view counter

Keeping up the Homestead

It’s all connected

Toe bone connected to the foot bone    
Foot bone connected to the heel bone
Heel bone connected to the ankle bone
Ankle bone connected to the ­shin bone
Shin bone connected to the knee bone
Knee bone connected to the thigh bone
Thigh bone connected to the hip bone
Hip bone connected to the backbone
Back bone connected to the shoulder bone
Shoulder bone connected to the neck bone

Unless we want to end up as Hoarders on reality television, keeping house is work we do day by day.
    Put away the groceries. Wash the dishes. Sweep the floor. Harvest the last of the tomatoes. Bring home a pumpkin, plant a mum or two.
    The every-day chores roll in and out like the tides. Interplaying with their circadian rhythm are weekly chores … and on top of them monthly chores … and on top of them seasonal chores … and on top of them annual chores … and on top of them chores you might do every five years or 10 or once or twice in the lifetime you and your home spend together. Put them all together and you get some pretty complex harmonies.
    How much is your homestead asking of you this fall?
    I’m sorry to ask. But that’s the kind of devilish question Bay Weekly’s annual Fall Fix-Up Guide provokes in my head. The image dancing in my mind is appropriately seasonal for the month that brings us Halloween: It’s a skeleton, singing about the toe bone connected to the foot bone, the foot bone connected to the heel bone.
    Indoors, fall fix-up starts manageably. First comes the seasonal rotation of curtains and rugs. But of course the textiles coming and going have to be cleaned, stored and unstored. The windows under those curtains have to be washed. In the process, a little furniture has to be moved.
    That housekeeping done, I’d like the refreshment of some nice seasonal decorating. I’d like to say, Ha! fixed up for fall and relax until the Christmas season makes me a new set of suggestions I can’t refuse.
    But once the skeleton starts rattling, I see how one bone moves another.
    Starting in on fall fix-up reveals many more chores waiting in line for attention. They’ve been patient, at least a little patient, while summer kept us otherwise occupied. Now we see that the lawn needs more than cutting. It needs reseeding. That, as Bay Gardener Frank Gouin reminds us in this issue, is fall work. Of course reseeding doesn’t start with seeding; first you’ve got to prepare the soil.
    Heel bone connected to the ankle bone …
    So it follows that you can’t just harvest the last of the tomatoes. You’ve got to make compost of the vines, along with the late grass cuttings, in preparation for the certain addition of fallen leaves a few weeks hence. You’ve got to plant the fall garden. And then bulbs for spring — plus the longer-term investment of shrubs and trees.
    Ankle bone connected to the shin bone …
    Also jostling in line are chores that come due every year, like chimney sweeping and HVAC checking.
    Shin bone connected to the knee bone …
    Plus some of the chores that come due every so many years, like interior painting: Safe! Did that last year. Ever since, those freshly painted walls have been telling me it’s past time to pull out carpeting upstairs for replacement with hardwood flooring. That’s this year’s project, already started.
    Knee bone connected to the thigh bone …
    So exterior house painting will have to shuffle impatiently in line till next spring’s spruce-up. When I’m likely to have to deal with replacing two exterior doors …
    Thigh bone connected to the hip bone …

Sandra Olivetti Martin
Editor and publisher; editor@bayweekly.com
Plus a life in stories: www.sandraolivettimartin.com