The Basement

We are cleaning the basement at my house. I find this immensely exciting. Seriously. And when Mr. Lippman takes on a project, he works with a ferocity and a level of perfectionism that is truly admirable. (If only we could find a way to channel his formidable drive into something creative.) What have we found?

Books. Books, books, books. Some — not many, I don’t second-guess myself about reading and re-reading — have found their way back onto the shelf. (Apologies, The White Tiger.) ┬áMost have gone to the Book Escape where we have a credit to buy . . . more books.

Crap. We are filling three-to-four garbage bags every day. There seem to be an unusual number of broken kites, which we buy at the beach every summer. Also, a lot of coffee cups, which cannot fail to amuse me.

Things that were never unpacked after our kitchen was remodeled three years ago. All my fault. This has included some lovely discoveries. Ramekins! This old set of spice jars, which I have decided to spiff up. An almost complete set of crystal.

Chairs. They appear to be breeding. Four old oak chairs, one broken, purchased at the Waco flea market almost thirty years ago. Four chairs from Scan. A desk chair. A wooden folding chair. A child’s chair. Another wooden chair. It’s like The Birds, but with chairs.

There also is a set of my grandmother’s china, which no one wants — including me. The people who buy china say this pattern is not in demand, except for the serving platters. I don’t want it, yet I’d like it to go to a good home.

We often speak of the mind as an attic. I think that’s because our heads are at the top end of our bodies; the brain is a storehouse under the eaves. But lately, I feel like my brain is more of a basement. I am digging deep, dredging up stuff I forgot that I had. (“Oh, yeah, her mother’s only fifty-five, that’s interesting, use it.”) I am getting dirty and sweaty. There is little visible sign of progress.

But then you find something like this graceful little vase, coated with dirt. You clean it, put some flowers in it, and the day seems to have been worthwhile, even if it’s just one small vase with flowers that are going to die. (We’re cheerful like that around here.)

In short: I’m in the middle of a book, with another one about to go on sale. Life is going to get complicated for a while, albeit in a good way. And before I know it, I’ll be hip-high in the basement again, literally and figuratively.

Thanks for showing up for the first week of the new blog. Next week is when things get really interesting. Complete details about how to attend the Aug. 22 pizza party at Iggie’s. Pay close attention. Because once the online sign-up window closes, it has closed.

Meanwhile, it’s Friday, time for a dance party. Here’s the current house favorite.

Like the hero, I am diligent, but not very elegant. My output doesn’t stink, though. Even with a week of basement cleaning, I have managed 6,000-plus words this week. Is your creative process up under the eaves or down in the depths? Please share in the comments section.


4 thoughts on “The Basement

  1. I’ve enjoyed reading your blog and wanted to respond to your ? about the creative process. Currently there are a few of my works on the front burners, one on a back burner, and one that hasn’t made it to the stove top as yet but is starting to demand equal time. All are collaborative efforts. I’m averaging out at first floor level. I suppose I’m about as diligent as possible but always appreciate the discipline that many creative types bring to each day

    I look forward to reading your new book.

    All best wishes.

  2. One of the coolest things about leaning out a basement, attic, garage, or even a box of stuff you stored or had moved and did not unpack, is feeling like a pirate on a treasure hunt. You never know what will turn up.
    We lost every piece of furniture and stuff we had from Hurricane Rita (the ugly step-sister to Katrina, three weeks later), and the little bit of stuff a friend retrieved for us smelled moldy, was moldy, and mostly ruined. Hard part was losing three big items of clothing–a black silk dress from Hong Kong that my mother wore years ago when she and Dad went out with friends on Saturday nights, and she smelled so wonderful with her “Channel (sic) #5,” with her clutch purse and its jeweled clasp. Very chic. The next two items were the christening gowns a dear friend had sent to my daughters, and were completely ruined. All their baby clothes that were precious to me were sodden. Loads of books, all our clothes–everything. Very little of our furniture was worth anything, and not much to look at, but it was ours. We were looted. Had no flood insurance. Would you believe two obvious drug addicts wanted to take the thrown out items from us so they could sell them for a fix? The things that were lost were irreplaceable, but what really hurt was losing things my girls had made for me when they were younger than when Rita occurred–in 2005, they were 13 and 8, so you can imagine my feelings. We lost their photos, and the videos. Those were the stabbing pains type of losses. And their toys, especially Madeline (the younger daughter) lost her three favorite baby dolls, and she referred to them as “dead.” Heartbreaking.
    So here’s the thing: Finding a lost thing, like the ramekins, or the little vase that just needed a little elbow grease and love, is like getting back a piece of your heart. We all know that we can’t take it with us, nor would we necessarily want to, but to find a thing that was lost, or misplaced, or even put aside and forgotten about, is a treasure in itself. So, I love this particular blog entry, Laura. And if you don’t want your Grandma’s china, I’ll take it, if you like. My “china” is a mishmash. Or donate it to Goodwill, and make a young person’s day, especially if they find that china and say, “Hey, Mom had this china, and she’s always wanted more.” You’ll have given them the gift of a treasure hunt that brought them joy. And that is a gift that gives and gives.

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