Collective wisdom

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Stuff

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Webster's New World Dictionary describes 'stuff' as 'the material or substance out of which anything is or can be made.' I call it good stuff, pretty good stuff and junky stuff. An unofficial, private poll among friends finds that 96.9 percent are guilty of collecting 'stuff' of one kind or another. The greatest thing about stuff is that it requires no feeding, no serious cleaning or special care. It just sits there patiently, knowing that eventually its time to shine will come.

All handymen know that 'honey-dos' are much easier to complete if you have the right stuff on hand. Rural people have saved countless expenses and trips to town by keeping the proper stuff on hand to accomplish repair work, and emergencies are never as serious with plenty of stuff at your disposal.

Amazingly, if you keep stuff long enough, it sometimes becomes collectible or even antique. People who kept their parents' or grandparents' stuff are now cashing in on these time-worn collectibles.

There is a downside to collecting stuff, though: It takes up space, looks a bit junky at times and has been known to cause irritation between spouses unless both are dedicated stuff-collecting people. My problem is not spouse irritation because my wife, Ruth, has a lot of her own stuff saved back. With several barns available, I have no storage problems, either. I simply cannot find the stuff I need at any given moment. I know I bought and paid for this and that, then care fully set them aside for future use. Sadly, now, I don't know where the heck I set them.

For many years, I operated on the theory that I would continue to collect stuff until the end. This would force my four sons to sort and dispose of the bounty, allowing me a bit of revenge for the problems they caused me while growing up.

Two years ago, I was astounded to learn my sons were not as interested in my stuff as I am, and there was a distinct possibility they might not even show up at my funeral if I didn't start sorting and disposing of my treasures.

Advancing age has finally convinced me I will not complete all the projects for which I have set aside various stuff. Failing memory has misplaced the detailed plans I had drawn in my mind for building these once-attractive projects. Slowly but surely, I am selling metal stuff to the scrap yards in Amarillo, and cutting stored wood stuff into firewood. The firewood will help on next winter's heating bill and the extra income is always welcome. I pause and shed a tear occasionally as a special piece of stuff comes to light: so much stuff and so little time. However, my greatest regret is that sometime after my demise, there will be an awesome auction here on the ranch and I'm going to miss it. FC

-Delbert Trew is a freelance writer, retired rancher and supervisor of the Devil's Rope Museum in McLean, Texas. Contact him at Trew Ranch, Box A, Alanreed, TX 79002; (806) 779-3164 or by e-mail at trewblue@centramedia.net