Friday, July 31, 2015

The Nuts and Bolts of a KonMari Garage Purge

Our housing history, storage-wise:
  1. 2 bedroom, 1.5 bath townhouse with no garage and a small storage shed
  2. 1 bedroom, 1 bath apartment, with carport and a storage area
  3. 2 bedroom, 1 bath duplex with a 1 car garage
  4. 3 bedroom, 2 bath two-story house with loft, carport and a storage shed
  5. 3 bedroom, 2 bath house with 2 car garage and a large storage space
  6. 2 bedroom, 1 bath house with den, 1 car garage, large attic space and large outbuilding
  7. 2 bedroom, 1 bath house with den, 1 car garage, small attic space, garden shed and 2 outbuildings
Our issues began at house #5 with the 2 car garage - that's where I'm putting all the blame. It was there we purchased some sturdy garage shelves from Costco, which gave us the illusion of being in control. We put stuff in boxes and bins, with labels like Garage Stuff, Stuff to Sort, Icky Stuff. We stacked, we piled, we crammed, we hid, we did what people do to make it possible to park the car in the garage and feel like civilized members of society. It stayed like that through the next few moves, until I decided no more: the charade is over, we have too much stuff, and having to wear a helmet in one's own garage as a protection from falling debris is no way to live.

We already had one garage sale this spring, for all the stuff we purged by applying The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up to our living quarters. It was time to use the same method in our garage full of camping stuff, car stuff, tool-type stuff, sports stuff and all the other grimy categories in that Scary Place Where the Car is Parked. 

But where to start? Nothing looked fun. Or easy. Or lightweight. It was all covered with dryer lint and/or grease. It was all heavy or bulky or ugly or all of the above, which was why it was in the garage in the first place. The garage was hot, I was discouraged, we had company and it was a really bad time to start a garage purge. But really, is there ever a good time to start a garage purge? Now I know the answer to that question is YES. And that would be when you don't have guests. When the temperature is below 70 degrees. When you're able to go for a few days not resembling a human being.

But since I was chomping at the drill bit to get started, Ernst suggested I gather all the screwdrivers together so he could sort through them and see which ones "sparked joy" for him. And this is what happened.

I ever so nicely gathered our screwdrivers and laid them out in a beautiful array on the back patio and allowed my wonderful husband of 24 years to go through them without any pressure whatsoever to get rid of any of them while I sat inside and admired my gorgeous manicure.


I found what seemed like hundreds of screwdrivers, all over the place, everywhere I looked, all types, all kinds, all sorts, shapes, sizes, colors, ends, handles and lengths and I thought I would scream if I found another screwdriver and then I would find ten more and then I said I would flip out if I found another one and then I would find 15 more. I became the Shrew Driver. I was hot and bothered and grimy and mad and overwhelmed and once I was done I slammed them all down on the poor table on the back patio and made very clear we only have four hands between us, we are not octopuses running a busy auto repair shop and WE DON'T NEED ALL THESE BLASTED SCREWDRIVERS! Ernst kept the ones that sparked joy. He decided to keep me too, which is a miracle.

After we got that category out of our system, the garage purge went well.

Flat heads that the hot head collected.

Is a pair of pliers just a wrench with an attitude?

The David and Goliath of the wrench world.

We hammered out the hammer situation.

Sockets in Metric and Stupid sizes. In square and hexagonal. That's a lot of sockets.

We had a bit of bits.

And a bit more bits.

After keeping to the category method, it became clear we needed to just clear off those sturdy Costco shelves and get serious about this garage purge. It was time to pull every last grimy thing out of our garage onto the back patio and go through it all, item by item. Why the back patio? Because the driveway by this time was about 115 degrees, and we do have a shred of dignity to preserve. The back patio gave us the luxury of shade and the opportunity to do this right, once and for all time. When it was really hot, I put a painting tarp down inside, brought in the tool boxes and sorted every last screw, nut and bolt we owned. My hands were covered in grime, every joint in my body ached and I was so incredibly happy to finally get this done. 

Ugh. Ugh. Triple digit Ugh.

I believe I unearthed the microphone used by FDR in his fireside chats. 

What's s a blog post about a garage purge without some Before and After photos?

Before. The Scary Corner of Doom and Despair

After. Canning, Camping and Wine Making stuff. JOY!

Before. Boxes of stuff, that's my best guess.

After. Camping and Car Stuff. And empty space. Yipee!

Before. There may possibly be a shelf under there, but I'm not sure.

After. Painting supplies in the cupboards and I think that empty spot is called a work bench. 

