You know how sometimes you’ll be eating something you haven’t had in a while, like a coconut or a star fruit or a baby and you’ll be like “Holy shit this is good. I mean really good” and you can’t get enough? That happened to me shortly after my back operation in February. I had been living on a steady diet of narcotics and laxatives, so one day when that cycle was finally over my dad made me one of his blender concoctions.

Real quick background on my dad and his blender. He got one of those blenders that can pulverize a laptop, and he puts everything in it. Among my brother and sister and I, we know it is a foregone conclusion that one day we will be drinking a delicious smoothie with more hair in it than usual and suddenly realize that we haven’t seen mom in a while. Dad will be like “Hmm? Oh. Ah – she’s at her wacky ladies club making cookies shaped like cute things.” Just to throw us off. Then we’ll hear him mutter under his breath while staring at his cup, “Shoulda’ stopped nagging me about pressure washing the deck. See what happens?”

And then there would be a super violent peristaltic orgy of stomach contents mixing in midair between shouts of “what the HELL, Dad? What is WRONG with you?” And he’ll probably just smile and finish his smoothie, wiping the last bit off of his mustache while saying “Got mom?” and laughing maniacally.

At least that’s the kind of thing I see happening when people get 5 horsepower blenders.

While I’m off the subject, is the correct measure of power for something like a blender really a horse? I can see horsepower for cars; they used to be powered by horses. In days of yore, I think blenders were mostly powered by heavyset women of color. Wouldn’t it make more sense if the blender was rated at 3.5 Ida power? For that matter, forklifts could be measured in Pacopower, calculators in Takahashipower, and so on.

Oh yeah – the post-surgery smoothie. It had everything in the kitchen in it. “Do I taste celery?” I asked. “Yeah, I think there was some in the fridge or an onion or an egg or something. I’m old and I don’t know.” Anyway, it didn’t taste particularly good, but whatever vitamins and radical oxidants or whatever hippie shit was in it was something I needed, so it basically went down like a runaway at a truck stop. Good stuff, that.

Do I have a point? No. Since when has any of this been about a point? Oh yeah – wait. I do. I actually forgot what I was typing about. Doing something with the kind of passion that comes from a void in your soul. I have found that home improvement projects are my true calling. At least for now. Since February I have been working from home, and to keep myself occupied between panicked requests about packaging graphics for toilet paper (yes, that is what my talents are being used for at present), I am looking for ways to over engineer the simplest projects.

The first thing that I will do as president? No, not fix healthcare, the budget, take drivers licenses away from everyone over 70 and under 22, or even start building a huge elevator on a truck so we can save pilots and passengers of troubled aircraft. None of that. The first thing I will do is to repeal any state law that keeps people from buying alcohol at any time or day of the week. The makers and supporters of said law will be moved to Florida as punishment (florida will be fenced in and cut free from the United states; this will reduce the crime rate by half). But the SECOND thing I will do is go to every factory that produces these shelves –

wire shelves

And burn them all to the fucking ground. I will then piss on the ashes, put them in my dad’s blender and feed them to pedophiles, bouncers, and meter maids as punishment for their crimes/douchbaggery.

All existing wire shelves will be gathered together in piles like some kind of holocaust era powder coated bone heap. People found with these shelves in their houses will be given a period of time to surrender their wire shelves, after which they will be jailed and forced to work repairing massive holes in drywall left across the nation by the removal of these abominations. Anyone heard saying “Yeah, they suck, but I just bought another shelf and put it on top of the wire…it works okay” will be psychologically retrained to think like a human. You don’t buy a shelf to put on a shelf to fix a shelf.

The shelves will be melted down and used to build an aircraft carrier. I bet you thought I was going to say “a prison for all of the people who played a part in the design and production of said shelves.” But you don’t imprison retarded people. You euthanize them.

Needless to say, this nice home that we bought was filled with these stupid shelves. Closets, pantries, laundry room, everything. Just so you don’t get the idea that my improvements are merely lipstick on the proverbial pig, here is a picture of the ceiling.


