So, I've been off work for over a month. I've been working hard, physically, but another part of me feels like I've been mentally wallowing a bit. Well maybe not wallowing but possibly hiding from reality. I had lunch with a former co-worker this week and things are changing for the better at my old job. I had to ask myself if I should have stuck it out. At this point, I have to say I'm happy with my chosen path. I've decided to start a nonprofit to refurbish donated PCs for low-income families. I'm still looking for a good name for it, if anyone has any ideas. Some names we've tried Technology Access Project (TAP) and assorted variations of Bridging the Digital Divide. To keep some income flowing in, I'll do some consulting IT/Communications and possibly find a part-time job, too.
Basement Fix-up Part One: Asbestos
I've been working on our basement so I can set up an office and workshop down there. It's taken so much longer than I thought it would. I've finished about a third of the room which is where the office and workshop will be as well as the lone toilet my grandparents installed. So much stuff! So much more to do! We just got the results of the materials I sent for asbestos testing. The floor tile which covers part of the basement near the washer and dryer came back clear, but fifteen percent of the pipe wrap is asbestos. The tile was the main concern since most tile and mastic back then had asbestos. The pipe wrap which is black, thick and tough, was an afterthought as they included two sample bags with the test kit. It follows a pipe from the meter all along the wall above where I'll be working. A couple parts of it have slightly lifted from the pipe. I think I'll be able to get by covering it with a protective wrap and not removing it. The tiles would have been tougher since some of them are broken and coming up off the floor. They would have had to been removed. Old houses. There's always something.
Decimating Prime Spider Habitat
We bought my grandparent's house which was very far from being empty when we moved in. We managed after a few months of living in the house to move most of their stuff out of the upstairs rooms. Some of it was given away immediately and some was moved to the basement to be sorted later. The basement and then garage filled so quickly, we had to stop until we had a garage sale last summer. We didn't get rid of much stuff and I never really had time to dig in to the basement until now. I've been spending most of my time off down there. It took me a couple weeks just to clean out about a third of it. It's enough space to set up my office and a work area for the computers. I don't think I've ever seen so many spiders in my entire life. We had pale ones and black ones and red ones and taupe ones and little, teeny ones and big fat ones. Because this is Minnesota, most were on the smaller side. One of the main benefits of getting a hard freeze each winter is that bug size is limited up here. The most notable experience occurred when I was moving a box and a marble rolled out. Out of the corner of my eye I saw a blur streaking across the floor and the marble stopped dead. A brown spider, not super huge but big enough to give me pause, was wrapped around the marble. I eyed it nervously as I moved the box away and then when I got back it was gone. I knew I'd have to face it eventually. There were two dressers and a couple of boxes left of the section before I was done. I occassionally saw him watching me from under one of the dressers but had many other spiders and webs to deal with before him. An old fashioned broom is a wonderful web fighting utensil. Sweep up the web some times complete with spider, run out the garage and shake the broom. Again and again and again. Later that week, I was moving another box and I felt that light tracing of furry feet scurrying down my arm and thankfully, off my leg onto the floor. Lacking other cover, he hid in the cap of a can of spray paint. I slammed a can of paint down on top of it and took the whole thing carefully outside where I deposited him on the lawn to continue his contribution to pest control. I was curious so I looked the critter up online. It seems he was a wolf spider which is a hunting spider. Hunting spiders don't use webs to catch their food which explains the whole marble thing. People used to believe they hunted in packs which is where they got their name. There are a couple of short articles by Kevin Strauss on wolf spiders on the ElyMinnesota.com site, if anyone is interested: Wolf Spiders Seek Warm Homes and Bugs in Winter.
Next: Basement Fix-up Part Two - How Do You Make Cement Floors and Block Walls Cozy?