It’s Friday and it’s promising to be hotter than the blazes of the underworld out here this weekend. As the cool morning springs back up after a monsoon style rain last night and the sun pushes its way toward the middle of the blue sky, I feel like shedding layers…layers of blankets from my comfy bed, layers of clothing, layers of worry and layers of work on my to do list.
And what’s #1 on my to do list?
Cleaning out the damn garage. The damn garage that has been home to what some people thought was important stuff for a good twenty-plus years. I think it has been cleaned before, but with a leaking roof, crumbling doors and muddy floors, it’s time for the thing to go to its grave.
But some things don’t go down easily.
Oh, we have been shooting at it for a good long month, walking in there to start to tackle the process and then promptly walking out convincing ourselves there are more important things on that list: a horse that needs riding, a lawn that needs mowing, a weed that needs whacking. Once I even turned my butt around to tackle the laundry pile instead…and you know how I feel about laundry.
Yes, this is what we’re dealing with here people. It’s a disaster zone of old microwaves, bed frames, dressers, ice skates, thousands of unidentifiable tractor and truck parts, my dad’s old lunch box, swallow nests, spiders, deer antlers, gears, wire, a Christmas wreath, scrap wood, a jeep and a partridge in a pear tree.
I would like to blame this situation on my relatives, the ones who built this little specimen of disaster in the first place, but as we opened the door last week and began organizing piles of stuff into “keep,” “toss,” “give away,” and “what the hell is this?” it became quite clear that the problem did not lie in past use of the facility.
The problem was my husband…and a little bit my pops.
Yup. I blame it on the boys. Because I refuse to take responsibility for the following:
One hundred coolers that seem to go missing when we are looking for a cooler…so apparently we have just purchased a new one…every year for the last five years.
A mini, yellow, homemade boat that has been out on the lake approximately four times, once involving me, husband, a fishing hole in the wilderness, a pickup stuck up to its nuts in gumbo, no cell service and a hike in flip flops up to the top of the nearest butte.
A microwave given to my mother as a proposal for marriage in the early 80s that was just recently exchanged for a newer model and placed in the garage, because…well, forget that it weighs all of 110 pounds, it still works, someone might use it someday and it has sentimental value dammit.
Three pairs of cross country skis from the same era as the microwave and one pair from the beginning of time.
A three-wheeler that showed up at our doorstep from the depths of a landfill somewhere. It might work someday. It. Might. Just. Magically. Work. One. Day. Until that day it will continue dying a slow death in the garage.
A dirt bike purchased by a handsome sucker who is certain that one day he will acquire the skills of John Travolta’s character in Phenomenon and breathe some life into what was, at one time, a fine machine. Until said sucker gets struck by lightning, the dirt bike will exist propped up against the garage.
A jet ski that “isn’t broken” but has served as the world’s largest lawn ornament for a good year now, waiting, too, on that lightning strike.
Five ladders that I am not about to climb.
Two washing machines whose motors are waiting to be attached to a grinder, inserted into another washing machine that doesn’t work, rigged up in a go cart or maybe applied in some way to help get that damn jet ski out on the water again and out of my life forever.
Ok, ok, I will take responsibility for some of it. I mean among the rubble I did find 103 flower pots, six pairs of ice skates and my old purple, ice cream cone sleeping bag. But in my defense, if I remember right, at one time I had aspirations of landing a triple axel and heading to the winter Olympics like my good friend Nancy Kerrigan, and a girl needs back up skates for that. Also, I have full intentions of filling all of those pots some day with gorgeous, Martha Stewert approved flowers…and that sleeping bag was useful in protecting pops’ not yet out of the box 2004 Christmas gift meat smoker.
Shit. The quaint mystery and charm of the Flea Market loses all of its wonder when said Flea Market is in your front yard.
Actually I think it might turn into another term all together…one that begins with “Red Neck” and ends with “Ville.”
Sweet Martha where are you when I need you?
So I’ve decided in order to lift my spirits on this 90 degree cleaning day I would like to give something away. And I’m going to refrain from trying to convince you that you all need a new pair of ice skates, and old cooler and an almost working jet ski.