We have one more category to go through, the stuff left from doing 30 years of volunteer sound installation for RBC. Then the garage is done! It is currently full of stuff for our second garage sale of the season. There will be a few screwdrivers for sale, but I can't image why.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

A Fair Afternoon

Where else can you

Pet a sturgeon
See award winning artwork
Talk to beer and wine making experts
See gerbera daisies growing in all colors of the rainbow
Pay $3 for a slice of watermelon
Get soaking wet on a log ride for $2
Ask a SMUD lineman what his scariest moment was on the job
Ask a Master Gardener from UC Davis Extension what to do about your Mexican Feather Grass
Try to not jump up and down like a crazy woman when you see your plum jelly got second prize in the fruit jelly division

That's right, we spent Tuesday afternoon and evening at the California State Fair. I love the fair. I love the charming counties exhibits, because it reminds me of being there with my parents. In fact, the older I get, the more I love the counties exhibits and wished I hadn't whined so much as a kid when my Dad wanted to linger at them. I feel such a strong connection to my Mom and Dad there, they were confirmed fair goers just as we are. I love walking the grounds they walked together, knowing how much they enjoyed each other's company.

I love the clashing colors and the smells and the tired kids and the happy kids and the smelly animals and the tired parents hauling around giant stuffed animals they won for their tired kids. What was my favorite part of this year's fair? Hmm, let's see, what could it be? The sticky cotton candy? Nope, hate the stuff. Bacon covered chocolate churros? Ugh! My favorite moment was seeing that second place ribbon on my plum jelly in that vast array of canned goods. Their judging policy is quite loose, like a soccer team that gives you a trophy for just showing up. If your jam was incredible, you got first place. Super yummy, second. Great, third. If it had bubbles and was cloudy, you got diddly-squat. I know Ernst was very happy I didn't get third or diddly-squat. It was his idea to enter my jelly, he did all the paperwork and dropped it off. If he had had to walk around the fair with a whiny wife who didn't get a good prize, he would only have himself to blame. 

We didn't get the pork chop on a stick...

...or the deep fried cheese curds...

...we got the watermelon and the fruit, which you really have to search for.

I love the fair!

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Sacramento Summer Survival Strategies

Summer came late, and for that we are grateful. Like a fashionably tardy guest, it gave us some breathing room before it became too hot to breathe. But summer is here for reals now. No more messing around, we've had a few scorchers. What to do when the temps go up? Here are just a few survival strategies.

Sit on the front porch, drink a beer and sort out your rags. It will make the neighbors feel so much better about their own lives. 
Decide you probably won't ever need another rag in your life. Ever.

Live on salads. There is no heat involved, and very little thinking.

Roll in the dirt, it has a cooling effect.

See above.

Make smoothie bowls. Plunk your face in until you feel better.

Make plum wine. See above.

Crank up the AC, make a quilt and pretend it's December.

Go horseback riding on the beach. Thank the horse, of course.

Go to Lake Tahoe. In skirts. And have a rock throwing contest. In skirts.

When you're in a pickle or a jam, make some jelly.

Put your feet up really high, they're tired of feeling stepped on.

Organize your tee shirts. Fold them the Duh Way. 

Dish towels. The Duh Way.

Then wash them and let them dry in a Sacramento Summer Second.

Revamp your printer area. 

Realize you probably don't need so much paper in your life. 

Find a nice cool place to lie down. Dream of rain. Autumn will be here soon.

Saturday, June 20, 2015

KonMari Love Notes

My husband KonMari-ed his clothes, and we both lived through the experience!

Using the methods from Marie Kondo's book The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up, he went through every single piece of clothing he had, from socks and shirts to pants and pullovers. He only kept the items that spark joy. I'm trying really hard to find the joy sparking in some of the items in the Keep Pile. But there are so many items in the Toss Pile, it is clouding my tendency to complain. HE GOT RID OF SO MUCH STUFF! It's like our house went on a really successful diet, and is all ready for swimsuit season. It's prancing around now, looking all skinny and cute, not missing the pudge one little bit. (That is one common complaint about Marie Kondo, that she anthropomorphises household stuff, but I do too, so I completely get saying goodbye to inanimate objects.)

Did I have to nag and throw hissy fits to get Ernst to do this? Me nag? What exactly IS a hissy fit, anyway? All I did was put every single piece of clothing he had, from socks and shirts to pants and pullovers, in the guest room and then he sort of had to sort thru it. It was planned, really it was. He picked the day, I picked the way. It was a success and I am one hissy-fit-free woman.

He is a man of many hats.
What can I say? Please, give me something to say.

And turtlenecks, the guy could outfit an entire turtle farm if need be.

He kept what he loved...

...and tossed multiple IKEA bags of things he didn't love.

And he found his eclipse googles. Yes, my dearest has goggles for viewing solar eclipses. 
Except he can't find the dark lenses that go in them.
Until then he is forced to just look at his incredibly clean closet and his wife who never ever nags. 

