A Well Kept Home is a Sign of a Wasted (Outdoor) Life

“The cat peed on the carpet again!” My wife’s disgusted voice
echoed up from the basement as I gathered my mountain bike helmet and gloves,
reminding me of the fact that we needed to tear the whole floor out thanks to
an incontinent, old long-hair with a sudden aversion to anything even
resembling a box filled with sand-like substances. “I’ll get to it later,” I
called back as I fled the scene to the safety of a friend’s truck where my bike
was already strapped to the hitch rack. The mess downstairs could wait, because
I had a date with fresh Wasatch air, handlebars under my fingers, and six
inches of suspension. Deep down I knew I would never get around to fixing the
problem, because I have a problem. But I also have a solution, and it
comes in the form of a simple mantra.

 

Sometimes, a saying fits a situation so perfectly that it
basically sums up my entire life at that moment in time, and stops me so dead
in my tracks that there could be an elephant parade going by and I wouldn’t
notice. One such quote recently bitch-slapped me upside the head, and it not
only summed up my life, but also justified it. As we drove away from the house,
I kept repeating it in my head over and over again to expel any feelings of
guilt.

 

“A well-kept home is a sign of a wasted life.”

 

This probably isn’t an exact quote, and I don’t know where it
came from – maybe I just heard it while eavesdropping on a conversation
somewhere. I suppose a quick Google search would easily reveal who said it, but
I haven’t bothered to look for fear that it would lose some of its magic and
I’d be back to wallowing in guilt like a Catholic in a whorehouse.

 

Some perspective: My house is a wreck. The to-do list is an
arms-length and beyond. But whenever I aim to check a home improvement project
off that list, the outdoors call me away. No matter the season or activity,
playing outside always wins the debate, much to the chagrin of my wife. Over
the summer, the yard would have been acceptable landscaping for a hillbilly
shack, complete with a bucktoothed, old man wearing nothing but greasy denim
overalls and a shotgun. A rusty car on cinder blocks could have been a
decoration on my dead lawn among weeds that grew four feet tall. Big yard
projects are on the docket, like xeriscaping the front entry, terracing the
hill by the sidewalk, and installing a sprinkler system that automatically
starts and stops on a timer so maybe the grass wouldn’t die because of my
absenteeism.

 

But these are all summer projects, and summer is for mountain
biking, rock climbing, and backpacking. Who has time to mow when friends text
you to go shred some singletrack in the mountains? The gears of my bike will
surely turn before the mower cuts a single blade of Kentucky Bluegrass.

And now, as winter draws near, home improvement tends to go
indoors. In my casa, five-years of maintenance must be done. Just to name a few
small projects, the aforementioned basement carpet needs to be torn out and
replaced with hardwood or tile thanks to that damn stupid cat. The kitchen
needs a home-improvement reality-show-scale remodel, the front stoop has broken
tiles, and the whole interior of the house is screaming for a fresh coat of
paint.

 

But winter is ski season! It’s the best time of the year for
“getting after it.” With a work schedule that allows for skiing every morning,
and with blessed Utah snowfall making most squares on the calendar a powder
day, there’s no way in hell I’m going to mire myself in sheet rock dust, quickcrete,
or off-white primer inside a furnace-heated, walled enclosure.

 

I wasn’t always like this. In the past, I would dutifully
make trips to the home improvement store and do what needed to be done. I was
once proud of my house, and doted on her like she was a newborn baby. It may
sound strange, but the TV show “Little House on the Prairie” would echo in my
mind as I’d hear Pa Ingalls telling Laura that she has to do her chores before
she could run down to the creek and go fishing. But as my concern turned to
neglect, and fun came before chores over the years, I felt guilty choosing play
over the responsibility of maintaining the single most important financial
investment of my life. Much of that is probably due to my wife’s not-so-subtle
reminders and “honey-do” lists that now elicit laughter rather than the needed
motivation to roll up my sleeves and apply elbow grease. Instead, I apply
sunscreen and fly out the door. After all, that pyramid of crusty dishes in the
sink isn’t going anywhere, and there’s fresh powder to farm!

 

But now, I no longer need to carry the burden of guilt. This
wonderful little saying came into my life, and plays itself in my head whenever
I pass by the embarrassing, broken window blinds en route to the Cottonwood
Canyons with skis on my shoulder. I think that I must not waste my life, and
the only thing more embarrassing than shredded Venetians would be a spotless,
perfect, Parade of Homes worthy abode that screams to the world, “I have no
life!” So put off those chores until a dry spell, let the paint peel and metal
rust, and might as well give the cat free reign of the house. The outdoors
awaits, and you can’t answer the call if you’re on all fours scrubbing a lime
encrusted bathtub.

 

After all, “A well-kept home is a sign of a wasted life.”

 

Well, except for that cat-pee carpet in the basement. That’s
being done ASAP because it’s just nasty… and my skis live down there.

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