Here's the scoop: November 20, 2013

aThis won’t take long
The idea seemed innocent enough. They always do.
“Let’s clean the basement today,” my wife said on Saturday. I was quite certain that I didn’t hear, “Do you want to help me clean the basement?”
“No,” wasn’t a response option.
Truthfully, the basement was getting a bit messy for my tolerance level, too. Summer projects had ultimately yielded a few items not being put back in their designated places. More sloppiness followed. I was the guilty party.
Normally, I don’t mind putting the basement back in order, sweeping up a bit and calling it good. On Saturday, it quickly became apparent that “good” would not be good enough in this instance. The words “It will take 45 minutes between the two of us,” somehow rang hollow.
I had a hint that this project’s timeline might get extended when my wife (the neat one) began asking seemingly innocent questions like, “Do we use this anymore?”

Changing opinions
Before long, a number of items were stacked up in an “expendable” pile. It became obvious that my fascination for collecting random pieces of wood was starting to have an impact on available storage space. Since the ground had been saturated from recent rains, I decided to torch up some of this excess wood in the fire pit. Because the wood was pressure-treated or painted, there was no use for it in the fireplace. Too bad, we could have heated for a few weeks with the amount of wood that went up in smoke.
I was also somehow convinced to “get rid of” (translation: burn) a bunch of other paper-based items that I had been storing in hopes that they might become valuable. The mold that covered these pieces reduced the strength of my argument.
As we began to work our way toward the back of the basement, my wife and I were both emboldened by the amount of space we had freed up.
“What about the lounge chairs that we were going to have repaired?” she asked.
This was a trick question, since she knew my tendency to be powerless once “cleaning momentum” took over my body.
“Kindling,” I responded without hesitation.

Multiple benefits
This turned out to be a good choice on two fronts — the lounge chairs had deteriorated badly since they’d gone into storage. On the bright side, the soon-to-be former furniture had no harsh chemicals on it and was quickly reduced to prime kindling.
It took more than nine hours of combined labor before we finished the basement-cleaning task. (See 45-minute estimate above). Despite this job taking up a good portion of a beautiful fall day, there was a nice sense of satisfaction of a job well done — and badly overdue.
Now comes the tough part — overcoming the urge to not put tools, etc., back in their proper place. And to actually pull out the broom and dustpan immediately after dirt is tracked in and or something gets spilled.
The most difficult part, though, will be learning to stop thinking, “I’ll probably need this piece of 18-inch-long, cracked, blue-painted, pressure-treated scrap board someday.”
— Brian Sweeney