Tag: chores

The List That Never Ends

Eventually, school ends. Workdays come to a close. Vacations last only so long. Careers wind down. But things to do around the house last forever, it seems. I sometimes wonder if you took the sum total of the time that there was nothing that needed to be done around the house, and compared it to the sum to total of the time there was things to do around the house, which would be more? I suppose that if we’d bought a brand new house with brand new furniture and appliances there might be a honeymoon period in which nothing needed to be done around the house. Then again, our tendency seems to be to settle on something, and then change it as soon as we can.

I was thinking about this phenomenon as I considered the growing list of things we have to do around the house.

We need to replace our microwave. Back on July 17, our microwave oven died. It just stopped working, turned off, and no amount of cajoling and prodding will get it to turn back on. We are back to living in the early 1980s. We’ve managed more or less fine without it for more than a month, but we do miss its conveniences, particularly for reheating leftovers, and for heating Kelly’s tea in the morning. Replacing a microwave doesn’t sound like particularly big chore, but it is more involved than I initially thought. There are several steps to the process:

  • We have to find a suitable replacement. This meant measuring the current unit to know what size we needed. It is an over-the-stove-mounted microwave and that meant there are a couple of features I wanted to retain: the stove light and the fan. So we need a properly-sized over-the-stove microwave with a stove light and fan.
  • We have to compare prices in order to make sure our investment will be worth it and that the thing won’t die a few years from now.
  • We have to order the thing.
  • We have to uninstall the old unit.
  • We have to install the new unit when it arrives.
  • We have to reach out to the county to have the old unit picked up. Apparently, you can’t just toss a microwave in the trash because, well, microwaves.

It seems like a lot of work for such a small thing that we haven’t really needed in more than a month, but that’s how it goes.

our dead microwave

We need to get rid of the nest wasps have built inside the basketball hoop. One of the things we decided the house needed after we bought it was a basketball hoop in the driveway. We used it quite a bit at first, and then pretty much stopped until a few days ago when the family went out after dinner to play. It didn’t last long. Apparently, wasps had built a nest within the metal tubing that frames the backboard. You could see them clustered there, disturbed by all of the shots that jostled the backboard.

Once, when wasps built a nest outside the backdoor of a house I lived in, I got a spray that you could shoot at the nest, which worked great. But how on earth do you use a spray for a nest that is somewhere within a metal tube, with entry holes barely big enough for the wasps themselves to climb through? Do we have to call an expert for that? Does that mean getting on the phone and comparing prices and all of that? For a nest in a basketball hoop? I wonder how that conversation would go.

“Hello, I need someone to come a remove a wasps nest.”

“Where is the nest located, sir?”

“Inside the piping that supports the backboard of our basketball hoop.”

“Is this some kind of joke, sir?”

Maybe, if we just leave the wasps alone, the cold of winter will take care of them.

Put French doors in my office. When we bought this house, we said we’d put French door between the living room and my office. It has been on my to-do list for over 2 years now with no progress made. This is another one of those things that should be simple, but involves lots of phone calls, estimates, and stuff that I do enough of at work and don’t really want to do at home.

Put a storm door on the front door. I think ours may be the only house on our street that doesn’t have a storm door on the front door of the house. I light having lots of light, and while our house is pretty bright, it would be nice to be able to keep the front door open and have additional light filtered into the house through the storm door.

There are other things that need to be done:

  • Several light bulbs are out and need to be replaced.
  • One of the security lights out front doesn’t come on when it should.
  • All but one of the lights around the perimeter of the deck are out.
  • The storage room downstairs needs a complete makeover. I’d like to put shelves and a freezer in there.

Then there are the things that I imagine will eventually need to be done:

  • Replace the air conditioner. Every summer I worry that it’s going to give up the ghost. Every summer it surprises me. I think it is attempting to surprise me into complacence. How long can it really last since it was pretty old when we moved in.
  • Replace the hot water heater. Every time we go on a trip I worry that it will finally give out. This is why I always shut off the main water valve before we leave town. I check the water heater frequently for signs of wear, rust, or leaks. It’s old but it is hanging in there. I think the water heater is in league with the air conditioner to lull me into complacence.

The problem, of course, is the same problem with mowing a lawn in the spring: even if I could manage to get everything on this list done, by the time I’d finished, the list would have simply grown back and I’d have to start all over again.

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Little Irritations Breed Big Satisfactions

Little irritations breed big satisfactions. Not long ago I noticed that the hinges of the bathroom door squeaked when the door opened or closed. This was not a problem during the day. In the middle of the night, I always forgot about the squeak and when I heard it, I was certain it would awaken everyone in the house. Today I sprayed some WD40 on the hinges and the squeaking is gone.

