Monday, September 1, 2008

Chasing the Goose, Flapping All the While

Looks like my distracted divergence over the gutters just continued and continued until I had wasted way lots of time and effort. What brain power I burned, trying to find the ideal solution to gutter maintenance for my house that is surrounded by the most beautiful few trees one could ever expect to find within miles in this treeless land. I have trees right near the house. They are living with us. They drink water, get nutrients from the soil and the air, grow, spread, have parasites, get scabs and bugs and have lots of leaves. They shed their old and dried parts. They drop twigs. Their limbs spread over the house, over the gutters. They fill the gutters at least twice a year.

So why did I spend the last (I don't even dare look to see how many) weeks and days trying to find an ideal product to keep us from having to clean our gutters? I found products from $1 per foot to about $25 per foot. The most expensive ones do look good. They look good on paper and they look good on my neighbor's house. But there are still complaints about them. They get stuff in them and they are warranteed against full clogs only. But, really, in spite of all the complaints about them, I am fairly sure that they do offer an ideal solution. I am fairly sure that the top of the line (Leaf Guard) would achieve near perfection; and that even if stuff got in, the local company that deals in Leaf Guard would answer a call if I felt that clogging was starting. But I also don't quite believe their claim that rain won't drip past these gutters even during a heavy rain. I think at least some of it would during the heaviest downpours around here. They claim they can handle rains of 22 inches per hour. Well, it doesn't rain that hard...but, were you to measure the rain gathering on a big roof and falling into these gutters, I suspect you do come close to or go over that 22 inches. I think the reason there are complaints about these gutters is that they cost so much that any tiny thing that goes wrong incenses the buyer. At those prices, the gutters can't afford to get any leaves in them or to let any water drip during even the heaviest storms. And I can't afford that kind of money for gutters right now.

So, going down from the top of the line, I worked over about 10 different plans and combination scenarios for our house. After 3 salesmen visited and I called one back a second time, and after oh too much time trying to choose a solution, my favorite husband says to me during a bicycle ride through the neighborhood, "Gutters were developed in the midwest and north for houses with basements that were getting flooded. Look, lots of houses around here don't have gutters!" So, we talked about it for the whole ride, much to my excitement and his disgruntlement, and we looked at houses all around within 5 miles, and we found that many houses of all sizes have no gutters at all. I even stopped at a house where a man was outside, and I politely asked him how he was doing without gutters. He got chatty and told me he had grown up with gutters, and here he was pretty happy with his new home without gutters, but he has been thinking of getting just a few gutters installed, over the front entry and along the sides of his free-standing garage, which drips onto the grass, forming divots.

So, I looked at our house hard to find a no-gutter solution or a way to take down some of the gutters to reduce the maintenance requirements. I worked out some ideas but then realized that if we take off gutters, we have to putty and seal and paint the fascia left exposed. We haven't prioritized this, and the benefit wouldn't merit the cost.

Now, if I knew how long we planned to stay at this house, I might have a better idea as to whether I would feel it would be worthwhile to get rid of some gutters. We need to paint eventually, so we could get gutters removed when we paint. If we were planning to stay here long, it might even be the time now to remove some gutters and get the painting done. But if we are leaving soon, there's no point in customizing our gutter system, even if we would enjoy it for a year or two. The cost wouldn't pay off. No one new would care.

However, I don't know how long we want to stay, and I had decided to not do that thing of fixing up for the next people and missing out on enjoying the fixes ourselves. Now I feel like I'm right back at the beginning of the whole downsizing exercise, and I haven't done any downsizing. It's kind of a low and frustrated feeling; an out-of-control, indecisive, undirected feeling. You can't make progress if you don't have a goal.

We are so not decided about this house. I seem to want to do home improvements more than to downsize. The man of the house wants me to "lighten the load," so that we have more choices open to us. Could he possibly remember when we moved here with 2 large moving vans full? Could he ever forget? I think the truck to our house was filled with our stuff except for one fairly regular-sized dining room table that belonged to someone else! Most moving vans carry about 3 households of furniture. And DH might not remember but I do, when we were looking at houses here and we looked at those beautiful homes in the hills near the best schools, with the forested hills behind them, the beautifully set and affordable but a little bit small homes...that we knew we couldn't fit our stuff into. We would not have been able to unload our moving van into those houses without leaving stuff outside!

I think maybe DH remembers, as I do, that I vowed to lighten our load as soon as possible. For the first few years, I kept thinking about it but not making any progress. I was busy busy. And I did have the 2 part-time jobs instead of just the one. Then we took on all our parents' stuff, and I put it off for a while. We did get rid of a lot, especially 2 years after inheriting, when I had a big BIG garage sale. But then I stopped progressing on it and didn't think of it much. I focused on moving in and working with this house, instead of lightening the load to increase our options. And then, the kids were an excuse, and neither of us wanted the hassle of moving. And Mr. Man got complacent here too and didn't want the hassle of moving. And now the kids don't need this house and it almost seems reasonable to stay here, but not quite. There are things about it that I sometimes would be glad to leave behind. Too much lawn, too much yard. I can't take care of it as well as it needs. I can't do all the mulching and soil amendment any season requires. I can't keep up with the weeds all season. I can't add the extra touches that I know would be nice: the flowers around the tree trunks, the new plantings, or even the cleaning up of all the beds every spring. I just don't seem to be able to do it, even though I come close. I get a lot done, but it's not really enough. Not really.

The house has a nice moat of privacy, and yet, it has more neighbors than a squeezed in box of a house! With no fence in the back, and back-to-back cul-de-sacs, we have neighbors on each side, one right across the street, and 3 more in the back that all touch our yard! And yet, and yet, it is quiet and peaceful and has lots of nature around. The golf course is great to look at...but there are golfers, sometimes even into the yard. And with no fence, there are joggers and dog-walkers and bicycle-riders and walkers and runners. So it's really not private at all, and there are ever so many nicer places out there, with less upkeep and more privacy and fewer restrictions, and less wasted space, heat, and air-conditioning, and lower taxes. But they aren't ours. If I were handed one, I would take it, if it were nice. I have become fonder of this house as time and effort have proven it to work for us. But I think it's mostly laziness and complacency that are keeping us from being bent on leaving this house behind.


We need a plan. Of course, that brings me back to downsizing our load so that we have more options. We agree on smaller rather than bigger. Two of my favorite friends have recently bought bigger homes to move to. Both have found what sounds like a great place, not really too much bigger, and I don't think bigger was the main event. I am happy for them; but I guess their moves are relevant here because one of my fears is that there isn't something out there that isn't excessively high-dollar that we would prefer to this place. I would like to go to a place I like better than this, one with fewer of the problems of this house, but still a safe neighborhood with a private and quiet and natural setting. And I guess I'm afraid I won't be able to find it for a reasonable price. I want to be happy and excited about moving, not depressed. I was not happy about moving here. It is not as nice here as our previous house but that was a whole different world; a 2-family house with my parents. Maybe that's another part of these feelings. We think we can continue to afford to live here. But I'd rather find a nicer place for less. And I guess that's what I want and I don't know that it's out there, so my incentive is blunted, stunted, confronted.

So I need to get some downsizing done. Than my options will open. Why can't I get to it? I seem to think some other things are more important. Got organized a little, got a todo list going...and got lost in it. How am I going to do this? By blogging?