I seem to have become the home maintenance person for not only my own home, but for several of my friends and neighbors. I also have several hobbies that require large amounts of materials and numbers of tools (new restoration project in photo at left). To make matters worse, I grew up in a small-farm area at a time when the “great depression” had removed the little cash that was around, and was firmly taught that one never ever even considered throwing anything away that might have some use in the future, even if that use required modification. So I have a lot of stuff.
I often get subtle and well meaning advise from people who love me that I should have less stuff, and that I would profit from better “organizing” it. I thank them, but I am happy with my stuff, and “organization” varies from person to person. I have probably mentioned my favorite theory which states that there are at least three approaches to organizing—by subject (what is it?), date (when did it happen?), or spatial (where is it?). I am a spatial type, but “what is it” (filing cabinets, labeled boxes) people seem to dominate, especially if their stuff is not visible to the eye. There are even consultants who help their clients dispose of stuff, and I am happy for them if they are successful, but they are not welcome in my life.
This photograph shows the radial arm saw in my shop. Notice that the table for the saw is clean. That is necessary. But the space behind the wall and the wall itself are simply full of things such as tools, tape, etc. People who approach situations such as this by such things as painting outlines on the wall with hooks placed so that the tool, or whatever, can be placed on the outline think I could improve the organiztion of my shop. I thank that is admirable. But this is my shop, and I don’t want to take the time to place the tool exactly where its outline is. I just want to get it off the table, and hanging it on a nail is easy, and I can find it rapidly because I can see it.
This approach of being able to see stuff does perhaps require more space than if it is put into labeled boxes (drawers, etc) that are stacked. But a tiny bit of thinking can help with this problem. Take plumbing fixtures and associated pipes,
hoses, etc. Since my house, and its sizeable yard, are equipped with 100 year old plumbing and wiring that tend to like frequent repairing, and since I mess around with old steam engines, orchard sprayers, and such, I have lots of pipe fittings and related objects around. So I have taken to storing them by temporarily putting them together into hopefully interesting combinations and finding various places to keep them. When I want something, I can instantly see what I want, remove it, and put it to use. A few photos at right and below show some of these, which tend to be in corners either in my home office, my Stanford office, my basement, or my yard.
The final one, with the hoses attached, is my favorite. It is in my yard, and almost always stops people who are walking around the yard, so that they can try to figure out its function and how it works. It’s function, of course, is to act as a place for me to store pipe and hose fittings. That’s all it does.
I have found that I can smuggle great amounts of stuff into my house yard, and shop in a way that causes many people (including me) to think that it is “interesting”, instead of thinking I should either get rid of it or put it in a box. If you need/like large quantities of objects,and people you love are bothered by that , keep them off balance by making the objects more “interesting”. One person who loves me is Marian, my wife. She also loves to make mobiles. I am subtly encouraging her to make mobiles from some of my stuff. Then it will hang around, be considered art, and I can cannibalize her mobiles if I need it (although I may have blown my campaign if she reads this post).