Above: Raking the leaves is one of many chores for homeowners. Photos by Pixabay.
As I grow older, I find it harder to keep up with my chores.
I grew up in the 50s and 60s, back when kids were supposed to do chores. TV told us so. You just knew that The Beaver had to feed the cat and even Eddie Haskell had to mow the lawn.
But I don’t really remember having to do that many chores when I was young. I raked leaves and mowed grass. And, in high school, I learned to make my dad his nightly martini and to grill a steak so my mom could take an occasional night off from fixing dinner. But those were fun chores.
The real chores started years later, after my wife and I bought a house. We’ve owned (or co-owned with the mortgage company) three of them over the past 35 or so years and the to-do lists that took root with the first one have grown like English ivy since.
Suddenly, in addition to mowing the grass, I had to plant it, fertilize it and water it. And leaves required more than simple raking. I had to bag them and set the bags on the street or compost them, which meant I had to build compost piles and then feed those piles a steady diet of raked leaves and mowed grass and then worry whether all the weeds that sprouted in the compost would take over the rest of the yard.
Troubles with plants didn’t end there. I had to keep an eye on the trees to make sure they didn’t fall on the house (one did, once, but that’s another story) and to remove the ones that couldn’t carry on and to plant new ones to take their places. I spent weekends perusing plant sales and Pike Nurseries to find new flowers, shrubs and trees to decorate my little piece of ground. Suddenly, I didn’t just water the yard, I had to landscape it, too.
Every season brings its own set of chores. I’ve shoveled snow. I’ve fought kudzu. I’ve fought bamboo that snuck in under the fence from the next-door neighbors’ yard. I’ve fought furry varmints that burrowed underground and their cousins that lived in the trees.
Any time the yard had been temporarily dealt with, I had to worry about every other part of the house. I had to fret about the roof. And the gutters. And the seedlings that took root in the gutters. And the squirrels who seemed dead set on moving into the attic and establishing a disco up there for fuzzy-tailed rodents.
I had to paint when the walls started to show their age. I had to fix cracks in the walls. I had to learn that the cracks come back no matter what you do or how often you think you’ve fixed them. In one house I bought and lived in, I had to go into the basement during every hard rain to turn on the sump pump by whacking it with a two-by-four.
All that fancy flora I planted needs tending. Hedges need trimming. The lawn mower needs fixing so I can mow the grass again. The deck needs staining and sealing. The car is stuck in the driveway because it needs a new battery. A smoke detector started chirping yesterday because itneeded a new battery. The showerhead needs replacing. The living room needs painting. Again.
I thought that when retirement arrived, things would slow down. I thought that I would finally have the time to tackle my chores and to check off the items on my lengthening to-do list that I never had time to get to when I was working. But now that I actually qualify for Social Security, I find that I still can’t get to all the work that needs to be done.
Then I remember: I’ve taught my son to make the martinis. Life is good, after all.