A to Z Theme 2016

For my 2016 A to Z theme I used a meme that I ran across on the blog of Bridget Straub who first saw it on the blog of Paula Acton. This meme is a natural for me to use on my memoir blog. It's an A to Z concept and it's about me. No research and nothing complicated. I'm given twenty six questions or topics to discuss that are about me.

In April I kept my posts short and uncomplicated. In the midst of it all you might learn a few things about me that you didn't previously know.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

The Garage: Where Stuff Goes to Disappear

Garage Remodel, Scotts Valley, CA
Garage Remodel, Scotts Valley, CA (Photo credit: Judi Oyama)

Only in America......do we  leave cars worth thousands of dollars in the driveway and put our useless junk  in the garage. 
...from an email chain message--source Unknown

        So far we've visited just about every storage place that a house can have, but I've neglected the one that has probably become the most important for most home owning Americans--the garage.  This space that was intended for our vehicles often becomes that catchall for everything that doesn't fit it the house.  If your accumulations are like mine I'm sure your garage is filling up. And I know many folks have far fuller garages than mine.

         The quote the opens this page is intended for humor, but it's kind of funny because of the truth in the words.  Neighborhoods across the United States are dealing with the perplexing problem of having enough parking space for multi-car families who no longer can fit their cars in the garage or driveways that were intended for that purpose.  In neighborhoods like mine street parking is highly coveted and sometimes even fought over.  I know this to be the case throughout the Los Angeles area and I would not be surprised to learn that all countries of the world where people are getting more stuff to fill their homes have this same problem.

         When I was growing up I recall three houses where we lived that had actual garages.  One only had just a driveway and the house where my mother still lives has a sizeable carport.  I don't remember my parents ever using our garages for parking cars.   I guess garage storaging goes back at least 60 years then.  Maybe even from the time garages started appearing as a part of the family home.

Garage Memories

       The garage in our house in Cleveland doesn't play into my memories for the most part.  There was one magical Christmas experience that stands out.  My sister and I had been blessed with another abundant blessing of many presents such as my parents were always prone to shower us with each Christmas morning. On one particular Christmas day when I was probably about six years old, in the lull of the aftermath of being dazzled by all of my new toys, for some reason I looked in the garage to a sight that amazed me.  Santa Claus had left all of the boxes that the toys had originally been packed in and I found them in the garage.  At that moment the toys were forgotten and the cache of boxes became the focus of my attention.  What a find that was!  Any kid loves boxes to play in.

       The garage in our San Diego house is where the washer and dryer were hooked up.  Keeping a car in there seemed somewhat impractical.  There were many things stored around the walls of that garage with the center a clear expanse that I sometimes used as a play area.  One corner of this makeshift play/utility/storage room was piled with boxes, suitcases, and assorted loose items.   I would sometimes build tunnels and rooms using the piled items as building materials.  For a while my sister and I constructed a makeshift clubhouse in that corner.  Thankfully we were never crushed or smothered by all of that stuff collapsing upon us.   I guess I was a pretty good builder.

       In the house where my wife and I currently dwell, we have a garage that threatens storage disaster.  I actually keep my van parked in there but it is surrounded by a tower of stored goods. There are boxes that haven't been opened since we moved there sixteen years ago.  Sure I know the standard rule of discarding items you haven't accessed in x number of years, but I assure you that some of it is worth keeping.  I'm sure I'll use it one day.  At least that's what I keep telling myself.

         Then there are the Christmas decorations.  We're never home during the 2 or 3 weeks around the holidays, but my wife still likes to decorate at Thanksgiving and we'll usually keep the decorations up until February.  I could do without the decorating, but I suppose there could come that day when we are home for the holidays.

         In the months after I lost my job in early 2009 I did get rid of a lot of the garage collection by selling it off on Craig's List.  That went pretty well and kept me in cash for a while.  Now my Craig's List ads are largely ignored as I get to the less desirable items.  Maybe a curbside pick-up will be in order soon since many of the items would probably be unwanted by Goodwill.  But I've got the time.  And I've still got the space.

      Garages make a great place for storage.  You can't see what you've got in there unless you go in there.  It's that old out of sight, out of mind thing.  I think about it, but then again I don't fret over it.  I'll get rid of the stuff eventually.

         Do you have a garage in your home?   Can you park a car in there?   What do you store in your garage?

