There is a secret I've been hiding. It is large, and it is dirty, and might even be in violation of a few state and federal laws. But hiding it doesn't make it any less real, so I've decided to just come out with it:
This is my basement.
And before you get any weird ideas; no, it's not full of dead bodies (dead mice, maybe). When I said state and federal laws I meant city and county building codes. But just because your basement isn't as bad as a murderer's doesn't mean it isn't really, really bad. Anyway, if that's the standard you're holding yourself to, you have bigger problems to deal with.
Our basement has a sad history. When we bought the house it was empty and untended. Walls were starting to crack and flake in places. The floors (which had probably never been even) were cracking too, and certain spots sounded 'hollow' when you walked over them. Like any basement in Minnesota, it clearly had issues with water, but we didn't know how much, or how recently.
Then there were the weird things, like a jury-rigged shower so gross-looking it made you wonder, 'what kind of person would actually take their clothes off down here'? Or the clothes-lines strung across the ceiling, presumably for drying clothes in your basement, which is a great idea if you want your clothes to smell like a basement and your basement to develop mold from the high moisture.
Before long, the basement became a dumping ground for things that had no other place in the world. If you never wanted to find something again, putting it on a shelf in the basement was a pretty reliable strategy.
Sure, we did laundry down there, picking out a path to the washer and dryer like gazelles to a watering hole. But woe unto him that should let fall a sock from the laundry basket, for the scum piles devour all that is given them, and return nothing from their bellies!
Point being, it's easy to develop blind spots. You stop seeing the shoulder-high mountains of clutter. You forget that those little brown turds in the corner might, in fact, be little brown turds. You close yourself off from the horror of it, like cauterizing a wound. If it doesn't touch me, I won't touch it.
Well, this had to end. This winter I pledged to end it. And I'm very proud to say ... we've made some progress.
Alicia and I started by sending Ayla to her grandparents for the weekend, getting a Bagster (TM) and filling it up with crap we should have just thrown out in the first place. I tore out that stupid shower with my bare hands. And we spent hours vacuuming up debris with our new DeWalt portable Wet/Dry vacuum that we got from Amazon.com.
I added some new fluorescent light strips, and updated a few of the electrical boxes. After that, I dug out several patches of floor that were deteriorated beyond repair, and went to work filling them back in with concrete (first time using concrete for anything; I love it!).
Next up, I need to scrape off all the loose piece of foundation wall that are threatening to crumble, and set them right using quick-setting cement.
As you can see, I've gotten started on that; I've fixed up a few spots that were really bad and applied an initial coat of water-proof sealer. But what you can't see in the photo is how much more work I still have to do. Seriously; about 45% of the foundation walls need some amount of scraping/patching/water-proofing.
So, since blogging is more fun but less effective than actual working, I'm going to leave you there. I wish I had a better 'after' to reveal, but this project has taken on a life of its own, and I have miles to go before I sleep. I'll check back in next week with an update on my progress (and, hopefully, completion).
Until then, watch out for those little brown things on your way to the laundry machine.