Loren Else’s garage may not be Kondo clean, but its assortment of family relics sparks joy for him.

My wife is a “yogi.” She takes a couple of yoga classes every week and this time has become important to her.

She believes each session strengthens her core, helps with breathing, and aids in balance in more ways than one. She is inspired not only by her instructors but by many of the people who take the class with her. One participant is over 90 years old.

Each of us has places, hobbies or passions that comfort us and bring us that elusive balance and happiness.

Occasionally I retreat to my garage. It’s nothing special but it’s a place I like to be. I turn on the radio and then engage in “putzing.” It’s a skill one acquires as we age.

Over the 30 years I have lived in my home, my garage has slowly become adorned with treasures, memories and items that really are of no value … except to me.

I remember my dad’s garage was always a bit of a disaster. He was a “do-it-yourselfer” and he always had some project in the works that involved his children’s mandated assistance.

My dad worked on his vehicles. My siblings and I recall him getting a little hot under the collar while trying to loosen bolts. If the wrench slipped and he skinned his knuckles — oh my — the things we heard.

He never seemed to have the right tool for the job and if he did, he couldn’t find it. All of his five children were taught basic and advanced cursing.

If you were selected to become his assistant for the day you never knew which way things would go — OK or real bad. I don’t believe my dad ever found much balance or peace in his life — maybe some in his retirement years.

Relics aid recollection

In my garage is my grandpa’s old oil can, some of my dad’s tools and a few items from my work on the railroad in the 1970s. Hanging on some nails are a couple of old Hamm’s beer bottle openers along with my college baseball cap and one of my granddaughter’s hats that is now too small for her.

I have some items in an empty Joe Mauer ice cream bucket and a few objects in a metal pail with the words, “Bohaty Willow River Merc. Co.” I have surrounded myself with items from my family’s past.

When I am in my garage, there are moments I recall my grandpa’s workshop. My grandfather, who lived in Kansas, had a nifty shop. He did a great deal of work on the trucks that he hauled lime and rock in.

In that shop was a grinder, vice, drill press and compressed air hose with a nozzle that we grandkids would use in inappropriate ways.

My grandpa did not swear and always seemed calm and kind. An occasional ride with him to the quarry was quite remarkable. He was generous, patient and we looked up to him.

My older sister, older brother and I remember being in his shop. He would have us grandkids help him in some insignificant way during those days in the 1950s and ’60s. The floor was dirt and there were quite a few spiders around but it was a grand place to be.

Scrap joy

Also in my garage sitting on top of a cabinet is a ceramic eagle my older sister made in 1973, some old Avon decanters of steam engines are displayed and like any good garage guy I possess countless nails, screws, bolts, scrap wood, tools, rags, hats, and a few items that no longer work.

I suppose I could take a Marie Kondo swing at all this and try to declutter. Certainly I could thin out some items, but a high percentage of these articles in my garage give me joy. If an object brings you joy, then Marie says it’s OK to hang onto.

Miss Kondo has many methods to make things neater, but I can’t refold my wood two-by-fours and I don’t think you can reorganize agates that I picked up in northern Minnesota.

That’s the beauty and the allure of my garage. I have surrounded myself with articles that bring me reflective joy. I’m thinking that if it’s too neat or tidy, it may upset that balance I have created.

I will never be a yogi, but I love that my wife has a passion for this. She even told me the other day that someone fell asleep during meditation and began to snore. Now, that is finding peace and balance along with a nap.

When I imagine my future, I know that someday we will sell our home and move to a residence with no tasks, no snow shoveling and no garage. That will be a good thing, I guess.

What will happen to all those personal items that represent my family and my past? I don’t know. In the big picture, I understand these items really mean nothing.

When that day does come to sell, I know I will struggle to maintain my balance. Maybe I will have to consider taking yoga classes after all.

Loren Else lives in Rochester and also writes the Post Bulletin’s Day in History column. Send comments and column ideas to Loren at

What's your reaction?