Funny about Money

The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing. ―Edmund Burke

Be Careful What You Wish For!

This morning I was chatting with my neighbor Sally and happened to mention NZ Muse’s yearning to own a house. 😀  This elicited a great deal of cackling from the old bats. Sally was hauling landscape trash out to the garbage can, dodging the puddles of water I’d backwashed into the alley. Both of us were covered in dirt and sweat. At 78, Sally is beginning to yearn for two bedrooms in Scottsdale at $1650/month, and I must say, that doesn’t look half bad to me, either.

If it weren’t that I don’t want to live in a rabbit warren, I’d be craving to follow her to the Scottsdale Country Club people warehouses, myself. Both of us rumbled, “Be careful, m’hijita, be careful what you wish for!”

Know what I wanted to do in the wee hours this morning?

I wanted to sit down in the leafy bower that is the side deck with a second cup of the nice tea I’d brewed for breakfast and finish writing the last scene in chapter 3 of the current novel. This would require an hour or two of uninterrupted concentration. Then, maybe I would take a walk to ease the aching back and hip.

Know what I didn’t want to do the first thing this morning?

  • Scrub the remaining algae off the pool walls, still lurking there despite yesterday’s nuclear attack of superchlorination
  • Backwash the pool filter to relieve it of the dead algae clogging its innards
  • Undo the damage to the quarter-minus landscape top-dressing where the backwash hose got loose and excavated it
  • Put Harvey the Hayward Pool Cleaner back into the pool
  • Water the plants against the coming day’s dessicating winds
  • Grind cooked chicken (which I’d forgotten…) and mix with veggies and oatmeal to make dog food
  • Clean up the ensuing mess
  • Clean puppy mud off the floors
  • Stow pool chemicals and gear
  • Refill the pool to replace water backwashed into the alley
  • Pick up dog shit and carry it around the alley puddles to the garbage can
  • Drag the puppy out of the flower gardens
  • Wash mud and dried-on pee off the puppy
  • Deconstruct the white puppy pool barrier (now replaced by the deconstructed X-pen), haul pieces of splintery wooden garden fencing to the west side of house, jury-rig barriers around the flower beds, and reinforce with wire garden fencing, creating a double puppy barrier.
  • Broom or blower the leaves and dirt off the deck, flagstones, and patio
  • Find the gate locks the yard dudes lost; reinstall on gates
  • Recheck pool chemistry; calculate amount of acid that will need to be added after nuking pool water with chlorine

Here is what was on the list of things I planned to do — and still have to do today:

  • Send estimate and return sample edit to prospective client
  • Track down existing client and make appointment
  • Plow through the mountain of bookkeeping I’ve been putting off for the past two months
  • Send out weekly  SBA meeting notice
  • Read new proofs for diet book
  • Return comments on graphics to designers
  • Arrange time in computer commons for this summer’s 102 students
  • Arrange library presentation for this summer’s 102 students
  • Arrange library study/research time for this summer’s 102 students
  • Buy some food
  • Buy a pail to replace the pool pail that gave up the ghost after only 10 years of heaving acid into the water
  • Drop Harvey the Hayward Pool Cleaner (now repaired after 45 minutes at the pool store yesterday…) back into the pool
  • Vacuum, dust-mop, and wet-mop the floors

Interesting, isn’t it, how nowhere in there is any room for “finish last scene of chapter 3.”

Work expands to fill all available space. But, my dears, work on a house that allows you have pets and kids expands to fill all of time, space, and eternity. And it leaves exactly zero room for whatever it is you think you actually want to do.

That is when you are an old retired person with plenty of money and all the time and space in eternity.

Consider what happens when you are a young person who must hold a job to put food on the table. Most of your awake time is spent at your employer’s space. That leaves two days — the weekend — to fill with the eternity of work that a house and its accompanying amenities demand.

During that weekend, willy nilly, whether you live in a house or whether  you live in an apartment, you have to devote some time to bare survival: to traipsing to the grocery store, to buying a few rags to cover your nekkidness, to picking up prescriptions, to visiting  your decrepit parents, and on and on.

