The Problems of Abundance



The house is done for values of done. By which I mean all that’s left is cleaning the remaining living room floor (about one fourth) and polishing the wood in the back hall, and then cleaning the kitchen. However, the painting, flooring and heavy lifting is done. I might need to help the guys paint the fence, but we’ll see.

However, what I’ve found is that we have way too much … stuff.

Most of the stuff we have too much of are cleaning implements and tools. How many jigsaws can a woman have? This woman, at least four. Three sanders. Five stapleguns. This is not counting the endless packages of special cleaning cloths, the FIVE count them five glass cleaner bottles, the…

You get the picture, right. So, how did we get here?

We got here mostly by having large storage spaces for both tools and cleaning implements. (And food. More on that later.) Oh, and lousy memories.

Because I spent so much time busy and overworked and sick, I’d TOTALLY forget I’d bought a saw or a sander. OR more commonly I knew I’d bought it, but I couldn’t find it when I needed it. This was made worse by carrying things from house to house. For instance, I have sheers for every imaginable window, except the windows at this house.

The saws, mostly were because I never unpacked boxes from the other house and decided the saws were lost in the move.


We’ve found a similar problem with the deep freezer.

Before we had the kids we made do with the freezer in the fridge. Then a year after Robert was born, my inlaws drove from Ohio to North Carolina bearing their old freezer as a gift.

At the time I was flabbergasted by the idea. You must understand that at that time we rarely could afford more than one meal at a time. Of course my inlaws had also brought us several blocks of Pennsylvania cheese. Which went into the freezer.

Over the next three years, though, the freezer was often clean and empty. Notwithstanding which, out of a sense of obligation, we carried it with us from house to house.

Then life got a little better, and I discovered sales. Things like the week before Thanksgiving, we’d buy all the discounted turkeys we could and I’d chop them into faux veal scallops, and stuffed thigh roasts and… and we’d live off it for three months.

The problem came when the writing became a job, rather than a somewhat paying hobby. No, I’m not complaining, but it was a disaster for my housekeeping.

You see, I could no longer take three days to cut up a turkey or that great roast at a great price into smaller meals. So I’d shove them in the freezer and forget them.

The forget them was the big problem. When I started looking at moving stuff from the freezer a lot, if not most, of it was freezerburned and past its prime.

So we didn’t move the freezer and I don’t hit the meat sales. Weirdly, that means we’re spending less. (Well, not this last month, because we’ve been eating out, because there is no strength left to cook. THOUGH I’m a cheap date. I get so tired I can’t eat, so I just have a glass of milk before bed.)

The problem with the cleaners and tools is similar. It’s okay to have storage and keep a lot of stuff when you are doing primarily cleaning and fixing. But my job now is writing (again not complaining.) This means I will clear forget from one year to the other that I even have a staplegun, or more likely where the heck I put the thing the last time I used it.

So part of the clearing up is going to be “pick one of the thing I use every once in a while” ONE and put it in a place we remember and where all the tools are.

As for the deep freezer – almost brand new – it will stay. Particularly right now, at the cusp of the boys moving out, and with this sort of internal feel that my writing is about to become way more important/demanding, I don’t see much use for it. I had the fleeting thought that I could cook once a week and freeze the meals, but then we’ll just forget them. Better if I do that to keep the meals in the fridge, where we’ll remember them.

And that’s what’s left: other than the fence and finding someone to build two steps and a little platform in the back – reevaluating our lifestyle going forward.

Weirdly, abundance and trying to save money can cost you more money and infinitely more time/clutter. It’s time to change that.

So today we go over and clean. And tomorrow we start looking for a place for older boy.

And then I can write.

162 responses to “The Problems of Abundance

  1. oh yes and sell the tools – You’d be surprised at how much money you can make from the sales… It will help you with your new life.

    • Sell… tools? Whaaaat?

      Though since I have a workshop larger than some people’s houses and some tools that require riggers and a hefty trailer to move, I might not be the one to ask about such things.

    • ??? Is there really a market for selling tools? I wonder how much a slightly out of calibration John Scalzi* is going for these days?

      *That’s a device you insert in your toilet in order to measure the mass deposited, right? Or am I thinking of something else … when I drink too much cheap California wine, I rene Gallo, and find a John Scalzi useful to make sure the renal function is unimpaired.

  2. “what I’ve found is that we have way too much … stuff”

    Well, that is why you are moving, no? You should move more often 🙂

  3. Yeah, I can empathize. I had to toss a 10Lb box of pork chops, bought on sale, because I neglected to invidually wrap & freeze them. Than next took the time to thaw the box out. And it had turned bad via freezer burn.
    Anf I won’teven get into the duplicate tools, etc.

    • Wow. Amazing how pain meds can affect your spelling!

    • If you have dogs or cats, you can boil that freezer burned meat, take it off the bones and grind it for your critters to eat.
      They like it, and it’s from better meat than the store bought dog food.

    • Freezerburned meat is pretty good still, if you crockpot the heck out of it with some stock or vinegar or tomato sauce or such. Not as good as good meat, but it’s fully edible.

      • Cream of Mushroom soup is traditional, or those lipton packets for making french onion dip. (I think it’s supposed to be used to make french onion soup, but I’ve never actually read the directions.)

