Monday, July 30, 2007

Damp Cardboard Is Icky

I was considering posting an official blogging hiatus for the next couple months... but I decided to keep trying, despite my total lack of energy.

So here it goes. My weekend, by Cheryl.

While so many of you are partying hardy at the BlogHer conference, I stayed home to be productive. This means taking a three-hour nap every day and reading no less than three paperback novels. The Cat Who Could Read Backwards and The Cat Who Ate Danish Modern by Lilian Jackson Braun and By The Light Of The Moon by Dean Koontz. Very different writing styles, of course, but I'm in a changeable mood. I couldn't decide whether I wanted to dig into a dense Ken Follett, a freaky Koontz, a summertime-reading Rosamunde Pilcher or as-light-as-they-come Braun. Can you tell that I finally unpacked my book boxes? It was an exciting time to unpack all of my old friends... only to find out that we really need more bookshelves. My paperbacks are actually double stacked in double depths right now, but at least they aren't in boxes.

Can I now tell you how much I hate cardboard boxes? Holy cow, I hate them. They are a really bad idea for anybody who lives in a climate susceptible to flooding, humidity and damp basements. A seriously bad idea.

When we bought our house in January, we marveled at how dry and free from water damage the basement was. We even had a receipt from a local dry-basement company to prove that our basement had once passed its rigorous tests. As spring came and the snow melted and the rain happened, we re-evaluated our opinion. Our basement floods. Not deeply, just a half-inch of ground water that seeps in from at least two sides. And though we had put all of our boxes in the center of the basement, they still got wet. And you wouldn't believe how quickly damp cardboard grows mildew and other colorful types of mold. It's really amazing. For the record, we should have noticed that the dry-basement receipt was from seven years ago, and our basement hadn't been serviced since then.

We dedicated two hours each day this weekend to going through boxes. There were about thirty tv-sized boxes down there. Some were ruined, all were dank and damp. And most contained clothes, blankets and pillows. A large majority of the clothes went straight into the wash piles, some were totally ruined and just tossed. We did manage to fill three large duffle bags full of clothes that were clean and didn't totally reek and could safely be donated to our local shelter. It'll be a week-long process, though, as the rest of the items go through the wash and get sorted into winter bins or donation boxes.

Wow, we have lots of junk. We did a cursory sort-through of stuff before we moved, but really, most of the stuff went straight into big boxes to be sorted later. I don't really regret that, but I do regret the use of cardboard boxes... and putting those boxes into the basement instead of our huge totally dry attics. (Plural because it's one-and-a-half stories. The upstairs living area is only the center of the house, twelve feet wide, to avoid having really steep ceilings on the side. The rest of the space is all attic, not insulated, but dry and relatively clean. Two separate areas.)

Going through boxes was interesting. Found lots of thrilling items.
- Tupperware that we still can't figure out the purpose of.
- A ziploc bag with a Darth Vader t-shirt in it ("We can't get rid of that. It's never been worn. It's Darth Vader. It's a collectible. It'll be worth like five bucks someday.")
- My exercise/birthing ball, deflated.
- Various pieces of computer/technological hardware. Odd random items like the face plate to a VCR, pieces of motherboard, etc. Can you tell I married a tech packrat?
- At least a dozen items that could be labeled as protective gear. Shin/elbow guards for Tae Kwon Do, knee braces, jock straps. Who needs three jock straps?
- Lots of embroidery thread. I used to be an avid cross-stitcher. So was my husband. When we married, we combined our treasure trove and promptly gave up the hobby.
- About a hundred pages of "how to write a novel" information I printed from the internet. That all went into the recycling bin.

It was a fun weekend. Lots of bending over to dig in boxes for me, so I had to rest for hours after our sessions, but it was worth it.

In other news, we priced out dehumidifiers for our basement, and totally got sticker shock. Oh my god, those babies are expensive. Especially after we realized that our tires are totally bald and need to be replaced before the snow flies. It's all very depressing to contemplate when we realize that I'll only be working for another five weeks.

My dear HR department made me cry last week. Although I was easily approved for my intermittent family medical leave so I could lie down more and rest when I have contractions, after two weeks, I found out that they weren't really expecting me to use it. In nine days, I used 9 hours of leave, and was given a strict warning. If I keep using the leave as often as I had (about two partial afternoons a week), I'd have to start getting re-certified by my doctor with each "event." 15 dollar co-pay to see my doctor and I'd still be taking the time unpaid. It was very depressing, and I was very upset. I don't really know what I'll do if I keep feeling so awful. I should be going home to rest, but instead, I try holding out here at work and keep downing Tylenol to dampen the pain (but it doesn't help). My husband is mad, and I'm tempted to re-adjust my termination date to something a lot sooner. Oh well. That's life. Only five weeks left.