Coffee heat rising

Free at last…to work some more

A vast haystack of deferred work around the house has piled up while I’ve been struggling to get out from under the mountain of paid work. (And though grades are now posted, I still have paying work to do for two clients, but today I’m playing hooky for a few hours.)

Last night I managed to shovel off and clean the biggest counter in the kitchen. The stove and counters and cabinetry around it remain to be done, but at least the main annoyance was dealt with by 10:00 p.m. Sharpened the knives, which had dulled so much they could only mash the food apart. Repaired the knife sharpener first. Realized the next kitchen purchase will have to be a new knife sharpener. The one I have is a Chef’s Choice Multi-Edge Diamond Hone Knife Sharpener, and since it’s lasted about 10 years, I guess I’ll probably get a new one—they’re cheap enough, assuming the new model survives as long. Did all of the ironing that had stacked up atop the rocking chair in the TV room: 12 pairs of jeans, two pairs of shorts, a linen jacket, and three shirts. Fell into bed at midnight.


At five this morning it was off to do battle with the cat’s claw vines, which have decided to cover the pool equipment beneath an exuberant mound of jungle vegetation. First, though I had to replace the plastic panels that shelter the equipment to some degree from the sun and from the depredations of another jungle vine, the big cape honeysuckle that hides the ugly pump and filter from view in the backyard. This contraption, which was secured to the wrought-iron fencing with plastic tie gadgets, had broken loose in the winter storms. It’s now wired firmly in place—that should hold it for at least another couple of years.

It’s a big job to put that thing up by oneself. It really takes two people.

Onward. By 8:00 a.m. the vine that ate Philadelphia was hacked away from around the equipment and pulled down off the palm tree. Its incursions across the CoolDeck and into the water were beaten back. Satan & Prosperpine’s strange little bell-bedangled poolside decoration was freed from the mass of plant matter that had enveloped it, as were a couple of decorative boulders that had almost disappeared beneath the greenery. Raked up bushels of fallen leaves and twigs from beneath the vinery. Trimmed the powdery-mildew-infested rose by the pool and cut back the blue plumbago that wishes to push the rose into the next world. Picked up the fallen lemons, dodging angry ant myrmidons in the process. Put out some stale ant bait for the ladies; made note to buy fresh stuff. Hauled a gigantic mountain of trash out; put my neck out lifting it into the shoulder-high garbage bin. Cooked a steak, its freezer bag dated 11/3/09,  for breakfast.

As soon as I get up off my duff here, I’ve got to get back out there and treat the roses with powdery mildew meds. This winter’s El Niño rains brought forth a burst of joyful rose exuberance, but the almost daily leaf-soaking also brought forth more powdery mildew than I’ve ever seen. Even the David Austin roses, which allegedly resist this annoying disease, are covered with it. From there it will be on to…

do the bookkeeping
clean the stove, counters, and cabinetry
pick up the house
clean the floors
clean the bathrooms
water the plants inside and out
get back to work on the client’s arcane tables
get back to reading page proofs for the other client
test and adjust the pool water.

A house is an ongoing project, that’s for sure. I believe it was George Bernard Shaw who remarked that home is a girl’s prison and a woman’s workhouse. LOL! I think of it as a black hole into which to pour money and labor.

That notwithstanding, I love my house. It’s so pretty, inside and out. Satan and Proserpine did a few nice things to it—the new kitchen cabinets, the out-of-code mantelpiece in matching pine, the tilework in the kitchen, dining room, living room, and hall, the travertine shower, the nifty deck off the dining room. Then I did a lot more stuff to it. The skylights in the kitchen, family room, and master bath really  make the place, IMHO. So does the tiling Mike the Bosnian Tile Genius put into the rest of the house, and the remake of the kitchen counters he accomplished. The relandscaping job added the glorious fruit trees (on which I’ve largely subsisted all spring), the spectacular emerald paloverde, the beautiful desert willow, the climbing roses around the deck, the attractive front courtyard…to say nothing of xeriscape that doesn’t need to have treated city water poured on it.

PF bloggers like to ruminate now and again about the cost-effectiveness of upgrades and renovations. Very little about fix-up is cost-effective. Unless you manage to buy a house for next to nothing, it’s unwise to imagine you’re fixing up a place so you can sell it for a profit. Obviously, you should keep up its maintenance and replace things that break or wear out. But really: renovation is for the pleasure of the present occupants, not for future buyers to pay for.

I don’t expect ever to recover the money I’ve put into this house when (or if) I sell it. When I bought the place, I bought it intending to live here until they carry me off to the nursing home or the mortuary. So the money I spent on the house went to make it a pleasant place to live.

It worked. Now, so do I. Work, I mean.

Time to get out and treat those roses! Bye…

3 thoughts on “Free at last…to work some more”

  1. No kidding, about the house being a black hole for work and money. Still, puttering can be very relaxing and given my druthers I’d rarely leave my house. It is still one of my great luxuries of retirement, being able to stay home!

  2. Me, too: I’m perfectly capable of staying in my house day after day. In fact, I worry about the isolating effect of that preference. One of the reasons I think I’m going to keep teaching until I can’t dodder onto the campus is that it forces one to leave the nest and interact with other people. As a side benefit, it puts you in the company of young people, which I think is healthy for older people.

  3. I too have piles of stuff to do–including my taxes, for which I filed an extension request. You are so right in your above comment–which is why I also want to keep teaching. (Scary stuff about financial exigency floating about again….)

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