No, I love you too much (and I’m afraid I’m not that good a saleswoman). So instead I wanna give you a chance to win your choice of one of the following three metallic 8×10 matted photographs that celebrate the finer scenery in my backyard:
All you need to do is cheer me up by sharing your own cleaning woes. Tell me I’m not the only Redneck woman. Tell me you too have two non-working washing machines and an old ice auger in your crumbling garage. Tell me I am not married to the only man hoarder, aspiring mechanic.
Tell me I’m not alone!!!
Share your story and I will put all of the names of the participants in one of my 103 empty flower pots and pick the winner on Monday.
And then say a little prayer to the junk gods that they will send down an angel to take this hot mess of a garage to heaven.
Don’t know if I can beat what you’ve got, that’s pretty impressive. But I too have a hoarder. My worst story: While doing plumbing demolition in a hospital, he brings home a toilet and a hand sink. Several months later he is so sincerely thrilled to be able to install them in our master bathroom at a cost of $0.00. Meanwhile I was gagging every time I used them, even after bleaching the porcelain right off them. It wasn’t too long after that I managed to get brand new, clean (!) items. Ewwwww.
Out here we have people who are looking for metal items to collect and take to the scrap yard. Perhaps someone may do the same out there, and magically your pile will dwindle right before your eyes. IF the men in your life can bear to part with them…..
Bbbwahahahahahah!!!! Now this is a something I can relate to. After doing a complete home renovation in our old house in town, we replaced everything…the floors, the fixtures, the sink, the bathtubs…What we had to salvage? The old toilets…Ack, I felt the same way and couldn’t scrub them enough!
And yes, I will be calling the scarp metal guys indeed and decisions will be made!
That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.
Oh, I can sooo relate. My son is a hoarder. He has not only taken over two houses and 3 storage units that are full of “good stuff” but has also taken over my 3 story house and full basement. He has stacks of salvage or e-bay potential or just future projects everywhere. I can’t water my tomatoes or his flowers in the back yard because of tripping over piles of aluminum, window ac units to take apart, wire to strip and general metal such as old bikes, lawn chairs and such to prepare for the future sale. (whenever life allows him the time . We even have a pair of old washtubs he is going to keep gold fish in.
Cindy, this is hilarious. I just have this visual of you going about your daily tasks of gardening and tending to your flowers and having to pull on your tall boots to wade through your son’s precious materials. Tell him to take you on a trip to Jamaica when he gets his money out of all of it…you most certainly deserve it!
I had a lot more to say in above post but ran out of space. Figured that was the clue to end it. I grew up in ND on a farm so know about outbuildings filled with old parts and wire and stuff needed for repairs etc. Why, do I need my living space and yard in a city taken over also? Fortunately, my small yard is privacy fenced so no one else has to look at it.
You know it’s in your blood, right? You just can’t avoid a force that strong! Grama Edie was quite the impressive hoarder too. So look at it like this: you’re simply trying to keep up with tradition, especially when it comes to that garage! I’d venture to guess that amidst the clutter is a couple pairs of crutches, a sled or 12, garden tools up the wazoo, containers of every size, and more feed store caps than flower pots? And Kerr-bear is what I’d call an “emotional hoarder” — I just received 6 (six!) 18-gallon totes FULL of memories (school papers from grades K-12, old greeting cards, new clippings, stickers, notes, knick knacks, programs, brochures, etc), most of which I had no idea what/whom they were for/from/about — and I fear I am taking after her! Heaven forbid I part with some item that may or may not have some attachment to a memory. A picture simply will not do! Fortunately the results of my ‘disorder’ is well-hidden in basement storage nooks and not outside where everyone can see it. So while your collection is far more visible, my inner redneck is shinin’ right on through. May the decluttering force be with you.
Oh Lord, I was hoping I inherited my mother’s untamable and impulsive need to throw things away…but alas, just like the nose, I got this strong quality from the other side. I just have to tell you that yes, those old wooden crutches are still in the rafters of the basement. Remember that spring loaded bouncy horse? Still there. Old washboards, gram’s canning equipment and some of her old canning creations were still in the basement when we moved in…
Yes, the Veeder women may not fill a garage, but damn can we tuck things in a basement so nice and neat that we just might get away with it for 50+ years….