    • Most of my duplicate tools are in the nature of small hand tools, so I’m in pretty good shape there. I’m pretty unhappy that I can’t find my dad’s belt sander, though. I wound up buying a Craftsman belt sander from a guy on Craig’s List for $10 (because the deflector that redirects the sawdust to the collector bag is missing). I’m working on making one from sheet aluminum. but I’m not sure how it’s supposed to look (the part is no longer being manufactured, or I would just buy it).

      • Have you tried putting the model # into a search engine? There is always the possibility that parts diagrams exist online (possibly in an owner’s manual) or that somebody has the part (possibly with other parts as well — possibly the motor burnt out but they thought somebody might have use for the shell) for sale.

        I know it seems the obvious first thing to do, but overlooking the obvious is a common trait of Odd minds.

        • I looked up the owner’s manual, but the images were not large enough to see the shape of the part. Haven’t really taken the time to try searching out another one that might be either broken, or missing some other part, yet.

  4. Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

    Unpacking after moves? What’s that? [Very Big Kidding Grin]

    Been There Done That, Have The T-Shirt (in one of those boxes). [Wink]

    • Oh yes.

      Although I note that my wife – wonderful lady that she is – is pretty damn good at getting her stuck unpacked and me getting reproachful looks until I do the same.

      OTOH she’s also really good at putting things away in places that I don’t expect leading me to wonder where the !@#$%^& is that thing I know I was using last week

  5. Two moves = 1 fire. I’d rather drink Drano.

    • Mark Twain said that. And Spider Robinson observed that, therefore, you could tell it was time to move when your life REALLY needed about half a fire.

      I have found both to be true.

    • I always thought it was three moves equaled a fire. If it’s only two, we’ve been through at least three fires in the past 12 years, which is rather depressing. Especially since we still have little bits of random stuff from before the first move.

      • I was able to keep control of “stuff” fairly well, when I was active-duty. Having to pack up and move it all every three years did encourage one to pare down on the extraneous junk. Although there were those boxes which never did get unpacked and just got shoved into a closet until the next move. I had a nice pair of scissors and some books that I thought for years had gotten lost in a move … until I found them in a box, upon the occasion of the next move.
        But I’ve been in the same house now since 1995, and the garage is overflowing with the stuff that my daughter brought home from her hitch in the Marines … I want to get one of those T-shirts that says, “It’s not an empty nest until all of their stuff is out of the garage.”

        • When I was traveling in my twenties, my entire life fit into the trunk of my car, literally, with space left over. Move every four months or so, pack up clothes, books, small bag of toiletries, one pot and one pan plus utensils, done. Cleaning supplies and such all got trashed on the way out.

          With the exception that I mailed home my books to Dad every so often, so I wouldn’t lose them. *grin* Payback for him getting me hooked on sci-fi? Nooooo, never…

          • For many years I lived in a travel trailer. What I don’t understand is how when the travel trailer was finally unzipped into a real house, it ….filled…. the real house. I’m fairly sure the trailer was some form of tardis.

  6. There are books I have found it simpler to buy an new mmpb rather than dig out the hardback that has been eaten by the house. I sympathize & empathize and am glad I don’t face such a chore and happy you’re nearly done.

    I just hope that being able to sit and write, absent of external pressures and demands for attention, does not prove impossible after so many years working under such burden.

  7. Sarah, when it comes to hitting sales and freezing it, I cannot recommend a vacuum sealer strongly enough. Em and I have done that for meat ever since we moved to Dallas. We have pulled out chicken that was 3 years old from vacuum bags with no freezer burn, cooked up still tender, and no issues when we ate it. Repeatedly. We got a Reynold’s HandiVac and an adapter so we could use Ziploc bags.

    • I understand: cooking for two, only two, no teenagers or hordes of friends stopping by, is another major adjustment that’s coming. (Really messed up all my standby recipes, and for the first time in my life, the 2-qt crockpot insert actually makes sense. I almost never use the 6-qt insert anymore.)

      Strangely, I don’t grocery shop any less now that I have a deep freezer full of meat (and cheese, and frozen veggies, and little plastic containers of one-portion of leftovers); I still go out once a week for fresh veggies, eggs, and half+half. (There are, however, entire 2-3 day stretches where lunch and dinner default to “Eh, forage.”)

      On the other hand, I have a wide range of good crockpot meals that were designed to take the freezerburned meat someone else was going to toss, and turning it into cheap soup for me. Defrosting the deep freezer brings these into play.

      For example, if you chop up a frerezerburned roast and add it to crockpot french onion soup, 12-14 hours later, you have delicious, meaty, filling soup that does not betray the quality of the contents.

      • *SIGH* I miss my crockpot. It succumbed to the movers (along with a bookcase my father made of red oak. Yes, they can break a solid oak bookcase. I was both p1ssed and impressed.)

        • Hey, you know they’re as cheap as $20 on Amazon, yes? not all programmable or with multi-size inserts like I have, but… $20 to avoid using the oven in Texas in August?

          • *grin* The oven and I have an agreement. I don’t touch it, it won’t bother me.

            Summer is salad or legume season. Legumes because most of my favorite bean dishes require 8-9 hours on very low. I can wander through every hour or so, stir, wander off, and not heat the place too much.

