Tag Archives: cleaning

10 Things I Found While Cleaning Out the Garage

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Paul is out of town this week, counseling at a Christian teen camp up in Northeast Washington state.  I love what he’s doing, but I hate being apart.  The house is too quiet, the bed is too big, and the ten thousand words I usually bestow upon him the minute he arrives home from work are building up, unsaid, inside my brain.  Also, it gets dark at night, and the house makes noises, and even though I’m 36 years old, I’m pretty sure that the bogeyman is lurking around waiting for me to turn out the lights so he can get me.  (I’ve never figured out what happens once the bogeyman gets you, but I don’t want to find out at this late date.)

Anyway, the week is crawling by.  So I thought I’d help fill it up by getting some work done around the house.  On Tuesday I washed, dried, and folded 9 loads of laundry.  On Wednesday, I did our monthly all-day grocery shopping extravaganza, with stops at Walmart, Super One, and Costco.  And today, four months after moving into our new home, I finally cleaned out the garage so that we can park in it.

It was hot, sweaty work, and I almost aborted the mission prematurely when I moved a box only to discover an angry coven of giant black spiders nesting in the corner behind it.  Five of them scattered in random directions, scuttling across the floor so fast that I barely had time to react before they had found new hiding places.  I killed one slowpoke with my broom, and then stood there for several minutes recovering from an attack of the heebie-jeebies.  The rest of the job went slowly as I had to perform the Icky Spider Dance of Girliness every time I brushed up against a gardening tool or felt a droplet of sweat running down my leg, but eventually, I got it done.

Behold!:

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10 Things I Found While Cleaning Out the Garage:

1.  The Klingon Dictionary. Boy, am I relieved to have this back!  Just the other day, I was whispering sweet nothings in Paul’s ear, and I wanted to tell him “bomDI’ ‘IwwIj qaqaw”, but I couldn’t remember where to put the second apostrophe. Nothing turns a geek into a pile of mush like Klingon love poetry.  (Just try to keep the spitting to a minimum.)

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2.  A poem I wrote in college about sardines. Here it is, for your pleasure:

Oh, the bliss of a fragrant sardine!
(Even though it turns some people green…)
The smell is just made to enthrall,
Though my roommate agrees not at all.
Little fishies in cute little rows
Are a treat for your mouth and your nose.
Packed in mustard and on a saltine,
There is nothing quite like a sardine!

3.  My wedding planner. No, I don’t have a coldly efficient forty year old woman with a walkie-talkie and a list of caterers hidden away in my garage.  But I do have the forty pound 3-ring binder packed with receipts and schedules that I used when Paul and I were planning our wedding in Searcy, Arkansas back in 1996.  I tucked it away in case our kids ever want to know how much my dress cost ($300), the name of our photographer (Ed Wilson), or the song that was playing when I walked down the aisle (God Has Smiled on Me).

4.  A picture of my high school boyfriend sitting in my Dad’s recliner. Little did he know that he was taking his life in his hands that day.  It’s a common enough mistake.  In fact, when Paul, My Future Husband, came home with me for Thanksgiving to meet my family, my Dad’s very first words to him were not “Nice to meet you,” but “Get out of my chair!” (Thinks he’s so funny, my dad!)

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5.  A French newspaper. In 1991, I spent six weeks living with a French family in Aurillac, France, as part of an exchange program.  It was a life changing and horizon-broadening experience.  One of the souvenirs I brought back was this newspaper.

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6.  My high school graduation cap. It was white.  Do you know how hard it was to find something to wear to graduation that wouldn’t show through a white graduation gown?

7. 1000 feet of 14 gauge A/V cable. I’m sure it’s good for something.  I just don’t know what.

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8. My lucky bandana. I carried this battered blue bandana on dozens of outdoor adventures when I was in middle school and high school–camping, white water rafting, backpacking, rappelling.  I tied it around my ankle to stop the bleeding when I cut it on a river rock.  I used it to keep the sweat out of my eyes while I climbed Mount Yonah. I thought I had lost it, but there it was tucked inside a duffle bag full of old camping stuff.  I can’t wait to use it again.  But I’m thinking maybe I should wash it first.

