Well, it's August and I for one am ready for "the dog days of summer" to be over. Technically we still have until August 11th for the season when, according to The Farmer's Almanac, "The sun occupies the same region of the sky as Sirius, the brightest star visible from any part of the Earth and part of the constellation Canis Major, the Greater Dog. This is why Sirius is sometimes called the Dog Star."
There...now you know the true origin of the phrase...you're welcome!
Anyway, it's been an unusually hot summer here in Colorado and even escaping to the mountains for cooler temperatures hasn't provided the relief from the oppressive heat we've been experiencing. And let's not even discuss the awful air quality and hazy skies that have blanketed our landscape primarily as a result of all of the wildfires across the western half of the U.S.
As bad as the heat and haze may be, we are grappling with yet another climate change burden...monsoon rainstorms that are, in turn, causing massive mudslides due to the burn scars from last summer's wildfires all across our beautiful state.
So what does this have to do with professional organizing and move management?
Actually, more than you realize.
For starters, the heat and poor air quality make it nearly impossible to work outside for any length of time...unless you are ok with potentially getting severely dehydrated and passing out. But if any It's Just Stuff client needs help with a garage or other outdoor project we are still going to do it but we will need to work at a slower pace. Trust me, that is not an easy thing for someone with my level of high energy to do, that is, until I start to feel a wave go through me trying to remind me of the fact that I am an idiot if I think I should continue at my normal 100 mph speed while my body is being depleted of water and nutrients at an unhealthy pace.
But the real purpose of this particular blog isn't to acknowledge that climate change is a really big problem. Instead, I want to emphasize the importance of being prepared for the "what ifs" during these unbearably hot days as in...
"What if I am driving home from the mountains after a fabulous weekend and another car decides to cut me off and leaves me with no choice but to swerve off the road to avoid hitting another car and instead hit a rather big rock that was unfortunately right in my path?"
Yeah, that happened to me a few weeks ago not 5 minutes after I left my friend's condo in Winter Park. Luckily it wasn't 95 degrees at 9 am but after waiting 4.5 hours for emergency roadside assistance it was still hot as you know what sitting on the side of the road under the intense Colorado mile-high sun. But being the perennially prepared professional organizer that I am (ok, maybe somewhat obsessive person in general), I had...
a cooler full of food leftover from the weekend...and yes, there was a bottle of tequila in there but no I did not drink any of it. If I was still sitting there by 5 pm? Well, that probably would have been a very different story.
plenty of water
a folding chair
2 external batteries in case my cell phone needed to be charged and for some reason I couldn't start my car to charge it with the car running
my laptop with the ability to use my cell phone as a wifi hotspot so I could actually be productive while waiting a stupid long time for help
a large sun hat
multiple flashlights and a headlamp but with fingers crossed I wouldn't still be sitting on the side of the road at sunset
rain gear although if it had started to rain I would have just sat inside my car assuming I wasn't fearful of running out of gas if I needed to have the car running for all or part of the ridiculous amount of time I waited for help
hiking gear which would have come in handy only if I had to walk back to my friend's condo and stay another night if roadside assistance never showed up
friends that called to make sure I was ok after they saw my Facebook post
and last but certainly not least, a sense of humor...after the initial meltdown when I saw what the rock did to my tire
Now, granted, I had some of what I did in large part because I had just spent a weekend in the mountains but minus the cooler full of food and, of course, the tequila, I always have a lot of "stuff" in my car for these kinds of "just in case" moments. In fact, my friends are often making fun of how much I keep in my little Subaru Impreza...until of course they need something they forgot and I am able to provide to them with what they need, but it does cost them in the form of a snarky comment. Hey, what's good for the goose right?
Meanwhile, I don't know if the people who were stuck inside the Glenwood Canyon tunnel the other night due to yet another mudslide had the right I.C.E. (as in In Case of Emergency) provisions but I, for one, will now be adding a shovel and piece of cardboard to my I.C.E. treasure chest. I already have those granules that you are supposed to use in the winter if your car gets stuck in snow but I actually had taken the canister out of my car when packing for the weekend not thinking about the possibility of a mudslide even though there seems to be at least one every day this summer.
The granules canister will now be part of my permanent collection residing in the back of my car for all seasons. Then again, 4 seasons can happen in Colorado in one day any time of the year so I'm not sure why I ever took it out as was almost the case this past Friday night when I left Boulder around 4:30 pm to head up to my friends' property right next to the Roosevelt National Forrest. The sun was shining and it was a very toasty 96 degrees in Boulder. By the time I got up to their cabin, it was 62 and the dark clouds were definitely descending on their annual Big Hootenanny Music Festival benefiting Conscious Alliance. Oh and there was a flash flood watch in effect..ugh!
