When we moved into the lake house 18 months ago, I packed 95% of our possessions and stored them at the farm. Most of our furniture (after 30 years in faculty housing, we don’t own much except beds and bookcases) is in the garage. Most of the books and other boxed stuff is stacked in the unfinished mudroom.

In my contract with the builders, partially finishing the mudroom — wiring and insulating, sheetrocking the ceiling, and tiling the floor — is included. Finishing the walls is not. I myself will be finishing the walls, probably in May. I got a deal on a load of “rustic” tongue-and-groove knotty pine. I imagine between the cheap pine and my skills, the result will indeed be rustic. I will press on. It is a mudroom. (I can hear Allen in my mind: “You ain’t buildin’ a church!”)

However, before anyone can finish the mudroom, I have to empty it. The entire 16’x16′ space has been stacked head-high. Everything must be moved to the new basement.

My plan was to work on this project an hour a day over vacation. Instead I got very sick and the virus hung on for days that stretched into weeks. We had a blizzard.

By the time I felt well enough to tackle the mudroom, there was a snowbank over four feet high in front of the door.

After an hour of labor, I had shoveled a path to the doorway. See the hump in the path? Solid ice under the roof valley.

A couple of years ago I had found a discarded hand truck with rotted, flat tires. For $25 I had my friend Mike replace the tires and now I had a perfectly serviceable tool.

Unfortunately, carrying it into the mudroom, I slipped on the ice, tripped over the hand truck, and the left steel handle reared back and smacked me in the jaw like a hammer. I gasped for quite a few moments on my hands and knees, wondering if my jaw was broken. Luckily, no. However the rest of the day was spent with a bag of frozen peas clapped to my face, and it hurt to chew for a week.

The following day Lucy came down to help me move boxes for an hour.

We also wrestled my big steel filing cabinet down the cellar stairs. Lucy had been dubious, but after many years of working alone to move items too heavy for me, I felt confident that with a hand truck and two women we could manage it. I was right.

After that, I have tried to address the job for an hour several days a week. We own dozens of boxes of books. The work is not hard but climbing up and down the temporary stairs is a workout. People pay big money to use stair-climbing machines, I remind myself when my thighs begin to tremble.

To capture the warmth from their propane heaters, the men had the mudroom sealed off with plastic. Every day I’d have to un-tack and re-tack this sheeting. I rarely saw the builders, usually visiting the site after they had left for the day.

On Saturday I arrived to find the plastic replaced with a flattened cardboard box.

The cardboard was reinforced with furring strips and had a handle made of electrical wire and PVC pipe.

It even had a weighted door closer made of a piece of rope, an empty wire spool, and a scrap of 2×4.

Finally, the door was labeled.

My heart smiled.

I have moved most of the book boxes and now I’m down to the large items — heavy packed boxes, bed frames, giant industrial shelves, plus all the miscellaneous “stuff” that was thrown in on top of the neat boxes in the last minute rush: styrofoam insulation, hoses, window screens, miscellaneous lumber and other building supplies, children’s sports gear, a doll house. The move in 2015 was done under such pressure that I had no time to sort or evaluate anything. It all went in, higgledy-piggledy.

Little by little, I’ll get it moved. I’ll sort it next summer.


3 Responses to Schlepping

  1. Newly says:

    Who wouldn’t gain strength for the journey from such a door? Wonderful. Onward! xoxo

  2. Elaine Murphy says:

    Your carpenters are very thoughtful….luckily you didn’t break your jaw or teeth when you fell.

    • adkmilkmaid says:

      Thank you, Newly and Elaine. I know I am extremely lucky, both in NOT seriously hurting myself, and in my great builders!

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