Partly sunny

Close to Home: Somewhere between a pasture and a tool shed

  • 7/31/2005: A15: Steve Osborn served on a citizens committee that helped plan development in southeast Santa Rosa. Osborn, whose family has lived in the area since the 1920s, overlooks some of the new construction.
    PC: Photo by Christopher Chung/ The Press Democrat Steve Osborn served on the Southeast Citizens Advisory Committee whose master plan was adopted in 1994. In the background, the Christopherson Homes Ragle Ranch subdivision is under construction.

The other day I assembled a prefab metal goat shed in our lower pasture. The instructions were idiot-proof and mostly specified a lot of drilling. Accordingly, I arrived at the job site with a cordless drill and two fully charged batteries.

The first battery gave out before the drilling was half over. Reasoning that I might need the battery again, I trudged back to my distant tool shed to charge the battery. When I got there, I realized that I had left the part that connects the battery to the charger back in my toolbox in the pasture. After a long spate of invective, I resigned myself to walking back to the pasture to retrieve the connector.

My wife refers to this excessive walking as “thinking with your feet.” Thinking with my feet is a curse that has dogged me throughout my life, particularly on construction and repair projects. I am forever forgetting tools and parts or failing to anticipate what might go wrong.

As I trudged back to the pasture, I began thinking of possible solutions to my affliction. One would be to purchase a four-wheel drive truck and load it up with all my tools and parts. But trucks are expensive, and parts of our property are inaccessible to four-wheel drives.

Another solution would be to buy a couple of pack mules and load them up with tools. But mules eat a lot of hay and are ornery as hell.

A third possibility would be to think with my head rather than my feet. My wife says I need to develop this skill in any case, so why not exercise a few brain cells by determining all the tools I might need and figuring out what might go wrong? I actually tried this once. The night before a construction project was to begin, I lay awake for hours contemplating what I would need and what might go wrong.

The next day, however, I experienced a string of mishaps so unbelievable that not even a decade of cogitation could have anticipated them. That was it for thinking with my head. It causes insomnia, and it makes my temples throb.

When I returned to the tool shed with connector in hand, I suddenly realized that there was a fourth possible solution. Why not just accept things the way they are and not worry about it? Like a mountaintop guru, I should just live in the here and now. What is is, what will be will be — and there’s not a darn thing you can do about it. Besides, thinking with your feet gives you an unexpected exercise opportunity.

Enraptured by my discovery, I practically ran back to the pasture determined to finish the goat shed in record time.

Ten minutes later, I was back in the tool shed seeking yet another forgotten part. My feet felt great.

Steve Osborn is a writer and editor who lives in the country south of Santa Rosa.

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