The kids’ backpacks and jackets were scattered all over the living room, mainly because there was no good place to put them. Kelly found some hooks and I installed them and now the jackets and backpacks can be hung up out of the way. Can be. That doesn’t mean will be, but it was satisfying to know there was a solution in place.

Given how little I watch TV, it irritates me to see cables dangling from behind the screens. On a TV I’d mounted in the family room downstairs, the cable box hung down from behind the TV like a vine because there was no good place to put it. It finally irritated me enough. I duct-taped it to the back of the TV. The next day, the box was dangling again. This time, I duct-taped it to the frame of the mount itself, and did it in such a way that I’m certain it won’t come down any time soon. Now, when I go into the family room, I’m satisfied that no cables are dangling. I just pretend not know know what the jumble of cables and duct tape behind the TV screen looks like.

The flapper in the powder room was worn. In the middle of the night, I’d heard the water turn on and fill the bowl back to level after enough had drained through the flapper. Everything sounds louder in the middle of the night. I went to the hardware store and picked up a replacement flapper and replaced it, and I’m no longer awakened in the middle of the night by the sound of running water.

I was thinking about these little irritations and the big satisfactions I get from them because of something that happened the other day. Kelly and I tend to be modest gift-givers to each other for birthdays and holidays. We take the family on two vacations each year and that seems to be gift enough for both of us. Occasionally, however, there will be something too good to pass up. After some careful research (read: a quick Google search), I announced to Kelly that I’d bought us a Christmas present.

Kelly looked at me with trepidation in her eyes. “What is it?” she said.

“A replacement silverware basket for the dishwasher,” I told her.

“Oh, that is a good present,” she said, both relieved and, I assume, mildly satisfied. The GE dishwasher that came with the new house had a silverware basket that had numerous holes in the bottom. Knives and forks were alway slipping through and either falling into the bottom of the dishwasher, or getting caught so that it made it difficult to pull out or push in the lower tray.

The tray should arrive in the next couple of days and it will be satisfying to have a silverware tray through which no silverware can slip.

The satisfaction I get from correcting these small irritations is out of all proportion to the irritation itself. I think it is because so many things in the world are so difficult to fix, that I take inordinate pleasure at fixing something, no matter how small. I can’t prevent all the bathroom doors in the world from squeaking, but I can prevent my bathroom door from doing so. Now, when I find myself with a thorny problem to solve the solution of which eludes me, I take stroll around the house, looking for little things that irritate me in the hope of finding something that I can fix.

Settling Down to Read

My reading chair

After my morning walk, I took advantage of some quiet time to sit down to read. In one part of my new office is an old rail chair we used when the kids were babies. It is nestled right in between the Q and S sections of my bookshelves, and thus, right where any of my books would be shelved, had I any books with my name on the cover.

It was a cold morning, and after I sat down in my chair and put my feet up, I decided that I needed to take the chill out of my bones with a bowl of hot oatmeal. With the oatmeal finished, I sat down again, took some sips of my Coke, and cracked open the book I am reading. These days I usually read several books at once, and at the moment, I have 5 books in various stages of completion.

I opened to the page where I left off last night, and read less than a paragraph before a wave of guilt washed over me. I had set my empty oatmeal bowl on the kitchen counter because the green light was glowing on the dishwasher, and the green light means that the dishes have been cleaned. I’ve been trying to be better about these things, not leaving it to others to empty the dishwasher, so I took another sip of my Coke, and set about emptying the dishwasher. And since I was there, I took the dishes that had stacked up on the counter and put them in the now-emptied appliance.

With that chore done, and my conscience clear, I returned to my chair sipped some more Coke, and cracked open the book once more. I looked around the room, three sides of which are surrounded my windows. The rising sun in the east was shining in through the back windows, and a beam of sunlight happened to catch on the bottle of vitamins I’d placed by my desk so that I wouldn’t forget to take them in the morning.

Of course, I’d forgotten to take them this morning.

I could have just sat there and continued to read my book, but I knew if I didn’t get up and take the vitamins now, they would slip my mind and I’d forget to take them at all. So up I went, took my vitamins, washing them down with a swig of Coke (the can was now almost empty and I’d barely started to read!) and settled once more into my chair, my book in my lap, determined to start.

And start I did, but I didn’t get through more than two or three pages before I noticed the noises from the kids devices in the next room intruding on my peace and quiet. (We have yet to install French doors between my office and the living room.) I wondered, momentarily, what to do, when I spotted my Bose headset on the desk nearby. I got up, grabbed the headset, sat back down, put covered my ears and flipped the switch on the side. Suddenly, I was immersed in silence.