Monday, June 8, 2015

Iț Țuica Țeason!

According to my blog archives, a year ago, almost to the day, we (Ernst) began making plum brandy for the first time. And according to the blog posts, I was really sick with some sort of summer cold/flu thing. I don't remember that at all, but I do remember the booze making process. It's stained into my consciousness. But unlike last year's plum harvest of "bottling up the whines" I know what to expect this time.
  • A very neat and tidy process that Ernst administers like a grand science experiment, with beakers and bottles and vats and bubbling concoctions of purple glop. It's interesting, and I hardly have to lift a finger.
  • A dog who likes her liquor. She got into the orange cider this winter twice, with burps and hiccups to prove it. We must keep lids on the brew, not to keep the pests out but to keep the pet out.
  • Floor space taken up with plastic buckets and big glass bottles that make noise from air bubble contraptions on top. Making booze is noisy business - the stuff is alive.
  • The results are homemade alcohol, lots of it. Our Moldovan friends proclaimed our plum brandy (pronounced tsooeeka in Romanian) a success. They poured it into a metal spoon, lit it on fire and oohed and aahed over the color of the flame. I just know it felt like liquid fire going down and had a very high alcohol content. The plums have power.
Here we go again, our plum harvest is in full swing. There is even enough extra plum juice to make some jelly. If you stop by, prepare to be offered something purple, it may or may not make you burp and hiccup.

The plum tree is loaded this year. We are in a war with the squirrels.
We intend to win.

Our sour plum tree is producing sweeter plums this year than the regular plum tree.
It's so confusing, we hardly can keep them straight. 

Large stainless steel vats are taking over the house.
We need to create a booze making storage area in the garage.

Plum is the new black.

He is "super proofing" this, or something like that.
I don't have my terminology down.
He said don't drink it.
Oh, I won't.

I again bring up the garage storage area that's needed.

After we bottle it, we wait.
Plum brandy cannot be rushed.

Will it turn out?
Will the Moldovans approve?
Will the dog deem it burp-worthy?
We shall țee.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

My Sew Called Hobby Room

In my quest to clear the clutter, remove the rubbish and trash the trash, I couldn't leave out my sewing set-up. After we got rid of our bed, moved the guest room bed into our room, put a futon in the guest room and I cleaned out my clothes closet, the room was blissfully clean and clear. In fact, you could hear a pin drop, which reminded me I hadn't cleared out my sewing stuff.

Up until now, if I had a small project, I would stay in the guest room/sewing room to work on it. I used a vintage (read old and ugly) table that had a wobbly top and drawers that stuck. It was very annoying, but it held all my stuff, making it appear that I was nice and organized. Except when I tried to open one of the drawers and a pair of scissors or other sharp instrument would jam up the works. Then it was time to stick my entire arm up to the elbow inside the drawer and try to get the log jam unjammed. I'm fortunate to have all ten fingers left. Time to clear out the mess for good!

Here is the sewing table, looking all innocent and helpful.

Here it is with the nifty organizer on top.
Otherwise known as the Plastic Contraption of Extreme Messiness.

This is one of the drawers.
One of the better organized ones.

There was no other choice but to dump the whole mess onto the new futon.
Which I covered, because it's new and still on the credit card statement.

I have no idea what all this is.
None of it sparks joy, but I'm too afraid to get rid of it.
It stayed.

You can't sew without some cutting instruments, and these are my favorites.
The ones that don't cut worth beans got relegated to the garage sale.

Seam ripper seems like such a harsh word.
But a must is a must.

While it was probably unnecessary to label them BUTTONS, I did, because it made me feel so orderly.
These are all the buttons in our life.
Bye bye buttons from all the clothes long gone, you lasted longer than the clothes.

My super fancy row markers for my rag quilts.
Only the best, that's what I always say.
The numerous poke marks represent to me all the quilts they have kept in order.
Poke marks mean quilts out the door, which means profits.
Profits spark joy.

Can't crochet without these, they stayed.

Quilts without templates are not very squared up.
My well-used templates are in for the long run.

Once I organized everything, I put it all in a pretty floral box, and there it stays. The sewing machine is in the closet, and I'm figuring out what to do next. Either get a new table (I'm eyeing a super cool one at IKEA that would be very flexible) or just keep things they way they are and sew on the kitchen table or the back patio in nice weather. I love the freedom of choosing, and the sticking drawers that annoyed me are gone and out of here. I forgot I had an extra sewing machine in the attic (!) and I got a good price at the garage sale. A lot of the other sewing stuff sold, and what didn't got hauled off to Goodwill.

Miss Sticky Drawers was mortified to end up in the free pile.
No one took her, so she too got hauled away to Goodwill.
I did not shed a tear...

...because I've got some very important projects to concentrate on.