As anyone who’s moved from an apartment to a house knows, there’s more do to in a house, including some maintenance tasks that need to be done on a regular basis. We’ve been living in our house for six years now, and even after that amount of time, there are still some regular tasks that don’t get done as regularly as they should.

The duties aren’t onerous. The vast majority of the outside maintenance is taken care of by our landlord or by folks he hires: lawn mowing, snow plowing, cleaning the gutters and gathering the fallen leaves in the autumn. (We have, at times, done those last two anyway, and there is some snow shoveling that falls to us.) And the inside work isn’t hard at all, but it requires attention to the passage of time: We have to change the furnace filter and make sure that the water softener has salt in it.

I get around to the first of those things pretty well, changing the furnace filter on something close to a quarterly basis. But I frequently forget to check the salt level in the water softener. If I were to do so consistently, then I’d regularly haul a forty-pound bag of softener salt home from the nearby grocery store and down to the basement. It’s a little taxing, given some health issues I deal with, but one forty-pound bag is not a major challenge.

If I ignore the softener a little bit longer, then it’s two trips hauling two bags of salt down the stairway. That’s more difficult. And if I wait far too long, then I have to make three salt-laden trips down the stairs, as I did this morning. My back and shoulders hurt. But the softener is filled with salt, and I’m going to go take a couple of aspirin.

First, though, here’s one of the best tracks I know about salt. It’s “Rock Salt and Nails,” the title track to Steve Young’s 1969 debut album.


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