I began to read and the world fell away, as it often does when I am immersed in a book. One page, two pages, three pages. Then a familiar sensation. I closed the book, set it in my lap, and frowned at the empty can of Coke on the shelf beside me. I looked longingly toward the bathroom on the other side of the house, and got up once more.

With that done, I sat down once again, book in my lap, and began to read. Twenty minutes had passed since I’d started, and I’d gotten nowhere. The quiet moment had passed, but I’m nothing if not determined, and I was going to spend the rest of the hour reading this book. I read a page, and then another one. I kept thinking about the interruptions and how these days, this really wasn’t uncommon for me. Indeed, it was kind of echo to the daily rhythms. After all, often while working on something, I will, for no reason interrupt what I am doing to check what’s happening on Facebook, or Twitter, or to see if there are any interesting new blog posts–eureka!

I dropped the book, sprang up from my chair, dashed across the office to my desk, where I sat and began to write a little essay about the joys and delights of settling down to read on a quiet Saturday morning.

Lazy Saturday

It’s been 3 or 4 weeks since Kelly and I have had a free weekend, but we planned to have a quiet, relaxing one today. I stayed in bed until 8:30 or 9 AM, I think. Kelly was already up when I finally pulled my way out of bed. The weather was warm–the first really warm morning of the year. We decided to take advantage of it. We grabbed the basketball and headed over the local park to shoot some hoops. I was terrible at first, but slowly managed to get my game back. Kelly was very good, but as she pointed out, she had a hoop in her driveway growing up.

After, Kelly went to the gym and I did some reading and worked on the computer. Around 12:30, we headed to lunch at The Cheesecake Factory. We’d invited A.J. and Denisse. A.J. was off playing tennis and our lunchtime was too early for Denisse. I had a good chicken salad sandwich, but it was way too much food for me.

We walked back to Kelly’s, collected her laundry and then headed up to my house. At 4 PM, we took Zeke to his regularly scheduled vet appointment. He got his shots, and impressed Kelly (and the vet) by his strength when he tried to keep himself in his carrier once at the vet. Everything is good, but he needs to lose some weight. He weights about 16.5 lbs and should be around 13 lbs. Much of the weight gain is due to his special diet. Beginning this afternoon, therefore, I started him on “meals” rather than leaving his dry food out for him. He gets 2/3rds of a cup in the morning, and 2/3rds in the evening.

We were supposed to stick around from 5-8 PM to wait for the cable guy to “cap the line”. We spent some of that time reading parts of The Last Lecture to one another. Sometime around 4:30, I noticed a cable truck across the street, but no one ever stopped by. By 6 PM, I was a little impatient. I checked the cable, and wouldn’t you know it!–they had capped the line–and I now only get the local channels, as I requested. I was annoyed enough, however, to call Comcast and ask them why I had to stick around if no one had to come in the house. They didn’t have an answer for that, of course.

We celebrated by driving up the lake and taking a walk around it. Usually, we walk around twice, but there were dark clouds looming close by so we kept it at a single loop. From there we headed to the grocery store to do the shopping.

At home this evening, I made french bread pizza, which turned out okay. We watched last night’s The Office and we both agree that the show is going downhill. It’s depressing.

I wanted to take the telescope out tonight. Saturn is visible and it would be great to get a look at it, but it was still cloudy when I last checked.

Make-up day

Kelly and I got back to Washington early this morning, around 1 AM. It was raining when I left or L.A. and it was raining when I returned. I stayed at Kelly’s last night and got home this morning. I worked from home today because (a) I got in so late last night and (b) I have to work tonight beginning at midnight. In between various work task, I managed to catch up with a few things that I couldn’t do when I was gone last week. First, I canceled my cable, finally. Well sort of. Turns out it costs the same to keep Internet service and local channels as it does for just internet, so I did that. It cuts my bill by more than half. The cable guy is coming Saturday evening between 5-8 PM to cap the line.

I also called the vet to order more wet and dry food for Zeke. I headed over to pick it up early this afternoon. I also made an appointment for Zeke on Saturday at 4 PM. I called an electrician about some work I need done and have been playing phone tag this afternoon, but hope to get him out Saturday as well. And I even managed to squeeze in a haircut.

And speaking of haircut, with all of the rain we’ve gotten my yard is overrun by long grass. But I have to wait for it to dry out before I can cut it.

I have to return the cable boxes at some point, and then we’re transferring my Tivo unit and service to Kelly’s house. Probably do that next week.