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9. My hoarded stash of gift boxes and bags. After our wedding showers, I collected all the bags and boxes like a good little bride, knowing that I would need them for future gift-giving occasions.  Then, I promptly lost them.  For thirteen years.  Perhaps they’ve been floating in and out of a rift in the time-space continuum.  Or maybe they were stolen by a very specific kind of burglar, who suffered an attack of conscience all these years later and sneaked into our garage to replace the plunder.  Or perhaps I’m just absent-minded.

Nah.  That can’t be it.

10.  Space for the car. That was the point of this whole journey, after all.  I can’t wait to go pick Paul up and drive him home, just so I can enjoy his surprise when we actually get to use the garage door opener to…wait for it…open the garage door and drive inside!  It may be a tight fit (Two-car garage?  Ha!), but we will finally be safe from the scorching sun and the drifting snow.

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Now to go cross one more completed project off my To Do List!

Dirty House Friends

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“Company’s coming!”

As a child, I knew what that meant. My mom would put us to work picking up clutter, vacuuming the carpet, and cleaning the kitchen, while she ran to the pantry to survey our stores and choose ingredients for a meal worthy of visiting dignitaries. The house took on a shine that it never wore when it was just the five of us, and we gathered around the table to marvel at the pristine tablecloth and the regal centerpiece looking like some foreign piece of art sitting there, where, on normal days, we folded laundry, did homework, and played with Legos.

Now, as an adult, I also love to invite people over for dinner, and the ritual is much the same. I press Paul and the kids into service to clean the apartment from stem to stern, trying to see it through a stranger’s eyes and discovering dirt in places I usually overlook, like on the baseboards and inside the stove’s fume hood. I scrub the toilet, sweep the floors, eradicate the rapidly reproducing dust bunny population, clean the tub (as if dinner guests are going to take a shower while they’re here), and order all the kids’ toys confined to their room for the duration. I even light candles to make it smell as if I bake.

Then, since I used up all my time cleaning instead of cooking, we order pizza. But that’s another post.

The point is that while I enjoy special occasions and inviting new friends and acquaintances over to showcase my masterful housekeeping and pizza ordering skills, when it comes to socializing, my favorite moments are those I spend with my Dirty House Friends.

Dirty House Friends are the ones you call up on a whim to ask, “What are you doing? Come over and watch Phantom of the Opera with me!” And they come, despite the fact that you’ve made them watch Phantom of the Opera six times already (rewinding all the good parts with Gerard Butler.) They sit on the couch next to your unfolded laundry with their feet resting on the wooden blocks and puzzle pieces and Happy Meal toys that are scattered around the living room like shrapnel from an explosion in Santa’s workshop, and they don’t see a thing. You never say “Sorry about the mess!” to a Dirty House Friend, because they don’t care, and when you’re with them, neither do you.

Dirty House Friends let you glimpse their clutter, too. I always rejoice when a friendship crosses the boundary of company clean into the intimacy of Dirty House-ness. When I walk, invited, into a friend’s house to see crusty dishes in the sink and stacks of papers scattered over the dining room table, I smile inwardly, knowing that I have stepped into the inner sanctum of my friend’s genuine living space, her real and disheveled and authentic life.

And that’s what I love most about Dirty House Friends. A friend who’s not put off by my messy house won’t be scared away by my messy life. A friend like that can take it when you lose your keys, lose your temper, lose your mind. A friend like that will be around when you’ve really screwed up, passing over recriminations in favor of a much needed hug and some help in picking up the pieces, knowing that you’ll be there when the pieces are hers. A Dirty House Friend won’t think you’re a bad mom when you drop the kids off at her house just to get an hour or two alone. She isn’t freaked out when you burst into tears, and the word “overshare” doesn’t apply to her. She’ll take you seriously when you tell her to call anytime, and the resulting conversations will cover everything from peanut butter brands to deep spiritual struggles.

A Dirty House Friend sees the clutter in your home, in your mind, and in your life, and loves it all. Loves you, the you that lies beyond your Yankee candles and your clean baseboards.

So if you’re thinking of inviting me over, do me a favor. Don’t bother to clean. Let’s just clear a space in the mess, pull up some chairs, order pizza, and talk.

Let the dust bunnies live to see another day.

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*Dedicated to my own dear Dirty House Friends. You are such a blessing to me!