The gloves are coming off. Yesterday my husband and partner in crime publicly called me out on my err...hobby...of saving and reusing paper bags. As if having a hidden stash of nearly 100 bags jammed behind a piece of furniture in our kitchen qualifies as hoarding behavior! Humph. Okay, maybe it's a little nuts, but I was encouraged by the many commenters that shared my bag obsession. Your solidarity was greatly appreciated and helped me through my very public intervention. Now, turnabout's fair play.
Though my bag obsession was made public by my loving spouse, you have to realize that I'm not alone in abusing an area of our home by housing excess items that otherwise belong in the trash. And so in keeping with our theme this week of New Year's resolutions, this post will be devoted to the little problem my husband keeps hidden from the world in his secret mad scientist-like lair otherwise known as our basement.
My husband has a wood problem. I mean, my husband has a problem with tools. No, that doesn't sound right either. What I'm trying to say is that Alex has a classic case of "I'm not going to throw that out because I might use it some day on another project," which frighteningly enough you hear hoarders recite time and time again on reality television shows.
Back in 2002 when we began our home search, one of Alex's requirements was that our new home have a basement. I didn't give it much thought, but he insisted on a space for storage. Little did I know, our new home's modestly sized subterranean space would soon become a sore spot in our marriage. It's so bad in fact, that many of my closest friends have never seen this area of our home. And those brave enough to venture down the rickety stairs have remarked that they "can't believe I can put up with that" or they "can't believe it's part of my home," given how neat and tidy the other floors are.
So here's the moment you've all been waiting for. Are you ready? Brace yourself for a glimpse at the horror:
Good grief, I'm feeling a little bit nauseous just looking at the photo. Is anyone else itching with claustrophobia? Here's a highlight of some of the items stowed in this steaming pile of crap:
- Scrap pieces of wood from each and every home improvement project we've tackled in the last decade. Buckets of it, piles of it, and stacks of it, leaning against walls, stacked on shelves, tucked in the ceiling, it's everywhere you turn. This wood hoard also includes every leftover piece of wood siding, crown molding, old boards removed during projects, or wood that is going to be used on a project...sometime...someday. Do you see all of those nice straight boards leaning on the shelves? Yep, someday those will be our storm windows...someday.
- A claw foot bathtub. Yeah, seriously. We scored a great deal on this beauty about eight years ago, and it's been slumbering down there until we can refurbish it for our master bath. It's in the photo below. Just look really hard at what's beneath the old framed photos, part of Alex's Halloween costume from last year, and all the other junk.
- Alex's pride and joy, the server rack. Do you see all of those blue lights and wires on the right tucked under the stairs? He's wedged the thing in there and I hope it never has to move. It's actually one of the few organized things in our basement.
- An old oil drum, partially filled with rain water and oil, left from our home's oil heating past, who knows how long ago.
- A beast of a furnace with dangerously low ductwork. I can't count the number of times Alex has trudged upstairs with a bleeding cranium, nearly unconscious from his most recent head trauma after walking smack into the duct while not paying attention. I usually know what's coming when I hear a loud thud and then a muffled curse word or two. We even put a danger sign on it, but it hasn't helped him remember to duck.
- Every tool that we own, including all of the great ones we've talked about in our Toolbox Tuesday posts, as well as some that Alex deemed necessary during our trip to the home improvement store but have yet to break out of their packaging.
- A box of wedding gifts, that after nine years we just haven't found the "right" place for.
- The original seats that came with our Mustang.
- Our laundry area. I use that term loosely, as it's our washer, dryer, jug after jug of dust encrusted detergent and bleach, and used dryer sheets and lint strewn about on the floor. (You can barely see it on the right)
- Rolls of screen, house wrap, hand clamps, a hammock, beadboard, PVC, and even leftover fabric all hanging in the open joist cavities. (Okay, I might be responsible for the fabric.)
- A small inadequate tool bench that houses little more than Alex's obsessive collection of antique hardware.
- And, about four tons of other miscellaneous junk, house ware items, dirt, grime, dead bugs and general scuzz...like this box of plumbing, sandpaper, gloves, ductwork, and notebooks that served its purpose until the bottom blew out of it and it now sits, still, unmoving, sad, defeated.
Yeah, it's really that gross, and seems to pale in comparison to a little stack of shopping bags, doesn't it? So my hope for 2012 is that my darling husband resolves to clean up this space once and for all. I think the last time we cleaned it was back in 2007, so it's long overdue for the little sprucing up. I know we're both tired of tripping over things and spending countless amounts of time searching for items we need for the project at hand.
I am being critical about the mess here (Alex deserves it after yesterday's post), but we're off to a good start on the cleaning process. Alex tossed several contractor bags worth of garbage over the weekend, and I made four trips to the local charity this week to donate items that we thought someone else could use or enjoy. At this point you can almost see that we have a bathtub sitting in the basement, which I think is an improvement. So if we keep up our cleaning spree another three or four times, we might be in business. But someone is going to have to give up some copious amounts of wood. (Cough, cough.)
So let's have it. I want your honest opinion in the bag vs. basement hoarding fight of 2012. Who's the undefeated champion of the worst habit? In my opinion, Alex and his wood and tool issues have me in a TKO.