Wednesday, December 21, 2022

Oblivious to a solution

There are many ways to solve most problems around the home, to repair something that’s broken, to improve the quality of life, and so much more. Sometimes, though, solutions are so obvious that they never come to mind. Until they do.

When I moved into this house, one of the things I most wanted to do was to have the patio covered. I wasn’t sure precisely what would be best, but my goal was to make it usable most of the year by providing shade from the hot summer sun and shelter from the winter rain. Things didn’t quite work out.

I made some expensive improvements to the house, like the photovoltaic system, and I realised that the sorts of patio covers I considered could easily cost substantially more than that system. That means that a patio cover just isn’t an option at right now, though it will be in the future if I choose to stay in this house longterm.

In the meantime, however, my table and chairs were in the weather all day every day—rain, wind, and, especially, sun. I could see that they were slowly deteriorating, and that made me sad—and determined to do something—but what?

Nigel and I bought the table and chairs two houses ago, and they went under a patio cover, and so, were protected. At our last house, they were on an exposed deck and, just like here, they were at the mercy of the weather. I wondered about putting one of those blue tarpaulins over them, but worried about properly securing it, since the deck often got hit with strong winds from the Manukau Harbour.

Then, everything fell apart, and I left that house. My new patio was every bit as exposed as at the previous house (thought usually far less windy), and after awhile I thought again about putting a tarpaulin over it—but I did nothing.

Recently, I was at one of the home centres, and as I was walking past a rack on my way to somewhere else, out of the corner of my eye I spotted a rack with covers for various types of outdoor furniture. It was a definite ”DOH!” moment.

I must’ve been aware that such covers existed, and I must’ve even seen them in use many times, but for some inexplicable reason, that knowledge and awareness never reached my conscious mind, not until I happened to walk past the display in the store that day. It was the logical solution, one that had completely eluded me.

I knew I’d better measure the table and chair set before buying a cover, so I didn’t buy one that day. Instead, I went home, measured what I needed, and then checked the websites of both the home centre chains. It turned out that they both sold the same brand and—in a very rare event—they both charged the same price. I bought the cover (pictured above, and also in a product photo at right).

Before putting it over the table and chairs, I first scrubbed the table, and was happy to find out that it wasn’t in as bad condition as I thought—it was mostly just very dirty. The cover I bought was the medium size, which was a little too big (the small was too small). This meant that breezes going under the table could make it billow—noisily, I might add. So, I criss crossed it with some old clothesline (also from two houses ago…). And that helped keep it from flapping around too much during storms.

Since then, it’s done exactly what I wanted it to do: It’s protected the table and chairs from the elements, but I realised it also protected them from birds who left their gifts on the chairs in particular. The cover should last at least until I know what I’m going to do—upgrade this place or move on—and that makes it the perfect solution for right now.

The reality is that I can only remember sitting at the table twice since moving into this house in January 2020. The first time was one evening sometime after I’d shifted into the house when family came round for dinner, but sitting outside was only a short time. The second time was when I tool my Christmas Day selfie later that same year. Aside from those two times, I can’t remember sitting out there. I would, however, use the table if the patio was covered, something I know because I frequently used the table and chairs two houses ago, where they were under a cover.

I mention all that because another option was to just get rid of the set or put in the garage (after clearing a space—somehow…). The only thing that kept the possibility of me using them was to cover them for now, until I can find a more permanent solution.

This solution was unexpected only because for some unknown reason, something I must’ve known about, managed to escape my awareness. The fact I became aware of the solution purely by random chance adds to the unexpectedness. It proves, though, that there really are ways to solve most problems around the home, and that solutions can be completely obvious, yet never come to mind. Until they do. And I’m glad this one did.

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