Since I live in an apt., I’m sure I can get rid of some stuff(clothes, ect). I don’t have that much stuff but when we moved off the farm..oh boy. Auction frenzy. But now you can have American Picker’s come to your farm and have a hayday. Even get some $ back in the ‘ole pocket. One thing we have started doing 9 yrs ago after my Grandma died, at our Family reunions(held every 3 yrs), we have an auction sale..yes some of it is not flattering but it is a good way to get rid of some stuff and the $ we make from the auction sale, actually keeps our cost down when we rent out the place at Lake Metigoshe. Thought I’d help you out my friend. Just a thought. Try not to sweat the small or big stuff. Nicole.:)
The idea of an auction sale is a good one and I love that it helps you rent a fun place to spend your summer weekends. Great idea!
I’m afraid we will have to pay people to come and take this stuff….
Moving from I my home (which I totally emptied out for the new inhabitants) and into the family farm house….I started cleaning out over 60 years of what have you in that fram house. I soon discovered all too many “unique items” very similar to your garage items, Jessie. But the item that really “broke the camels back” … “sent me into orbit” … was ..if I find one more of these damn sack of sacks … one more bag of bags – you know the plastic bags from the grocery store ..just how many do you need to keep anyway? They were EVERYWHERE! Every room, every closet, every shelf, behind the doors, in the basement, in the storage room…I guess “just in case”….just in case of what! What would you ever need 10,000 plastic grocery bags for? Maybe weaving a plastic rug….for everyone you know… or maybe good bonfire materials…thats what we used them for(sorry friends…ya didn’t get the plastic rug afterall) … bonfire materials….ya, we lit up the sky that day. Now mind you, I do believe they are capable of borning their own babies and self multiply, as of now my closet can attest to that ( you know, just in case), however, we work hard to contain them in that one closet….something similar to containing the mammie cat and kittens to the barn. God help us if the plastic bags and wild cats get out of their containment systems!
PS Does anybody need some plastic grocery bags …… or kittens?
Jan, a couple hundred plastic rugs just might be the new, innovative, green craft project you are looking for to fill your spare time. You could sell them at the flea market for ten bucks a pop. Put me on the list for your first creation.
It’s a good thing this house isn’t a little bigger or we would still be finding things like that in the corners I’m afraid…
It must be a ND farm thing! My family has a farm northwest of Williston, and my brother is in the process of trying to get it cleaned up so he and his fiance can get married there in September. First, however, he must remove 40 years worth of old equipment, random pieces of scrap metal, broken furniture, and a million other things that have been saved just in case someone “might need it one day.” Something tells me that the beautiful farm wedding that my future sister in law is planning would be slightly less whimsical with a 20 year old lawn mower and a pile of scrap metal in the corner of the Quonset. Along with needing to get the Quonset cleaned out, there is also the junk piles that include several old cars, pick ups and tractors dating back to 1940, a golf cart, refrigerator, giant satellite dish, combines that haven’t run in a decade, and a spay coupe that looks like a giant mosquito. My brother surely has his work cut out for him, but thanks to his efforts, and my dad’s cooperation they are beautifying the home where I grew up. His hard work now, and a commitment to not let the junk pile up again will mean my son (or his kids some day) won’t have to do it again in another 30 years. It will also make for a lovely wedding site–if only the weather cooperates! Good luck with your efforts, and thank you for your wonderful blog.
