You know those people with pristine garages? With tools arranged just so, and floors that look like you could eat off of them? 


I'm not one of those people. In fact, our garage is an embarrassment. Tools, bikes, ladders and other gadgets -- the stuff that's supposed to be in garages -- are jumbled together chaotically with little rhyme or reason. But there's more. LOTS more. A broken-down computer and fax machine. A high chair so destroyed that it isn't fit to donate. (The dog ate the cushioned seat after the baby spilled something tasty on it.) The ugly, stained futon from our daughter's freshman dorm room. The list goes on.

The garage pictured above isn't mine. It apparently belonged to someone in Texas who won a "Messy Garage" contest. But I think mine could have been a contender -- at least a runner up. 

Every spring, my husband and I resolve to do a major purge and cleaning of the garage. But life always gets in the way. Weekends get consumed by sports tournaments or out-of-town relatives or some other more urgent chores in the house or yard. The garage remains our hidden shame.

If you've got stuff cluttering up your garage, the next few days offer a golden opportunity to do something about it. Hennepin County is sponsoring a community collection event where residents can safely dispose of unwanted garden and household hazardous wastes.

This Thursday, Friday and Saturday, July 21-23, from 9 a.m.-4 p.m., you can bring those unwanted items to Dunwoody College of Technology, 818 Dunwoody Blvd., Minneapolis. Items that will be accepted include household, lawn and garden products, items containing mercury, electronics (old computers, VCRs, CDs and DVDs), and auto and fuel waste. Items NOT accepted include photocopiers, appliances, tires, explosives and asbestos. For a complete list of acceptable and non-acceptable items, call 612-348-3777 or visit

One caveat: You must be a Hennepin County resident with an ID to prove it. And items are limited to residential household waste. Businesses, you're on your own.

So round up some of that junk. But before you do, tell us about some of the embarrassing items in your garage. And if you're one of those pristine-garage types, how the heck do you do it?