A lot of junk mail over the course of the week, but some good “live” mail too The latest issue of SCIENTIFIC AMERICAN as well as the June issue of F&SF. I got my HHonors Silver card for 2008/09 in the mail today. The bill from my accountant was there too, along with my AOPA Pilot magazine.

I’m off to bed now (yes, it’s not even 6 PM) because I have to be up at midnight to do a server upgrade.

(I realize that I have not yet caught up on Saturday or Sunday yet, to say nothing of comment on the nebula award winners, but I will as soon as I have a chance to breathe.)

Lazy Sunday

[Posted on Monday, October 22]

We all kind of slept in on Sunday morning. We headed up to IHOP for breakfast at around 10:30 AM and afterward, I dropped AJ and Denisse off at the metro station so that they could head home.

Most of the rest of the day was a very lazy one for me. I finished watching Season 4 of The Shield and naturally, immediately wanted to watch season 5. Fortunately, season 5 and 6 are available on the iTunes store, and in fact, it was far cheaper to buy them from there than order the DVDs online. So I downloaded all 21 episodes that make up seasons 5 and 6 and I watched the first 4 or 5 of them.

I cleaned up the house a bit, but didn’t end up doing any laundry, as I’d planned to do. I called Doug and left him a message. (He called back but it was after I’d gone to bed.) I also called he11o_sunshine and we spoke for 10 minutes or so. But I was pretty tired, having been up so late last night. I ended up climbing into bed at around 7:30 PM.

Sunday, lazy Sunday

I was supposed to go back to the convention for day 2 today, but I didn’t. I got to bed late last night and I had a lot of errands and chores to do, so I decided to stay home. I stayed in bed late, watching episodes of The Shield, but eventually managed to get out of bed and shower. I got in touch with A.J. and Denisse and we agreed to meet for lunch. I headed down to their place at around noon and I was at there front door just after 1 PM.

We went to the Guard for lunch, where I managed to have a Monte Cristo sandwich. You don’t see those in too many places, and I love those sandwiches and it was quite good, but truth be told, their fries were even better!

Afterward, we wandered around Georgetown, stopped in at Haagen Dazs for Belgium Chocolate shakes, and then walked down to the waterfront, where we debated politics and economy endlessly. We walked back to A.J. and Denisse’s and shortly thereafter, I headed home.

I had lots of laundry to do and I managed to get through most of it, watching more episodes of The Shield in between loads. My ribs were acting up so I decided to take a pain medicine, even though they’ve been making me feel nauseous. This time it seemed to work a little bit better.

The annual rental property inspection of the house is tomorrow and I have to meet the inspector here at 5 PM. I have a presentation I’m giving at 3 PM but still hope to get out of work a little early to ensure that I get home in time to meet the inspector.

Columbus Day

No work today as it is a federal holiday and that meant I could sleep in late and be lazy all day long. And that’s more or less what happened. Kelly headed home after lunch at TGI Friday’s. I planned to get the house cleaned up a bit, do some laundry, and head to the gym for my upper body workout. Instead, I lay down on the bed to pet Zeke and ended up falling asleep for nearly 3 hours. When I finally work up, it was around 5 PM and the day was mostly used up.

I am looking forward to the Yankees/Indians game tonight. And I may manage to get some laundry done between now and then. Maybe even a few odd chores. I do wonder how I’ll sleep tonight, however, having slept in late and taken a lengthy nap in the afternoon. I guess I’ll find out.

Spoke briefly with Dad today. And had a longer video chat with strausmouse earlier this afternoon. (He had the day off too.)

Now let me see if I can’t get a few things done before this long weekend is all over.

Saturday is laundry day

I was up at 8 AM, ran up to IHOP for breakfast (for the first time in a while) and then spent the rest of the day on chores. I did every scrap of laundry available in the house and it is finally all done. Every last bit of it.

I decided my bedroom needed some rearranging. It has been the same layout for 4 years now. This started with the fact that I decided to flip the mattress. I then decided I wanted new bedding. I ran out to Target for that. When I returned, I decided to rearrange the furniture in there and that too is done now. I also vacuumed the house. Thoroughly. And got rid of a ton and a half of trash. And cleaned the kitchen. Really, it was a busy day today.

I fell asleep last night listening to the Yankees game on the radio. I heard the amazing 4 run comeback they made with 2 outs in the bottom of the 9th but eventually fell asleep sometime during the 13th inning, so I didn’t know they ended up losing the game until this morning. They are in a back-and-forth battle in today’s game against Toronto too. The road to October is paved in excitement!

My shoulders and neck are a little sore from the arms and shoulder workout yesterday, but not nearly as bad as I thought they might be. And the soreness in my legs has almost completely vanished.

