This past weekend was all about quality time with the basement. What fun.
On the bright side, it was a chilly, damp, rainy, overcast weekend, so I didn’t feel bad about spending it in the basement. On the down side, it was a chilly, damp, rainy, overcast weekend, so I couldn’t stage things outside, and having the Bilco door open for light and air was not as cheery and helpful as it could have been.
Saturday morning the alarm went off, I crawled into work clothes, and headed for the basement. I spent the rest of the day down there with Bob coming down whenever Charlotte napped. We got some furniture out of the mix – the mahogany chest of drawers that no one seems to want to take from me is now in the kitchen, soon to go to the Salvation Army, and Grandpa’s coffee table has gone to the crawl space while I decide what to do with it. I set up some of our leftover Ikea storage shelving in a “for now” configuration. The first goal is not to get everything fully organized, but rather to get it into the correct area – organization can happen later. This is especially so for the hardware – the shelves are currently bodged together in a fairly alarming fashion, so for the moment stuff is on there in a “they go on this set of shelves somewhere” sort of a fashion. For the goal of getting things out from underfoot, this works.
We have EIGHT boxes of finish nails. Eight. THAT is why I needed to get the shop area cleaned and organized. Anyone need any bright finish nails?
I got a stunning amount of stuff cleared off, including the dreaded “hardware box,” which was a copy paper box more or less full of assorted unpackaged bits of hardware. All of the loose nuts, bolts, screws, washers, etc. have been sorted into coffee cans. My dad has a great rack that he built to hold coffee cans full of hardware so that you can see and access the contents. I’ll need to snap a photo of it the next time we’re down there so that we can replicate it, because it works very well. Ironically, one of my earliest memories is of being in our basement in Herkimer while my dad was working on projects. He would give me a coffee can and I would look around the floor and pick up all the assorted fallen washers and bolts and screws and such. I’ll have to see if he still has my stool – and if he’s willing to let me have it at my house for Charlotte. Once we had established a beach head in the corner, we decided to move the tool chest in from the garage. That’s going to make things a lot easier when I need a wrench or a socket or some such, and also got all of the assorted loose hand tools finally put away.
About the time I finished dealing with the boxes of tools and hardware, my lungs began letting me know that they really weren’t particularly happy with me. I’m having a terrible time with allergies at the moment, and I spent the entire day in damp, dusty air. I plugged away a little longer, and by the time I called it done, I was once again able to walk all the way around the chimney stack without having to turn sideways or anything. Yes, it was really bad.
At 3:00am I woke up and could not think of *anything* but the bottle of Gatorade in the fridge. I’ve always heard people say that when Gatorade tastes good, you need it too badly. How much worse when you wake up out of a sound sleep and have to go have some? Apparently I hadn’t been drinking enough.
Sunday was more difficult, because Bob ran off to play BattleTech for the day. That meant that I could only work in the basement while Charlotte was napping. I restrained the urge to lock her up in her crib whether she was tired or not, and tidied up around the downstairs. When she wound down enough for a nap I flew down to get as much done as I could during that window. First things first – I stuffed a bunch of stuff into the near end of the crawl space (near end = away from any and all pipes). That mostly consisted of assorted pieces of furniture that I’ve recently toted back down to the basement as the living space arrangement has fluctuated. That went fairly well, although it’s a little tight in there at the moment. In a perfect world, I need to pull everything OUT of the crawlspace, spread it out, sort through it, and then put back anything that is actually going to stay under there. It goes back to wanting that team of twelve burly guys from “Clean Sweep.”
I also prepped a couple of upstairs projects for when Herself woke from her nap. I hauled the drywall tools and materials upstairs and established them in the half bath, and I also brought up all the screens and the spline tool. That didn’t go as well as planned, though. I had thought that I would start working on replacing the screens. I didn’t anticipate that the old spline was in such bad shape that I was going to have to chip it out with an ice pick. The problem with that is that it makes such a mess I need to do it outside, which completely negated the idea that it was an upstairs project I could work on while Charlotte was awake. Oh well. At least all the bits are upstairs where I can plug away at them. I got the old screen stripped out of one of them, so at least I’ve started. This is going to be extremely tedious.
