I love sorting through stuff, finding stuff. Today, with the realization that more debris will falling into the basement soon as the roof and walls are dismantled or smashed down, – and the weather has been dry for a few days,- with rain possible any time, NOW was a good time to put my face in that tight respirator style mask and hook up some bright lights and see what I could find in the basement while piling trash in the wheel barrow. Finding familiar objects feels different when many of them have been lost or severely damaged. It is kind of a thrill, like meeting an old friend or the one person you know in a crowd. If I meet someone from high school that I didn’t particularly like when I was in school, with the changed context of “the one person I know” in a crowd, new town, or some other new situation, suddenly that person is more precious, simply because the context is different.
I have about a 11 pound lifting load due to old injuries to my spine. A favorite tool is an old automobile licence plate. I use one a lot in the garden. It also works well to scrape and scoop the soggy crumbles of drywall, ashes, rock wool insulation bits, and bits of wood and other debris. I can not overload my body with how much will fit on a license plate! I had a nice fun sense of accomplishment seeing more and more of the floor be visible. I didn’t find much recognisable apart from the general debris components mentioned before. I did find several burned soggy copies by the Barefoot Farmer. These had fallen from the top floor of the house. Martin used to be a vendor at Festivals and had several copies of this book for selling . There also was an old book on sewing from the 1950’s. All these were too far gone for saving. I salvaged some tools, extension cords, light bulbs and metal for the scrap pile.
I also ran into 4 old whiskey bottles. There is another story there. The fella we bought the place from drank and hid the bottles from his wife.When my first husband worked on the place, he found whole or busted whiskey bottles everywhere, in the basement, in the old out outhouse pit, in the barn. The previous owner had the place for 8 years, 1972-1980. He built a bathroom and laundry room on the back of the house, poured a concrete slab for a patio on the back, and another slab for a screened in porch on the south side of the house, as well as building a barn, retaining walls carport, and digging a basement under half the house. The block walls he put up to make the barn are coming apart. The terracotta drainage tiles he used as foundation walls under the house are scarey too. Some of them move around. I discovered other prefire damage during my digout today. More rotten beams under bedrooms. The more I notice, the more I see that truely, truely, this house needed to come down and be rebuilt.
When my first husband and I bought the house in 1980, the entrance to the basement was in the carport. The kitchen window looked down onto the carport roof. We added an addition, a “great room” and basement/garage. The addition didn’t burn, but had great smoke and water damage… and the roof had problems since it’s construction, due to contractor ignorance. Since 1985, the old basement was accessible from the new garage/basement. The old basement was always a bit spooky (unsettling to look at). It is truly amazing that the shoddy workmanship survived this long… 30 some odd years. The basement runs halfway under the original house and is about 40 inches below grade. There are two house jacks, and one wall of the house is supported by cemented terracotta drainage tiles stacked in columns! The Previous owner didn’t understand about the stability of staggering courses. I suppose he saved all the stagger for himself, as he was drunk or at least drinking whiskey as he worked, burying whiskey bottles in his work. Terra cotta tiles line the dirt bank where the drunkards excavation ended. He left just enough dirt to just support the brick masonry chimney which was built when the house was first built. There were brick ledges to hold main floor joists. That chimney was located smack dab center of the original construction. Now I understand why. All that will be coming down soon.