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  1. This is also very much a UK problem too. We have a large garage full of freezers, tools, stuff I have scavenged from skips and a multitude of things I keep just in case one day I might just use it.

    Although we are lucky enough to own a fairly large rambling house (also full of stuff) UK houses are quite often rather small (particularly new builds) and a garage is often seen as a way to extend the house and get a bit more space.

  2. Ours never got that full as a kid. We had a half basement and an attic for that. Tool-related, bike related, and sports related items were the gist of the garage, and could easily be kept in storage cabinets, along the walls, or down the middle. Garage floor also made awesome chair-hockey rink.

  3. I had (and lost) an amazing house with a 2 car garage, back in WA. Somehow it became our catch all dumping ground, although we did fit both our cars in it. I would finally get sick of the clutter and towers of crap and clean it out every few years and it would always look great. I did discard a lot when I moved east though, and my ex left almost everything when he moved out to an apt. So the new owner not only got an amazing deal on the purchase price but he got tons and tons of yard/garden items and tools.

  4. We have a garage and we do park our car in there. It's efficiently packed with shelving, a cube box to hold tools, Christmas decorations, plant miscellaneous, and bins stacked on the sides. There's also a small pantry.

    We've re-organized it a couple of times and took junk to the dump, gave away many books and excess items. We were very good at reducing after downsizing our space.

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  6. I've never lived in a house with a garage, but until I turned it into my office, my daughter's old room had pretty much turned into one.

  7. Every month we resolve that we are going to clean out the garage. We take some trunk loads to Good Will, but I don't think we are making a dent.

  8. Rob -- I suspected you might have the same garage problem and I'm sure it's a worldwide problem wherever there is some amount of affluence. I guess it's just human nature to amass goods and need a place to keep them.

    CW -- I think my generation has more than our parents had. I have a feeling that some of this could change in the future if we become a less affluent society with greater transience.

    JoJo -- I hope you got enough for the house to pay for the goods, but usually this isn't what happens.

    DG -I'm fortunate to have good shelving in my garage, but some stuff has overflown on to tables and into stacks of boxes. I think I'll be tackling that first layer in the coming week.

    Kelly -- We store a lot of stuff in our kids' old bedrooms, but they can still be used as guestrooms after we shuffle stuff around.

    Susan -- Funny how that works. We get rid of stuff but then it looks the same. Another garage clean-up or at least rearrangement is in the works for us.


  9. My hubby gets to park his car in the garage. Its a tiny one, too. Don't know what the builder was thinking.

    Hugs and chocolate,

  10. I recall many years ago when my second son was just out of his pram and proceeded to go out in a pushchair, We put the big pram in the garage and when my daughter was born we got the pram from the garage to clean it up ready for her use. Unfortunately for us we had to buy a new one as there were layers of baby mice in the pram....I ran as fast as fast as posible and left hubby to dispose of the mice, hence to say we never left anything in the garage again except the car.

  11. We don't have a garage. If we did, we make sure it was for a car and not excess junk. I've got too much junk in the house already.

  12. We have a carport (unenclosed) vs a garage (enclosed) and surprisingly perhaps we always keep our cars in them! When we moved to this townhouse 16 Yeard ago I thought we'd never fill the cupboards which ate now full to bursting! We also have a small storage space off the carport. Downsizing/cleaning up and donating are part of legalfeatures nut need to happen more often and be mire ruthless.

  13. How about "part of life" and "more" though it can also be a mire!

  14. We have a two car which holds both our cars and the usual assortment of garage type items (bicycles,
    lawnmower, misc. yard equipment), if we arrange things carefully. My son has a single car garage and a large free-standing shed. I know he stores the bikes, mower, and yard equipment in the shed but he has never put either of their cars in the garage. He said it's full. I have no idea what he stores in there. I'm afraid to ask.

  15. Shelly -- Our garage would be very tight for 2 cars I think, but our minivan fits along with the junk that's stored in there.

    Yvonne -- What a disturbing find! I haven't seen any mice in ours yet and hope I don't.

    Susanne- But when the house no longer can hold all the junk the garage seems like the natural place for it all to overflow.

    Pauline -- Carports are good because they are not conducive to storage use. My mother does have some gardening type things in the carport, but there is still room for 2 vehicles.

    LD -- If it's like the stuff in my garage it's probably stuff that I don't really need to keep.



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