More Solutions Than Problems

Keith Howard | Friday, August 21, 2015


My friend George insists the universe holds far more solutions than problems,  a statement I hold dearly without any necessary belief. One nice thing about this belief is it turns kvetching into a call to the heavens for its many answers. Here, then, is not a list of complaints but a seeding of the answer clouds:

As might be expected, the Liberty Home’s arrangement changes daily—bed in a new place, solar panel moved, dirty laundry put in a duffel rather than into a basket. As might also be expected, the Law of Unintended Consequences always brings challenges. For example:

  • In moving the water tank (a two-and-a-half gallon box with a spout), I left the spout open and turned my back. By the time I turned back, a good (or bad, I suppose) gallon of water had soaked through a throw rug and the carpeting . Despite blotting with towels and using the propane heater to direct heat, some dampness remained. Given an 85-degree temperature, using the heater designed for cold winter nights demonstrates my fear of mold, which I imagine lurking in every rug waiting to expand to fill Lucy’s and my lungs with disease. Anyone know a surefire way to prevent mold (or overcome irrational fear of mold)?
  • Toilet talk always draws a response, so let me tell you about the challenge of urine. No, I don’t fear mold in that area of my life, but the volume of urine a well-hydrated man produces is significant, particularly when the production takes place into a bucket of sawdust. The human litter prevents any smell, but it does make for an awfully heavy (and potentially mold-ridden disaster) bucket to carry to the compost pile. I’ve tried using a dedicated Urine Collection Device—a discarded five-gallon oil jug from behind a McDonald’s. This makes disposal easier, since the jug closes tightly, but the stench when opening a half-full bottle of piss is vile enough to make me rethink this plan. If anyone (feline or human) has experience with managing urine in a cat box, please let me know.
  • Some of you may have read Bill Bryson’s book, A Walk in the Woods, his educational and entertaining description of preparing for and walking the Appalachian Trail. A New Hampshire resident, Bryson tells of a shopping trip to a Hanover outfitter, where he purchased thousands of dollars worth of camping gear for his trek. Once underway on the trail, though, Bryson realized most of the stuff he’d bought was unnecessary, unsuited for its purpose and heavy. He jettisoned more than half the items he’d bought. Thus it is with the Liberty House—except for the throwing stuff away.
  • While I’d been very particular about the lighting we installed, ordering different lights for different parts of the home, I quickly discovered I only turn on the brightest ceiling light when I come in and leave it on until I leave or go to sleep. The next time I use one of the carefully-chosen wall lamps or kitchen spotlights will be the first.
  • I’d thought a three-burner stove would be barely adequate for my cooking needs. Instead, the number of burners is immaterial with limited counter or other horizontal space available. I cook one thing at a time because there’s not enough room to prepare, serve and eat more than that.
  • The refrigerator, over which I’d agonized, wanting to make sure I’d have enough room, is currently holding the remains of a 12-pack of Diet Coke and a couple water bottles. The fridge turned out to be an energy hog, and milk for coffee can be stored in a little cooler with ice much more efficiently.

This call to the universe, then, following George’s faith in the multiplicity of solutions, will not go unanswered, I hope.

I might get a busy signal, though.

-Keith Howard

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