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  • Writer's pictureDavid

The Shedster

Updated: Nov 18, 2020

I took a little time off work this past week, what with the coronavirus induced isolation from the marketplace and all. With no idea when things might open up, I decided to work on the building that we use for making my sculpture molds. It is a shabby old plywood structure we call ‘The Milk House’, due to the fact that it used to be a small two-stanchion milking barn. We

had cobbled it together enough to use as a clean space for Tori’s sewing when we first moved here years ago. But she kept feeding me, and petting me, so I built her a sewing room in the house. But the little shack has good light, and can be heated and cooled, and it has a nice sturdy table we keep cleared of junk for making the molds. Over the years, the space seemed to get smaller, with the walls crowding in from all sides. Bit by bit, year by year, things have been stacked and poked against the walls until this sixteen by eighteen foot building has just enough room for a table and a few chairs in the center.

I had collected great gobs of old lumber and tin roofing, and various junk with which to build a porch to keep the weatherman from pounding his blessed rain in through the door threshold, but I’ve never elevated the project up the priority list until now. And, like the building itself, some of the junk lumber and tin I’d salvaged and carted home for this project was starting to go to crap. At this point, much of it is only good for kindling, which I will saw up sometime soon.

I thought, how do we end up with so much crap? I don’t bring crap home! I bring stuff home. I cart stuff home that looks to be useful. I cart stuff home that looks to be interesting, and, yes, occasionally I cart stuff home because it seems to have no other home. But it is all good stuff! Other people bring crap home. I’ve seen it. In fact most people bring crap home.

But the thing is, my junk is just better junk than what most people bring home. I don’t bring home a bunch of crap that should have gone to the dump. Or at least it I don't think it should go to the dump when I haul it home. It takes years of neglect to make my junk into that sort of crap. I don’t drag home chipped ceramic garden gnomes or cracked plastic wishing wells. I don’t load up my pickup with ripped beanbag chairs or bent clothes hangers and only rarely do I cart home a busted recliner. My stuff is useful stuff. I make stuff, so I need stuff! I come from a long line of makers and collectors of stuff. Maybe a line is not the right word. Maybe a cobweb of collectors would be more accurate, branching away to aunts and uncles, and cousins twice removed.

Life-sized Junk Horse made of junk I carted home.

Of course, if I don’t have proper storage, which of course I don’t have, due to all the junk I’ve carted home, then my junk often becomes crap. I don’t deny it. A few winters out in the snow and rain, summers with cows walking across things to get at a good looking weed, and stuff gets tattered. I have to live with that, and I do. If you aren’t my children, or my wife, or whatever tangled mess of a relation you might be to me, it isn’t your problem.

But here is the problem. I am getting of an age where my relatives are getting of an age where their crap could become my problem! If I don’t get lucky and predecease some folks, I could be in the same boat as our kids are! My parents laugh about it. The “Great Get-even”!

All of this stuff we've carted home has been poked into every imaginable nook and cranny until the stuff itself is making new nooks and crannies. My parents have a room built under the deck of their home. It is kind of out of the way, and not a space you would notice right off. I’ve never actually seen the inside, but my dad and my brother have both told me about it. It doesn’t even have a door. It has a hatch. It was built to store things that they don’t really want to throw away, but that they don’t really want to see on a daily or weekly, or let’s just face it,

Powder Keg Junk Horse made of junk found along an abandoned railroad.

ever-again basis. (It is like the underneath of my milk house.) Much of it has been acquired at a yard sale at some point in time by some ancestor or another of mine. Not only just my parents’ crap is in that room. My grandparents’ crap is in that room. My great-grandparents’ crap is in that room! Grandparents on both sides! And that is just the hidden storage room. They have a huge house with huge closets, and if they are anything like mine, they are chock full of crap. In a way their home is just like mine, but for who's crap it is. It could take years to go through all this stuff!

Long gone are the days when, as my dear grandmother used to say, “three moves are as good as a fire”, for winnowing ones junk. Anymore, with all our modern transportation, we just move our junk, place to place, accumulating along the way. However guilty I might feel about my lack of appreciation for other people’s crap, I’m not young enough to go through it all with the same loving caress with which it was carted home. And of course when you start going through other people’s crap, you could start to see it all as junk, and pretty soon you start carting it home! Free junk! And then your junk is contaminated by the crap of others, until you can’t tell their crap from your junk. Already so much of my own junk has started to seem like crap that I don't know why I brought it home, or even whether it was here when we bought the place.

So this all got me going on an idea! Why not make dumpsters that look like storage sheds! Call them Shedsters! You could present them to your relatives or order them in for yourself as storage sheds for crap! They could come in different sizes, from a few cubic yards to twenty cubic yards or larger, depending on how much crap you have. The roof would look exactly like a shed roof, the door fitted with a nice secure lock. They would look for all the world like safe storage, but when lifted and tipped into a dump truck, the roof would swing open with a bang, like the roof of a dumpster, and that would be that! When they are full, if one is still cognizant of the comings and goings of dump trucks and such, you could arrange the pickup to happen while you are out having breakfast-buffet, downtown!

Of course I don’t know when I’ll be done with the prototype for my Shedster. I expect it will take a while. By the time I have all the bugs worked out I suppose my kids will be talking about all my junk. I might even hear them refer to it as crap. And, I expect one day it will occur to them just what this Shedster thing is that I’ve been working on for twenty years. I can see it now. “Hey Dad, can’t we just put some of this stuff out in your 'storage shed' so you will have room to move about?”

Sumpter Horse; photo by Melisa Kroening

My bride says, “You can’t write this stuff down! Someone, sometime, will read this! You’ll hurt somebody’s feelings!”

“Well, I’ve already written it. Can’t you see? I'm just poking some perfectly innocent fun at all our crap! Everybody's crap!”

She dips her brow, looking earnestly at me out of the tops of her eyes. “Now, what would your family feel like if they read this?”

“Okay,” I said as I pulled it out of the printer. “We've all been joking about this for years. I really have no idea what sorts of stuff people have stashed away, but I’ll pitch it.”

“Wait!” she says. “Are you just going to throw that away? That is still perfectly good paper on the back side.”

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