A Thousand Pens

Cleaning out all the clutter from various rooms in the house, I dedicated a shoebox to all the pens that I came across this past week. I found pens scattered all over the house – in drawers, on dressers, by the phone, in the bathroom, even! The shoebox is totally full now, heaped over the top with pens, in all shapes, sizes and colors. I hardly ever use a pen or pencil to write anything these days – I type everything. But once in a while I need to write something on a shopping list or sign a letter and then I need a pen.

I wanted to fill out a deposit slip for my bank and needed a pen, so I went to the shoebox of pens I had collected and took one out. I scribbled on a scrap piece of paper to get the ink flowing, but nothing came out. So I threw that one in the trash and went back to the shoebox to get a different pen. I scribbled with that one to get the ink flowing and again – nothing came out. So, again I threw away that pen and went back to the shoebox. I mean, WTF?

The third pen I picked from the shoebox didn’t write, either. Now I was getting mad. I sat down with a pad of paper and started going through the pens in the shoebox, scribbling with each one to see if it would write. If it didn’t write, into the trash can it went. I must have spent a good 20 minutes scribbling with pens and throwing out the ones that had dried out or run out of ink.

A thousand pens and nothing to write with. It makes me wonder why the pens were not tossed out when someone discovered they weren’t working in the first place, instead of just setting them down wherever and leaving them laying around. This would have been a great task for a kid to do for me. I wish I had thought of that before I wasted a half hour scribbling with pens to finally find one that would write.

Street Art or Graffiti?

Cruising through some blogs that my friends write, I came across a cute picture of a mouse painted on a curb and what April calls, “street art.” I have to admit that the drawing is well done, the scene is whimsical and cute, but it is drawn or painted on the curb of a public street. So my question to you is, do you consider this street art or graffiti? And if it is graffiti, should it be removed?

If it is considered public property, you or anybody else do not have the right to damage it. Some people will certainly consider painting or drawing on curbs and sidewalks to be destructive. That is why we have laws against graffiti. And who is to say what is art and what is not? Suppose someone painted horrible symbols and pictures of guts or something and calls that art?

I say, you must have community standards but there needs to be an allowance for creativity and the unexpected. We cannot just make laws and rules and policies that can encompass every single possibility for future actions. The government does not have to be a tightass when it comes to little things like the mouse painted on the curb. It’s relatively harmless and if the people who live nearby and have to look at it every day like, then leave it alone.

In this case, my friend, April Michele calls it “clever street art” and I agree with her. It’s curt, it’s not really hurting anything, and unless you have complaints lodged by the immediate neighbors, leave it alone. It does not matter to me if a stranger passing by painted it or if the homeowners painted it themselves or even if they hired someone to paint it for them. It’s not graffiti.

Lightning Bugs in my Yard

Tonight while I was watering my garden as the sun went down, I noticed the first twinkle of yellow light from a lightning bug. Funny how it just took that first one to make me aware of the lightning bugs, and then shortly after I was seeing dozens of lightning bugs in my yard.

The garden I planted is doing really well, but it takes a lot of watering to keep the plants from wilting in the hot afternoon sun. I add about a gallon of water to each container in the morning and then another gallon at dusk. Tomorrow I plan on adding some fertilizer to the tomatoes and actually picking the first of the zucchini and green beans.

As far as bugs go, I have already found spiders in the garden and a few bean beetles. I know that the rabbits come around after dark and nibble a little here and there – I don’t mind the rabbits. But last night there was a skunk roaming around in my plants and that rascal destroyed an entire bean plant and one of the yellow squash plants by chewing through the stems right above the ground. I think I will head to the hardware store in the morning to see about fencing to keep the skunk and any other critters out.



A Safe Place for Your Stuff

Back in “The Day” when you had stuff but no immediate need for it, you stored it. Finding a safe place for your stuff was pretty limited. The most likely storage area was an attic in your home, or perhaps the basement. The attic would get extremely hot and had the risk of rodents, bats and spiders/bugs. Basements were cool and damp, with the threat of flooding, mildew and different types of bugs, such as silverfish, crickets and roaches.

If you did not have an attic or a basement, you might use the garage and just forego parking your car in the garage. Sometimes people would rent out their garage for a little extra pocket money to extended family, neighbors or military personnel being deployed.

In the 1980’s, a new business popped up to help with storage needs – the backyard metal shed. With people using their garage for storing their “stuff” there was a growing demand for someplace to put lawn and garden gear, sporting equipment and tools. Metal sheds with one large door were sold at hardware stores for a reasonable price. They needed little preparation, were easy for any handy DIY’er to erect in just a day, and did not need any special building permits or zoning requirements. Some shed became more elaborate, with multiple door styles, some with windows, and metal gave way to wood and vinyl.

About 20 years ago, household storage demands in the U.S. grew enough to warrant the birth of commercial businesses making garage style units available for monthly rental fees. The growing demand for self storage was created by people moving and by various lifestyle transitions, such as

  • marriage,
  • divorce,
  • retirement,
  • a death in the family,
  • college students
  • foreclosures/evictions

Now, one in 10 households in America rented a self storage unit. More than 700,000 self storage units nationwide are rented to military personnel. this is about 4% of all units, but domestic military bases with adjacent large residential areas can see the use of self storage units by military personnel can be from 20%-95% of all rented units. Self storage companies value military personnel as customers and usually offer them special incentives and discounts, such as: “one-dollar move-ins” or “first month free,” 10%-30% discounts off monthly rental rates, months of free rent, gift certificates, use of a moving truck at no charge, and no rent increases while they are deployed overseas.