About 10 miles of molding was used just to decorate the ceiling in the living room. I’m not trying to be a douchebag and all “look at how awesome my house is”. I’m showing this picture so that you will understand that at some point in the construction of this house someone gave a damn about craftsmanship and quality. As a builder of things and a solver of problems, all I really care about is the quality of the job. So my uncontrollable rage when I found those shitty shelves everywhere was not without reason. It feels like a Ferrari with vinyl upholstery.

Before we even unpacked boxes, I had pulled all of the shelves out of the closets and was busily designing something that would a) work as a functional shelving system, and b) not look like the result of someone giving up on life. I did my closet first – I measured it all out and for some reason I decided to base the design on the golden ratio. You’ve seen it before in DaVinci drawings – the magic number is 1.61803something, and it is some magical proportion that almost everything in nature and most decent architecture has some basis in. Why did I decide to take so much time and trouble with something that will be in a closet? Because I am insane.

This is what I came up with –


And as long as I am overdoing things, why not find some kind of crazy wood to build it out of? After some searching, I found a place in Atlanta that sells exotic wood and I bought about 40 board feet of curly maple. It was only a dollar more than Pine per foot, so I packed it into the Honda and was on my way. I soon found out what “rough cut” means. I also found that on the universal scale of hardness (measured in HolmesPower), maple is just below diamond and titanium. Especially when all you have is hand tools. I had to cut the bark off, true up the edges, plane it to the right thickness, edge join, sand, polish, sand again, wet sand, and varnish every single piece. There are about 60 pieces, each with at least 3 finished sides. If you are ever considering this kind of project, that is something you need to keep in mind.

As a rule when it comes to wood, I hate stain. If the wood isn’t good enough without stain, use a different kind of wood. I’m also generally against glossy varnish, but I used it here just for longevity’s sake. In any case, it gives me much pleasure to see the result.


Of course, this masterpiece is hidden in my closet where no one can see it, but Sara’s is a little easier to see. I’d show it to you but I’m not sure she would like that very much. Lots of clothes and shoes and girl stuff. And a pony. A very terrified, skinny pony. This is the layout – she had a bunch of these canvas storage containers, so I designed around those It now looks like this, but with the pony.


Unfortunately I had to stain hers. She wanted dark wood, but I used aspen because there was no way she was going to wait another month for me to sand and plane a bunch of walnut or whatever. The other day we heard a huge crash come from upstairs, followed by a very startled cat stumbling down the stairs. I grabbed the cat (if it was something she did, I wanted to be able to snap her neck without having to go looking for her), and headed upstairs to find the shower curtain rod had fallen down in the guest bathroom. Not the cat’s fault, so I let her scamper away. Why did it fall? Because my wife uses it as a place to hang her clothes. I came back downstairs and told her what had happened. She said “did you fix it?”.

Count to five…

“Yes, I fixed it by building you a closet to put your clothes in, bunnybutt. It has 24 feet of hand varnished wooden dowel to hang clothes on, and because I built it, you could hang a dump truck from it.”

“Shut up. I’m working on it. Some of us have to spend 8 hours a day in an office, you know.”

To her credit, she is and she does.

What else…I had my neighbor over to help hang a television, but that is another entry. I also built a workbench in the garage before I even started on the closets. You can always tell the sexual orientation of the previous owner of a house by checking to see if there is a workbench or not.


Then with the leftover plywood, I decided to put some artwork up in the kitchen. I painted it with gesso and drew a fork and a spoon. I think it’s cool. There is another joke about sexual orientation in there somewhere too…


Future projects include finishing the landscaping. This is a work in progress, but it is seriously about 200 degrees outside and swinging a pickaxe takes like 10 Juanpower. Unfortunately the ground is so hard, that is the only way to dig a hole. I swung that pickaxe for about an hour in the heat and then called my parents to thank them for making me go to college.

