“What A Day This Has Been…”

“What a rare mood I’m in, why it’s almost like being…”

Well, the song goes on to say, it’s “almost like being in love.”  But that’s not how I would finish the lyric today.  Today it’s “almost like being…Mike Rowe.”

You know Mike Rowe…dirty jobs.  Love that guy.  Really.  Wish he’d been here today.

Thursday morning I discovered that our basement had about  an inch and a half of water on the floor.  Not the first time, probably not the last.  But never something I look forward to.

Called our reliable guy Chuck from Best Results in Redford. Chuck came out and cleared my outside pipes, which were clogged with tree roots, string and other items that I have NO IDEA how they got there.  Truly.

And my brain wants to figure out mysteries like this (thank you papa).  So Thursday night I dreamt that we had moved away from this house and then moved back and the people who lived here in between must have flushed these stupid things down the toilet.  Not true, but apparently the only explanation my subconscious could come up with.

We have been here before.  The water in my basement is not coming in from the outside, it is already here and finds it impossible to leave so it stays, in the basement, until Chuck comes and clears the way.

Once Chuck clears the way, my Handsome Prince then comes in with hose and bleach and makes it all better.

Only that didn’t happen this time.  This time there is no time.  No spare time.  My Handsome Prince has been working, a lot.  A LOT.  And there is no time for him to make it all better.  And frankly, it smells.  Not nice.  And the house smells.  Not nice.

So I had to pony up and do it myself.

And I learned a few things about washing the basement floor.  It is not a pleasant job to begin with, but my house, my precious house, where I have raised my family and lived and loved and whatever, this house makes the job harder.  And here’s why:

Top Five things that make this dirty job dirtier…

5.  Not enough light.  We have plenty of flourescent light fixtures in the basement, but one by one they have stopped working.  No it’s not the bulbs, we have replaced them.  Consequently, anything done in the basement must be done with the light from the windows (and therefore in the daytime) aided by one lone light bulb.  60 watt.  The job must be done in the day.  Handsome Prince works all day.  Ergo, I must do the job, thus making it dirtier, for me.

4. The instinct that one should not be running a hose in the basement. Common sense says, Do Not Pour Water Onto The Basement Floor.  And yet, I must pour water onto the basement floor.  This is not a bucket and mop job.  This calls for more water.  Lots more water.

I used a hose.  Attached to the wash tub sink.  A hose, a large broom, bleach, and a squeegee. (Okay, I have never written that word out before.  I’ve never seen it.  Just guessed at the spelling.  Expected spell check to catch it.  Seems I spelled it correctly.  That is one weird word.  Squeegee.)

Initially, I was tentative about the hose, and very sparing with the water.  I got over that.  By the end I was enjoying hosing down the basement.  Though it occurred to me that perhaps the washer and dryer should not be running while I was pouring water underneath them.  In fact, they should probably be unplugged.  Now kids, don’t do this at home, I paused long enough to, successfully, unplug them both, and then resumed a very liberal application of water to the basement.  I think I will wait until the floor and furnace duct vents are dry before plugging them back in.  If the ceiling is dry, the bottom of the washer and dryer should be too, right?

3. Clumping Kitty Litter. I have a cat.  He requires a litter box.  Clumping kitty litter is a wonderful innovation that makes litter clean up easy.  Until your basement floods.  Then clumping litter is the plague.  You don’t know how well you haven’t swept the floor until you soak it and discover clumping kitty litter sludge.  This must be swept up independently of the cleaning the floor.  Don’t want this sludge going down the drain, that will just cause the whole cycle to start over again.

2. Water soluble Paint.  You read that right.  My basement floor was painted in water soluble red paint.  Who does that?  Who makes that?!  I would like to know.  What Einstein made it? What Genius bought it? And what Fool applied it to what has become MY basement floor? Whenever the floor gets wet, the paint comes up and attaches itself to whatever is nearby: clothing, bedding, walls…

We painted over the red paint, with actual floor paint.  In grey.  Trouble is the grey paint is sticking to the red paint and the red paint isn’t sticking to anything but my laundry.  The result is a river of paint chips that must not be permitted to go down the drain, lest we begin the entire cycle again.

But preventing the paint chips from washing down the drain is not as hard as one would think, because of the number 1. thing that makes this dirty job dirtier…

1. Drains placed at the high points of the floor.  I have two drains in my basement.  Neither one is anywhere near the lowest point of the basement floor.  In fact, the lowest part of the basement floor is underneath the stairs.  If there were a topographic map of my basement, you could name the two mountains Drain 1 and Drain 2.

So the water must be encouraged, no, forced really, to go where no water wants to go:  Up.  Up to the drains.

This is best done with a broom.  A squeegee is ok, but the floor resembles a ski hill of moguls and the squeegee is so long it does not make complete contact with the floor.  This gives the water an escape, a way to avoid doing what is unnatural.

So I used the broom mostly.  And the hose.  I hosed down the floor for a really long time.  A really long time.  When the basement stopped smelling bad I knew it was time for the bleach.

Cool thing about bleach is that it sort of makes little suds when scrubbed into the floor with a broom.  After letting the bleach sit on the floor for a time, I picked up the hose again.  Now, with the bleach suds I could see the way the water ran.  Happily it does seem to want to run away from the walls, so the floor by the walls must be slightly elevated.

As I’ve said, the big pond is under the stairs, with a slightly smaller pond just south of it, and separated by a nice mound of floor.  The drain by the washer and dryer is useless.  Completely useless.  The second drain, thankfully is actually low enough to receive water.  I knew I had enough water on the floor when I could make white caps with the broom.

And now my basement floor is clean.  Wonderfully clean.  The dirty job is done.

I believe I will reward myself with a trip to the library, where I can escape into someone else’s world for a time.  I love fiction, but I don’t write it.  No point.  My life is stranger, messier, funnier and filled with more adventure than anything I could dream up.

And while I enjoy my sitcom, sometimes I like to turn the channel and enjoy someone else’s for a time.




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