The Great Shed Project 2007

Last weekend I decided I’d better do something about organising the shed.

Well, to be accurate, I opened the doors of the shed to get the rake.  The rake handle was just reachable if I leaned in over the clushed.jpgtter, but in that awkward, out-of-balance posture, it was not possible to extract it from the crevice in which it sat.  The tines could not be released from their hidden trap no matter how much upward force I applied, no matter how much sideways leverage I applied to the rake handle, indeed no matter how often I lashed out with my heel at the various bits of collapsible garden furniture that seemed to be part of the problem.  It was after the intense simultaneous application of all three of these techniques, and after some half heard snatches of urgency from over the neighbour’s fence along the lines of “Get the children inside…Now”, that I decided I’d better do something about organising the shed. 

It was a spur of the moment decision really.  I placed my fingers on my wrist and waited just enough time for my pulse rate to drop to a manageable level before I began. 

First to come out were the folding aluminium garden chairs.  I flung them as far as I could to ensure enough room on the lawn for the heavier items to come.  Next came a table, which didn’t have the same inherent flingability as the chairs, but responded satisfyingly to a good heave-ho in any case. 

A wobbly piece of Ikea metal shelving by the name of Igor or somesuch completed the first ninety degrees of an elegantly traced arc when it was bought up short by a coil of fraying white polyester rope. The kind that is normally useless for tying anything, but apparently good at jagging into sheet metal corners.  I seized the rope with both hands and heaved, bringing an assortment of garden implements (including the now freed rake) through the door in a faultless display of close formation flying and with a nylon tent-bag, the source of the polyester guy rope, trailing along behind. 

In this frenzy of organisational achievement I had forgotten about Igor, who lay on the ground slightly to the right and behind.  Igor was responsible for my feet being accidentally shifted from beneath my centre of balance, but the resultant upending was a blessing-in-disguise because in regaining verticality, I noticed, amongst the recently created clearing in the shed, my favourite bike pump.  

I tell you.  This bike pump is a beauty.  Smooth and consistent action, excellent pressure characteristics, and most importantly that little tube thing that connects it to the bike’s air valve.  Joy oh Joy. Now with any luck I’d find the bike. 

In any entanglement of objects there’s a critical mass. At first the job of disentanglement seems almost impossible. The myriad of interconnections are mind-numbing in their complexity. The job gets harder, as the untangler tries to keep all of the twists and turns in their mind, and the knots get knottier as the core of the problem is approached. Inevitably though, for those who persist, a tipping point is reached.  The job starts to get easier until it all is suddenly freed with a few deft twists and turns.

And so it was with me and my project. With sheer determination and truly Australian levels of ingenuity, I removed from the shed all of the contents that were not already fastened to something. 

Regretfully, the bike was not in there, but what was there, to general amazement and delight, was space.  Space on the walls for hanging things, for installing shelving, for organising things in an optimal manner. Space also on the floor where one could place one’s feet to reach those things that might one day be hanging on the walls or placed on shelves. The possibilities were amazing.  A new vista had opened up for me. I felt like an artist with a blank canvas. I felt like a Japanese interior designer contemplating the Zen of minimalism.  Before me lay choice. Free choice. Workchoice.

Then some sixth sense kicked in.  Perhaps it was the angle of the sun. Whatever it was I looked at my watch.  It was already 4:00pm. Certainly well past afternoon tea-time.

“Bloody hell” I thought, as my raging imagination grappled with the responsibilities that lay ahead. I’d firstly have to find the measuring tape amongst the pile on the lawn.  Then write down the dimensions of the various lengths of plank needed to create the envisaged shelving. Then jump in the car and fly off to Bunnings, allowing enough time to gather the materials, and also to walk the aisles collecting an armful of things that just might come in handy one day.  There simply wasn’t enough time.  I was going to run out of daylight, unless I also added installation of an external floodlight to my ‘to do’ list.

I can now appreciate how Brendan Nelson feels whenever the Defence Department begins a new acquisition project. Before long there’s all sorts of expensive complications that simply were not apparent when you started. 

I remained calm.  I walked inside, set the kettle going, waited patiently for it to boil, and poured it into the teapot to steep.  My course was of action became clear. 

Stepping outside again I gathered up the items from the lawn and carefully began returning them to the shed. Orderly and neatly.  Starting from the back I laid the items into the shed and worked methodocally forward. Then I started upon the second layer, then the third. Several items were inserted carefully into the interstices within the lattice that was forming, to improve its inherent stability, and the rake this time, was plunged handle first into the core of the pile for easy extraction at some future time. The final few items were balanced on top, the door slammed shut and the bolt rammed home. 

As dusk settled in, I sat on the back porch looking at the shed. Peaceful. Contemplative. The playful laughter of the neighbours kiddies, thankfully still locked away inside their house, could barely be heard. The belatedly enjoyed cup of tea, steaming in the Autumn air, a divine nectar.  A deserved reward for a job well done. 

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Francis X Holden
17 years ago

John Howard’s strategy to a t.

Except it involves a bit more scaring of the neighbours kids and then a bit more boasting when you’ve finished.

17 years ago

Your shed. My spare room.