Even though it’s a near-gorgeous day outside, this Saturday after Tax Day, I’m schlumpfing about the house because earlier in the week I decided it would be efficient to descend the back steps all at once in one foot-wrenching drop off the side of the landing. I discovered that feet do not bend the way hands do, but when pressed into the attempt, they do bruise the loveliest shades of purple. (And then there’s having to endure the joke about why a foot injury is the best form of male birth control. Why? Because it makes you limp all the time. Ptheh!)
What led to my becoming Gimpmaster of the Universe was, I had been moving a lot of stuff out of the basement in preparation for contractor guys to come in and, essentially, rip everything out down to the walls and floor in order to refinish the place to make it suitable for human habitation. Previous, and for many, many years, the only function of all that space was to store my various collections – books, astronomy and space, comics, artwork. Problem was, there was so much stuff (George Carlin would’ve had a field day) packed up into so many cartons that I almost never used it or even looked at it. The basement truly did resemble the closing scene from “Raiders of the Lost Ark.” I posted an entry a couple of months ago here that, in retrospect, turns out to be prelude to what’s going on right now because, once all the comics boxes were cleared out, I began to see a lot of potential in the now-freed space. Maybe a game room? Or a bit of a home office, hmmm?
So I called around to a number of local contractors, testing the waters to see just what this newest flight of fancy might cost, and yield. Turns out that the quotes didn’t cause too much sticker shock, so I made my choice and for several days now, there’s been a steady stream of burly fellows wielding sledgehammers and drills and prybars and making loud noises as they’ve taken out old paneling and studs and wiring and plumbing. In one room there had been a rug that was probably installed during Lincoln’s administration, and when they peeled up the actual carpeting, there was some loathsome ichorous goo underneath that had, once upon a time, probably been the padding. That is the nastybad stuff to which the title refers, and that took some heavy duty scraping to remove – and left behind a miasma of foul greasy particles floating in the air that have probably invaded every corner of the house, and every lung I own. And then there’s the sealant for the foundation walls. It’s powerful stuff, stinks to high heaven, and – if breathed for long enough – grants a strange buzz to the frontal lobes.
But the work is coming along. New metal studs have been nailed up, the wiring is going in even as I type, someone’s wielding a soldering torch on new copper piping (I can recognize the fragrance of soldering flux at fifty paces) and despite the (slowly lessening) pain in my left foot, and the mess that still lingers down there, I can see the finished space in my mind’s eye – and it’s exciting. I’ve still got way too much memorabilia crammed off in corners and rental space, and I don’t think I’d be able to forgive myself if all I did was to use the renovated basement as Spiffy New Warehouse 2.0. So I’m thinking about another round of letting go, and that’s exciting too. Gettin’ lean, here! Hooah!
And one of these days I’ll even get to go out in the nice finally-springlike weather, take a hike around the block, and not feel as if the snails that are starting to appear are laughing at me for being such a slowpoke.