After weeks of lukewarm drinks, the repairman finally showed up last week and replaced the ice maker in our freezer. The iceman cometh! I can't begin to say how happy that makes me (but VERY!) and I'm so grateful for this small, but significant improvement (ice is my thing). Since I'm a gal that drinks ice tea throughout the day, obviously, that requires ICE and LOTS OF IT!
Now that this long-overdue repair is off of my "To Do" list, I can begin to tackle the other things that tend to pop up every fall. I'm guessing that for many of you these tasks will ring a bell as well.
1) Speaking of ringing bells, I've been promising myself to put in a RING doorbell to show me who's standing at the door, whether friend or foe, boy scout or solicitor, neighbor or relative. This small security measure, which costs very little, seems to reap big dividends and is probably a good idea for us all. For me, there's really no good excuse for putting it off any longer.
2) Spider webs! Just in time for Halloween, the spiders have arrived en masse. I'm talking about the big, thick black spiders that hatch in September and seem to weave whole tapestries overnight. As I've got a large wrap-around porch, it's a perfect backdrop for webs, big and small. No disrespect to Charlotte, but get off my porch and take your webs with you. I'll get after those things for the next several weeks and luckily, I've got just the right tool for it.
3) Fall is the time to lay down compost and mulch. Your garden has worked hard all summer. Now is the perfect time to prep the yards before the winter rains arrive. Like every growing thing, our gardens need to be fed in order to thrive, so repay your lovely landscape for the abundant blooms and foliage they delivered the past several months and give them a thick carpeting of compost (and don't forget to deadhead).
Don't have a garden and wish you did? Fall is a great time to plant one so that the winter rains can deep water and establish their roots. You can add annuals and color come the spring, but get the trees and foundation plants in now and work from there once the new year arrives.
4) Get out the leaf blower and put it to good use - not just on your driveway but on the surface drains and the rain gutters on your roof as well. Yes, I know the Bay Area is in the middle of a heat wave but rain is right around the corner. Unfortunately, you'll likely need to do this chore more than once as the leaves are just beginning to fall, so while you might put if off briefly, you'll want to make sure the drains are clean before the first strong storm.
5) Have you sent your last child off to college? Mazel tov. Now get cracking on all the miscellaneous items they so thoughtfully left behind. Donate, toss, or pack their flotsam and jetsam away. It's stuff they'll never miss and guess what, neither will you. Our homes should be welcoming, but they shouldn't be shrines to our children.
6) Are your carpets dirty? Do the couches look like they've had better days? Has it been a year since you laundered the dog bed? When is the last time you washed your windows? I recently had my stairway runners cleaned and my slip covers steam cleaned and what a difference a day makes. Fabreeze aside, the household items we walk on and use on a daily basis take a beating over time and it's amazing how much dirt these items hide and harbor. Let a professional do this. It's like night and day.
7) Burned-out light bulbs? Dripping faucets? Poorly-performing appliances? Chipped paint? Why, why, why, and WHY? In my role as a Realtor, I spend a fair amount of time correcting both small and items that have been left to degrade. Without exception, the owners turn to me and say, "Why didn't we do this while we lived in the house? (That's a good question.) None of these chores take more than a few minutes or a few phone calls if you're less than handy (I'm not above hiring vendors if it keeps my husband off the roof!) and once corrected, these repairs will prevent much bigger problems from surfacing down the road. I had a friend who lost her entire kitchen floor - and much of the subfloor, due to a slow refrigerator leak.
8) Swap out your summer wardrobe for your winter duds. Granted, our California seasons aren't as pronounced as other states but if you're making room for winter coats and ski gear, donate what no longer fits or what you no longer use. Purge, purge, purge, and did I say purge? Honestly, we've all got way more than we need. Donating to the clothes closet is a good thing!
9) Clean out the garage. Admittedly, this is a bigger task and it might require the whole family pitch in to make headway, but the garage for many people has become the overflow for all things big and small. Again, I'm betting there are MANY items best passed along to someone else who can now better use them. Then, get rid of old paint, broken toys, ripped suitcases, outgrown bikes, and the rest . . . (Remind me, why are we keeping those things anyway?). Bonus, you may find that there's actually room to park you car. (Gee, what a concept.)
10) Update your homeowner's insurance and make sure it adequately covers your property (and the things inside it)! Take heed, many insurance carriers are canceling coverage in the Oakland and Berkeley Hills due to the fire danger and it can be difficult to replace. You don't want to EVER find yourself without homeowner's insurance come time to make a claim.
So that's my list, for better or for worse. I'm anxious to hear the chores you tackle each year and if you need support, feel free to check out my vendors on my website at JulieGardner.com. My team members will be happy to pitch in and do the work; that's how they make their living!
How can I help you?
Julie Gardner, has been writing The Perspective for 15 years and has published more than 500 essays. She is also a frequent contributor to the Sound Off column in the Real Estate section of The San Francisco Chronicle.