If I had to grade myself on doing everything I should have done by this time, I’m only going to give myself a B-. I have huge expectations for myself, and I didn’t do all the one million and one things I should have. I had initially given myself an even lower score, but then I really looked at all the things I did and those I did do, I did very well.

One of the things that happens as we age is that our mind still sees our bodies as they were in the prime of our lives. So I have expectations for myself that are probably impossible to achieve at this point. My mind races at a hundred miles per hour. My body moves more like the speed limit. 

One of my major achievements this past summer was to get my second-story deck ready. That involved stripping the horrific paint I had applied to the floor years back and restoring the wood to its natural glory. Not only did that take weeks, it also involved me getting on my hands and knees. But the end result was well worth it. 

I love the coziness of my finished deck. For me, there’s a fine line between cozy and clutter. That line will be a reality when it comes time for me to store items that I don’t want to sit out for the winter. I’ve already started by taking the all-season rugs and power washing them. Even though, allegedly, they can take the weather, I really don’t want to tempt fate. Especially because they might interfere with the ability of the deck to melt the snow. After all the work I put into refinishing that wood, I don’t want to risk anything that might lead to mold, rot, etc. I’m going to determine if I breached that line when I give myself less than two hours to close down the deck for the winter. 

I also have a concrete patio out back. For years I kept the slingback chairs that came with the outdoor bar set as the fabric wore thin. My goal was to replace the original fabric with new ones. This year, I ended up finding four replacement chairs. Sometimes we have to let go of the projects that aren’t going to get done so that we can move forward. I power-washed that patio, planted my garden, and painted the patio table and chairs. I bought the spray paint to paint the bar, but it looks like that will be a next-year project.

I just finished painting my front security door. In 1989, that door cost me almost $600. Other than replacing the brass mail slot that has pitted over time, the basic door has held up well. I’m going to let the paint cure for a week and then use liquid car wax to add a waterproofing effect. 

I write about these things not to brag, but to demonstrate that keeping these 100-year-old bungalow houses up in appearance is an ongoing, sometimes very slow, but necessary chore. And unlike those TV shows where they do a complete house renovation in an hour, the real world moves at a much slower, but steady, pace.

When even dilapidated houses in Austin are selling for at least $150,000 and more, keeping up the appearance of this neighborhood by maintaining and updating one’s property is imperative. Now that the fall is here, my projects will move indoors.

Arlene Jones lives in Austin and writes a weekly column for our sister publication, the Austin Weekly News.

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