More Dogs on Main
July 29, 2011
I have not been able to find any official statistics on this, but I’m pretty sure that I now hold the most expensive roll of toilet paper in the world.
I was loading up on dog food, and the store had a great price on some big packages of paper goods. When you live as far from the grocery store as I do, it makes sense to have a bit of a stock on hand, and buying a big package when it’s on sale makes sense.
Besides, with all the mess in Washington, things could get rough. If we learned anything from the Soviet Union all those years ago, it’s that when the going gets tough, the tough hoard toilet paper. The Tea Party refusniks may collapse the world’s economy this weekend, but at least I will have a case of Charmin on hand.
When I hauled my warehouse load of t.p. into the house, the immediate response was, "What was I thinking?" My house is quite small, and completely crammed full of stuff. There is no place to stack cartons of on-sale paper goods. Maybe if I put the coffee table out on the deck, and used the carton of Charmin instead, I could put some of it in the house. But it wasn’t all going to fit without some kind of hydraulic compactor.
The only obvious solution was a remodel of the garage. Storage options at my house sort of break into three categories. There is inside, mouse proof, and warm. Then there is the attached garage, which is basically mouse free, and while not actually heated, it’s a lot warmer than just outside. The detached garage and tractor barn are lousy with mice, unheated, and require shoes in the winter. Over time, things seem to migrate into the heated rodent-free zones, whether they need to be there or not. The t.p. probably needs the inside storage. The table saw probably could be outside. I just needed a little re-organization.
I have friends whose garages are as clean as surgical suites, and organized with a level of precision that indicates some metal-health issues. But if they need a 7/16th socket wrench, they can find it blindfolded. That would not describe my garage. My garage is organized on a more tornadic system, and depends on divine intervention to find anything.
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For the first time in 21 years, I got the detached garage fully emptied out. God knows how many mice were dispossessed in the process, but there had been a thriving colony living in some old tires. Feral cats arrived by charter bus to take advantage of the situation.
All the boxes of miscellaneous hardware, stuff that is too good to throw out, but too disorganized to ever actually get used, were full of mouse droppings and nests. That made the decision to "store" them in the Dumpster a lot easier. The place was disgusting, and for a moment there I actually debated the merits of setting it on fire as opposed to mucking it out.
But it’s cleaned out now, and I can actually fit two vehicles in there. I’ve spent a fortune on shelving and plastic storage containers so that stuff can be put out there in what I hope will be a state of mouse-proof bliss. A little tool shed got added to the side. So things are getting sorted and the junk thrown away. There are separate plastic containers for parts for each of the tractors. The tools are all in one place with an actual workbench handy. There’s a big, shallow plastic bin that holds the grease guns so they don’t leak all over everything else. Power tools in one place, hand tools in another. The chain saw has a shelf of its own. It’s an amazing piece of organization.
With all that organization in the garage, plus the addition of the tool shed, it freed up space in the house for the cartons of paper goods. So after only a month’s work and $1,500 spent on the garage, I have saved about a nickel a roll on a case of toilet paper.
Of course the other day I needed to replace a little cotter pin on one of the tractors. I had a whole box of assorted cotter pins. And that would be on a new shelf in a container with some other stuff. Maybe this one, or that one. After an hour of searching, I ended up replacing it with a little piece of wire I found in the glove box of the truck. But wherever the box of cotter pins might be, it is in a mouse-proof container. There’s some satisfaction in that, even if I never find it again.
Tom Clyde practiced law in Park City for many years. He lives on a working ranch in Woodland and has been writing this column for 25 years.