

DSC03036The stuff belongs to Joyce, the valuables to me, and there are other items that are “ours” that fall into the valuables category.

In life, appraising and evaluating material goods is always done with the prejudice of one’s perception of the world. When it comes to a garage, the perception is a man-view of the world, purpose, and utility.

MAN-WORLD

A garage should be a place to contemplate metaphysics, create and repair things. I should know. I worked for years as an auto mechanic in a commercial garage. So for the uninitiated, the uninformed, and the generally confused; I shall explain the purpose, workings, and inner sanctum of the American man’s garage.

First thing is a man needs a comprehensive set of tools. SAE and metric. Sockets, ratchets, and extensions of various sizes. Of course a man will own three complete sets in 1/4, 3/8, and 1/2 inch drive. Additionally a varied selection of wrenches, pliers, screwdrivers, hammers, drills, drill bits, and specialty tools must be included. A comprehensive set of air tools is recommended, but not required. Every man should have a large air compressor; at least 30 gallon capacity.

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Tools should be stored in toolboxes. Toolboxes should be constructed from quality steel and painted red. A man’s toolbox is clean, but shows signs of use.

DSC03032Within the bowels of the toolbox drawers, there should be telltale signs of grease and oil in the nooks and crannies of the hard to clean areas.

Other equipment that should be in the garage would include a vice or two, bench grinder, pedestal grinder, drill press, a selection of hand saws, hack saws, miter saw, circular saw, reciprocating saw, and table saw among others. There should be a collection of power tools to include but not limited to RotoZip or comparable cut-off tool, planers, sanders, soldering irons, voltmeter, ohm meter, amp meter, extension cords, wheel barrow, ladders, and a cement mixer.

Today most men don’t have any of this stuff, because they can’t do anything except for some very specialized, narrow field of endeavor. You may want to read my further thoughts on this in the post The Death of Renaissance Man, where I quoted Robert A. Heinlen:

A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly. Specialization is for insects.

The garage is also the proper place to store camping equipment, boats, bikes and other outdoor gear that hopefully is shared gear. That is, valuable our stuff that is to be used by the man and his wife or significant other together.

Lastly there should be a special area set aside with adequate storage for backpacking gear. Backpacking gear should not be commingled with camping gear. They are different activities with different goals and requisite skills.

That’s it. If there is anything else in your garage (except vehicles) it should be thrown away, given away, or donated to charity.

Hopefully when you are done with the organization there is room left over for vehicles. That is my hope for the Garage Organization Project. Motorcycles have first priority. The wife’s car should be next. A real man can park his car or truck outside.

FOCUS ON IMMEDIATE NEEDS

As I started this past weekend’s garage duty, I quickly realized there were some other tasks that required immediate attention, and these tasks were outside of the scope of the garage organization project. Reviewing these tasks, and then constructing a prioritized workflow analysis, it became obvious that these, as a group, were monumental. In order to complete these newly identified tasks, well… I would need more time than was currently available for the weekend. In fact these new, important to-do items could, if properly taken advantage of, might require several weekends of dedicated attention. Of course several weekends could mean several years, being that weekends should be set aside for playing.

First were the camper BBQ and table, which needed cleaning and the yearly maintenance service. After our last trip, and because I am a criminal, I off-loaded these items at the house before towing the camper to the storage place.

Next were the new bikes we purchased as Joyce’s wedding anniversary gift. There were several upgrades and accessories that UPS had delivered during the week while I was backpacking in Alabama and Ohio. The bikes are Living Life items, so they will need immediate attention.

Lastly, there are several boating related gear items that need inspection, set-up and testing. A new prop for the boat motor, and Smart Trim Tabs need to be installed on the stern. I felt bad about these. UPS had delivered them nearly 2 weeks ago, and I had somewhat reluctantly prioritized them below camping and hiking. Also there were several pieces of new gear that will be used in conjunction with boating trips that require set up, testing, weighing, cataloging and written product reviews.

Lastly and Lastly, is this post that you are reading, which has taken considerable time to contemplate, organize, structure, and publish. Somehow it seemed only proper and somewhat necessary to document the weekend for prosperity and future generations. The garage (and anything less urgent) will have to wait.

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