Sunday, May 11, 2014

The Melancholy Joy of Pressure Washing.

This year, there are about a dozen boards on the deck that need to be replaced. No big deal really.

What concerns me is that last year only 4 or 5 boards needed to be replaced. One or two the year before that

The deck is aging. The maintenance goes up.

At one point I hated house maintenance. It's not so bad now. Sure, there are days when I'd rather lay out in the sun and sip a  glass of tea. At some I realized that I had some choice in my emotions. I could resent maintenance for the time it took up, or I could choose to relax, dig in and do it. The anxiety of thinking about the job and thinking about what I could be doing instead was far worse than the actual chores. That, and at the end I'd have the satisfaction of a job well done.

Is it really so bad that house maintenance cuts into my precious drinking and tv time? 

I power washed the deck yesterday. It blasted away the pollen and dirt. It also removed some of the paint and washed away bits of rot. So I'm at the point in the house's annual maintenance where thinks look worse than when I started and it will be weeks before I can finish. I can replace the boards shortly, but we can't repaint until the rain stops. In Seattle, that's July or August.

When and how often should one maintain things? How often should you make things ship shape? Deep clean? These are hard questions for me. I'm in the tech industry There is a prevailing attitude that unless something is new, it's on the road to obsolescence. The idea of maintaining something is quaint.

My roommate just left for three months. He works on a fishing ship. For a week before the ship leaves port, he will live and work on the ship. Getting it ship shape, restocking, cleaning, repairing, repainting. When you are on a ship preventative maintenance is important. When you are out on the ocean, then you are out on the ocean. If something goes wrong then you are in trouble. Keeping things in ship shape then, even the cleaning and the painting is a way of saying "Someone was here, Someone looked over the contents of this space. Someone is responsible for this." Mess and dirt are ways of pointing out the neglected nooks and crannies of the ship.

What does it mean then that I have messy and dirty rooms in my house? Of course the consequences of a messy room are far less than that of a messy ship. My house won't sink. But it does mean something. Perhaps that I have more space than I need, or that the way I live is not consistent with the things packed into this house.

It's not a bad thing then, but I should pause to think about it.

We have a Roomba vacuuming robot and a Braava mopping robot. They both do a far better job than you'd think. It's not that the Roomba is a great vacuum. It's that it does a light job every day. Seven light vacumings a week can pic up an impressive amount of dirt. Then there are the secondary effects. We have to keep things off the floor for the Roomba to do it's job. Roomba has trained us to put the dirty laundry in the hamper. In return it will do a little bit of vacuuming.

Of course, what the Roomba can't do is to step back and look at the situation. While the Roomba can bump around vacuuming up bits of dirt, it can't ask should this thing be here? Should it be thrown out? Put away? Should the walls be cleaned too?

Roomba provides the feeling of being clean, without actually being in control. I get to dodge the bigger question of "Is this house properly maintained?"

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