      • I’ve tried, but I have a perfumers nose and acute sense of taste. I get tastes and smells no one else does. It’s a curse.

    • Strongly concur. We save a huge amount of money by buying meat and other foods at Costco, portioning it and sealing it in bags with our Foodsaver sealer. Works for meals, cold cuts, even breads and soft stuff if you get the right model and are careful. Heck I even read where one person used the bags for soups. Froze the soup in portion containers and then transferred the frozen blocks into bags that would keep them fresh literally for years. Make things over a weekend and eat off that effort for a week? Heck it takes little time to cook or portion out food for the month. Used to throw out freezer burned food all the time. Now we never have to. And just to continue to beat the horse because it kind of moved, they also make steaming bags you package up, vacuum, then straight from the freezer to the microwave with neat little built in vents.

      I also discovered that by finally buying a real tool chest its amazing how easy it is to find my tools and how easy it is to just drop them in the drawer with the appropriate label. As I get older the harder it’s gotten to remember where I left that pipe wrench from the last sink job I did.

      • We have a vacuum sealer as well – $5 at a yard sale, at our once-a month meat purchase (Granzins in New Braunfels is the best!) everything gets parted out into one-meal portions, dated and sorted into the appropriate basket in the big freezer. We have four or five plastic bins, each labeled “beef” or “Chicken” or “Pork, or “Fish” – so we have a pretty good idea of what we have most of, and where to find it. Best $5 yard sale find ever!

      • The Other Sean

        You can save even more by eating lots of samples when you’re shopping at Costco. That can cut down on a meal right there. LOL.

      • On your last point — I’d already decided if — please G-d — the house is sold by my birthday I want a tool chest. A real one. ALSO part of my “if I can” wish list for the next house is a real workshop.

    • I heartily second the vacuum sealer – It even makes it easier to manage the freezer space we have (only in the fridge – The Violinst won’t agree to a deep freezer). Once frozen the heavier-duty vacuum bags are easier than randomly wrapped non-sealed stuff to deal with, and as noted the whole “monitor for freezer burn” goes away. And finally, vac bagged stuff goes right into the sous vide pot – from frozen to awesome steaks, chicken, and other stuff in a couple of attention-free hours.

      • I shall keep in mind the suggestion of the vacuum sealer, as we have a chest freezer, and with the huge likelihood of my time being eaten up by work (art and writing cannot be done by scripts, alas) I fear that I shall need to resort to such measures.

        • Even better, I found that if I froze and pack the stuff flat I can pretty much file it in the chest freezer like those really thick folders full of clippings and documents I also deal with.

          • The clippings go in the filing cabinet, of course.

          • Oooh, I wonder if I can get a cheap plastic document holder with several pockets to freeze stuff flat….

            • last year I did smushed tomatoes (last harvest of the year, it was pouring down rain) in ziplock bags. Previous years I did grated pears in ziplock bags.
              Just shovel a little less than a quart in, burp it and stack in the freezer.
              I just clear out a section of the fridge freezer and stack them on something flat to get them solid. I think I have used cardboard spacers in between to keep the stack from shifting.

              I did have to train myself to not try to save the bag. That saved me a lot of heart-ache
              (at the end of the year I am out of jars and shelf-space, so freezing in bags is the next tier)

              • Clear… out?

                In the freezer?

                That’s what happens when the power goes out and a door’s left open, right?

                • Well, stack everything to one side, pull stuff out to eat in the next week, and shift the storage water/frozen blocks of ice in gallon jugs out of the chest freezer to free up extra space.

                  • And count your offspring and any guests before, during and after working in or around the chest freezer, to ensure you have the same number at start and finish, or that the missing persons are accounted for.

                    No, I have never fallen into a chest freezer while trying to get out the good ice cream hidden in the bottom.

                    • My (short) girlfriend was dead-set against me getting a chest freezer. I finally figured out it was because she figured it would be her chest getting frozen as she fished stuff out.
                      (She would also get me to pull things down from upper shelves, and then bitch at me for putting them up there in the first place)

                    • I have a good friend who clears 5 feet, but not by much, She’s married to a nice accountant who tops 6 feet. I would, on occasion, be hanging out with them when she decided to do something in the kitchen. The call would ring out. “Love, I need your tall!”

                      He would immediately hop up from whatever he was doing, and either put things away or retrieve them for her.

                    • I have a couple of short friends who have griped that I don’t know what it’s like being short. I allowed that no, I didn’t, but how many times to they have to duck things (even though I’m just a smidge over 6 feet, I still seem to need to duck things a lot – good thing for me I have a hard head, because I forget, too)?

                    • Some friends of mine in college rented a house that had a WC built into the space under the stairs, with the commode cleverly sited near the foot of the stairs. The challenge this posed for any male over five foot tall (especially one a trifle alcohol-impaired and desperately needing to empty his bladder) should not require a diagram to appreciate.

                      Clearly this had been an early effort to humiliate men by forcing them into being Sitzpinklers.

                    • Two words:
                      Formation Runs.

                    • I just yell “STRETCH” and one of the boys comes and gets stuff for me… 🙂
                      I guess if they do both move out I need a step stool?

                    • Just tell Marshall you need that anti-grav belt before he leaves.