I am also going to rip the stupid wire shelves out of our pantry before I lose my goddamned mind. There is nothing you can buy at a grocery store that will stand up on wire shelves. As a result, our pantry looks like comething that was dropped out of a C-130 onto a crowd of starving Haitians. In an effort to complicate it, I am running wiring from the back wall to a contact switch in the door frame that will turn on the lights when the door is open, and turn them off when it is closed. Why all closets aren’t wired that way is a mystery to me.

I also drew up plans for this bed.


We don’t have a bed. Well, we do, but it is straight out of a college dorm. Just a mattress on a bed frame. What with all of the handiness that is oozing out of my pores, I figure I have no excuse…

Now here’s what happens just as soon as I get this house dialed in the way we want it. One of us gets a job in Oregon or something. Or they tell us what we have suspected all along – there was a mixup and we don’t really live here. This neighborhood shouldn’t allow people like us.

Oh, and as long as I’m here, let me remind you all that is still having me call in regularly on Thursdays at 4:30 Eastern. You should really listen – surprisingly it has been fun and I think pretty entertaining. It is for me, anyway. Nightmare and Jenna try to follow along as I ramble on, not making a bit of sense. Call in and ask questions or tell me you hate me. I’m not scared of you.

29 Responses to “Coming out of the closet. With pictures!”

  1. on 07 Jul 2010 at 12:15 pm davejase

    Great to hear from you Dusty! Awesome post, I want your dad’s blender. Also, HolmesPower… Good Lord

  2. on 07 Jul 2010 at 12:31 pm Uzy

    “…And he’ll probably just smile and finish his smoothie, wiping the last bit off of his mustache while saying “Got mom?” and laughing maniacally.”

    Jesus, I love you so. Priceless, D. SImply priceless.


  3. on 07 Jul 2010 at 12:41 pm John

    Wait until your kid wants a playhouse. Of course you have to want a kid first.

  4. on 07 Jul 2010 at 12:49 pm Dusty

    Actually I just want a playhouse.

  5. on 07 Jul 2010 at 12:57 pm Cassandra

    Your holocaust reference had me laughing and hiding my face at the same time – classic Dusty.

  6. on 07 Jul 2010 at 1:01 pm Hedy

    What an adventure! We just recently bought a place similar to yours. But this place was occupied by college students for the past 30 or so years. Needless to say, we are still finding all manner of crazy shit, but it’s been really fun fixing the place up!


  7. on 07 Jul 2010 at 1:34 pm Ken JP Stuczynski

    In some ways, you and I are twins! I’ve been doing projects and renovations (mostly wood and yes, mucho shelves) with a torque of 2.5 Amish-power per day average. But what’s up with the bench lighting? Isn’t overhead good enough for you? Hippie artist …

  8. on 07 Jul 2010 at 1:44 pm MrJodie

    Holy shit, man. I thought the surgery was supposed to fix you. I think it made things worse. Can you ask for a refund?

    Oh, nice choice on the wood. No, the stuff made from trees… not that. Put that away before you get arrested… again.

  9. on 07 Jul 2010 at 1:51 pm fourthstooge

    Great to hear from you again, Rusty…

  10. on 07 Jul 2010 at 2:10 pm Dusty

    Bench Lighting – I use that bench for more than just pounding nails. I do a lot of small scale stuff too. Nothing like a full spectrum fluorescent to help along those lines…

  11. on 07 Jul 2010 at 2:32 pm Dave

    Based on your choice of underwear and how much
    you change it shouldn’t the slot in your closet
    for underwear be much smaller 😉

  12. on 07 Jul 2010 at 2:49 pm bunnybutt

    The pony said your next entry should be “new guest bathroom shower rod for hanging wet clothes and not that shitty tension rod that the bank forgot to take when they gutted this place”.

  13. on 07 Jul 2010 at 5:15 pm deborah

    You’ve only got one gun? And apparently only one hat?

  14. on 07 Jul 2010 at 5:23 pm Rob

    Great stuff as always. Hope you’re back is feeling better.

