For my birthday this year I asked Tyler to take a week off of work so we could clean out our garage and organize what was left after my ruthless, brutal purging. He agreed and my inner organizational nerd was on cloud nine. Since I learned so much about cleaning out said garage, I thought I’d provide you with a quick and easy description of how we did it.
1. Move into your house and wait nine years to clean out the garage. Continually pile stuff on top of boxes you never open, rollerblades that haven’t fit the kids in years, dilapidated scarecrows (I’m not kidding) and useless priority boxes from the post office.
2. Have your husband take a week off work. But make sure he has the type of job in which he can be called out in the middle of the night for hours even though he’s off and so many people on the team are on vacation that he has to be available (they covered for him when we were out of town). Make sure this happens twice during the week. Twice. Also make sure your husband forgets to take himself off the overtime list so one of his supervisors can sign him up right in the middle of the clean out.
3. On day one of your organizing adventure, borrow a friend’s pickup truck. The family we borrowed it from are saints. I love them; no bad thing can be thought about these people. It’s not their fault that the air conditioning in the truck is insufficient and the windows aren’t tinted to block the raging sun. Find the shelves you want to buy and proceed to southeast Portland in the late, hot, traffic-laden afternoon. Try not to cry. Go home, shower, collapse on the couch and convince yourself you had a touch of heat exhaustion despite the 5 gallons of water you drank.
4. Eliminate all distractions. In order to keep the dogs from whining, howling, baying and barking inside the house and in the back yard (which will distract and annoy the life out of you), put them on leashes and tie them up in the driveway. That way when you’re putting the trash in a pickup truck, they will be underfoot at all times. If you want a clear path to the backyard to get items out of the way, it will double as the perfect place for the dogs to rest and relax. You also need to put them on a long enough leash that they have free range of the garage to smell all the new smells you’ve uncovered. And be under your feet at all times.
5. Establish a vicious circle. It works like this: Your garage needs to be facing due west with no trees providing pesky shade. Work during August when the weather is almost assured to be hot. This year the unexpected humidity was a nice little bonus. Thanks to the west-facing garage, you will be bathed in unrelenting heat for most of the afternoon and evening until the sun ends its reign of terror and starts to set. This will render you exhausted, sweaty and stinky beyond your wildest dreams. You will be unable to wake up at a decent time in order to start your garage cleaning in the cool of the early morning. Vicious circle.
6. When at the dump with a truck bed full-to-overflowing, dry heave into your shirt. Force yourself the breathe through your mouth even though the humidity laden air is just thick with grossness. The smell will follow you home.
7. Have an out of town cousin call and say he’s unexpectedly in town. Offer to let him sleep on your couch. Then get the bright idea to invite your entire family over and cook them all breakfast the next morning. It was wonderful and I’m so glad he came to visit. Breakfast was great. It was all good.
8. Husband will need to take an extra day off work to make up for the callouts and overtime. This one is pretty self-explanatory.
9. Have a bunch of stuff left over that you’ll “just put in the shed.” This one takes a little bit of time to understand so hold on and concentrate. When you buy your house there needs to be a shed on the furthest back part of the property. This part of your property is under power lines. Your realtor MUST inform you that the shed belongs to the power company.** Seven years after moving in and ignoring the shed, let your curiosity get the best of you. Borrow your dad’s bolt cutters and cut off the lock. Inside you will find a musty cavern full of gardening supplies, sprinkler system elements and two metal signs that say “do not build anything under the power lines.” In your sad shed’s defense it isn’t really under the power lines. Thanks to ignoring the shed (you can’t see it since it’s in the wooded part of your property) the roof is rotten and needs to be replaced. So that leads to the next weekend . . . . . .
10. Leave the stuff you were going to innocently put in the shed in the garage. The next weekend, cut back trees, clean out the shed, rip the roof off the shed and put in a new floor. Again, the heat and humidity are nice surprises. And in the middle of his three day weekend it is imperative that your HUSBAND WORK OVERTIME that he signed up for weeks ago, long before your bright idea to clean out the garage, so now you have a roofless shed with a pretty new floor.
Today marks the two week anniversary of my birthday present. I see a light at the end of the tunnel. At this point I’m just praying it’s not the oncoming train.
And my garage? It’s so beautiful, organized and uncluttered that I’m tempted to sleep out there some nights. But then I realize the air conditioning is on the inside of the house and I stay put.
**Just last night we realized that our realtor probably couldn’t disclose anything about the shed since it probably shouldn’t be there. It also explains why the previous owners never left us a key to the lock. We have called the power company and explained it to them. They have been out here a few times over the years to trim the branches back from the power lines so they have seen it. They said as long as it isn’t in the way of the power lines or their maintenance, they don’t care.