                    • We have a cat who keeps walking into the fridge to investigate the place-of-food.

                    • Annie The Insane has attempted to climb into the fridge and Freezer to see what it contains. Now she just looks in while I am looking for what ever, without the attempted entering.

                    • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

                      Why do I get the idea that Annie The Insane got in and had the door/lid shut on her? [Evil Grin]

                    • I think a door closed on her but she was not all the way in. Then at this house the freezer is below, and once her paws got the same with the gravity closed door so she really only investigates the freezer now.

                    • Uh-huh. suuuure you haven’t. 🙂

  8. “And tomorrow we start looking for a place for older boy.”

    “Have they no workhouses?” – Mr. Scrooge


  9. Stephen Gradijan

    The end is near….

  10. c4c

  11. The pantry of Doooooommmmm. Several years ago, while house-sitting Redquarters, I got some of Dad’s work lights, set them up, and shone a light into the Pantry of Doom. And then started excavating. The cans and spices from the grocery store in the city where we lived 30+ years ago? Bye-bye. Bulgy stuff? Gone. What may have been pickling spices OR fodder for the donkey Mary and Joseph had in Bethlehem? Disappeared. And no one noticed.

    We will not discuss my linen closet or sweater drawers. That’s different.

    • And this is why I regularly play a game called “inventory the kitchen, and plan a week’s meals out of the ingredients you find.”

      Usually, I don’t even get to half the kitchen when I do this. But I do get to the back of the pantry, or I cover the can rack, or the beans/flour/rice/we still have cornmeal?/ quinoa? Oh, right! rack. Or the regular freezer, or the deep freezer.

      Every now and then, I plan meals just to rotate the spices in the spice cupboard. What’s the point in having 18-year-aged balsamic vinegar if we never use it?

      • Was that 18-years since you bottled it, or 18 years since bought? 😉

        • 18 years of aging before bottling, followed by, um, three? four? years in the pantry now, being used a little at a time. Thankfully, it keeps!

          • Balsamic is the one kind of vinegar that I’ve never had develop vinegar eels. It keeps very, very well.

            • sabrinachase

              You will immediately explain vinegar eels 😀 Do they shriek before they feast on human flesh? Can they be trained to do tricks? Inquiring minds want to know.

              • Turbatrix aceti are nematodes that can develop in the stuff vinegar is made from. They’re harmless to humans but the USDA frowns on leaving them in the vinegar. We also use the term to describe the stringy stuff that sometimes grows in vinegar that makes it smell really nasty as in “not down the drain! Outside with that now!”

                • I don’t mind eels
                  Except as meals.
                  And the way they feels.

                  I can’t think of a way to rhyme a phrase about vinegar, but I am sure Ogden didn’t like eels there either

            • vinegar eels? Oh, my!

          • Thankfully, vinegar doesn’t sour.

            Given that vintage balsamic can be as costly as wine, this is a very good thing.

    • EVERYONE who sees my pantry remarks that my house is where they’ll go if there’s a zombie apocalypse. And then they’re shocked when I say “That wouldn’t last us longer than two weeks.”

      Aff regularly wonders why I can’t seem to feel secure without a full stock of food in, but happily, Rhys understands. I’ve been through at least one major natural disaster where the stockpile of food kept a family of nine alive for more than a week, and we were listening to the neighbors trying to make a pack of candy bars last. He’s seen the pantry of food also see us through several belt-tightening months when the electricity bill took most of the pay (one of the big reasons why Gillard got voted out in an emergency elections)

      • My Dad got paid once a month when I was a kid. Therefore, my parents bought groceries once a month. Milk, bread, and meat went into the big freezer, everything else into the refrigerator and cabinets. There were no more groceries until the next month.

        I never saw anything unusual about the system, though I went to a two-week shopping cycle after moving out on my own.

        My wife won’t keep stocks of anything. She goes to the store EVERY DAY and buys just what we’re going to eat that day. I tried putting some emergency supplies away for the next snowstorm; she found those and used them up before buying any more groceries. Argh.

        • Yeah, we used to do the once a month shopping thing too. I’ve tried to do the once a day shopping thing but found it tended to be more expensive.

          I prefer at least on a weekly basis; so things that run out quickly are replenished (like eggs, bread, kids’ and hubby’s lunchbox stuff) but the stuff that takes a while to go through sometimes takes a month, a month and a half before we restock on those.

          Do you use canned goods for the emergency supplies? hide them in your garage maybe?

        • While I certainly wouldn’t suggest going behind your wife’s back, I will note that deep habits take a long time to break. If she uses up what’s in the house before buying more groceries, then buying larger quantities regularly – or things that are in quantities too large to be used up at once, like a 10-pound sack of rice – will accustom her to larger quantities of food about, and slow down the everyday shopping.

          How you two then go about keeping and maintaining food is up to trust and communication between you, of course. But consider: I don’t keep “emergency supplies.” I simple have a pantry big enough that what I buy and what I use may have a 6-month lag between them, and if the earthquake cuts the road system and the port workers call another strike, I can feed myself, my husband, and a very few immediate friends for 3 months. So similarly, if you pitch it to her as expanding the options and saving the time needed to shop every day, then it may go down much more smoothly than prior attempts.

          • Install a suitably sized locked cabinet with a sign: In Case Of Blizzard.

