“How much for this?”

When the Wi-Fi goes out in the house as you sit down to write something, is that a bad sign? Perhaps. Do you let it stop you from forging ahead and getting something written down? Not really.

It’s been a long, strange weekend. Actually, the entire week has seemed long, but like the wise Bill Watterson said, “the days are just packed.” Summer brings a different kind of packed around here: not necessarily academic fullness, but one activity after another nonetheless.

Yet somehow, even with feeling like I’ve done nothing but work on stuff, my house is a wreck and nothing seems to be in its place. How does that happen?! (I have come to accept the fact that, with eight people living in this house, keeping it clean is sort of like trying to dig a hole in the sand. With every scoop removed, even more fills in the emptiness that was left but for an instant.)

Despite our better judgment, we decided to have a garage sale this weekend. It’s not that we didn’t have enough stuff (read: JUNK) to rationalize having a sale, but only a select few are crazy enough to go through their junk, organize their junk, price their junk, and then sit outside with their junk for a few days, waiting for people to come around and consider their junk worth taking home with them. Whatever. I get the ‘one man’s trash is another man’s treasure’ cliché, but it was an embarrassing fact that our garage looked like an episode of Hoarders. It was bad enough when my parents came to visit and invariably my dad would open the door to get a garden tool. Mortified, I had no choice but to say, “Hey! You like what we’ve done with the place? What? Garages are for cars, you say?! No kidding! Not toys you’ve taken away from your kids because they left them scattered across the floor until you stepped on them in bare feet on the way to bed for the umpteenth time?! Seriously!?!” And if that wasn’t bad enough, my super-organized neighbor across the street had to somehow slog through the space one afternoon when she spied that the door hadn’t closed after we’d left for a trip. If I could have crawled under some of my garage mess piles and died just then, I most definitely would have.

Lessons in humility come in many different forms, but the garage mess humility lesson has run its course. So last Wednesday morning, with kids who had varying levels of excitement (from “C’mon, Mom, let’s go!” to “I HATE THIS!” if I remember correctly), we opened the door, took a deep breath, and started dragging things out. Quickly we had a large pile of trash, a large stack of empty storage buckets, and a lot of stuff that nobody knew what to do with. That’s where the garage sale came in. It took most of the day Wednesday, but by dinner time, we’d made a very large dent in the space and could actually see the floor. That was true progress!

The next day we went through our bags of outgrown kids’ clothes and organized them for easy viewing and buying. We sort of tackled the basement and found things to clear out of there. It looked like we’d have enough “treasures” to put out for people to at least come and scoff at before driving away.

We had the benefit of a Craigslist listing on Friday to draw people and the Stonewall neighborhood sale to get traffic on Saturday, so there was no lack of participation from junk collectors. The kids were helpful and Todd was interested in wheeling and dealing. Hannah made two batches of cookies and lemonade for the boys to sell, and their little lemonade stand was a huge hit. All in all, we did well for the amount of time we put into it. So many people commiserated with us saying that garage sales just aren’t worth the work it takes to get ready, but this time, we cleared out a bunch of items we no longer need. To be on our way to having a clean garage and making some money along the way is what I call a good deal.

I can’t believe I didn’t take a before picture of the garage, but the thought didn’t occur to me until we’d been working for a more than an hour. Ah, well. Perhaps that sort of mess will have to live only in our memories. And haunt my neighbor’s dreams.

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