By Clay Riness  

I am not a hoarder, at least not in the television show sense. It’s just that over the course of my life, I’ve managed to amass so much junk that the thought of tackling it is absolutely daunting. I keep threatening to organize a huge rummage sale and let go of myriad things I haven’t used in years, but every time I start thinking about picking through my basement, garage, three bedrooms (which serve as storage dumps), my man cave and my cabin … well, I am overcome by a case of “not today.” You may know the feeling.

I’ve been a musician since I was a kid, so there are musical instruments of all stripes everywhere. There are well over a thousand vinyl LPs, each in its own dust cover, boxed up in alphabetical order. When CDs took over, of course, I started collecting those. DVDs then sidelined my videotapes. Now, as we all know, the future is in streaming content, but somehow, I can’t seem to part with my hard copies.

I went through a couple of decades being hooked on fishing; I even spent 11 years as a fly-fishing guide. Therefore, I have many rods, reels, tackle boxes, fishing vests, waders … the whole shebang. I haven’t been fishing for some years, but just in case I get the bug again, I’ll be good and ready for it.

I like backpacks. I have a backpack for everything. In fact, a decade ago I bought a really nice backpack that I liked so much, I bought another just in case the first one wore out and they might no longer be available. It’s still unopened. I have a huge canoe pack, even though I no longer own a canoe. I keep a backpack of items in each of our vehicles as an emergency kit. I have a couple of bug-out bags, even though we’d probably be better off sheltering in place in the event of a zombie apocalypse. Yet, there’s still that one more Duluth pack I covet.

Here’s one you’ll no doubt relate to: books … books on shelves, books on tables, books in boxes. I have books on cooking, books on photography, books on survival, music books, history books, coffee table books, novels, dictionaries, atlases, field guides. Most of them are collecting dust while offering to the untrained eye the perception that I am somehow intellectual. Even though the entire universe of complete knowledge is now available with a few keystrokes, I need to have my books.

There are power tools that haven’t been plugged in for years, mostly because I suck at woodworking and home repair and carpentry and handy-manning. I took a whirl at working with boards, clamps, screws and glue long ago. For me, it was measure twice, cut self. But hey, you never know when you might just need that chop saw. I have a lot of hand tools too, most of which don’t really get used. Somehow, I found a way to need six axes, one of the few tools I can actually wield with some semblance of credibility.

Always been a ball cap guy. Not baseball team caps, mind you, but caps with advertisements or company logos or whatever. I feel good in a cap. You can tell I like caps because there are pillars of them in more than one room, some of them 30 years old. Even after I’ve worn one into a greasy, faded mess of a hat, I might someday want to dust it off and wear it a little more.

And speaking of coverings, what is it about clothes? Why can’t I get rid of a single shirt that I haven’t worn in 10 years? I have shoes in the corners of my closet that haven’t seen the light of day since Moses came off the mountain, so what’s with that? I even have a pair of old flip-flops, and I loathe wearing flip-flops. I have jackets I’ve never even worn because I really don’t do denim, but how can I possibly part with them when they advertise Gibson guitars?

But … I’m not a hoarder, right? Hey, is that an old ax over there at that yard sale?