Family Home improvement

Rake rake

My wife and I have always had two levels of cleaning. I clean. She clean cleans.

I do what I would, I guess, is what the base level of cleaning most people do. Meaning I put up dishes, sweep the floors, maybe mop, etc. This is just the starting round for her. She has to go to clean clean level. That includes such things as scrubbing baseboards, which is something my wife is very big on. She loves some clean baseboards.

Fun fact: If you asked me what my baseboards look like, I might very well answer, “What are baseboards?”

So we have a good system in place. I do the general cleaning in the house, and every now and again, my wife comes in to clean clean. Which means getting on her hands and knees and scrubbing things that I have never in my life paid attention to. But it’s important to her, so go do your thing!

And so the other day we discovered that we can take our clean vs. clean clean differences outdoors. We found that I like to rake, and she likes to rake rake.

We were working in our backyard, trying to clean out under some bushes that had accumulated a rather impressive collection of oak leaves. Admittedly, these had not gotten our utmost attention over the years, so we had a good bit of catching up to do.

We raked leaves into piles, and I began the job of bagging them. If you live in a place where you can load all your leaves on a tarp and just drag them to the side of the road where they will be magically sucked up via giant city-owned leaf vacuum, thank your lucky stars. We have to bag ours in these big, brown yard bags that always weigh more than you think they will once you will them. One upside – “The Leaf and Lawn Chute,” which was created by a modern-day Prometheus. You put it in the bag, and it makes it so much easier to put leaves in the bags. Why The Leaf and Lawn Chute creator hasn’t won a Nobel Prize of some sort (Nobel Prize for Lawn Care?) is beyond me.

We kept raking and bagging, and dragging each bag to the street. But every time I would return from dragging one bag off to the road, my wife would have a new pile, right where I had just scooped up all of the leaves. Finally, I said, “You know, you don’t have to get ALL the leaves, right?”

Her look told me that we would, in fact, be getting ALL the leaves.

I kept hauling bags, and she kept finding new leaves, despite the fact that, so far as I was concerned, any leaves left were merely survivors who earned their place in my yard. Turns out, leaves in our backyard do not, in fact, get rewarded for sticktoiveness.

I eventually hauled all of the bags to the street, and I have to say, it looks really nice. I don’t know how many bags I actually took out to the street. (Side note: Yeah, I do. It was 19.) But at the end of the day, I am glad we accomplished the task to her level of rake raking, rather than just my usual level of raking. However, I am not sure I can bring this enthusiasm inside, at least for team projects. I am all for working together, but there are some times where I will have to let her fly solo. Such as when it comes to baseboards, which may or may not actually exist in my house.

Mike Gibbons was born and raised in Aiken, S.C. A graduate of the University of Alabama, you can e-mail him at or follow him on Twitter @StandardMike.


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