Easiest way to prep for winter? Get rid of yard

It’s time to get your house ready for winter. Otherwise, you won’t be able to afford your huge utility bill and will therefore be forced into taking drastic action, such as selling your soul to the devil to pay for heat.

Negotiating with someone as evil as Satan isn’t ideal, but it sure beats dealing with Xcel’s customer service department.

Getting ready for the winter involves several tasks:

■ Draining the swamp cooler

It prevents pipes from cracking. Plus there’s no use for this appliance in winter. When it’s freezing and just 10 degrees outside, you won’t need to turn on your air conditioning — unless your wife is going through menopause.

Be very careful when getting up on the roof, though. It’s dangerous and could kill you, and therefore should only be done by the least favorite family member.

Winterize your swamp cooler early. I recommend getting on the roof as early as July. That way you’ll be able to check out that attractive neighbor who likes to sunbathe. Having a legitimate reason to be on the roof will keep you from seeming like a creepy pervert. (Don’t forget the binoculars).

■ Raking your leaves

Whenever I’d drive through one of those God-forsaken neighborhoods, where there aren’t any trees or landscaping — where it appears that there are strict HOA rules against having living vegetation outside the weed family — I used to feel sorry for those people, having to live in an area devoid of “charm.” Now I know those tree-less freaks are the smart ones.

“Hey!” I picture them shouting to me, relaxing on their couch, sipping a cold one, while I spend hour number three removing the two-foot layer of leaves from my lot. “How’s that ‘charm’ working out for you?”

Marie picked up a leaf blower for me at a yard sale. She laid it out on the garage floor and everything. I think it was a hint. It’d be like if I bought her a frying pan and a steak.

I’m more of a rake guy. I don’t even know what you do with a leaf blower, other than blow all your leaves into the neighbor’s yard, which, of course, I would never do, unless I knew for sure they were not home.

■ Cleaning out your gutters

This is not as “sexy” a job as the others. I mean, none of your neighbors will ever come over and say, “Wow, you sure got some clean gutters.” And if they do, you should move immediately.

But cleaning the gutters is an important job that absolutely must be done. Otherwise ... well, I’m sure something bad will happen.

And you don’t want that.

■ Blowing out your sprinkler system

This is vital. If not done, your pipes may break, meaning you won’t have irrigation water next spring, which means your grass will die so you won’t have to mow the yard anymore, which would be great.

If you’re going to do it anyway, blowing out the sprinklers takes a lot of air pressure. You’re going to have to blow really hard.

Some of your neighbors will go the more traditional route, and, like, hire professionals and stuff, with, like, air compressors and such. They may ridicule you when seeing you on your hands and knees, huffing and puffing into a 3/4 inch PVC pipe, but you’ll have the last laugh when their costly sprinkler-blowing bill comes.

Next spring, you can make fun of their fiscal imprudence from the comfort of the dead, unsightly, barren wasteland you call a front yard.

■ Winterizing your house

The key here is caulk. You should caulk everywhere.

I don’t know what caulk does, really, but it feels manly doing it — even if it’s pretty much like operating a cake frosting bag.

I’m sure I missed some tips, but I’ll get to them later. I just saw my neighbors leave. It’s time to fire up the leaf blower.

Reach Steve at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

Today’s birthday (Oct. 16). Achievement in business will be a marvelous way to start off your solar return. You’ll be proud, and yet you also give credit to the many supporters on your team.

Aries (March 21-April 19). As you consider the things that shape your identity these days, you’ll realize that you’re far less concerned with your image than you used to be.

Taurus (April 20-May 20). You’ll be in a position to mediate a battle of sorts.

Gemini (May 21-June 21). Ask yourself whether you’re really suited for the steps required to get to the end destination.

Cancer (June 22-July 22). Your attention, when you give it fully, is a gift that your loved ones will treasure.

Leo (July 23-Aug. 22). To make yourself happy, you must first know yourself well enough to predict what will make you happy. 

Virgo (Aug. 23-Sept. 22). Things you might usually take for granted, like having a way to get from here to there within a certain time frame, will now get your full attention.

Libra (Sept. 23-Oct. 23). You are deeply loyal to the people who have helped you in the past, so much so that you refuse to see their flaws.

Scorpio (Oct. 24-Nov. 21). An uncanny coincidence will make you feel mysteriously connected to your loved ones.

Sagittarius (Nov. 22-Dec. 21). Don’t bottle up those feelings — it’s too much pressure that way. Express yourself.

Capricorn (Dec. 22-Jan. 19). Make sure your work is totally finished before you show it to anyone.

Aquarius (Jan. 20-Feb. 18). People don’t like to feel that they are always taking and you are always giving.

Pisces (Feb. 19-March 20). The work that must be done today would not have been your first choice.

Today is the 289th day of 2013. There are 76 days left in the year.

On Oct. 16, 1962, President John F. Kennedy was informed by national security adviser McGeorge Bundy that reconnaissance photographs had revealed the presence of missile bases in Cuba.

In 1793, during the French Revolution, Marie Antoinette, the queen of France, was beheaded.

In 1859, radical abolitionist John Brown led a group of 21 men in a raid on Harpers Ferry in western Virginia. (Ten of Brown’s men were killed and five escaped. Brown and six followers ended up being captured; all were executed.)

In 1901, Booker T. Washington dined at the White House as the guest of President Theodore Roosevelt, whose invitation to the black educator sparked controversy.

In 1912, the Boston Red Sox won the World Series, defeating the New York Giants in Game 8, 3-2 (Game 2 had ended in a tie on account of darkness).

In 1942, the ballet “Rodeo”, with music by Aaron Copland and choreography by Agnes de Mille, premiered at New York’s Metropolitan Opera House.

In 1943, Chicago Mayor Edward J. Kelly officially opened the city’s new subway system during a ceremony at the State and Madison street station.

In 1952, the Charles Chaplin film “Limelight” premiered.

In 1962, the New York Yankees won the World Series, defeating the San Francisco Giants in Game 7 at Candlestick Park, 1-0.


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