No, I was not happy that the weather was potentially going to put a literal damper on the evening but I was prepared for anything including the extra layers of clothes, sleeping bag and some toiletries I threw in my car that morning before heading out to work...just...in...case...I had to spend the night. And by spending the night that would have meant in my car in the field of wildflowers surrounding the property with dozens of others camping out for the weekend. (Sidenote: I now have Tom Petty's lyrics "You belong among the wildflowers" stuck in my head while writing this.) It rained for all of 10 minutes, though, so I made it safely down the canyon when it was still light out. But by the time I was approaching the bottom you could see lightning striking across Boulder Valley and just as I pulled into my garage, it started to figuratively rain cats, dogs and every other animal! I have to say, the weather Gods were definitely protecting me Friday night.
Not so much.
I went to Red Rocks Amphitheatre with a few friends to see Tedeschi Trucks Band, a concert that we were originally supposed to see last summer, but, well, COVID. Although the chance for rain seemed to drop substantially throughout the day, we arrived knowing there was a very likely chance we were going to be facing thunderstorms off and on. I came prepared, though, and that did include giant heavy-duty garbage bags for my friends as impromptu rain ponchos. I always have them in my car for decluttering jobs...i.e. in case of an emergency...and by emergency I mean my client doesn't have any.
Tarps, by the way, aren't allowed inside the amphitheater and personally, I prefer to use garbage bags because I am able to stand up for any period of time and then sit back down without my butt getting wet. I simply cut holes for my arms and head when I first arrive at any outdoor event with a threat of rain and yes, that does mean I keep a pair of scissors in my car as well for many reasons but this is definitely one of the more important ones. I also usually have several super thin essentially disposable rain ponchos that cost around $2 at Walmart or Target but, by all means, wait til you get to a venue without one and pay at least $10-15 for one you will no doubt need to purchase once you arrive at your venue. Then again, maybe you enjoy the "souvenir" aspect of having one with Red Rocks written all over it so who am I to judge???
When I went to grab one of my cheap ones to put in my backpack, though, I realized it was my last one so they just got added to my to-do/shopping list. Nevermind, I was yelling at my Google Home thingy to set a reminder and it kept wanting to remind me to "Buy cheese ponchos" . Why I was trying to force it to put in the reminder "cheap ponchos" instead of just "ponchos"? Who knows but the point is I will have restocked my supply sometime this week.
For the record...it started to rain at Red Rocks as we stood in line to get in.
Correction, it started to pour!
We figured we were in for a very wet and chilly night as we made our way to our seats but once again, the weather Gods were totally looking out for me because despite having to take 3 or 4 layers off and then put them back on at least 6 times throughout the 3.5 hour concert, it was an incredible evening and I have to believe on some level my degree of "preparedness" made it that much better.
Being prepared for the "what ifs" can be overwhelming to some and even the most professional of professional organizers forgets things sometimes or don't know what might be needed until it is too late. Hey, it may appear that, as I often say, #organizersneverstoporganizing, but we are far from perfect despite what some Instagram influencers want you to believe. I would say that getting a flat tire in the mountains should be the final straw that breaks this particular woman's/camel's back to finally learn how to actually change a tire but after watching the guy who finally did arrive strip and break a lug nut and then said, "I think you'll be ok to drive back to Boulder?" (and, yes, he did end that phrase with a question mark), I have a feeling my attempts would end much more tragically than a broken lug nut.
Hopefully that will be the last flat tire I have for a long time but if I do ever need to spend half a day on the side of a highway again at least I know I will be safe, comfortable, entertained and probably won't go hungry or get dehydrated.
Bottom line, think about any possible "what ifs", make a list of what you think you'll need and keep a bin or "go bag" in your car at all times but be sure to check it every once in awhile to replenish what you may have forgotten you used. I hope you never really need it but if you do you feel free to send me a message and thank me for having your back ✌
P.S. Don't forget to be prepared for your furry, feathered, scaly, whatever creatures. The ASPCA has a simple but important list of reminders to consider on its website. Most pet owners are usually prepared for anything while traveling even short distances just like parents are for their kids but your pets really need you to do the work for them. When I had a dog I always kept a small bag of "stuff" in my car for him but needed to always remember to grab a jug of water that we kept in the extra fridge in my garage. And, yes, that meant keeping a small sign next to the house alarm with that reminder as well as a few others since setting the alarm was always the last thing I did before leaving the house no matter how long I would be gone for. It was hard to ignore it. That said, I did forget the dog one time and got all the way to the vet and realized he wasn't in the car 🤣