By Mike Gold, a retired entrepreneur "living the dream in the Pacific Northwest."
We all have our daily chores to do. I am always joking with my wife about whether doing our daily chores actually accomplishes something – or whether it is an exercise in futility (much like the old adage: shoveling sand against the tide).
Here are a few examples:
Cutting the grass
Okay, it does grow (in fact, the greater Seattle area is considered to have a very long growing season – similar to Atlanta Georgia). So what do we do – we cut it. Now some of us have very elaborate tools for this. A few of my friends have riding lawn mowers. So you get to sit while you are cutting rather than having (as I do) to walk behind a lawn mower. The worst tool is a simple “push mower.” With one of these you get to supply all the muscle yourself – but you do get to feel “superior” to all your neighbors who are increasing their carbon footprint by burning fossil fuel.
Around here, especially in the rapid growing Spring season, you really need to cut the grass about every three to four days. Otherwise, the grass gets ahead of you and you either have to be a muscle bound creature, or you can’t provide sufficient muscle to get the job done.
In our own case, we have an electric mower. Ours is the type with a long extension cord. (They did not have a rechargeable battery powered unit when we purchased ours.) The only “tip” here is you have to be careful not to run over the cord – which is simply lying in the grass just waiting for you to run over it with the blade. To date, I have not done so. Although in my youth, we had a similar mower in our New Jersey home – and both my father and I managed to run over the cord so many times that there was more electricians tape on the cord than there was cord.
We change ours ever week. When I was an undergraduate in college, I chose not to get a laundry service – which provided fresh bed sheets every week. I was such a poor starving undergrad – I chose eating over having fresh laundry. I did manage to go almost a half year without changing my sheets. Okay, before you all wonder if I was a sub-human pig, I can tell you that even after a month or two, the sheets were relatively clean, did not smell and were still “whitish” in color. I think it was because I managed to wear clean underwear and clothes every day.
Especially around Seattle, this is one of the most useless tasks there is. For whatever reason, I simply can’t stand driving a dirty car. So I’ve developed a “closed garage” car washing technique. I use a bucket of warm water and a chamois. If you are careful, you can get the car clean without leaving puddles on the garage floor. That includes washing what I call “wheel crunk” or brake dust off the wheels. Depending upon the type of mag wheel you have, it can take only a few minutes to clean them, or ten minutes if you have the more intricate type of wheel.
What I really like is standing back and admiring a clean car when I’m done. Of course, around here in winter, you’re lucky if you get more than an hour of enjoyment before the car needs another wash.
Most useless - Window washing
We pay a service to wash ours once a year. One needs a fairly good sized ladder as well as knowledge of how to remove the screens to do this properly. Plus getting the window clean without leaving a residue is actually not that easy – especially when you are hanging off the ladder.
In our case, we also have a solar system on the roof. It is suggested you clean the solar panels at least once a year. They tend to accumulate bird droppings.
We also have the same service clean our rain gutters at the same time. A long time ago, I used to clean our gutters in New England in late Fall when they would be full of leaves. You have to do this or you can get ice dams in the gutters which can cause water to back up under the roof tiles causing water stains on your upper floor ceilings.
My conclusion about all this is rent, don’t own. In this way all you have to do is write checks – and pay your monthly maintenance dues.
Course, the same applies to home ownership as long as you don’t mind spending a fortune on maintenance. And that does not include painting the entire outside of your home. Whew!