To rake or not to rake

Maple leaf
Maple leaf

September is almost over and the leaves are falling. I usually clear the leaves from the sidewalk and boulevard and compost them. I use an old-school rake rather than a leaf blower because the rake is quiet and easy to use.

You don’t need to rake all of those pretty leaves. There are a few reasons not to.  The leaves provide shelter and even food for animals like chipmunks, box turtles, and earthworms. Butterfly pupae use the layers for protection as they grow over the chilly months.

As the leaves decompose (no, they won’t litter your lawn forever), they form a natural mulch and help fertilize the soil. They can be mulched with the lawnmower next spring.

Leaves do not belong in the trash. If you must rake take them to one of them to a compost site. Personally, I like to photograph them. Have you ever photographed a leaf using a macro lens?

Too much paper?

paper shredderWe all have too much stuff.  It isn’t just stuff we buy. I sometimes work with people who have boxes of canceled checks and paper copies of bills with “paid” written on them. Paper bank statements and boxes of receipts too.

These days just about everything, including bills and bank statements are available online. They don’t even have to be printed but for people who feel the need to have copies, they can be downloaded and stored on a computer.

I can find bank statements from years ago online. I can’t imagine how or why I would ever need a paper copy. I haven’t balanced a checking account in 20 years or so. The pennies I might be missing are not worth the time it would take to find them. I can see the math online when I look at the running balance and it passes my “seems about right” test.

Don’t  keep warranty information and instruction manuals for appliances they no longer own.

There isn’t any rule that states that paper copies of tax returns have to be kept forever. The IRS says “3 years from the date you filed your original return or 2 years from the date you paid the tax, whichever is later if you file a claim for credit or refund after you file your return. Keep records for 7 years if you file a claim for a loss from worthless securities or bad debt deduction.”

Many companies offer the opportunity to go paperless. Get an email alert or a text message when bills are due instead of paper statements.

Don’t forget to use the paper shredder before disposing of documents. When getting rid of large amounts of paper look for secure disposal boxes or shredding services. There are many options. Search online for document disposal close to home.

Optional air duct cleaning

According to the EPA Duct cleaning has never been shown to actually prevent health problems. Neither do studies conclusively demonstrate that particle (e.g., dust) levels in homes increase because of dirty air ducts. This is because much of the dirt in air ducts adheres to duct surfaces and does not necessarily enter the living space.

However, the National Air Duct Cleaners Association (NADCA) recommends air duct cleaning every 3 to 5 years.

If there are rodents in the air ducts or mold or some other air quality problem related to the air ducts they may need to be cleaned.

Air duct cleaning is sometimes sold along with furnace tune-ups. Furnace inspections and tune-ups should be part of yearly home maintenance. In most cases, duct cleaning is an optional add-on.

Hoarding isn’t something to joke about

Hoarding is a serious problem. Hoarding disorder is a mental health condition in which you have a strong need to save a large number of items and experience distress when attempting to get rid of them. Hoarding disorder is treatable with cognitive behavioral therapy.

Having too much stuff isn’t a mental illness. Hoarding goes way beyond too much stiff and alters the way people live. It destroys houses and ruins lives.

People who hoard can not easily stop or get rid of enough of their belongings so that they can safely live in their houses. A hoarding disorder is classified classified as an obsessive-compulsive disorder. (OCD)

Sometimes a hoarder will gather so many items that they are stacked up to the ceilings in every room. The weight of all of these items can cause structural damage. Stuff gets piled up against doors and windows until there is only one way in or out of the house.

If the pile of items gets wet as can easily happen with a small leak in the plumbing they become even heavier and provide an excellent place for mold to grow. As the house deteriorates it can rot from the inside out.  Mice and rats can easily get in.

Hoarding disorder is more likely to affect people over 60 years old and people with other mental health conditions, especially anxiety and depression.

We live in a society and in a world that is aging. I fear that we will see more houses destroyed by hoarding. The city of St. Paul has an approach that in some cases takes decades and by the time action is taken the house isn’t salvageable. Giving the owner fines for huge amounts of money isn’t helping at all. In fact, it is likely that our tax dollars in St. Paul are being used to pay city inspectors to supervise the slow disintegration of the houses of hoarders.



This photo was taken on private property with the property owner’s permission. The yard has been cleaned up since the photo was taken. Dead animals were found in the debris. Some of the storage bins were filled with water as they sat in the rain. The double doors were and probably still are blocked inside and outside.

How hot was it?

leavesIt is Friday and Fridays are for fun. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) August 2023 was the warmest August on record.

The average global land and ocean surface temperature in August was 2.25 degrees F (1.25 degrees C) above the 20th-century average of 60.1 degrees F (15.6 degrees C), ranking as the warmest August in the 174-year global climate record.

North America has it’s warmest August and Warmest summer on record.

The long-range forecast for fall and winter is interesting. It could be warmer than average or colder than average or there could be more or less snow than average. We do know that El Niño will persist through the Northern Hemisphere winter 2023-24. That means it might be a warmer wetter winter but apparently it also means that we might experience the dreaded and horrific polar vortex.

Today is the last day of Summer. The fall equinox and the first day of autumn arrives on Saturday, September 23, 2023, at 01:50 A.M. CDT in the Northern Hemisphere.

My real estate forecast for fall and winter is that there will be fewer home sales due to higher interest rates and would be home sellers staying where they are rather than moving and getting a new mortgage for a higher interest rate. Home sales are somewhat seasonal. We usually see the smallest number of home sales in December and the highest number of home sales in April.

Throwback Thursday – Fire station 3

I am a fan of historic preservation. This old fire station is the home of Hope Breakfast Bar. The food is wonderful and so is the restaurant. The old fire station, built in 1872,  sat empty for years and was used for storage and almost demolished.

It sits on the corner of Grand Avenue and Leech Street and is surrounded by a newish hotel and luxury apartments. There are some coffee shops and a clothing store across the street.

The area has become a destination on Saturday and Sunday mornings. The street in front of the restaurant has been turned into an outdoor dining area.

before and after fire station
Fire Station becomes a restaurant

Hope breakfast bar