Erica, I feel your brother’s pain, but what a great thing to tackle. We got married out on this place five years ago and were faced with some of the same things, but we were out a big pasture, so cow poop and cactus was more of a concern than all of the old equipment in the barn yard. That is our challenge these days. When it is all said and done your family will feel nice and free and your place will look better than ever. I love your description, though, of the old junk piles. It is a ND farm thing…years of saving and being innovative with old parts to get by, you have to admire that I think…admire it and then curse it…
Congrats to your brother and his fiance and cheers to a beautiful farm wedding (free of the giant satellite dish, combines and enormous mosquito)
This isn’t about cleaning the garage, it’s about the weird things that go on in there. The garage and basement are my husband’s turf. With the hot weather, he likes to hang out naked. I fixed lunch and searched and found him painting the slats to our deck John Deere green with no clothes on. The garage door was open about 12 inches and the back door was open. He has this fenced in area where he is Adam and I’m in the house, avoiding him. Cleaning the basement or the garage “that’s all good stuff”. My sewing and crafts room “you’re a hoarder”. So I hope your impasse passes and I hope my husband NEVER finds out about your stuff, or he will make a beeline out there to take it off your hands. K
Oh dear Karen, that is funny! It really is about perspective isn’t it? Whose junk is whose necessity? At least he’s finding a nice natural way to stay cool while being productive…
Sweet Martha (as you would say) I just have to comment here as I have the guru hoarder and I can’t win for losing on this deal because my hoarder just happens to be the landfill supervisior……..You heard me right……That is a holy Martha…..He finds lots of prized possessions and home they come so I try to sneak them over to my son’s garbage in black bags and out to the landfill they go again and zappo just like magic they sometimes show up at my house again….I need therapy…..
I think you take the cake here D. Sweet Martha indeed, a landfill supervisor who brings home the stuff you have just thrown out??!! You don’t stand a chance!
May the junk gods be with you…
Jesse, I feel for you but am very willing to ruthlessly come and help you. First you need a good trailer and truck. A horse or stock trailer or even two works really well.
I have carved out a fairly good living being hired to, we call it “organize” the out of controll spaces folks find they live in.
This is where the ruthless part comes in. For $25.00 an hour I will do the mental hand holding required to get it all to the dump, Good Will, your neighbors garage sale, out on the road with a “free” sign or put it back neatly. At $25.00 and hour folks find that decision making and motion move at the speed of light. It also helps to have a perfect stranger, who doesnt judge, be your guide. Ive made some of my best freinds this way. Their new mantra is “Just call Holly”.
I wish I didnt live 500 miles away. I would come help you for free in exchange for reading your posts and the comments of your fans.
Just hook up the trailer and be ruthless all the time pretending Im there earning $25.00 an hour. Then go spend it on yourself or use that new found wealth to fix the wet jet 🙂
Holly, you are so sweet for the offer. I like the idea that we imagine our time is worth $25 per hour in order to light a fire under our asses. We have plans to be calling the scrap metal guy and we have our trailer all lined out…and then we went camping for the weekend….
But this week? Game is on!!!
Where do I begin? I must have every school paper that my two boys would have brought home, not to mention all their childhood toys and they are now 16 and 12!!! I hate to admit it but my oldest son moved his bedroom downstairs almost 5 years ago and I still haven’t tackled his old room – I just keep stacking “stuff” in there.UGH!! Think of the possibilities for that extra room!! I also have collecting treasures in my blood as I follow in both my grandpa and dad’s foot steps by loving auction sale treasures!!! My youngest son loves getting grandpa’s auction sale deals and drags them home to!!! 🙂
Roxanne, good for you for owning it! Although my hubby likes to collect large things, like dirt bikes, washing machines and three wheelers, I get by more under the radar as I have saved many of my old college graphic design and photography assignments and books, all my favorite childhood paperbacks, every photograph I have ever taken and not put in an album, trophies from 4-H, and countless other things that will never see the light of day…
Funny how our need to keep overshadows are need for a nice space….
I live with the KING of hoarding!! We have old horse collars because someday he will have a fence to hang them on (not really sure I agree with his decorating ideas), tons of Antiques (more or less crap that someone else suckered him into taking off his hands), totes of small farm toys (however they are not toys because you cannot play with them and I don’t have an extra room to give him to hang shelves and put them all up in), Antique farm machinery (that do not have all the parts but he swears someday he will use them – but I think didn’t they make better things for a reason?), and my favorite – 8-10 totes of costumes, hats, baseball bats, golf clubs, and a toilet seat guitar that was used for clowning, however he swears he is “retired” from that!
Then I have a daughter who cannot throw away ANY paper she did in school because it was “her best work”. It’s amazing we have any room at all in our house 🙂
Oh LIndsey, I was wondering if you would chime in. I think you need to start building a fence, and shelves, and a couple extra room for the toys and the school papers…I feel for you.
Does he also save his favorite super hero p.j.’s because he couldn’t bare to see his momma throw them out?
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