Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Rainy Days - Part II

During April, I wrote about the onslaught of rain which had arrived in the Midwest. Except for an occasion break, those rains have fairly steadily continued until the present time.

Now, I love rain as much as the next person. It makes things grow and helps the farmers. We all need water to hydrate, bathe and clean items. Water is so important that we even purchase it in plastic bottles for use when we are thirsty and are far from a water fountain or tap.

But enough already.

The weather report for the remainder of this week for many Midwestern states is for -- wait for it -- more rain. In fact, even today's 24-hour forecast calls for an additional one to three inches of rain!

Even if you don't live in a location which is currently under water, you can probably sympathize with those homeowners who are baling water or worse yet, happen to live in a flood plain.

Fortunately, some farmers were astute enough to plant early and their little sprigs of corn are already peeking up through the soil in tidy lines of green. Other farmers have yet to plant because they have been unable to get heavy equipment into the fields due to mud. By now farmers are either hoping that the already-planted crops don't rot from standing water or are chomping at the bit for a dry period. Time's a-wasting, guys. You know, "Knee high by the fourth of July."

I used to work with a woman whose basement flooded each time it rained. Obviously she had some sort of structural/plumbing problem to cause this to occur. But for several years she moaned and whined to anyone within shouting distance about how her Christmas decorations and other items stored in the basement were ruined. It wouldn't take a repeat disaster for most folks to either consult an engineer or put the house on the market during a dry stint and start over elsewhere.

In the Midwest, many homes have basements. Originally, homes had large furnaces for heating which burned coal. When I was little, we lived in such a house. Coal was on the way out by that time with modern alternatives underway. But the furnace and the coal bin took up significant space, necessitating the construction of a basement to hold them. Basements came in mighty handy right from the beginning. They were places to store foods for the winter and a place to huddle during a storm. Our house did not have air conditioning in the 1950s and so the basement was a nice, cool place to spend hot, humid afternoons.

Basements are now often used for laundry and storage. But many folks put things in their basement which they will never use again.

Several years ago, I went with a friend to visit his family in the northern Midwest. They had a large basement filled with boxes. FILLED. The contents included several sets of dinnerware that my friend's mother either found on sale and liked (but didn't need) or discarded sets that had been around for decades. All sorts of items were found there. Childhood games. School projects from decades before. He and I enjoyed inspecting the boxes when it was suggested that perhaps he would like to claim some goodies for his use at home.

He and I were shocked at how much stuff his parents had been kept. Decades worth of old Christmas wreaths, lights, and decorations. There was a tricycle that had been shared among the six children until each outgrew it. Perhaps the long-range goal had been for the tricycle to remain on the property to be ridden by visiting grandchildren. Chances are no one even recalled that the little tricycle was secured in the basement.

There were even boxes of clothing that had been outgrown. Clothing is a different item entirely, picking up the musty smell of the surroundings or being compressed to a wad. Moths tend to avoid basements but that is little consolation when someone else could benefit from wearing the clothing.

The next time that you experience a rainy day or are otherwise discouraged from getting out and enjoying the warm weather, think about all the boxes that you might have filled with "things" you no longer use/wear. Get sorting and be rid of some items. If something has significant meaning, store it where you could retrieve it if you wanted. Otherwise, pitch it out. Have a yard sale. Donate the items to charity. There are plenty of folks who would appreciate them.

Once the cleaning is done, you will have more space to do something productive. Create a quiet space for yourself. A game corner for the kiddies. A blank canvas that can be used for something in the future, should the need arise.

Let's put those rainy days to good use.

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