Sometimes I wonder what pushes me to keep doing this – posting every day for 30 days. Is it because I want to celebrate Thanksgiving in writing? Is it because I want to see if I can really complete the challenge? Perhaps it’s because I want to develop a habit of journaling everyday. And, according to some obscure self-help book, if you want to form a habit, do that thing for 30 days. We’ll see. Maybe I want to examine my life, for Socrates advised that “a life unexamined is not worth living.”
Whatever the reason, I feel like this has been a good experience. Throughout the day, I often contemplate what I am grateful for and then try to decide which of those I want to blog about. I mentioned more than once that I’m well aware of many significant blessings in my life; nevertheless, I write about pretty simple, even silly things. Why? Because I don’t have to think so deeply about such incidentals. I can write at a “surface level” which doesn’t take nearly as long as laboring over thoughtful pieces.
So, what minor necessity/luxury do I appreciate on the 17th day of blogging? My hide-away/ my refuge/my BASEMENT!
Until we moved here to the little-house -on-the-golf-course, we had not enjoyed a finished basement. But I wasn’t too sad about that because I’ve never really been a big fan of basements. Let’s face it, for long time, these subterranean rooms were cReEPy!
Gramma H’s was the scariest because it was more of a cellar, while Gramma B’s basement included a finished bedroom of sorts where my sister and I slept when staying the night. Both of my grandparents’ basements, however, housed monstrous coal furnaces – the kind that inspires NiGhTMaReS! There were also fruit rooms in these cellars, but in addition to canned peaches, tomatoes, and pears, we could also find bottled spiders and preserved earwigs amongst the dust and cobwebs. Sometimes I hated retrieving harvest bounties from such sinister confines, but upon other occasions, I enjoyed pretending I was an orphaned child left to my own devices in the dungeon of an abandoned mansion. Imagination nearly always fortified the courage needed to wander down creaking stairs and meander through narrow and dank passages to my destination. More than once, however, a sudden clang or mysterious groan from the furnace room sent me scuttling back up the stairs to the warmth of Gramma’s kitchen.
The basement in my childhood home was modern in comparison. Mom and Dad refinished it to include a “rumpus room” or “TV room” – precursor to the “family room” of the 70s and 80s and the “great room” of today. Our rumpus room ran nearly the entire length and width of the front of the house, thus allowing for a cozy TV-watching nook and a hobby area where Mom often sewed and worked on other projects. I can still see the yards of Kelly-green and gray linoleum flooring and remember the “dutch-door” that opened into the room by halves. I’m not sure why my folks installed such a door, but it was a built-in play thing for Connie and me. We loved to open the top half and pretend to take orders for hamburgers like waitresses did at walk-up diners. Other times, we’d close the top half of the door, open the bottom and just duck and run in and out, in and out, in and out. I don’t know why we thought that was so fun, but we did.
A semi-finished play room and an unfinished wash room and furnace room each held its own memories of mischief and mayhem. Once I played with candles in the playroom, and when Mom called me upstairs, I hurried and blew out the flame – or so I thought. Because the candle was stuck in the center of a stack of black plastic coasters, the burning wick melted both wax AND plastic, creating caustic, black, billowing smoke. The smoldering coasters slowly burned the top of our little wooden kitchen table until the acrid odor wafted upstairs and alerted Mom and Dad. The young pyromaniac was justly punished!
The washroom served as the scene of a birthday mystery. While patiently playing at the neighbor’s, waiting for my party to start , I decided to return and search for Mom because I worried that my cake remained UNfrosted. I could not find her anywhere in the kitchen or bedrooms, so I turned my investigation to the basement. As I clip-clopped down the stairs, I noticed drops of blood splattered on nearly every step! I followed the trail to find a small pool of the red stuff in the wash room. Screaming her name, I ran outside, sure that some basement boogie-man had first maimed and then kidnapped my mother ON MY BIRTHDAY! I don’t remember how long I wandered from door to door looking for her, but I finally learned that a friend rushed Mom to the hospital to stitch up the finger she nearly sliced off with a wire cutter! In spite of her injury, my cake was frosted and my party at Ross Park proceeded as scheduled. WHAT A MOM!
I hid the evidence of my sugar habit in the crevices and crannies of the unfriendly furnace room. I think my addiction to straight-from-the-package-Jello started when the neighborhood Jello junkie gathered us urchins to the field at the entrance of our street. The tall weeds hid our clandestine activities from the grown-ups. Better than PixiStix, the powdery substance was divided among a half-dozen dirty cupped hands. We savored every lick, but the paltry portion didn’t satisfy my lust for sugar. For weeks after, I robbed our kitchen cupboards of J-E-L-L-O! I’d head for the furnace room and lick the sticky stuff until both my palms and tongue turned bright red, orange, or green – depending upon the available flavor! Not wanting to risk Mom finding the boxes and wax-paper pouches in the trash, I stuffed the evidence behind stacks of boxes and barrels that shared space with the furnace. (I guess I thought Mom and Dad wouldn’t notice my colorful hands or tongue.) Of course, she always stumbled upon the proof of my thievery and consumptive habit, and it drove her cRaZy! She didn’t think I’d ever wean myself from the sugary goodness! (In years since I’ve tried another lick or 2, but somehow it just doesn’t have the same appeal as it did when I fed my habit in hiding!)
As I finally finish this lengthy rambling, I’m sitting in my cozy hide-away. The overstuffed sectional circles around the big screen TV, which is playing Sinatra/American Standards over a SIRIUS music station. My feet are propped up on the HUGE ottoman; bookshelves line the walls; and the lights are low. I can feel the stress of the day drain away as I relax here in the BASEMENT. Ahhhhhh!