Some might call the lower area that runs the length of our ranch-style house a basement or storage area. But to us, it’s the “back room,” the scourge of our existence — a place we shoved everything into when we built our house 28 years ago.

We thought the stockpile would be temporary, but time flies when you procrastinate. Almost three decades later, the junk in the back room multiplied, becoming a problem we refused to face.

Time Was Right

The impetus to spur us on — initially my bright idea —came about for two reasons. First, the area was so junky the grandkids couldn’t get to the air hockey table, plus Christmas was coming and we didn’t have a square foot of space to put the decorations we had to unpack from the shelves.

I turned manic, making a strong suggestion to the man of the house that we not wait another minute to get started. His lip curled in displeasure.

Then I did a smart thing. I started pitching while he was pitching and putting on the golf course, assuring him with a goodbye wave that I wouldn’t donate or toss any of his cherished keepsakes — like the golf bags he can’t part with that lean on each other for support, or the 800 logo balls he has stored in boxes, or the freebies he gets when he plays in charity golf events.

Very Productive

In the time he’d played 18 holes, I’d carted four van loads away, knickknacks and lampshades, one of three electric skillets, and old toys our grandkids used to play with, even wooden puzzles I’d picked up in Germany. I felt like I was leaving my arm behind when I drove away from Goodwill, having left stuff in bins curbside.

But when I got home I felt like I could breathe easier when I walked into the back room. I’d cleared some space, and seeing the light spurred me on — that and realizing how grateful our daughters would be knowing they wouldn’t have to deal with the detritus when we kicked off.

That’s what I told Spark when he got home, and wonder of wonders he jumped on my bandwagon.

Our nemesis in the back room had always been cans of old paint and aerosol items we knew we couldn’t take to our local dump. Lucky for us we discovered a recycling company in Eureka that takes paint, preferring to have it with the lids intack.

Cash Well Spent

They charge you per pound to get rid of it immediately — so you don’t have to wait for ages to be rewarded, the motivation you’ve generated for a project threatened while you wait for cat litter to dry up the paint so you can pitch it a can at a time. A total of 216 pounds of canned paint left our abode, and we stood in wonder looking at three shelves where we could store things we wanted —and needed. It felt miraculous.

After days of working we had a bit of a downer over the weekend though. We only had a brief time to enjoy seeing our back room being organized, because on Sunday we unpacked the Christmas decorations.

Initially that was a bitter pill to swallow, but I recovered when I saw our two youngest granddaughters having fun playing air hockey on a table they didn’t know even existed. It also was awesome to have worked work side by side with Spark on a project we honestly didn’t think we’d ever undertake. And we did so with only one screaming match.

The disagreement was well worth the hard work and time involved. All that’s left to declutter is Spark’s workbench, which can be added to his New Year’s resolutions. I can help him with those — bright ideas are my forte.

Postscript — Spark did remind me on reading this article that 800 golf balls doesn’t take up near as much space as the 800-plus books in the back room.