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Of Resolutions and Lost Lawn Mowers

I have been cleaning out the garage for almost six years now. Seriously. Not, like, “Gosh, I should sweep!” Like, “Didn’t we have a floor in here at one point?” Every single year, My New Year’s resolutions have included something about this being the year when I will finally have a clean garage. You know the problem with New Year’s resolutions, right?

The problem is, I kind of inherited the garage. I think it was one of dad’s last pranks. I could never figure out how it was that the man who insisted my room get picked up when I was a kid, even though I clearly had far more important things to do (often involving macaroni, string, and glue), grew up to have the messiest garage ever. Then the garage ended up being my problem.

It’s worth noting that dad’s pranks often had a moral to them. Useful, life-learning sorts of lessons, like “don’t ask the question if you don’t want to know the answer”, “double-check the date when someone wakes you up and says you’re about to miss the bus, because it could be a saturday”, and “never eat a sandwich you didn’t make without thorough investigation.” (The cheese would still be wrapped in the plastic, or the pieces of bread would be cut in different directions – couple times, I got a sandwich carefully cut into a jigsaw puzzle. True story – no one in grade school believes that your parent left the cheese in the wrappers. There’s high potential for prolonged childhood mockery on that one…)

My point here is, I’m now the exasperated “owner” of a terminally messy garage. (technically, mom owns the garage – I just own the mess.) And that’s kind of a problem, because my sewing room lives in the garage. So does all my crafting stuff. And flock of dress forms. And all the yarn, and the painting supplies (acrylic, watercolor, and interior latex). And far more than the normal compliment of tools. And mom’s cement collection. Because, you know, who doesn’t love a hobby that comes in convenient 80lbs bags? (No lie, that – stucco does.)

Gosh, it’s a wonder I can’t keep the darn thing clean, right?

It’s not that I don’t believe in organization. I do. I really, really do.

The problem is that I believe in organization like the tooth fairy – ideally, I put in some token effort, and then little winged critters show up and night and put stuff away for me.

I try and all. I do. I have (or had, until yesterday) two shelves full of neatly labelled boxes full of all the yarns, sewing supplies, and craft supplies, each having not only a category name but also a brief inventory listing. Most of the boxes also contained sub-boxes, each labelled with a category and expected inventory. I swear I put things back into the boxes! Eventually…

It’s just that keeping a garage clean is complicated. It’s got a lot of floor space, so it’s a really attractive place to dump things – cardboard boxes, old appliances, extra shoes, all the gardening stuff, the shopping that didn’t get put away before someone stopped by to visit…. You know, stuff.

Garages have a “stuff” curse.

Think about this:

2006 – Mom and I were cleaning out the garage, in anticipation of dad being released from the hospital. (We were cleaning his garage, because we didn’t know if we were getting back a competent adult, or a crazy fellow with the judgement of a five year old. I still think it’s odd that no one on staff seemed concerned about that detail.) I stubbed my toe on something hidden in a pile, and ultimately found a lawn mower.

The problem, here, is that to find a lawn mower in the middle of a pile in the middle of the garage, someone had to produce a large enough pile of stuff to conceal a lawn mower.

2007 – Cleaning out the garage again, after dad passed, we found upwards of 200$ worth of recyclable cans (do you have any idea how many old beer cans you have to smash to get even 50$ at a recycler?) AND A SNOWBLOWER.

Mom calmly said, “You know, I wondered what happened to that…”

Stuff curse, I tell ya….

2009 (early) – Gramma has a heart attack, and we have to move gramma into the house. You can guess what that did to the garage…. Yep – stuff curse.

2010-11 – While recovering from the last stuff-blitz, a good family friend who used to run a sewing business moves out of town. Mom and I both sew. How do you turn down that much great stuff? Mind you, some stuff I just don’t get, like whatever it is that requires the 18.5′ long tube that’s been lying across the garage, conveniently making it impossible to open the lowest storage drawers and acting as some sort of “stuff goal” – any stuff dumped behind that line is safe! No one needs to put it away! Bwahaha…

Darn you, Stuff Curse… Darn you to heck.

2011, three days before New Year’s – I get mildly cheesed about the state of the Stuff (again), form yet another this-time-it-will-work plan, and head off to Ikea.

Instead of a resolution to clean the garage this year, I cheerfully spent New Year’s eve tearing the place apart (and New Year’s Day putting it back together). I finally dealt(ish) with the last of the dad-stuff we never found a home for on the one side of the work counter, and all of the gramma-stuff we never found a home for on the other side of the work counter (which sort of explains why no one really used the work counter).

I am pleased to report that I did not find a single large appliance.

We now have a sewing counter twice as long as either of us is used to on one wall, twice as much storage drawer space and extra useable shelving on another, and the trusty-not-so-rusty work counter has been moved to a wall that was previously engaged in growing piles of stuff. I even found a new place for that convenient 18′ tube… Most of this was done by rearranging the furniture we already had -all I got at Ikea was extra drawer units. It seems good so far. Mom even seems excited about the new sewing area.

Also, I’ve put a complete moratorium on anyone else dying or moving. (I think this is why the Vikings stuck their dead on boats with all their stuff and torched them – they hadn’t invented garages yet.)

This time, it will work.

I will be able to take sewing pictures with out a big pile of mess in the background…

That is all really want.


  1. Kate
    Kate January 3, 2012

    That is awesome, go you!

  2. Stephanie
    Stephanie January 3, 2012

    “Should auld accoutrements be forgot,
    Aaaaand never brought to light…” :-) FABULOUS WAY TO START THE NEW YEAR, MISSA-it’s going to feel GREAT, I’m sure, headng into 2012 with an organized garage!!!

  3. Kat
    Kat January 6, 2012

    I can so identify. Though, with me, it was the 16’x20′ shed, along with 3 of the 4 bedrooms in the house. My ex took some when he moved out, but still…

    I’ve got a nearby friend who’s in a similar boat as far as stuff- we’ve decided we’re going to enable each other into having clean, organized houses!

    • missa
      missa January 9, 2012

      Hi, Kat- You’re lucky to have your friend’s support. Mom and I keep falling back into the “But maybe we could find a good home for it…” trap. (Lately followed by a quick, “Can you find one in the next five minutes? Because it’s leaving in five minutes!”) It’s so weird that the US throws away tons of good food every year, and I have moral qualms parting with a broken umbrella….

      Stephanie – *laugh* Thank you! I mostly finished the clean this afternoon. I achieved the impossible dream of sweeping the entire floor. I’ve never been that happy to sneeze from dust before! ;)

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