I spent the weekend down at my father-in-law’s house emptying about twenty years of stuff out of his garage. We rented a 20 cubic yard dumpster, which looks very big in the driveway, but fills up very fast. I drove down solo on Saturday morning while Jen was working and waded in to the debris, first finding a way to grease up the wheels on the garage door and get it raised out of the way. Then I started moving things around and working with him on what to keep and what to throw away.

It’s been a delicate balance. I’m not there to just empty the space out, so I had him stand with me for as much as possible and give the thumbs-up/down on all of the major items. There were a lot of things he’d forgotten were in there, including two lawnmowers he didn’t recognize, and overall he was happy to see most of it leave. It was fun to find something obviously important, walk it over to him, and see his face light up with recognition.

While I worked, I consolidated a bunch of different things—tools scattered throughout the garage all got collected on the workbench and later sorted into shelves out of the way. Military gear was assembled and stored safely in two new plastic bins. Important papers were gathered in one place. All of the toys and children’s books were set aside and later stored in a cabinet up off the floor and out of the way. All of the electric tools were tested and tossed if they weren’t functional. We got rid of a lot of ancient technology: both lawnmowers, two CRT televisions, and two weed whackers—one big enough to warrant handlebars and a support strap. Heirlooms like family chairs and sleds got hung on the wall, up and out of the way. By the end of the day I had most of the left bay clear and the car uncovered. I got some dinner, took a long hot shower at the hotel, and got a terrible night’s sleep (mostly climate-control related).

Sunday morning I brought Bob a chocolate donut, finished my coffee, and got back at it. By noon I had the far side clear, all of the boxes stored away, and the inside of the car cleared out. Jen and Bob started chipping ice from the ancient freezer by the back door, depositing about ten gallons of ice on the side lawn to melt. When it was empty I manhandled it out into the back of the dumpster and pulled the door off. After that it was mainly cleaning up after ourselves and finding places to store stuff until we get some shelving to help organize.

I took a little time in the afternoon to find the hood release on the Chrysler and pulled it open to find a dirty but mostly intact 440 with a single-barrel carb and no alternator. Talking it over with him, he agreed to let me try and get it running again, so I’ve got a shopping list for future visits and a plan for how to get started. And luckily I found a working set of door and ignition keys to make the job a little easier.

By the end of the night I was a sore, tired mess. The dumpster is full and will be hauled away tomorrow. The door (mostly) goes up and down by itself, and I’ve got the broken part in my toolbag to source some replacements. Most importantly, we’ve got more room to move and store things as we help him sort out his house.

Date posted: May 9, 2022 | Filed under family | Leave a Comment »

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