            Make sure the two of you have shared an appropriate definition of Blizzard.

          • Emergency supplies also need to be able to handle emergency situations. Such as inability to cook or inability to refrigerate. I once was standing in my kitchen pondering what to cook when I concluded it would have to be spaghetti with white clam sauce because all of the ingredients were in the cabinet, not the frig.

            • Ready to eat soups.

              Advantage, in our house, that while they’re dang near useless for normal meals they’re *perfect* for brown-bagging it, so you’ve got a way to rotate stock.

        • I tried to do a two-week shopping cycle for a long time, but found that I NEVER remembered everything, and wound up going to the store nearly every day anyway, so I gave up and started with only buying more than the day’s stocks of things like drinks, meats when they are on sale, cheeses, and such. Then I mostly fill in what I need for the day on the way home from work.

      • Imagine in Portugal when goods disappeared from the shelves whimsically in the seventies. I’m not mom. I don’t have every closet in the house full of food, oil, toilet paper, baking supplies but we do have emergency stuff and always will.
        I know it’s deeply linked with my feeling of security because right after 9/11, I found myself driving back from grocery store, car full of emergency stocks. Sigh.

      • Not having a stocked pantry makes me crazy. Like, seriously, figuring out how to feed all of us on rice for a week crazy. We were broke, had nothing but a few packs of ramen in the cabinet, and he was fine. I was about to climb the walls. I knew we both got paid in 2 days but all I could think about was those packs of ramen. I think it freaked him out a little because ever since then, he hasn’t argued with me about what we NEED to have in the house. Groceries will be bought, even if that means we have to play catch up on other things. I have a nice stash now so we don’t have to but I don’t ever want to get to that point again.

        • I remember this one time where I made meals out of leftover army ration packs for about two weeks. We somehow scraped by, and I think seeing how stressed I was made an impact on Rhys.

          • While I firmly believe the adage that “Books will get you through times of no food better than food will get you through times of nothing to read,” I will admit that books can be reread.

    • After moving into my parents’ house after my father died (died in 2013, we moved in 2014), we found a number of things which had been in the cabinets for several years before my mother died in 2008…

  12. When we were getting ready move earlier this year, we discovered that we had a different problem. Actually two problems.

    First was the fact that both of my parents were the firstborns of their respective families, and also the ones who stayed close to home. Which meant that each time a relative died, downsized, or moved into a retirement home, we “inherited” their stuff (or at least what they didn’t want to move with them). And given that Dad is in his early 60s and Mom is *ahem* 29 (and has been for nearly 3 decades), that happened quite a lot.

    Second was this mentality that we should never throw anything away, since we might be able to use it later, or else we (meaning my brother and I) might want to pass it down to our children someday.

    I can’t tell you (because I honestly lost count) how many tables, chair sets, cabinets, lamps, desks, dining ware sets, silverware sets, and so on and so forth that we either sold on Craigslist, donated, gave away, or just plain threw out (some stuff was in really bad shape!) before the move. I’d forgotten just how big our old basement and attic really were.

    • Oh, I feel your pain. My parents are 82, Depression babies, and they never threw anything out. Finally, right after they both retired, we convinced them that the 2-car garage might be useful for, you know, cars. I told them that if they didn’t, the first thing going into that garage when they died was a front-end loader.

      Washer dryer combo bought when they got married, console TV with tubes, MY cloth diapers, at least 2 furniture refinishing projects…..

      • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

        My parents had lived in the old house since 1962. While some stuff had been discharged over the years, it was still “interesting” cleaning out the house and garage in order to sell it. [Smile]

    • My MiL kept THREE storage rooms with stuff from her MiL. We called out a junk service to get rid of it after she died. We have our own issues but we’re working on it.

      • My grandmother in law had 3 garages, 4 storage units and a house full of everybody’s stuff. We’ve cleared out 2 of the garages, 1 of the storage units and most of the stuff from the house. She’s been dead 2.5 years at this point. I’m not sure it will ever end but it seems to be curing my husband of his hoarding habit.

      • When we moved to TX Deborah brought stuff from THREE houses. They’ll be opening taped boxes at our estate sale.

  13. I’d sympathize if it wasn’t for the fact that you didn’t use your greatest asset, children. From the time I was 6 until I left home it was my job to go through the freezers (we kept cattle and it wasn’t exactly a small household) at least once a month and rotate to make sure things didn’t get too old. The pantry too once a week after shopping, and just about any child can be given that job. I’m not going to say that it was always done perfectly (don’t expect perfection from a child) but it was done, and I’m sure it teaches responsibility or something else good for the character of the child. Why did you have children for if you weren’t going to use them as a source of unskilled labor?

    As for the tools, get yourself 2 big chests, solidly build rock maple or oak dressers from a yard sale, or wooden boxes. In one you put the best of all your tools, and keep them there. You know where the orbital sander is because it is in the same chest with screwdriver you used last week (probably at the bottom under something heavy). The other chest is for all the extras, so when no.2 son needs a jigsaw in 5 years (and another one 2 years later) you send them to the chest of extras so they don’t take your good jigsaw and leave it on their lawn over the winter. Mind you that there will still be extra tools, but that will be because you need a circular saw when you’re on the other side of town from home and you rationalize that buying a new one will save money over the gasoline used driving home and back. It worked well for me until I stored my good tool chest at my father’s for a year and one of my brothers discovered it, thankfully I don’t drive beat up cars anymore.

