Friday, November 12, 2010

Spelunking and Excavating: Cleaning the Basement

Nope, I'm not going to post pictures of our basement!

But today's project (and probably going into tomorrow too) is for me to sort through the boxes of stuff in the basement.  Old toys, books, keepsakes, luggage, and lots of stuff that could reasonably be called "miscellaneous" are piled willy-nilly.  (Our son helped with the disorganization this week as he opened half the boxes in search of a particular remote control vehicle he hadn't seen since the move - he found it, but left quite a bit of disarrangement in his wake.)  At least twice now since the move I've consolidated the mass, taking things to the Salvation Army, throwing some stuff out, and donating things to our church's Christmas sale and yard sale.  'Tis the season again, and I'm trying to really thin out what we're keeping, and labeling the boxes as well.

Our basement is large, but unfinished, so we don't have built-in cupboards or anything like that aside from some shelving for our tools.  My husband is taking up woodworking, and some of his first projects will likely be bookshelves and storage for things we really want to keep downstairs.  We don't have an attic, so this is our main storage option besides the garden shed.

Confession:  I was a very messy kid.  My mother despaired of me ever learning to keep my room clean, let alone maintain an entire household in something less than abject slovenliness.  Here's hope for everyone who parents a messy kid - they don't necessarily grow up to be hoarders or slobs.  Lighten up!  When they have to take care of their own home, and live with other people, they'll learn the hard way that they have to learn some amount of organization and cleaning skills to get along.  I'm still prone to clutter, but nothing approaching a "Clean Sweep" job.

Anyhow, I'm taking a cleaning break to have lunch and make this posting.  I've already created several bags of stuff to throw away, filled a large box with items to donate, and consolidated several boxes of things to keep.  Some time in the next year or two we hope to be able to finish our basement into a family/rec room, an office/music studio for my husband, and a utility/storage area with room for our son's model train layout. 

The move a year and a half ago forced me to clean out a lot of stuff - I couldn't believe the pile of things I put on the curb the last garbage day before the move.  Some of it was still usable but unwanted (like the old lounge chair for the patio, and a narrow metal etagere I had no further use for), and people took those things right from the curb before the truck came through.  I was always amazed at how often and how quickly people would patrol the side streets on garbage day to sort treasures from trash and take them for their own use or to recycle. 

 This is what BC thinks of his human's efforts at cleaning: 
"Meh, better you than me."

I find myself abashed at the sheer abundance of our possessions.  Do we really need all this stuff?  Really?  How important is it to me to haul all this around?  I've become much more ruthless as I go through our things periodically.  I don't want to be owned by my stuff, too bound by it to get rid of it.  That's a form of addiction, really - just ask any hoarder, but average homeowners can be just as trapped by their possessions even when their homes appear neat and well cared for. 

So, I'm armed with a bag for garbage (and spare bags too), a couple boxes and bags for things to donate, my MP3 player for tunes, a drink of water for when I get dry, and the cats for occasional company.  Now I just need to get back to the basement.  Send in the Mounties if I don't post in a few days. . . .