Form + Function = Reflection?

I’m aware that there hasn’t been much sagebrush in these chronicles lately. I had promised you “a view of life, art and the great outdoors. ” Well, upon reflection, I guess I have offered you a view of life and the great outdoors lately, and two out of three isn’t bad, is it? Whatever, here’s some sagebrush to try to make up for whatever I might have been short on so far this year.

My cabin sits on a hill, overlooking a beautiful Rocky Mountain view, a little town nestled down there below me… the little town my friend likes to refer to as “The drinking town with a tourist problem…” The hill is steep and I rarely have any reason to walk around it, save for spraying knapweed and picking up occasional empty beer cans. I have to ask, why would anyone drink a beer down here in my sagebrush and throw the can away?? Why wouldn’t they simply walk up the hill to my cabin and have a free beer with me? Besides, I recycle…
Anyway, I walked around the sidehill and took a few pictures. I don’t often see this property from the downhill side, and it was kind of fun. I tried to get a sense of what kind of person might live here, but nothing jumped to the surface except the possibility of a hermit of some sort. I love to tell about the two young people who were walking by the cabin 3 summers ago. I was working out in front of the garage, they were chatting and had no idea I could hear them. The girl asked the guy who lived here. I heard him answer, “I don’t know. Some old dude. Don’t know what he does or why he’s here. I do know he’s been working on that garage door all summer…”  I love it. To know how the outside world really sees you can be very valuable. And he was right, bless the boy… that’s exactly who I was then. I hung that damned door 3 times. The 4th time it finally was right. And as soon as the door was finished, I went to work on the inside. You know those “old dudes”…  always puttering.
As you might know, I like to play around with the idea of our perception of the relationship of tangible/intangible from time to time. If old Albert was right (and I think he was…) then all things tangible should also be in relationship to all things intangible. I mean, just because we can’t see and don’t understand most things intangible, should we therefor decide there can be no relationship between them, because we don’t believe in intangibility in the first place?

On that note, I have this place, this “secret” place that really isn’t any secret at all… that’s right, it’s mysterious! It’s obvious and it’s subtle; it’s in plain view for all to see, yet its most important function is well-hidden;  it appears to to be one thing but is actually another. It doesn’t have a mirror yet is a great place for reflection… a tangible place which was developed from intangible dreams, became tangible itself over time and now gives wings to intangible ideas and emotions. Give up? Okay. It’s my garage.

I know, you don’t believe it… my garage???  That’s right. A very tangible place which provides me with very intangible results. I will explain.


Sure, there’s a workshop in my garage, with carpentry tools, auto tools, storage space for wood and metal, along with a few little machines ranging from a cordless drill to a battery charger to an air compressor. Do I know how to use these things? Yes. Am I a good carpenter or good mechanic? No. I built the garage door and the hanging wood-storage thingy and designed and built the wallboard for the hanging tools… all things most 12-year-olds could accomplish. What’s cool about that is that, being retired, I had all the time in the world to decide where tools and machinery needed to go to be handy for use, depending upon how often you use that tool or machine. In the thinking and designing of this new work space, I drank a few beers and had some very peaceful, reflective times out there. And, in the midst of that relaxation and enjoyment, I stumbled upon the concepts of order, form and function. Imagine that…

Life can be, and usually is, challenging. All of us get stuck, from time to time, between a hard place and a rock. It’s complicated. Sometimes we can’t totally trust our hearts or our minds until we can take enough time to see the larger picture and determine the larger, better outcome. Where do we go and what do we do to get the time to see outside ourselves more clearly and work through life’s varying difficulties? Why, out to the garage, of course!

Check this out – I saw a tv ad the other day that was talking about garages, that these well-known people and companies started in their garage…

–  The Wright Brothers
– Amazon
–  Hewlett-Packard
–  Disney
–  Mattel
–  The Ramones
And I always thought The Rolling Stones was the premier garage band…

DCIM100GOPRO                  The girls. Every self-respecting workshop has to have its girls, right?

Anyway, my workshop out in the garage is a refuge, a retreat where I go to simply relax, maybe fix something, or, in some cases, solve the problems of the world with the age-old trick of occupying your mind with one thing, thereby taking the pressure off your “problem” long enough to let that part of your mind form the perfect solution. It’s a simple matter of diversion… much like not being able to think of someone’s name or the name of a movie until you finally stop trying… and then it comes to you. But you have to have diversion, hopefully in a pleasant place. That’s my garage… a most pleasant space; a space where I can simply sit in the doorway with a cold beer and look out at the mountains to the south; a space where I can knock about, move a few things, figure out where the wood screws should go, and generally clear my thoughts until reason and my muse reappear. All that in a damned garage?? Oh yes… all that and more.  See, that garage and workshop are many things besides just a garage and workshop. It’s a launching pad for new ideas, it’s a therapist’s couch for the few difficult times left in my life, it’s an answer to the question, “What do I want to do today?” It’s a storage facility for some of my favorite things, it’s a relaxer and a mood-enhancer, already holding memories of good times had on snowmobiles and good times yet to come. it’s a place to make every day better, if that happens to be what your day needs. And there, my friend, are your intangibles within all those tangibles.

And what might order, form and function have to do with any of this? Ahh, much, as it turns out. How well my workspace functions when I actually build something or repair something goes a long way in helping to define who I am, how I am, perhaps even why I am, to some degree. Don’t ask me why those things should matter… they just do. Point is, the percentage of your order/form to function  can tell you much about yourself… for instance, how creative you are, vs how precise/anal you are. It’s always nice if there is any sort of discernible balance between the two.

DCIM100GOPRO               Wood screws and metal screws, all separated… flat head, round head

I have a friend whose garage/workshop is a horror story. Yet he defends it, saying, “I can find anything I need in here if you give me a little time.” Well, sure!. But how much time? Could be a week, in there…

I love my workspace. It’s warm, user-friendly, with the tools and gadgets  close at hand, the things I use the most. There’s enough room to work on stuff without falling over things. I try to put my tools away, and have places for nuts, bolts, screws… I realized at one point that there are a ton of little articles in any useable workshop, and when you put them in any kind of order, then place them there yourself, you remember exactly where they are the next time you need them. For me, a mind-boggling concept. Which is probably why I’m sharing it with you. My lady, B, could prepare a five-course meal in her kitchen with her eyes closed… she knows it that well. And that, my friends, is a good example of a great balance between form and function, order and art. I strive for that balance in my garage all the time… hell, I strive for it every day in my life. And every day I fail. But I do what we all do… I continue to strive.


Steve Hulse

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