Friday, February 17, 2012

A work in progress...

There is a possibility I might have a couple come stay in my basement living space for a couple of months.  So, I have been slowly working on creating more space in the shelving area for their groceries and to make the bath area more useful, as a part of my on-going effort to reduce, recycle, and reorganize my stuff in the basement.

I still have a ways to go here.  Even seeing the "missing" research binders in the after photo is still hard for me.  But if you care to look closely, you will note that I reduced my research text books by nearly half.  Since I had them all off the shelf, I did take the opportunity to group them by topic.  While there are a few books I waffled over, in the end I believe I still have a strong collection of texts regarding literacy, including children's literature, multicultural literature, reading, writing, drama, instructional methodologies, assessment, and remediation.  They are all on the bottom shelf.

On the top shelf, you will see the vertical stack of binders that still need my attention.  I am loathe to simply toss them as they are all teaching materials.  However, I am not sure it is realistic for me to think I might transfer them all to electronic form.  The other binders are a mixture of my dissertation stuff, family history, the mother-daughter book club, professional work samples, and organizational development samples.  Of these, I suspect there is still room for some reducing and recycling of paper.

The other main difference is that I have moved the office supplies from one of the smaller black metal shelves to this shelving unit.  I put all the hole punchers and the paper shredder on the floor, but I would rather they not be there.  I think I still need to work out what I have out by way of office supplies, especially since I have that other shelf still, full though it is.

The "bath" is really in two parts: 1) a toilet, sink, a "new" storage option, and soon-to-be-installed medicine cabinet, light, and plug in the far, back, right-hand corner of the room and 2) a shower stall over by the laundry area. Above, then, is my solution for a bathroom cabinet.  I spent $5.98 on a rather cool textured spray paint for the shelves.  The baskets are all ones that I had "rescued" from the trash after office catering parties.  When I was working, I used the four larger ones for filing bins.  I also often used all of them at expos at our table display to hold collateral materials.  Once again, I am re-purposing them.  I thought that the couple could use them to store their bathroom items.  Of course, the shelves could be used bare, but when I have things just standing on a shelf, I tend to knock over items when reaching for something else.

The other largest difference I do not yet want to post a photo.  This is because the medicine cabinet, light, and plug are not yet installed.  They will add to a superb before and after shot.  As for the difference...I had been using a couple of curtains that were left in the house as a screen for the toilet.  For someone to stay here, I need a true room divider for privacy.  But when I was taking down the curtains, I got this rather brilliant idea.  Hanging from the ceiling like they were, the curtains looked kind of silly, but moving them to the wall behind the toilet made them look more like a fabric wall treatment.  AND moving them to the wall behind the toilet meant covering up the exposed toilet and sink water lines and main sewage piping that was look at and really made the bath less of a bath and more of a basement.  

Just making that change and adding this new storage option next to the toilet and sink have made a tremendous difference in the space.  I cannot wait to see what it looks like once the medicine cabinet, light, and plug are there.  The plug electrical wire will be running down the wall, but I hope to paint it to mask its presence a bit.  [Yes, I am not supposed to be doing any sort of painting, lifting, scrubbing, or the like for months.]

I got two quotes a while back to move the shower stall over and create a real bathroom.  Both were about $5,000.  Given the cost of the house, that is not the best investment, I believe.  I do believe restoring the shower, replacing the broken toilet, adding the sink (and soon the mirrored medicine cabinet, light and plug), moving the free-standing closet to the living space, adding a bed, desk, couch, dresser (I still need to find one), and electrical outlets on all the walls, painting the walls and the ceiling, putting lace curtains over the windows (they need a bit of sewing still as they are currently pinned to the rod), and re-doing the laundry area (creating the counter, moving the washer next to the dryer, replacing the broken sink, painting the walls, and adding the faux window mirror and the large area rug) has made a tremendous difference to the basement as a living space without a tremendous outlay of cash.

If I do get some longer term renters, I would use the money to continue to improve the space, such as carpet the floor, replace the florescent lighting with something that fits up between the rafters, add a light above the shower, perhaps even replace the shower, and perhaps create a storage area beneath the stairs to the outside.

The bath is in the utility part of the basement.  In that space is also the old, old, old GREEN wooden table that used to serve as my desk. I was thinking that a couple could use it as a table when they wanted to eat alone, instead of upstairs in my dining room.  However, on the table right now are some antique books.  Sadly, I cannot find a spot for them elsewhere.  I do still have an empty banker's box on the main shelving unit that I believe should hold them all.  I plan to have someone help me move the table away from the wall and turn it so that is functions more like a table and less like a desk.

I love that old wooden table, and not just because the paint that remains on it is GREEN.  I love it because one of my stepmother's relatives made it decades and decades ago, from old barn wood.  It is solid.  It has experienced more life than have I.  And it is still useful even though it has seen its better days.  Perhaps, one day, I could get a glass top for it.

Sometimes, I sort of worry at how restful it is for me to putter about organizing, reducing, recycling.  I did finally donate the disastrous-to-me crock pot and the wok for which I could find no home.  The woman helping me told me about this non-profit that allows homeless families transitioning back to apartments or homes to choose household items for free.  Before taking those two larger items over, I went through ever cabinet and drawer in the kitchen and pulled out things I simply have not used or had more than one of save for rubber spatulas since you can never have enough of those.  I ended up with two boxes and one bag of items.  For example, I had two colanders.  I really only need one.  I also had two serving dishes I have not used in at least a decade.  If I ever left the hermit life and cooked for others again, I could just use the depression glass dishes I have to serve instead of those every-day ceramic ones.  I added extra cake pans and utensils like peelers and tongs.

When I dropped them off at the Mustard Seed, the woman nearly wept. Again, I was so very embarrassed and humbled by how needful and desired were my cast-offs.  She practically salivated over that darn crock pot!  When I am feeling better, I wish to go through the kitchen items again to see if I might have missed anything that could be used by another family rather than gather dust in a drawer or on a shelf.

Of course, all that reducing...along with finding still more expired items that are not even from this decade...means there is now more space in the kitchen for some renters' groceries upstairs as well.  If only I could figure out the puzzle of sharing a refrigerator!

Capturing the memories of ground gained over the past two months, of good things, after struggling through a really difficult time is in itself good.

I am Yours, Lord.  Save me!

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