Mandan News

Dan Ulmer: The best way to clean a garage is to nap


So I’d like both my loyal readers to know that my first weekend home since March I survived not only chaperoning a middle school dance but my annual return to my Cappuccino on Collins coffee klatch.

It was cleaning the garage that convinced me I needed a nap. It all started when I couldn’t walk through the garage to get into the house without tripping over something. As I glanced about the various obstacles to see what I should move it didn’t take me long to conclude that everything needed moving. Brock’s wagon, hot wheels, jeep, bike, Kelci’s three bikes, massive lake paraphernalia, a car door from a 2003 Monte Carlo, garden tools, a chest of drawers, a huge analog television, coolers, boots, mice, wood, tools, stools, folding chairs, five child car seats and boxes of stuff that I’ve never seen before… all stuffed into a two-car garage incapable of parking anything else in either stall.

The scene reminded me of the first two-car garage we had back in house number four that the bank said we could live in. It was a really nice garage with one door and a fella could almost get three cars in it. Unbeknownst to me, one afternoon shortly after we moved in, my dad loaded up everything I had stored in his garage for at least 15 years of our marriage into his truck.

So when I came home that evening and opened the garage door I was a bit taken back that the garage was too stuffed to get a car in… and all I could do was laugh and dig in. Anyway, after scouting the debris pile in my garage I did the logical thing… went and pursued my nap.

I awoke an hour later, got a drink, thought about taking on the aforementioned task, and went back to bed for another hour. Then, after noting that garage hadn’t cleaned itself during my nap, I dug in. When doing fairly mindless work I like to listen to public radio, especially on Saturdays… Car Talk, Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me, What Do You Know, Garrison Keilor, and the news.

Since this was last Saturday you’d have to be totally disconnected from any outside media to not know that the airwaves were crammed with political prognosticators… “It’s gonna be Obama, Romney… and either could bring on the end of the world as we know it.”

I do need to say that as one who has spent most of his career immersed in the political world I can’t recall a more acrimoniously polarized election than this one. “We the people” have a tendency to really rip into each other during political campaigns. There’s a mean spirit out there that we seem to feed on, and it encourages divisions similar to those that lead to civil war. Many of the wounds that come during a campaign aren’t easy to heal.

As I write this, the election is still three days away and I have to send this into Brian on Election Day so he can get the paper to press. Thus, I have no idea who won the election. However, I do have to say that my mentor in the legislature (Brynhild Haugland) always had a great saying for times like this, and the one that comes to mind today is, “It’s the opposing wind that makes the kite fly high.”

When in the arena of elected public office I’ve always found it best to “agree where I can, disagree where I have to then do my best to walk away friends” (Haugland). So now that the election’s over it’s my sincere hope that the leaders we elected will do all they can to heal our country’s wounds, and that will require them and us to spend more time working together than the last gaggle of folks we elected. It is my sincere hope and prayer that the horrible partisan political gridlock we’ve had over the past two years is over and our recently elected leaders can agree on how we all can leave this place better off than we found it.

In the end, none of us will be measured by what office we held, how much material wealth we accumulated, or how good we were at pummeling our opponents into submission. Rather, in the end each of us will be measured by how serious we were about leaving those around us better off than we found them.

Reasonable minds can differ, but reasonable minds can also find reasonable solutions to seemingly unreasonable problems…

Let’s hope this crop of leaders is more reasonable than the last one…