    • Feather Blade

      What I’ve found works well is to have a pegboard to hang tools on. One can see at a glance what tools one has, or doesn’t. (This also has the advantage of taking up no floor space.)

      If you get really enterprising you can draw little chalk-outlines for each tool corpse so you always put them back in the same place, and can always tell what’s missing without having search for it.

      Probably the only exception I make to this practice is the plumbing kit – all the plumbing supplies (including wrenches and torch) are gathered in one, easy-to-carry tool box.

    • Children… I can only imagine what my kids would have done…

  14. Meredith Dixon

    What are good places to sell things, preferably online? Serious question, as the only things I’ve sold online are books. My husband got laid off last week, and like Sarah we have so much stuff we can’t find the stuff we need when we need it, so it would be nice to clean up and realize some money from the cleanup too, if that’s at all practical.

    • Dunno about over in the US, but down here in OZ, it’s Gumtree, and ebay. Craigslist perhaps?

      • we ain’t got Gumtree (I’ve seen some stuff I wished I could get on Gumtree… but shipping a car or bike to the USA is a bit too high for my account), but yeah, fleabay and CL are the normal outlets, and Amazon as well to a lesser extent.

    • Depends on the stuff. Ebay if it can be shipped (skip down to the post office and grab a couple of the “if it fits, it ships” boxes to figure this), Craig’s List if it can’t.

      I believe you can get a temp phone number from Skype for the Craig’s list stuff, too; if you use your cellphone it can be abused.

      • Amazon just got started in the used bookstore / electronics / a few other things.

        • All the offers I’ve seen for selling my used stuff to them was a horrible price, though; like two bucks on a thing that’s selling used for 40.

          • If you’re considering Amazon, also be aware that there are a few scammers out there who’ll try to get a free item with false complaints about the condition of the item, and expect you to refund their money without the item being returned because “it’s not worth it to send it back” and will slam you with a negative if you hold firm. I got three of them in three months, and Amazon was shutting me down. I begged and pleaded to get my seller privileges back, but then I took all my listings down while the negatives aged off. Now I’m trying to decide whether to give it another shot.

            I’ve also heard that some scammers will claim they received an empty box, implying that either you cheated them by sending it empty, or that it was opened in transit and you should be responsible for the theft.

            Amazon has really great protections for buyers against dishonest sellers, but offer sellers no meaningful protection against dishonest buyers. That’s the big thing that’s holding me back from putting my listings back up.

            KDP, OTOH, gives much less latitude for scammers. I suppose someone could read books and then return them within the grace period for a refund, effectively using KDP as a lending library. But now that Amazon has KOLL, it seems to me that it’d be much smarter to just enroll in Kindle Unlimited and legitimately borrow books, avoiding the risk that Amazon decides some limit on returns has been hit and shutting the buyer account down.

            • I had a bad experience, with a purchaser for my books, who claimed and threw a big tizzy over never having gotten a set of the Trilogy. I sent her another set, just to keep the goodwill (hah!) but ever since then I have asked for delivery confirmation, and paid an extra whatever for it. This way, I have a receipt, with the weight of the package, and confirmation of delivery … worth the slightly extra expense, not to be worked over by one of those scammers…

              • It’s a real bear when posterior orifices like your customer ruin things for all of us. I personally love Amazon’s policy towards customers, but it kind-of assumes that all buyers are ethical — never a safe assumption.
                I’ve returned maybe two items in my long Amazon customer life — one was a dual-SIM gadget for an iPhone that I simply couldn’t get to work, another was an obviously mislabeled product.

            • Yep. Had that problem with a book. Demanded he sent me a picture of the damaged book. Got “My camera isnt’ working” then endless silence.

    • There’s an app called Offer Up. It’s basically Craigslist but in app form. My mom likes it.

  15. Before you send that thumb drive I gave you at LC off with Robert take a look at what’s on it. In addition to the Heinleins there’s a selection of Max Alan Collins noir historical detective mysteries and the first few Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell episodes from the BBC.
    This of course assumes that you have any idea what you might have done with the tiny little thing.

    • I remember the drive. I THINK it’s in my briefcase. HOWEVER keep in mind last week the entire family, as a collective effort, disappeared Robert’s car keys. We still haven’t found them.

      • Moving from our townhouse, I found the keys to my apartment in Japan.

        What makes this really impressive is that in the time between my losing them and when I found them, I’d been to sea for months at least once, had separated and moved home, gotten engaged, moved to a city I’d hardly visited for a week, gotten married, moved again with everything being repacked, and lived in the townhouse for almost two years.

        This beats my mom finding her keys on the key rack, but mostly only because of the time involved. (There were no other keys on the keyrack, and them not being on the rack is what started her search.)

        • You know, instances like your mom’s can cause people to say that there’s something spooky going on, but I have many, many experiences of looking directly at something and simply not seeing it. It happens to me so often that I have actually asked strangers in the store to see if what I’m looking for is there.

          • I’ve been known to make whoever I’m harassing at the store smile by start out with “I’ve been all around the store. Can you show me where I looked right at the thing I’m looking for, and didn’t see it?”

