top of page

Cleaning House

My husband and I spent the week between Christmas and New Years' cleaning out the basement.

What started as a freak out on my part, due to a Christmas Eve into Day storm, turned into an endeavor that I had not imagined.

The week before Christmas deposited over a foot of beautiful, white snow upon our state. It was lovely, light and fluffy. The temperature remained cold so it did not melt, nor create an icy crust.

Then on Christmas Eve it began to warm up.

The weather services had been predicting a rain storm, but by Christmas Eve, the forecast was for 60 degree temperatures (thus melting all the snow), 2-3 inches of rain (on top of the foot of melting snow), and 50-60 mph winds.

Yes, I freaked.

Thanks a lot 2020...way to end with a ruined Christmas, was what I thought.

I had a feeling of dread in the pit of my stomach. I couldn't explain why.

Looking down our street 2 days after "Snowtober"

Our previous experiences with wind storms (including hurricanes) had been fairly calm. The lights may have flickered, but we had not lost power. Unlike, "Snowtober" of 2011, there were no leaves on the trees to cause tree limbs to fall onto power lines. Plus, over the past 9 years, the power companies had really cut back limbs.

Maybe it was because of the poor response to a tropical storm this summer, (some parts of the state were without power for a week), that everyone was hyping this storm.

My fear was that we lose power, and then the sump pump doesn't work. Causing our basement to flood.

When we first bought our house, it rained for 11 days straight. The final night brought torrential downpours..the 1-2 inch per hour kind. When we went to bed that night (because we gave up), water was beginning to rise in the basement through the sump pump crock.

We woke the next morning to 6 inches of water in our basement. The attached crawl space ( about 4 feet high), was filled to the top!

We had one other experience with a flooded basement (not to that extend!), but it was enough that I was worried. We had since repaired and replaced the sump pump, the crock, and the drainage, so we've had no problems (and we've had some pretty good rain, and snow melt events).

Sensing my dread, my husband took off Christmas Eve morning. He came home several hours later with a generator. The last one he could find (and he went to several stores). I helped him get it out of the van, put it together, and start it up. Music to my ears.

While he was gone, I moved all my workout equipment upstairs. I made sure that everything possible was off the floor and if it had to be on the floor, was at least in an plastic tote.

Of course, when I woke up Christmas Day, with no snow to be seen, and it continuing to rain, the power was on, and we went on our merry way.

But I had started out the basement.

Since I had moved a bunch of stuff around, why not keep going?

We had promised J that we would work on cleaning out the basement, so we could build a train layout for him. Currently he has a small layout sitting in front of the fireplace in my living room.

We both had the week off work. We couldn't go anywhere due to Covid. Let's get this thing done that we've been putting off for years.

I have often joked that a great present for me would be a large dumpster, and my husband taking the boys away for 2 weeks. This may have worked out better.

We started small. Moving items that we knew needed to go. We made a pile for items that could be donated. A pile of items for Goodwill, Salvation Army, the Habitat for Humanity ReStore, and our favorite daycare where the boys used to go. We also filled the trash bin and recycling bins. The piles were pretty big.

The ReStore got insulation, bathroom fixtures, and other items that could be used in a new home. It is a great resource to donate home improvement items, as well as lightly used furniture and, appliances.

Clothing from our college days were gone through and donated.

We joked with each other as we went through the items: "Does this bring you joy?"

We actually emptied a shelving unit....

We then started going through the boxes that were on the shelving units. Boxes and boxes of books were put aside. A lot of them were from my years working as a Museum Curator. They aren't textbooks, but non-fiction studies about everything from the Civil War, African-American Studies, Women's Studies, Material Culture, and just history in general. I also have several boxes of fiction titles that I had gathered over the years from my book club. Unfortunately, book donations at our library for their annual book sale has been suspended due to Covid, but I am hopeful that will begin again soon, now that a vaccine has started being administered.

We discovered that we may be great organizers, but we were horrible about throwing stuff out. We found bank statements from the late 1990s, statements from credit cards, electric and water company bills from 20 years ago, even "floppy discs" from computers that were long gone. Many of these items we decided to "shred", since we wanted to be cautious with our personal information.

We broke our shredder in the process.

After a week of sorting, shredding, tossing and donating, we had to stop. Christmas break was over. We needed to get the basement put back together, so we could get back to work on Monday morning.

I re-set up my workout space (there's a BowFlex in the basement!?!?), moved some shelving units around, and put the things that we had originally moved upstairs back downstairs (at least the ones we are going to keep).

We aren't done.

We ended up getting through about 2/3 of the entire basement. The last 1/3 is a lot of tools, paint cans, and building supplies, that will need to be organized, donated or just thrown out. But that is for another day.

For today, I can't wait to try out the BowFlex, and ride my bike in it's new space, with a 40" TV monitor to encourage me.

The other thing that I discovered going through all our old stuff, is how I "feel" about my stuff. Whereas years ago, I may have kept items, now, I was ready to let go.

I no longer needed certain things to define me. In fact, I tossed out and donated all kinds of items that a few years ago I probably would've kept.

I was mentally in a good place to let go. Oh, I still kept some things that should go, but the vast majority of stuff will be heading to a better place.

Maybe there is something to the "Does it bring you joy?" idea?

But not only that, I think that this Covid year (as well as age), has given me a better picture of what is important--what brings me joy! When I was younger, it probably was stuff. Today, it is different.

I have matured?!?!? Yikes!

What a great way to start a new year. All grown up, and ready to tackle anything.

It's a new year...and I'm starting fresh and starting strong!

7 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All


bottom of page