Opinion

Getting around to it, after 21 years or so

I’ve had lots of time on my hands this summer and I’ve been finding lots to keep myself busy. I seem to have entered some sort of “finishing phase” in my life and I’ve been cleaning and patching and repairing things and finishing projects started and forgotten.

For example, the day I moved into my present house, some 21 years ago, one of the guys helping me move pointed out a crack in my front sidewalk. “You’d better fix that before the water gets in there and it gets bigger,” was his sound advice.

Last week, I fixed it. Twenty-one years later, and it really hadn’t gotten much bigger. I got the patching material and cleaned out the dandelions and the dirt, mixed the cement and smoothed  it over. After it dried I got some paint and painted over it, which of course made the rest of the sidewalk look like crap.

I pressure washed the sidewalk and the front stairs, scraped and sanded, and ended up painting everything that didn’t move — and a couple of ants and spiders that didn’t move fast enough.

I had never liked the black wrought iron railings so I sanded them, primed them and painted them a nice white contrast to the grey stairs. With the paint and brushes still wet  I painted the window trim as well, then to top it off, I bought some hanging baskets on sale and the entire place looked cleaner and brighter. It only took 21 years to get at it.

Since I’ve made this minor transformation, two separate neighbours have asked if I’m getting ready to sell the place. I’m not sure if it was just curiosity or wishful thinking. But fixing things up before we sell them is a strange quirk of human nature.

I recently talked to a man who is getting ready to list his home and he commented, “I’m going to have to make about five trips to the dump to get rid of all the junk in my yard before I sell.” Why do  we live day to day with loads of junk in our yard, and then work to get rid of it when we sell?

It’s the same with selling a used car. I was getting ready to sell a car once that we had driven for five years. I bought a new hinge for the glove box that used to fall open at every set of railway tracks and I replaced two rubber grommets that stopped the annoying rattle from the ash tray.

I vacuumed and shampooed the carpets, finding an earring, a long-lost soother and about three dollars in change. I shined the dashboard and waxed the exterior and touched up some scratches. The car we sold was nothing like the smelly, rattling wreck we had driven all those years.

You can go online and find pages of suggestions like, ‘The top 10 things you should fix before selling your house or car,” but I couldn’t find one page telling me how to fix things when they break, and not to collect garbage along the back fence where it will sit for 21 years.

This week, I’m going to tackle the green house that is full but hasn’t had plants in it for years.

Why would I sell? My house is starting to look like the nice, clean place I bought 21 years ago. At least that’s what McGregor says.

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