            That said… we could explain it when my mom and I do it, and even my siblings, and then the thing is in a really obvious place with nothing to hide or be confused with. Less able to explain when it happens with my dad, or when it’s at my husband’s family reunion. (Representing at least four genetic groups who don’t deal with this all the time.)

            Of course, the “spooky” in my case is when we find it right after bugging a dead guy to put in a good word. :/ Talk about sizing miracles for the target….

  16. c4c

    (ps am both sick and busy with commission work, hence quietness, but I LIVE!)

    • …actually CLICK the box, silly chook…

      • you must be one of those fancy bantam chooks, no?

        • Probably. =) I mean, Rhys calls me his little chookie, and I drew this last year:

          There’s a cheeky bantam hen in my mom’s flock that will rush to the back door if she sees my mother arrive home, then peck the back screen door hard enough to make it go bang! She’ll also do it in the early morning, shortly after she sees the kitchen lights go on. The hen is like “FEED ME NOW, WOMAN!” and my mom is sort of fondly irritated at it, because it has PERSONALITY, and it glares at her with this reproachful look that practically shouts, “What took you so long to get the feed?!”

          • much like my 5′ nothing (actually 4′ 11.5″) sister and her 8 pound baby boys
            Add having broken her pelvis when in her teens and both boys came out through the window. The first was a “We will wait until you go into labor” the second was “Is Wednesday good for you?” and they went in and evicted thew kid.

          • Hmm… calling someone a chicken is considered an insult in this country…


            • Normally, yes. But Rhys and I both raised chickens as pets and the ones we’ve had were NOT cowards, but feisty things. My batam roosters would take on cockfighting roosters twice their size and make them cry uncle, and my hens used to beat our cat around the head. The cat eventually figured out that if she didn’t look like she was going to hurt the chicks, she wouldn’t get attacked. So one day I came home to find my cat being used as a furry sunbed by about a dozen fluffy little chicks, and their mother feeding nearby.

              There’s also the fact that I do resemble a broody hen while pregnant, and sitting. ^^ Rhys thinks it’s adorable.

              • BTW – not eager to mention any Beetlegeuse, Beetlegeuse, Beetlegeuse, but this Washington Post article might amuse:

                Men who harass women online are quite literally losers, new study finds
                By Caitlin Dewey July 20 at 3:07 PM
                Here’s a research finding that should surprise no one: The men most likely to harass women online … are the men most likely to have their own problems.

                That bit of validation comes courtesy Michael Kasumovic and Jeffrey Kuznekoff, researchers at the University of New South Wales and Miami University, respectively. For their latest study, published in the journal PLOS One last week, the duo watched how men treated women during 163 plays of the video game Halo 3.

                As they watched the games play out and tracked the comments that players made to each other, the researchers observed that — no matter their skill level, or how the game went — men tended to be pretty cordial to each other. Male players who were good at the game also tended to pay compliments to other male and female players.

                Some male players, however — the ones who were less-skilled at the game, and performing worse relative their peers — made frequent, nasty comments to the female gamers. In other words, sexist dudes are literally losers.


                In each of these environments, Kasumovic suggests, a recent influx of female participants has disrupted a pre-existing social hierarchy. That’s okay for the guys at the top — but for the guys at the bottom, who stand to lose more status, that’s very threatening. (It’s also in keeping with the evolutionary framework on anti-lady hostility, which suggests sexism is a kind of Neanderthal defense mechanism for low-status, non-dominant men trying to maintain a shaky grip on their particular cave’s supply of women.)

                “As men often rely on aggression to maintain their dominant social status,” Kasumovic writes, “the increase in hostility towards a woman by lower-status males may be an attempt to disregard a female’s performance and suppress her disturbance on the hierarchy to retain their social rank.”

                In other words, like your mother always said, bullies just feel bad about themselves.

                This does not, alas, suggest any solutions for on- or offline sexism, or any hope that it will ever really end. (“There are so many more questions we’ve already begun to to ask and our results are looking really interesting,” Kasumovic said.)

                Until then, ladies, Facebook and Pinterest are your friends! Those are, for better or worse, two of the online spaces where this type of sex-ratio imbalance isn’t much of a problem: Women on both sites solidly outnumber men.

                • Well lol, funny you mention losers, but seems like Clampsy was doing lots of RL stalking of Emma, and apparently he can get around juuuuust fine, no wheelchair involved. According to the grapevine, Clamps showed up at Emma’s workplace, her manager wasn’t letting him in saying that she wasn’t there, but she was in fact hiding in the back; and Emma’s boyfriend, someone named Alex, showed up. Threatened Clamps to GO THE FUCK AWAY OR ELSE. So the little bird says.

                  Quite honestly though, from my experience, the online gaming experience doesn’t treat women who do the fainting couch bullshit too well… because the other women who actually fought their way up to be seen as equals see those fainting couch women as outright undermining the effort they made. Also, such women tend to be the clan-destroying drama whores who like to pit the gamma males against each other til the fracas destroys the guild.

