Thoughts on Maintaining a Home

Now that I have been maintaining an actual house for almost two months, I have one or two observations. Namely: this is hard!

Don’t get me wrong. I love having an actual house with a yard and everything. Having no one live above me or below me or sharing walls with me is a relief and a luxury that I am treasuring. However. Despite living in a home that is the size of a large apartment, keeping it in a regular state of cleanliness is a challenge for which five years in New York City could not and did not prepare me.

Keep in mind I have 0 children, 1 live-in boyfriend and one (VERY furry) dog. If I don’t Swiffer and vacuum at least once a week, all of my hardwood floors are littered with white poofballs of fur floating around. It might be poetic if my tolerance level weren’t so low, especially in light of the prevalence of and my addiction to watching the show Hoarders. Add on top of  all that a very loving and devoted significant other, but one who is a) a man and b) in law school and you get me keeping up with the housework much more than I ever had to before. (Despite the inherent fact that most men are much less impervious to filth, and mine is no exception, he did do laundry for me for over a year. It was one of the best years of my entire life.)

Come the weekends, we have to address whether we will be doing anything for the yards and surrounding grassy areas. There are weeds and other annoying things that grow without our consent. I do not mow the lawns. I do not mow, period. Thankfully my dude is more than capable and willing to take on this chore. But I had noticed that the exterior of the house was utterly filthy and took it upon myself to grab the hose with its somewhat power-washer spray nozzle and give the front porch, back deck and sides of the house a thorough water scrubdown. I don’t care if the Internet underlines that word in red, by the way. I’m using it as a singular word.

Now. I took a solid hour of using blasting cold water to remove I don’t know how many spiders and their webs, dirt, dust, grime, and flora debris from the porch, deck, steps and side of the house. However, I have two enemies that no amount of spraying will alleviate, as I discovered immediately after completing this outdoor chore.

In our backyard is an absolutely enormous walnut tree. If you’ve never seen a walnut in fruit form before, it looks like this:

It’s like a very small golden delicious apple, except nastier looking. As you can see, they rot easily and when they are opened, the fruit part turns into that black mess you see at the bottom there. Gross.

Having a walnut tree is only cool in writing. These things are everywhere. They fall on the roof of the house at all hours of the day and night, making a hard knocking noise that can scare the bejeezus out of you. (Probably just me, though.) They fall in the street and make a popping noise when you run over them with your car. To avoid walnut, squirrel and bird poop from raining down on the car, we don’t park it under the tree on the other side of the fence. Here’s what a small portion of the street looks like under the tree:

If you think it’s annoying to deal with more than one photo of walnuts, try dealing with this on your property 24/7. They not only never stop falling off the tree and make it difficult to walk a straight line in the yard, but the squirrels are mad for them. Enter Enemy #2.

Squirrels don’t bother me as far as rodents go. I even think they’re pretty cute most of the time. But as fast as the walnuts can fall off the tree, they are scooping them up and cracking them open on my front porch steps and back deck and leaving me with black crumbled debris to move aside with my foot – or power washer, like last weekend. Exhibit C:

In sum, it looks like I never clean my steps and porch because of this ugly mess. Every single day I move a ton of walnuts’ worth of nastiness off my steps, porch or deck, and as soon as I’m inside the house the squirrels think this is their cue to grab more walnuts and open them up, leaving them for me to clean up. (Remember one of the early episodes of American Dad where Roger the Alien says, “Someone will clean that up?” Yeah. That’s what these guys are doing to me.)

I have no clue if there is actually anything to do about this problem. And as far as problems go, it’s pretty low on the Must-Do-Something-About-This scale. But goddamn if it’s not annoying as hell. They’re making me look like I hoard walnut poop. Let’s face it, that’s what it looks like. I don’t want to be one of those people who eventually turns a blind eye to it and then starts bringing it into my home and piling it into every corner and I start calling it my Precious. Hmm. Sounds like I need to watch less Hoarders.

Luckily, it’s autumn and I know that the leaves and walnuts are supposed to be falling off the tree and that come winter, I will have less of this issue to deal with, especially if we get snow. Please God, let’s have lots of snow.

But I am keeping an eye on these little buggers.

My dog would love nothing more than to dine on squirrel any given day of the week. The photo below of Lucas is perfect because he looks so incredibly Wile E. Coyote. I can only hope that the similarity ends with his looks and that execution wise, his high prey drive will actually teach these little porch-ruiners a lesson.