Housework is a treadmill from futility to oblivion with stop-offs at tedium and counter-productivity. --Erma Bombeck

This is not an exaggeration.

Not Erma Bombeck's statement about housework, although I feel that was right-on-the-mark as well, but rather what I'm going to tell you.

I repeat: this is not an exaggeration. (I felt I must repeat the disclaimer because, as you may have figured out, I can be prone to exaggerate. But you came here to read a story, right?)

Now that I've digressed again, I'm going to repeat it once more for impact: I am not exaggerating.

You could eat off
my mother's garage floor.*

True. Call any of my siblings to verify.

(*I feel I should back up this claim with a few facts. [1] Her garage floor is painted. [2] They mop it a lot. [3] The car is parked on a rubber mat off to one side and therefore never touches the garage floor.)

Now that our garage sale should be just a memory . . . I had an email from my sister asking if everything is cleaned up and the garage is parkable again.

Sadly, no.

About half-of-the-half of the stuff we didn't sell is still there waiting for me to do something about it. The other half is already boxed and ready for a trip to Goodwill.

But what is unbelievable (not to mention shameful) is that after all the junk people carted out of here last weekend,

I'm having a hard time getting motivated to finish the job. Perhaps if there were something more exciting than a parking space waiting at the other end . . .

My mother tried to explain to me one day that "the garage is an extension of the house and therefore a housekeeper should keep it just like she does her house" (which actually explained some things about my kitchen floor, but I didn't feel like my mother would understand that so I kept it to myself).

But perhaps I should listen to her wisdom more often.

For instance, I really enjoy decorating my house (which could account for the over-accumulation of stuff) -- maybe I could direct my design attention to the garage and make it a hobby.

A good example of how a plain looking garage door can be treated for eye appeal.

Hannah recently pointed out some swell ideas for applying decorative skills to the garage when she was perusing my stack of old "Popular Mechanics" magazines.

"Nested" paneling applied to daring Chinese-red door carries out striking modern design of this swank garage.

Nine "picture frames" add the final decorative touch to this plain one-piece, upward acting garage door.

Two vertical groupings of bevel-edge blocks provide another simple and attractive garage door treatment.

Frames within frames applied vertically provide an effective treatment for decorating any garage door.

The directions look simple enough, don't you think? What more instruction would I need?

I could also transform our plain shutters to match, since I sold my collection of decorative shutters at the garage sale and need to start my collection again from scratch . . .

I can only imagine what our 3-car-garage doors would look like covered in enormous random polka-dots.

I think I'd better check my homeowner's covenants. My neighbors may prefer looking at our rag-tag car collection to the
Susan Hinckley-izing of our home exterior.

One of my favorite children's stories is by
the extraordinary Leo Lionni

and is titled "The Biggest House in the World."

I hope you're familiar with it -- if you're not, stop by the library and pick up a copy because it is a fable so appropriate to the
age we live in (or at least the house I live in).

In the story, a little snail is fantasizing about how he'd like his shell to become "the biggest house in the world", complete with all kinds of fancy details and additions.

His father convinces him that this would be unwise, because the snail would be unable to carry such a monstrosity, and if he couldn't move he would eventually wither and die.

The moral of the story is,

Keep your house light
and easy to carry.

I've read that story a hundred times, but I couldn't find our copy today because it's buried somewhere in the storage room, behind a door we don't really dare open for fear of possible disaster.

I'm not proud of any of this, I'm just putting it out there.

You know, see if I'm alone in the universe . . . maybe feel better about myself until I get at least one of our cars pulled back in the garage.

I think we may have a problem that no amount of decoration or design can fix.

And I obviously can't
blame my mother. She
raised me better.

Don't you hate
when that happens?

(Note: I have realized that a professional illustrator's rendition of your parents can come in quite handy when illustrating your self-absorbed blog. I'd recommend everybody get one.)


VO said...

Your mother and my mother would have gotten along just fine. I still remember being on my hands and knees with a butter knife scraping itty, bitty, teeny-weeny motes of dust where the baseboards meet the floor in the kitchen.

I must have been traumatized because I still remember it.

My garage (a teeny 1 car) has a....ahem, decorative crackle finish on it. It's an altered door. It's been altered by 90 years of survival in the So. Cal heat.

That's my story and I'm sticking with it.

Allie said...

Hey, I've been on that treadmill - and now I'm off. Waaaaaay off. Loved the remark about your kitchen floor. Ours has been so dirty at times I've threatened to grow radishes on it. [When my back goes out and I'm confined to bed, all heck breaks loose around here]. I'll have to look for that book, I would LOVE to live light - but I'm married to a class one hoarder.

susan m hinckley said...

VO -- the ridiculousness of that scraping with a butter knife job reminds me that my brother had to rake the snow. Because we had trees that would drop berries on it and that made the yard look messy. You're right -- I have a feeling we could swap some stories.

Allie -- thanks for my laugh out loud for the day. I may go plant some radishes right now.

Daryl said...

We must have had the same mother. You can eat off of my mother's garage floor too. And my two car garage is totally out of control, our four cars sit hodge podge in the driveway.

VO said...

OMG, raking snow? Bwhahahahaha.

Allie, OMG, I think that green thing I plucked from my kitchen floor was a radish sprout. And here I was thinking it was just a thread.

Amelia and Justin said...

Susan, you left out the fact that he had to rake the snow with a BROKEN ARM because she didn't believe him...

I think things like clean garages skip a generation. You didn't like how clean your parents garage was, so you didn't need to have yours as clean...maybe your children will have really clean ones? I'd like to think that my future garage will be clean enough that I can park my cars in it - but I don't have too much hope.

susan m hinckley said...

Amelia, if the "skip a generation" theory is correct, then you are the clean generation! How's that going? No pressure, but I'm coming to your house next time I'm in town for some scientific research . . .

I'm not sure whether or not Steve had a broken arm. I thought he was younger than that when his arm was broken (and my mom made him wait until she was finished teaching piano lessons before she would take him to the hospital). But it does make a charming detail for the story, so let's keep it in.

While we're at it, have I told you how many miles we used to have to walk to school everyday? In the winter?! You may think I'm kidding, but I'm not. And it was worse for your mom, because she used to do it at about 5am. Just ask -- I'm sure she'll tell you.

Family stories are the best.

VO said...

Yes, keep the broken arm. By any chance was he barefoot because he might have tracked snow into the house?

Living in S.Cal we had to walk hip deep in sunshine to get to school. Grueling.

abi said...

hahaha hohoohohoho heeeehheeeehehee
had to laugh at all the comments. and really, how did you get a digital copy of that illustration of g&g? i love it! hilarious.

susan m hinckley said...

The wonders of the scanner, Abi . . . they have not yet figured out that anything they send me (i.e. notecard with picture of themselves) will likely get scanned and posted, especially if it's something as great (and useful) as that illustration!

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