                  This is actually a microcosm of how third wave feminism is actually destroying the real advances that other women have made in largely male-dominated fields. By demanding that ‘more women’ are in the field without the qualifications being met, the field as a whole is weakened. After all, do you really want to end up having a surgeon who’s there simply because they’re female or a minority, and NOT actually qualified to be there? In the long run, this is what affirmative action has resulted in – both racial and gender based affirmative action.

                  • That was my experience in the military in the late 1970s – that women who had fought their way into male-dominated specialties, who had worked their asses off to prove they could do the job and go toe-to-toe with the guys were pissed as hell about those who had come along later, and moaned and pissed about the hardships and all, and demanded special favors and help from the guys in the shop … the original ground-breaking woman were fit to be tied, or at least moved to take out the whiners behind the shed and beat the cr*p out of them. Which really did happen, according to a friend of mine who was one of the first qualified women in her AFSC.

                    • Weirdly I feel the same way as a female writer, even though I didn’t compete in the “bad old days” but the thing is women who don’t piss and moan don’t get any perks according to NY, so … I’m functionally discriminated against because of the whiners.

                  • This is actually a microcosm of how third wave feminism is actually destroying the real advances that other women have made in largely male-dominated fields.

                    Good job, Shadow.

                    Via Stephen “Wodkapundit” Green:
                    How Much Is that Adjective in the Window?
                    July 21st, 2015 – 1:29 pm

                    Washington is spending $125,000 to determine if some adjectives are more sexist than others.

                    No, really:

                    “The proposed research predicts that stereotypes activate different standards of judgments for members of different groups; therefore, evaluations (adjectives) mean different things depending on the person described,” according to the grant for the study.

                    “For example, in a masculine work domain where women are stereotyped as less competent, ‘good’ for a woman may mean something objectively less good than ‘good’ for a man,” it said.

                    The project will examine letters of recommendation to see whether letters for women and minorities are “influenced by gender and racial stereotypes” that affect chances of admission into graduate school.

                    Make it an even $100,000, and I’d be willing to spend six months studying the effects of margaritas on gender-stereotyped bikini girls.

                    For science.

            • Didactic correction:

              Calling a guy a chicken is an insult.

              Whether calling a gal a chick is an insult or not depends on circumstances. If she is an SJW you’ve committed an insult (not because of what you called her but for being male without a license) but if she is uncorrupted by feminist dogma no insult will be taken.

    • Sorry about the sick, but work is a valid reason for an excused absence. 😉

    • ❤ and get well, woman.

  17. We moved here 8 years ago. I had huge garage sales, gave all kinds of stuff to the DAV thrift shop, Goodwill, etc.
    And we still have too much stuff.

    I pity our son when we are both gone. He’ll have to figure it all out.

  18. You know what else might help? If there were a government agency that made sure you only had what you actually needed. Think about how much simpler your life would be then.

    • They could distribute the excess to those with less than they need, for just a small 500% processing fee?

      • shhh,.. don’t give’em ideas

      • Awesome! I can start a black market in excess items with only a 250% markup!

        • Two immediate problems occur with such a business model:

          1. You can’t compete with them on cost unless you resort to theft.

          2. They would probably interfere with your business on the grounds you are redistributing excess abundance on the basis of want, not need. They use experts and special formulas to determine who actually needs the excess abundance.

          • Does #2 imply that you were referring to those with the excess paying the “processing fee”? I had it backwards, then.

            Still, I could charge a 250% fee to take away the excess from those who are not good at the art of hiding said excess, so they would not have to pay the government fee, and then sell to the person who wants it and is savvy enough to hide it.

    • yeah. Particularly when they decided all I needed was fifty size 20 shoes. for the left foot.

  19. Allow me simply to observe that mosquitoes (the insect kind) suck. In both the literal and colloquial usages of the term.

  20. Sarah, buy a Daisy Seal-A-Meal. I used to have one, and once a month, made meals and froze them. If you make _quantities_, store some in the chest(?) freezer, and he rest of fridge freezer. That way, you can just look and say. “What do we feel like today?” Eat all/most of the fridge freezer meals, and reload from the big freezer.
    My upcoming cookbooks (Recipes For Single and Handicapped), suggest how to store.

  21. Living in two places simultaneously, I’ve got duplicates of just about all the ‘normal’ tools… But in Dec when I retire, I’m going to take them ALL with me… My luck if I don’t, the one I keep will break the first time I try to use it. And congrats on being ‘almost’ done!

  22. Congrats on having basically gotten there!
    We didn’t quite realize how much duplicate, triplicate, and surplus buying we did because of dual residences eight time zones apart, until we wound down one.
    BTW, at least freezer burn, while it ruins the taste of food if you have a good palate, does not normally represent a food safety hazard. I love the vacuum packing suggestions.

  23. “Our life is frittered away by detail… simplify, simplify.” – Henry David Thoreau
    Since our move a year ago, we’ve been thoughtfully going through possessions and deciding to relieve ourselves of the responsibility of storing or maintaining those things we don’t use or find beneficial. It’s really rather freeing. Our children will thank us someday. When we’re dead and can’t appreciate it!

    • yeah. We’re going to do a second cull when we unpack here in the rental.
      In my case though, it’s mostly “we enjoyed these. It’s time for someone else to.”
      I’m not a redistributionist, but we lived from thrift shops A LOT (still do.) and feel the need to pass our stuff along to younger couples.