I am an addict. I’ve known this most of my life. I like fixing things. This may seem like an innocuous addiction, but it really gets in the way of relationships. For most of the past 30 years I’ve been trying to move from a thing-centered life to a person-centered life, a parallel to my journey from introversion to extroversion. Indulging myself in fixing things is now a luxury reserved for when relationships can take a back seat. Being married and having a daughter results in project days being few and far between.
When I realized that I would have a whole weekend to myself, I was not-so-secretly excited, much to the dismay of my wife. She wants me to miss her and Evie more than doing projects. There is no clear-cut, black and white delineation of what makes me happy, but like most things in life, it is the balance that matters most. So chalk this up to balancing the thing-centered part of my life.
We have a beautiful old house that exudes charm, grace, and opportunities to spend money (I will avoid comparisons to women). It provides a never-ending source of projects, so a weekend like this simply involves prioritizing. Or not. For me, one of the joys of a project day is to be able to have a few main goals while tackling all those other little things that you discover while doing the main goals. It slows down the priority list, but gives me an accomplishment “hit” that seems stronger than crossing another main project off the list.
Day 5 was a basement day. We have a dark, dank basement/crawl space that needs some serious work. 100 years of construction debris has accumulated, so before I can even think about encapsulating the basement, I needed to do a good cleanup and inspection. The collective idiots of history left behind things like cardboard, Christmas ornaments, wood debris, cast iron pipe, old galvanized water pipe, and old gas pipe that had to be cut, broken, or pried to get it out. Here is the final collection of scrap metal.
Those old sewer pipes were dang heavy, so it was a pain getting them up the stairs and through three doors without dumping on the ground whatever was inside the pipes.
While I was in kneepads, I also started cleaning up the excess wiring under the house. Years of cable TV, Direct TV, and whatever else had created a spaghetti-like maze of coax cable all through the house. Once I was done underneath, I had to finish the task by cleaning up the wiring outside the house and upstairs. Here’s the 20 lbs of wiring that I eventually got out.
It may not make much difference, but I feel much better. The other basement project was replacing the dryer vent. The existing one had long lost its vanes, so it was essentially a open hole for whatever weather (and creatures) that was outside to get inside. This also involved cleaning the lint out of the ductwork, which left me feeling like a lint proctologist. Like most things in this house, I don’t think anybody had cleaned it since it was installed in 1998.
It was hard. It was hot. It was dirty. But I loved it. I managed to cap off the day by finally finishing the second season of House of Cards. Definitely room for a season 3!