Please Note: This journal contains a wide variety of stuff — complete stories, bits and pieces, commentary, and who-knows-what else. As is always the case these days, the material is protected by copyright. On the other hand, I publish it here to be shared. Feel free to pass it on. Just give me credit. Fair enough?

Pack Creek Ranch, San Juan County, Utah.
The last week of October, 2016
Still crystal clear and calm both day and night – unseasonably warm.


Four magazines, two newspapers, a dozen oranges, two plastic containers that once held blueberries, the miscellaneous groceries from two paper bags, flashlight batteries and light-bulbs from the hardware store, mail, library books, a jacket, a cap, and a coffee cup.

For an hour on Monday all these things were scattered on the ground between my car and my house. Most of the oranges had rolled off into the bushes – and the plastic boxes of blueberries burst on impact, scattering little blue balls far and wide into the landscape. Free-range blueberries now . . .

You know what happened, right?

The insane spirit of optimism about one’s carrying capacity overcomes experience and common sense.
And you think you can collect all of the stuff out of the car and wrangle it into the house in one trip – all by yourself.
Using hands and arms and elbows – even teeth.
You believe you have the carrying capacity of an octopus.
You go for it.

The outcome is inevitable.
When you butt-bump the car door closed, your cargo already starts shifting.
When you imagine you can get as far as the front door and can open it while still hanging onto your loosey-goosey load, you’ve already lost focus and control.
So you clutch everything tighter, which squirts an item out of your pile.
You stagger blindly on, crab-like, believing . . . this time you can pull it off.
You know what’s coming, but you will not be dissuaded.
Now you’re moving in a crouch, walking weirdly, using your knees.

But, no matter how far you get with your baggage, gravity stalks your steps and takes silent command of your life and your load.
The avalanche begins . . . . and there is nothing . . . nothing . . . you can do . . . but just give up . . . and let go . . . .
Oh sure, you can go into your re-clutching gyrations – but shifting desperately into Prevent-Mode will only compound the disaster.
It’s no longer a matter of will you drop it all? – now it’s “how far will you fling it all while trying to hang on?”

This is comedy if you have an audience. Amusing if it’s not you.
But it’s usually a solitary activity – something you do alone – which frees you to shout an obscenity that rhymes with “bucket.”

Me, I just walked away and left it all lying out there by the car for an hour.
I couldn’t deal with my stupidity.
There’s no virtue in confusing confident determination and bloody-minded bull-headedness, which is often the case.
Besides, the circulation was cut off in my fingers from hanging heavy plastic bags on them, and my arms were too cramped to function to start picking up the stuff.

I sat inside, drinking coffee, and staring out the window at the mess, thinking:
Why the hell do I keep doing this? – when will I ever learn . . ?”

So I pondered the problem.
There must be a better way.

Oh, sure, I’ve got cute cloth bags stashed in the car, but they’re a hassle to use,
and they’re all wadded up in a ball, and I forget to take them into the store,
and I’m tired of being an environmentally correct citizen and buying more.
I need something that’s fool-proof.

And so.
Yesterday I stopped off at the True-Value Hardware Store in town and bought six brand new 5-gallon buckets.
Heavy-duty, all-purpose, bullet-proof plastic buckets – with handles.

Handles are essential.
People have been using carrying containers as long as they have been using their brains. Archeologists have unearthed tons of baskets and pottery vessels from ancient times. But they had a flaw. No handles.
Everything had to be carried on the head or in the arms.
And then some alpha-person had a better idea, and civilization progressed.
Bless the woman or man who thought of handles – an inventive leap forward.

Now there are three empty buckets stashed in my car.
One has an insert with handy pockets on the inside and outside for loose stuff.
Two more are staged by the door to my house, and another one by the door to my studio – and another one in the basement.
For carrying all the loose stuff I try to haul all-at-once from place to place.

I suppose this is mundane . . . . but small triumphs over personal stupidity can give one hope for self-improvement.
I suppose I’m going to feel like a jackass carrying empty buckets into City Market instead of cloth bags, but I don’t care.
I won’t feel like a jackass when I get home and into the house with my stuff.

(to be continued . . .)


Final note:

The 5-gallon plastic bucket is one of the finest inventions of our civilization. Readily available, cheap, and almost indestructible. Not only can they be used to carry stuff – wet or dry – from place to place. But they can be re-purposed and up-cycled in an astonishing array of alternate uses. When you add human imagination and ingenuity to a 5 gallon bucket, the possibilities are infinite.
Link to this site of Google images to see just some of the possibilities.
google images