Tool Time

Post-neighborhood inspection, pre-doing anything productive yesterday, I sat down in a chair and Na Ki’o immediately joined me. This is a condition known as feline paralysis, whereby you are stuck in your chair because you don’t dare disturb the cat, so there I sat, contemplating my options.

The most obvious option, since it was feeling so darn good, was to just enjoy the condition and sit, on the chair under the cat. But I had made a whole giant list, once again, of things that needed doing this weekend, and “sitting with cat” was not on it.

One of the things on the list, a holdover from last week, was to go get a haircut, and I thought about that, but here’s a thing about barbershops that drives me nuts: the people who have nowhere else to be and apparently nothing else to do, so they just come to the barbershop and hang out.

I’m sure it’s envy, but when I’m trying to cram a list of 20 things into space for perhaps six, I don’t need to be around people with nothing to do. Especially these days when people who hang around barbershops don’t feel any obligation to wear a mask.

I mentally scratched haircut off the list, and moved grocery shopping to a fun activity to do with Lynn today, although we might be in two cars going to two different stores. I also took the farmers’ market off the list, although this could have been my last chance at both cucumbers and little tomatoes. I overbought last week, plus one of my tomato plants tipped over on the deck and harvested itself, so I decided that could be skipped.

Blogging actually was on my list, and I considered that. I wanted to tell you about the British man who won yesterday’s stage of the Giro d’Italia. He got into the day’s breakaway of six riders, then late in the day got out in front of everyone else and won in a solo ride to the tearful, joyful finish.

But he didn’t look joyful in the post-race interview; he looked relieved beyond belief, worry draining visibly out of his eyes as he said frankly that he didn’t have a job lined up for next year (meaning no team has yet signed him), and he and his wife expecting a baby in January. Winning a stage of a grand tour ups his prospects dramatically. This win wasn’t just a “good day in the saddle” for him — it was salvation.

But instead of telling you that, and in defiance of Ki’o’s insidious wishes, I got out of the chair and went into the garage.

I spend a lot of time in the garage, dithering usually, lifting things up and putting them down because there’s nowhere to go with anything. Aware of this tendency, I didn’t put “garage” on my list; I wrote “tools” to aid my focus. And it worked!

I bought a toolbox after a great deal more effort than expected a year ago (it’s somewhere in the archives here, the entire process just to buy a toolbox with drawers), but on the heels of that triumph the box has remained completely empty with tools scattered all over the garage in heaps that defy location.

I’ve had two projects that required a utility knife, and I almost bought one one day at Ace, but I knew I had a nice one somewhere in the garage, so I have delayed these projects, to Lynn’s dismay. Ultimately, though, this proved to be the better decision.

However, my project started like all of mine do, with focus everywhere but on the task at hand. First I decided I should sweep the front walk, which looked nice for all of 10 minutes before more leaves landed. While I was doing that I determined to move the cinderblocks I put in Lynn’s garden to prop up some of her flowers after our September snow. While I was doing that I discovered the calling card left by the bear who came visiting, perhaps even to the front door, at some unknown point.

This required photographic evidence, which Lynn never received but which Kara verified was indeed bear leavings. (I even went inside to get a baseball for scale, which I think is tremendous evidence of excellence in photojournalism, even if I am sparing you the visual.)

Mindful of the stories that abound every year from Crested Butte about cars broken into by bears, and the proximity of bear scat to Lynn’s parking space, I returned to the garage she hasn’t been able to park in since we gave up our storage rental earlier this year.

So, tools. I set up a table in the space my car usually occupies, and started sorting tools into piles as I found them all over the garage. I focused strictly on hand tools, and threw all hardware as I came across it on a shelf for later sorting, and it took until lunchtime just to assemble a tableful.

It quickly became obvious that my new, large-size toolbox was not going to be up to the task of housing my tools. And it was equally obvious that I’m not in need of all the tools I own. Rather than sort them and create piles for giveaway or sale that will then end up sitting in the garage, I decided not to derail myself trying to decide what to keep and what to give up. I can do that some other day. The ultimate goal of yesterday’s project was to bearproof Lynn’s car by giving it space in the garage.

It turns out, I have 30 screwdrivers, plus two driver sets that include a bunch of bits. Four tape measures, plus the two in the house and the 100-foot tape. A pile of putty knives. A drawer’s-worth of wrenches. Three ancient industrial tin snips, one of which got used and surprisingly still cut.

Four sets of drill bits, plus a few strays. Eight hammers and one mallet. Three vice grips. Only one nail puller, but who knew I had it? Files. A battery terminal brush. Some orange circular deal with ridges I never did identify. Two sets of gapping tools for points that probably don’t exist in cars anymore.

Good news, Lynn: I found the new red utility knife. And an orange one. And five gray ones of varying vintage. Plus spare blades, two sets. I feel vindicated in not purchasing yet another knife.

Perhaps you have guessed, this bounty did not all fit in my new toolbox. I had to rescue two boxes from the giveaway pile– although I did give reckless thought to going out and buying a bigger toolbox — plus press into service the box my dad gave me when I was a kid. Plus a shelf for the saws and two splitting wedges I still have despite no need for firewood for probably 15 years.

Consolidating tools, even if it’s across four toolboxes and two shelves, freed up enough space for me to jam, cram and smash other still unidentified items into the edges, just enough so that Lynn’s car can now squeeze into the garage.

“Tools” is only five letters long, but this project used up easily seven hours of the day, meaning I only have 19 things to try to get done by the end of today. Just to warn all of us, though: if I sit down and Ki’o sits on top of me, I’m leaving him in place, no matter what awaits me elsewhere.

Okay, here’s the Disney version of bear leavings, near the foreground not far from a neatly-swept sidewalk and awfully close to a still-unpainted front door.

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