  15. on 07 Jul 2010 at 5:51 pm random

    Loved reading you again. I was missing it and going through some kind of withdrawal that was both scary and tingly. I think it is just part of the generation that we don’t have proper beds. I have a $1000 bed sitting on a frame, that is it. The bed is hella comfortable but still looks like a futon that I no longer turn into a couch due to laziness. 🙂

  16. on 07 Jul 2010 at 7:22 pm adriana

    I was starting to get ansty for another hilarious Dusty post and you didn’t disappoint! Thanks for sharing… now get back to work!

  17. on 07 Jul 2010 at 11:24 pm robert

    Here’s the perfect christmas gift for your dad…

  18. on 08 Jul 2010 at 3:15 am Deanna

    Dusty only needs room for one hat:

    It’s the only hat a man needs, I’d say.

  19. on 08 Jul 2010 at 9:45 am Lisa Bauchan

    Your carpentry skills are stellar. Quite “Jesuspower” like. Keep the home improvement pictures coming, I will watch for you on the DIY channel.

  20. on 08 Jul 2010 at 4:33 pm DaveGuy

    Really, you hand-planed 40 board-feet of curly maple, all to a uniform thickness worthy of edge-jointing? With a scrub and jack plane (I presume)? And brought the sides perfectly parallel and true. I don’t want to doubt you, really, but that sort of feat would be difficult and time-consuming for a 19th Master Carpenter. Not that the finished product doesn’t look great, it certainly does. And the house looks beautiful.
    So, really – overhead-blade power planer and floor-mounted jointer? No? Really? Wow.

  21. on 08 Jul 2010 at 5:54 pm Anjil

    Juanpower. Bahahahahaha

  22. on 08 Jul 2010 at 10:12 pm Tim

    Hey, why’s down?

  23. on 09 Jul 2010 at 6:01 am Dusty

    Daveguy – The answer is yes and no – it was rough cut 2 or three sides (depending on the piece). Some of it had been run through a planer (at about 50 feet per second by the looks of it), but the thickness and finish was all over the place. I did have a portable table saw to help with jointing, but yes, there was a shitload of planing and sanding done. Weeks on end. Ask my wife. She saw the blisters and blood.

    If you would like to donate a power planer and/or jointer, I’d be happy to take it. I don’t do shit the hard way because I’m too good for power tools. I’m too poor for power tools. However, with time and patience, even a hack can pull off feats of carpentry.

  24. on 10 Jul 2010 at 4:32 am Trent


    I gotta admit that that was some damn fine work there. I really liked the Golden Mean touch. That’s just badass. The skirt’s gotta be loving the fact that you’re doing so much around the house.

    As far as the story goes though, I hate that wire shelving shit too. It’s as useful as BP is as cleaning up an oil spill. Oops!! Didn’t mean to throw politics into this. At least it was apropos. LOL!!


  25. on 10 Jul 2010 at 10:11 pm Bekah

    Boy it’s good to see that email notification that you’ve written again.

    Hilarious as always.

    Also, I believe you should post your archives from when you wrote for Atlanta Illustrated. There was one entry making fun of Nickleback that I want to reread because I laughed so damned hard.

    Oh, and thanks for kind of introducing me to Porcupine Tree. Simply amazing.

  26. on 11 Jul 2010 at 11:01 am HJ

    I got my parents that “Will It Blend” thing for their anniversary. It’s *awesome*. They use it all the time now (no iPods or iPads yet, though). To be fair, it doesn’t have a 5hp motor like you describe — only 3hp. But it’s more than enough for, you know, actual food.

    On the other hand, they make an “Extreme” model that pulls a peak of 20A, which means it pretty much needs its own special electrical circuit (I believe standard residential ones are 15A).

    Finally, a friend of mine sent me this clip the other day, which pretty much tops ’em all:

    (Top Gear is sort of like a British version of Mythbusters, only less clinical and far more insane.)

    Glad to see that you’re writing again!


  27. on 11 Jul 2010 at 11:07 am HJ

    Dammit Robert, you beat me to it!

    (Reading before posting is overrated anyway… grumble.)

  28. on 11 Jul 2010 at 3:54 pm Steve P.

    Am I the only one who thinks The Skirt’s closet plan has large but subliminal boobies?

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