Now, buy a house. To those basic survival tasks — which often are enough to fill most of your weekend, especially if you’re the church-going type who kills half of Sunday down at your local cult HQ — add all of the first set of tasks above plus several of the second set, plus driving to Home Depot to pick up  hardware, repair and maintenance items; plus  mowing the lawn; plus trimming the shrubbery; plus cleaning out the garage; plus at least one repair job; plus driving back to Home Depot to return the junk that was the wrong size and buy new junk; plus another attempt at the repair job; plus schlepping the dog to the vet; plus schlepping the kids to soccer practice and games; plus fixing whatever you broke when you tried to do the repair job; plus driving back to Home Depot to buy more parts and tools to fix whatever you broke when you tried to do the repair job; plus driving back to Home Depot to return that stuff and get the stuff you didn’t think you needed; plus spraying for insects; plus planting flowers and vegetables or pulling out bug-eaten or exhausted flowers and vegetables; plus overseeing the kids’ homework; plus washing the dogs; plus taking the dogs to obedience training; plus hauling the shrubbery trimmings to the trash or out to the city dump; plus… plus… plus… plus…

Believe me. There will be no time for a movie. No time for ComicCon. No time for a picnic. No time for a baseball game. No time for a weekend day trip. No time to write chapter 3 of the great novel of the Western world. No time for blogging. No time for stamp collecting. No. Time. For. Nothin’.

Sex? Ha ha ha ha ha!!! Save it for that novel you think someday you’ll have time to write!

The grass on the other side of the fence is a lot more work than you imagine.

Image: A Newly Seeded, Fertilized, and Mowed Lawn. animaldetector. Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.

Author: funny

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  1. I would hate having a pool–its care and cost elicit a high percentage of your complaints.

    Dogs too–but at least they love you back.

  2. The older I get the more I agree with your observations. How times have changed…buying a home used to be a ticket to the middle class that you needed to get “punched” to show you had arrived. Now I wonder who owns who…it’s more like the house owns me. There’s always something to do. That condo at the Beach is looking more tempting every year….

  3. I sometimes bemoan the time spent on maintaining my little patch of paradise, but as my dad often points out, this is why North Americans, or any other country with a strong tradition of home ownership, is so politically and socially stable compared to other parts of the world. When everyone is so preoccupied with playing in their own mud puddle, or obsessing with making their tree fort look better than their neighbors, there is precious little time and energy left over for ruckus-rousing, junta-overthrowing or other hijinks. So home ownership is kinda like our killer app.

    • Ha hah!!! Home ownership as the opiate of the people!

      That may be the most brilliant Insight (or the most ingenious conspiracy theory) ever to strike the human brain!

  4. Hah! This is totally true. We just bought a house in December….talk about money and a time drain. Jikes…I’m still trying to figure out whether it was worth it….

  5. Ehhh, I know the housing market in the US has turned a lot of Americans off home ownership, but believe it or not, things are different in other parts of the world, including mine. I know buying is not a silver bullet but for our situation, if we are able to, it would be a lesser evil than renting for many reasons. In the US you enjoy a very high standard of housing, both renting and owning, but here, we do not. As I said in my last post, renting in general = unhealthy, unstable, undesirable. /endrant.

    • LOL! I have to agree, apartment living leaves something to be desired. Like, oh…say, living!

      Can you rent a house in NZ? At least that would get you into a free-standing place, where you wouldn’t be stacked in like rabbits in a warren.

      We do have some very crummy housing in this country, too. Rental properties are designed to run down — they’re cheaply built, uninsulated, and in general not very comfortable.

      Typically, the economics are such that the original builder/owner will hold on to an apartment house for about 20 years, until it degrades to the point where routine maintenance no longer suffices and improvements would be cost-prohibitive.

      He then sells it, at a profit, to the next owner, who lets it run down for another 20 years. By then the place is pretty much a dump. The second owner now sells it to a predatory landlord who rents it out to Section 8 tenants and maintains it as a slum. These properties are often dangerous, both to law-abiding tenants who have to put up with criminal neighbors and to all the tenants — criminal or otherwise — because of substandard and often unsafe living conditions.

      So, alas, NZ does not have a corner on the market for undesirable rentals. 😉

      Do you have rent-to-own properties in NZ? Hereabouts these tend to be somewhat exploitive — landlords typically contract to sell to tenants at prices above market — but in some cases they can represent a good deal for both buyer and seller. The buyer can get in without having to qualify for a mortgage right off the bat; the rental payments show up on one’s record as steady payment of debt and so drive up one’s credit rating; and an owner who wants to get out of the landlord business gets a buyer.

  6. Haha, totally. I was just writing about this phenomenon the other day… where younger folks get envious of our homeownership, when the reality is we’re planning on spending the next weekend or two painting exterior walls and trying to catch up on some weeding before the rainy season starts in full force!