I got lucky, and she actually took an afternoon nap, which allowed me to get back down and move some more things around. I got a bunch more loose stuff dealt with, and pulled out more things to go to the Salvation Army. I need to wrap my head around the idea that just because something is in perfect working condition, I don’t need to keep it. There isn’t a single carpet in the house, just three cheap area rugs – I can donate the spot scrubber.
So by clearing away a big chunk of the debris, I can now see that what remains falls into three main problem areas. The first is the brewing corner. That got a little out of hand a few years ago, and has never recovered. Like my sewing room, it was a convenient area to stash “stuff” when it needed to be gotten out of the way quickly. We always have trouble with spaces of that nature. Also, I personally think that the brewing supplies need to be weeded. Much like my sewing supplies, there were a lot of things acquired for “someday,” “maybe,” “just in case,” or worst of all “too potentially useful to throw away.” I’ve been weeding my stuff fairly ruthlessly to good effect – I think it’s time for him to start doing the same. I can’t really do anything with that corner myself, other than offer encouragement. Doesn’t “encouragement” sound much nicer than “ruthless, heartless nagging?”
The second problem area is over by the pressure tank. That whole corner/section of floor is strewn with plumbing supplies, broken pieces, etc. that are left from when Bob broke the sediment filter, oh, two and a half years ago and didn’t replace it. On the bright side, when we can spend the money to have the well pump pulled and replaced, Grela will install a new filter – and mount this one properly to the wall so that we won’t have that issue again. But in the meantime, all of that debris needs to be picked up. Additionally there are a couple of excruciatingly heavy speakers over there that need to go into the crawl space. But if I’m going to have to manipulate them in the crawl space on my hands and knees with my hair in the insulation, damned if I’m going to pick them up and carry them across the basement for the privilege.
The third problem area is the one that depresses me the most. That would be the pile of boxes up against the shelves of camping gear that is as tall as I am, and significantly wider. These are the boxes that I yanked out of the crawl space when we discovered the water leak. They’re taking up a lot of floor space. Now I *could* just stuff them back into the crawl space and wash my hands of them for another few months or years. But the right thing to do will be to go through them since they’re already out. Right? The worst part is that the boxes that are out are boxes that were deep, and therefore weren’t the “cool stuff.” These are going to be boxes full of hard decisions. I guess all I can do is wade into them one at a time, and do the best I can.
It’s a dangerous step, but I’ve decided that for the very, very short term I’m going to park in the driveway and stage some stuff in the garage. The trash, for example. I’ve got three large containers of assorted garbage at different points down there, and they’re in my way. Four piles, come to think of it. Trash day is Wednesday, so it is a temporary situation by definition. I’m also thinking about staging some of the stuff for donation out there. I’ll be sending Bob to the Salvation Army as soon as I have things bagged up and logged, so again – we’re talking about this week. I may send him with the chest of drawers on Saturday, because he’ll probably need my car for that. Where I’m running a more serious “risk” is that I’m toying with the idea of staging some things that 1) are staying; 2) are underfoot; and 3) I have no idea what to do with. For example: a window air conditioner; a set of low voltage lights for the front walk; a set of banner stands; cookware items for the cooking hearth. I have no clue where to stash this stuff, but it’s really, really underfoot right now, and I rather think I’ll have an easier time putting it away if I can actually see what I’m working with. As I recall, that was the theory behind stuffing all the boxes into the crawl space “for now,” also. It’s a slippery slope.
So that is the state of my basement. I’ll tell you right now that I’m going to lose the sewing room again as this project moves forward. I guarantee it. But it’s progress, and it’s progress on a very difficult, very unsexy part of the house. I’m excited to be able to see the workbench and all the tools. I’m excited by the idea that we may be able to get the brewing area set up the way we had originally envisioned it so that it becomes an accessible part of the bimonthly brewing workshops. Frankly, I’m excited about the idea that when my father asks for a tool I’ll be able to get it for him – and let him see where it came from!
I’m going to keep plugging away at it – thirty minutes every single day is what I said earlier. Tonight I have an eye appointment, and if I let them dilate my eyes, I’m not sure that I’m going to be good for anything beyond sitting in a dark room. But if not, perhaps I can clear out a box. One box – how scary can that be, right?
This past weekend was all about quality time with the basement. What fun.
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