The guy who originally finished the basement here on the estate was high on energy and execution, but low on money and experience. As a result, mistakes were made. He hopes to do better this time, despite being quite a bit older and slower and prone to back problems.
But before construction can begin, de-construction has to happen. Not the easy and fast destruction of demolition, but tedious and time-consuming disassembly, in order to keep the space livable while the project is under way and salvage raw materials to be re-used. (Because that shit costs money, man.)
So that’s what I’ve been doing in my spare time over the last few months. The worst part was removing the tile floor. Hours and hours of chiseling the tile up with a rotary hammer, loading the pieces into buckets and hauling them away, just to get to this point:
Which is a long, long way from finished. All the thinset you see in that photo that didn’t come up with the tile was stuck solidly to the concrete floor and had to be scraped/ground off. This is an extremely dusty process. If you ever decide to do a job like this, I highly recommend that you empty the space completely before you begin. Otherwise your furniture and all your stuff will look like this when you are done.
What looks like a white sheet covering my pool table started out as a clear piece of plastic. The dust was so fine, and so thoroughly filled the air, that even the furniture that was covered became filthy. Every square inch of every surface, and every single item in my basement had to be vacuumed and then wiped down with a cloth dampened with a solution of water and hydrogen peroxide. We are still wiping dust.
But the dust bowl days have given me an opportunity to rediscover some long-stored possessions. For instance, I found my bowling ball.
I haven’t had the old Black Diamond out since 1992. I didn’t open the bag, but I’m pretty sure there are some mid-’80s era bowling shoes in there, too. Today’s discovery is even older. The hockey skates I begged for, and eventually got, on Christmas in 1975.
Those were pretty good skates in their day, made in Canada by Daoust, with Phil Esposito’s signature on the back. But that was back when hockey skates were just stiff leather boots with blades riveted to the soles. It was also back when it got cold enough around here in winter for the canal by my neighborhood to freeze thick enough to play hockey on. Those days are long gone.
Back then ice skates didn’t have any insulation, so everybody bought their skates a couple of sizes too big in order to wear extra socks. My feet stopped growing before I ever outgrew these skates, which is why I’ve been toting them around for over 40 years. It gave me a little twinge of melancholy when I tossed them in the trash. My feet still fit the skates, but the rest of me knows too damned well not to put them on.