02 January, 2008

Basement Blues

"Toss? Save? Who Decides?" Apparently, I do.

One of our top-of-the-list tasks is to clear out the basement, which we started to do last night. The previous owner of the Box House, a 94-year-old woman, had passed away last year, and we purchased it from her four children. Despite promises to have everything removed before we closed, they left us with an assortment of odds and ends to deal with—some of it pretty freakin' heavy, too. It will probably take a dumpster to get it all out. Here are some highlights:

Half a dozen boxes of Letters, Christmas Cards, Birthday Cards, Birth Announcements, Easter Cards, Graduation Programs, Wedding Invitations, etc., all of it spanning back 60 years, four generations of a family's milestones. I thought briefly of keeping it all, but it seemed too voyeuristic, too personal. Almost like reading someone's diary.

Instead, I flipped quickly through the boxes to see if there was anything specifically house-related, and then bundled up the rest for recycling. It made me kind of sad that the woman's family didn't want any of this stuff. It made me kind of cranky that I have to make angst-filled decisions regarding another person's ephemera collection.

A badly peeling cedar chest. The veneer on the top is all lifted. Is it worth restoring? I don't know. The interior smells good.

A dresser. After being told everyone in the family wanted to keep this piece for themselves, it turns out that nobody wanted it badly enough to actually remove it from the basement. Like the cedar chest, it's in very rough shape, with a fair amount of veneer loss. Still, maybe we'll keep it in the tool room or something for extra storage. I don't quite have the heart to throw it away. (However, the half bag of cat litter next to the dresser may come in handy when we go kitten-hunting in the next month or so.)

A trashcan filled with gosh-knows-what. It looks like bits and pieces of some kind of ceramic. Does it contain asbestos? Probably. Ted said it somehow reminded him of his mother's kiln from her pottery days.

A seventies-style jumpsuit? Cold War era protection gear? It was one of the only things left in the dresser, besides a ratty-looking stuffed dog and silver-plated salt-and-pepper shakers, souvenirs from someone's vacation to Arizona.

All in all, there is a fair amount of stuff to either haul away, sneak into someone else's dumpster, or set aside for future restoration—all of which must be decided upon before we get the rest of our stuff out of storage and into the Box House.

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