Warm today. In fact, I finally turned on the AC a little while ago because, even with the windows open, it was well over 80 in the house. Supposed to be beautiful weather tomorrow. Glad I got a lot of my chores done today.

Back to the gym

I finally did it. I was up at 4:20 AM, had some breakfast and then caught the first Yellow line into work in order to hit the gym this morning. My plan now is to make MWF strength training days and TThSa cardio days. Today was great. I did nearly three full groups of chest and back before coming closer than I ever have in my life to passing out. It happened when I was doing dead lifts. I’d backed off my weight on just about every exercise I did today, in order to get back into the swing of things. But for some reason, I figured that 80 lbs dead lifts would be fine. In fact, they felt fine doing them, but toward the end, my legs began to feel a little wobbly. I figured it was that I was nearly done with my workout and getting tired. When I finished the set, I was light headed and a little dizzy and nauseous. I sat down on the floor and tried not to move. Bernard, who was working with someone else asked me if I was okay. I smiled and nodded but I felt that if I moved I might not be able to maintain my balance. After about 5 minutes, I was able to get up and walk into the locker room. I sat by my locker a few minutes debating whether to attempt a shower or not (I could just imagine passing out in the shower.) Finally I did shower, and after that I felt much better. I know now that I need to ease my way back into some of these exercises and I will be more careful going forward.

As it turns out, my probably was minor compared to someone else at the gym. At about the time I was feeling light-headed, there was a loud crash of weights. Someone who was doing free standing squats was not on the floor face down. Someone nearby said it was a groin injury. By the time I got out of the shower and came out of the locker room, the paramedics were there. So an exciting day at the gym today.

And an exciting Yankees game last night. I couldn’t stay up for the whole thing but I stayed up long enough to see Jeter’s 3-run homer, which ultimately allowed the Yankees to win the game. mabfan called me during the early part of the game and we traded some baseball stories for a while.

I did manage to get a fair amount of the garage cleaned out yesterday. Lots of trash for the garbage men to pick up today. There’s still more to be cleaned out over the next couple of weeks but I made a good dent in it and I feel pretty good about it.

A handful of meetings today and then I’m meeting Kelly after work.


I slept in this morning, getting up at just about 10 AM! I watched the Red Sox pound the Yankees late yesterday afternoon, and then watched a couple of movies before going to bed. It was pretty late when I finally got to sleep, which explains why I slept in so late this morning.

Tivo had recorded Singles, the one Cameron Crowe movie that I somehow never managed to see, so I watched it this morning. As always, good cast and great music. I watched Real Time with Bill Mahr afterward and he had me rolling in the aisles.

Thinking about getting started cleaning out the garage today. There’s a ton of junk in there that can be gotten rid of and I need to start somewhere. I want to get it done before winter when it’s too cold to be out there for any amount of time. I’ll probably work on it slowly, over the next couple of weeks.

The weather cooled off today. In fact, it was downright chilly last night. It’s not cold today, just cooler, much more like fall than summer.

Big Yankees/Red Sox game tonight at 8 PM on ESPN, but I’m not sure I’ll be able to watch it. I’m planning on getting up at 4:20 AM for the gym and that means getting to bed pretty early.

Saturday morning errands and chores

Up at about 8:30 AM and I headed out at once to get a haircut, which I’ve been needing for some time now. (See the before and after images below.) It was nice, I walked right into the haircut place, and was taken right away. No wait. It’s not the best haircut I’ve ever gotten, but it’s shorter and that’s all that really matters as far as I’m concerned.



I came home, grabbed the empty gas container from the garage, and then ran to the gas station to fill it up with gasoline. I needed more gas for the lawn mower. When I got back home, I popped some Boston onto my iPhone (hoping for their defeat later this afternoon) and listened to their self-titled album one and a half times while I mowed the lawn. It was the first time I’d cut the grass in a long time and there was a lot to cut. It took a little over an hour (and that included getting some kind of metal wire wrapped around the mower blade, which I had to cut off with wire-cutters). But the yard is done now, front and back, and I feel much better.

While I was mowing, the Water People came by to read my meter. I have an inside water meter and usually, they just leave me a note and I can phone in my reading using the automated phone system. This is the first time since I’ve lived here that the meter people caught me at home and were able to take a reading directly.

After mowing, I took a well-deserved shower, and started the first of what will probably be a half dozen loads of laundry. I also called AJ & Denisse to see if they wanted to come over this afternoon to watch the Yankees game with me.

I plan on getting some writing done today, and there are probably a few more errands I need to run, but as of noon on Saturday, I feel pretty good about what I’ve gotten done today.