The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #169078   Message #4109992
Posted By: Charmion
13-Jun-21 - 10:19 AM
Thread Name: De-clutter & Fitness in a Pandemic: 2021
Subject: RE: De-clutter & Fitness in a Pandemic: 2021
The basement is the guts of a house, and when things go wrong down there it can get ugly.

In the basement of my present abode, about eight non-specialized receptacles and five light fixtures are wired on a single circuit. (Consistent with the National Building Code, the furnace, washer and dryer are independently wired into the breaker panel.) The electronic thermostat and switching technology of the gas-fired water heater is on that circuit. When any other high-demand gadget (such as an electric kettle) is running when the water heater kicks on, the circuit-breaker trips. We learned about this special feature when the the kitchen was under construction and we were living in the basement. With no stove for nearly two months, we had the microwave, the toaster oven, the espresso machine and the electric kettle all plugged in down there. It took me a week to figure out how to make breakfast without unpleasant interruptions.

A childhood basement can be a place of mystery. The hundred-year-old clapboard house where my family lived when I was born was built long before central heating was dreamed of, with a rubble foundation and a dirt floor in the cellar. The retro-fitted furnace lived down there, along with the coal bin, the oil tank and the sump pump. More than that I do not know, for we kids were forbidden to go down there -- probably because our Mum was afraid we would do something awful to the furnace and set fire to the house. Also, dirt floor.

When we moved to the city in 1964, the new house was a great, solid Edwardian pile with a stone foundation and at least ten feet of headroom in the cellar, which was dominated by the largest, blackest furnace I have ever seen. The space was divided into five rooms, one of which I was unaware of until 1981, when I cleaned the place so my Dad could sell it. My brother had a darkroom down there that rapidly became his personal bolt-hole. Except for that area and the furnace room, which also accommodated the laundry equipment and a toilet, the rest of the cellar was devoted to the stuff my mother accumulated and absolutely refused to relinquish.

By the time she died, in 1980, that cellar was packed from the floor to the joists with all manner of materials, from old appliances and a set of false beams from the rectory down the street (eight of them, all quarter-sawn oak) to shoeboxes full of door knobs, hinges, thread spools, and porcelain junction boxes from the days of knob-and-tube wiring. It took me a week of hard manual labour, including a full day with "two men with truck" who tried to quit on me at lunch-time, to empty it from room to room, wall to wall.

So ... yeah. No wonder I'm a neatnik today.