Beware the contents of your garage

April 13, 2014

Lots of folks are emptying out that garage, pulling out last year’s tools to shape up their lawns and doing general cleanup around the house and yard for the spring. Well, maybe at your house, but unfortunately my husband and I are so inept at anything like that, we probably shouldn’t even own a house, which technically the bank would probably agree.

But it is that time of the year when the weather is warm enough to take a walk around the property and see what needs to be repaired, replaced, discarded or in desperation, moved to your neighbor’s side of the property line, naturally under cover of darkness. For some of us, after careful observations, many measurements and scientific consultation, it comes down to just sticking a For Sale sign out front; the winter is never kind to homes.

After a mean season of storms, Mother Nature’s wrath can only mean one thing, calling a repairman. You can forget about all those helpful hints listed in magazines and on the internet. These articles are written by people who don’t own a home that is being held up by duct tape, a couple of rotting beams and an entire family of ants that can trace its heritage back to the Mayflower. If you take a shovel and go two feet down, you more than likely will hit part of the Indian Ocean.

So repairs are going to be humongous. It’s especially bad if you have a repairman who says he wants you to come with him and wags his finger because he has something to show you immediately. I hate that look, that phrase; we know that whatever it is, it must be so hideous it can’t be described but actually has to be viewed in person. I always start a guessing game as we walk to the place that has to be inspected, just hoping to soften the blow. You know, I engage him in telling me stuff like if it’s just an entire wall missing or if it is the back part of the house that’s gone. But it never works.

Now, I grew up in a house where my father fixed everything. It’s not that he had any expertise in this field, since his regular job had nothing to do with home repairs; he just fixed stuff.

We never had a cabinet door hanging off the hinges or a window that refused to shut. We never called a repairman either. If he couldn’t do it, it was always my uncle or another neighbor who would jump at the chance to come over and help; of course his only other alternative was to continue beating the rugs his wife had hung out on the clothesline for him to whack away the dust and debris.

So it’s very difficult to find yourself at the nearest home improvement center, wandering around pretending you know what you are looking for, only to end up locked out on the loading dock. It’s especially painful for us, since the only thing we’ve ever done there is have a key made for the front door.

I invariably get sidetracked with all the new and interesting things on display, especially if it is a ceramic mushroom or one of those gnomes. They are so cute just sitting on the shelf next to the toads with the umbrellas.

I end up hearing the announcement that the store will be closing in five minutes. Not to look stupid, which isn’t easy, believe me, to save face, I usually throw something in my cart that has no place at all in my life, like a sump pump, and then check out.

I tell you, the garage spells nothing but trouble. I haven’t been able to park my car in there since it was built. Things are always out there festering, growing, hiding, mating, piling up and lord knows what else. Garageless is the way to go today.

  • Nancy Katz has a degree in creative writing and is the author of the book, "Notes from the Beach." She has written the column Around Town for the Cape Gazette for twenty years. Her style is satirical and deals with all aspects of living in a resort area on Delmarva.