December 2015 brought us record setting rains which caused our basement to flood. The carpet soaked up much of the rain and kept the water from moving swiftly to the sewer on the other side of the basement. While the majority of the finished area of the basement was affected, there were areas that remained water free because of diligence on our part. When he discovered the water at 10 AM, my husband immediately started the shop vac roaring. At some point family members lent their shop vacs and hands and by the time the rain finally stopped at 8 PM we had three vacs and five people working frantically. The water came in as quickly as we vacuumed it up. Furniture was put on plastic lids and books were carried upstairs. Our insurance company informed us nothing was covered since it wasn’t sewer water. (Thank goodness it wasn’t.) Water mitigation companies were called. We were placed on waiting lists because they had more calls than they could handle. By the time we dropped to bed in exhaustion that night every fan we owned was running in our basement and the water was no longer flowing.
The enormity of trying to prevent mold and trying to take care of our belongings seemed paralyzing. For days we moved things up, down, and around. Our double garage was filled with things from the basement. Every room of the house had (and still has) extra books, chairs, and other belongings. The main plan was to get things off the damp carpet but we had no place to put all of the things we had accumulated through the years. We knew it would take months to get the basement repaired and things put back in place.
Some of our “stuff” began to lose its importance. We started purging those items we could easily decide were unimportant. These we piled in boxes and took to a local thrift store. Purging became a little more of a challenge after the first few times we filled the minivan with donations. But when we waited several days between our assaults and trekked things immediately to the thrift store we began to throw caution to the wind. Some unidentified containers and containers full of needed items are buried so deeply in the depths of our garage that we won’t be able to tackle those for months. After nine or ten trips to the thrift store, one thrift store pick up of furniture and larger items, and many weekly bags of trash, we were finally able to get one car in the garage and find the lawn mower. Of course the other half of the garage is stacked about five feet high. My husband and I made a pact that nothing goes back in the basement without the approval of both of us.
Probably my own personal biggest “collection” was books, both adult and children’s books. I had books I had never read, books I knew I’d read again, books I thought I’d read again. The PTO at my old school held used book sales every year and I always walked out with bags of books, some of which sounded only mildly interesting. For years I have used my Nook Glow for most of my reading as I can check out books online from the library and don’t have to remember to return them to avoid hefty fines. I can also carry many books with me on one small device, which is great for traveling. My first book purge was pretty simple. If I hadn’t read or thought about reading a book in the last five years it would go. It became a little more difficult when I started perusing my shelves full of beautiful gardening books. I kept my dog-eared favorites of course, including my first gardening book which is honest about which plants are aggressive or health hazards to dogs or people. Several of my books were printed in England and had information on plants that are difficult to find here. Although beautifully illustrated, these books were big and bulky and out the door. I use the Kemper Plant Finder site to research my plants now so I haven’t opened these books in years. My children’s books, left over from my teaching days, were mostly in rubber containers and they got carried out and buried in the garage some place. Those I may use some day if I ever decided to tutor or if I have grandchildren. (I know purging means parting with things you might use “some day”… but children’s books don’t count.) I purged more than 50% of my adult books.
My husband’s biggest collection was old paint. It’s not easy to dispose of used paint and so it has accumulated. He has spent months drying out paint in every way he can so that it can be discarded. It’s a process!
Meanwhile, the actual basement has been partially taken apart and is still in the process of being rebuilt. The mitigation company sent a team a few days after the event. Drywall was cut and fans and dehumidifiers ran for days. We decided to have drain tile and a sump pump installed, which involved research, bids, a wait time, and six days of construction. The remodeling company has rebuilt the drywall. We are currently making decisions about carpeting and looking for sturdy shelving as the wooden storage shelves were torn out when the drain tile was laid. It’s been a process that has been all consuming and keeps us tied to the house.
I saw the quote below one day and immediately thought about all of the old energy being removed from our house. I am patiently waiting to see what new energy will now enter.