My big-ass birthday party was great fun. Had just over 50 friends there. I would have enjoyed twice that many but it was sufficient. I got to chat with most and (I think) greeted everyone. T survived. She doesn’t like big parties but she rose to the occasion. Several of her friends came, which was nice. A friend of mine from New Mexico came up on the Friday and went home on the Monday ~ honestly, house guests are harder on my girlfriend than big parties. She has to do a lot of accommodating to be with me.
I had arranged ahead of time to take the following week off work. I have a big project to take care of and this was my chance to get a solid chunk of it done. It’s an odious task, really. I’ve been putting it off because I felt overwhelmed by it. Cleaning The Basement.
I bought the house in 1994. My daughter and I have a moderate pack rat tendency ~ we are not hoarders, and are in fact capable of throwing out old and broken stuff. Our problem is that we are very sentimental. I probably had every piece of art she ever created. And all of the cutest kid clothes that she wore. She wanted to keep every stuffed animal she ever received. And the toys and games, and, and, and…
Add to this the coincidence that when we moved into our house, my parents were moving out of theirs and one of my brothers had been storing stuff at their house. So, we had boxes of stuff from the parents, the brother, AND the roommate who was moving in with us. Some of the stuff from my parents house had actually belonged to my paternal grandmother and had been schlepped around for a decade or so. What a mess!
The biggest obstacle for me was an old couch that the roommate had left behind. When she moved in it went directly to the basement and there it stayed. It is incredibly heavy! And ugly! And long, and curved, and just plain difficult. Besides the couch, there were two large area rugs and their pads that didn’t survive house training the dog. Yes, they had been sitting down there for years! It’s shameful and embarrassing but what can I say? I’ve been busy! So, getting the couch, the rugs and pads, an old foam camping mattress, the world’s largest stuffed dinosaur (I kid you not, this thing was about 8 ft long), and various odds and ends out of the basement, into the truck, and off to the dump was my goal for Monday. I had two people to help and it nearly wasn’t enough muscle power to get it done. But, we did. I felt so relieved ~ that couch had been a plug and once it was pulled, things started flowing.
Now, when I say ‘flowing’, I mean it literally. On Tuesday, day 2 of Operation Purge, I discovered that we had a little water problem. For an old house, the basement has been remarkably dry in this wet climate. I’ve only had a leak one time (in a different part of the basement) and that was because my neighbor’s downspout was pouring into my side yard. Once he fixed it, we dried out and it’s been dry since. This time however, it was entirely different and so much worse.
We had used one half of the basement for a tv area years ago. TV and storage, of course, for all that crap we couldn’t part with. So, that part of the basement had carpet on the concrete floor. Wow! Carpet holds a lot of water! And supports the growth of fungi! The things one learns in the basement… Everything sitting on the carpet was wet. Boxes of toys, baby clothes, out of date encyclopedias, childhood art projects, stuffed animals, assorted crap, you name it ~ all wet. All going in the truck and to the dump.
Over the course of the week, I took two loads of junk and one load of recycling (free!) to the dump. I have one more load ready to go and still lots of stuff to sort through. It made me a little sad and a lot nostalgic to see all the phases of my daughter’s life in those boxes. I was really fine with throwing out stuff that should have been chucked out years ago, but some of it caught at my heartstrings. I saved photos even if they were wet, and some of her art. Plenty of stuff was not salvageable, though. I tried to be strong and very firm with myself. I had asked Zoe for a list of things she really couldn’t part with and amazingly, about 80% of what she wanted to save was in a box together and dry. That made me happy.
So, I got rid of a bunch and sorted a bunch and still have lots of work to do, but it is a much more manageable task now. The real drag of the whole project was that two days after I got the wet carpeting out and everything spread out to dry, we had some torrential rain and sure enough, the basement still leaks. But now, I didn’t have the carpet to hold the water in place so it spread out further than it ever had! Criminetly! Stuff that I had saved was now wetter than ever! Argh! I made a dam out of an old blanket which had not yet made it to the dump, and held back most of the water. Of course, we are having the wettest spring on record and I’m going down to the basement after work every night and soaking up stinky water with old towels and wringing it into a bucket.
I told a coworker about my leaking basement and he said, “Oh yeah, we call it the indoor pool!” I guess it’s a Pacific Northwest thing… ya gotta laugh ~ there’s already too much water to cry.