Sunday, October 5, 2014

This Little House of Mine

When it comes to making improvements and spending money on this house, Mark goes into denial, followed by the fetal position.  Anything that has more than one zero after it gives him the shaky shakes.

I, on the other hand, plow forward with blissful, ignorant optimism.  Deep into a project and waaaaaaaaay off the mark on the actual costs involved, I take the plunge and grab him kicking and screaming all the way to the edge of the cliff I intend for us to teeter on.

For the last several years I've been saying that our tired, old house needed a paint job.  The side that gets baked by the sun all day was a peeling mess.  Some of the trim had no paint left on it.  We had wood rot.  When I would point it out to Mark and plead my case he'd say, "Nah, I think we're good for another year," and go back to puttering in his jungle garden. 

He. Cannot. Deal.

I couldn't imagine what another cold and snowy winter would do to our already compromised house, and so I took matters into my own hands and called a number scribbled on scratch paper in my phone book.  Not entirely sure if this was a painter, a handyman or a landscaper I dialed.  Beginner's luck!  On the first try I was talking to the painter we had used years ago.  I considered this me lucky charm and a few hours later he was at my door.

The initial quote made me gasp.  Maybe I actually did audibly.  I cannot remember.  He came down $400.00 on the spot.  I was thinking more like "divide by two" but it's been a long time since we had a paint job and I tend to think inflation applies to other people's houses and not mine.  That night he called and came down another $300.00.

Now I had a more palatable price and selling point to present to The Big Daddy.  "He said since we're returning customers he'd knock $400.00 off.  Oh, I didn't bite at first, Mark, so then he came back with even more off.   You should have seen me in action, Mark.  I held my ground."  This made it seem like I was more like Hilary Clinton brokering a deal between Israel and Palestine than a dumbfounded customer whose only skilled tactic was to be too stunned to speak.  Whatev.

He nodded and made a counter-offer.  "I'll see your house painting and raise you gutters.  I want new gutters."  I nodded back.  "Sure.  What's a few more hundreds of dollars?"  We had struck a deal.

These painters had their work cut out for them.  Painting, caulking, wood repair.  A leaking screened-in porch that needed a rehab.  Mark's jungle garden to work around.  They set up camp and have been here so long I'll almost feel a little sad when my FEMA team hitches their trailers and moves on to the next disaster.

In the meantime, the dishwasher started making a weird sound.  "It's not draining," The Big Daddy declared.  "I think it's leaking," I declared back.  He must not have heard me as he headed off to Lowe's to buy a pallet of drain cleaners.  He firmly believing that blasting pipes with toxic chemicals will solve all plumbing problems.  "Toxic chemicals in the dishwasher with plates and cutlery we eat off of?" I inquired. "Ack!!!  There's more chemicals in strawberries than in Mr. Plumber," he said waving me off.  While the noxious fumes may have killed every bug in the basement it did not fix the dishwasher that had now begun to leak under the kitchen floor.

I called Bernie - my appliance repair guy who has been to our house so many times he doesn't even need to write the address down.  He took the panel off, got on his belly on the floor with a flashlight and stated dishwasher time of death as 4:21 p.m.  "You can claim this on your homeowners and they'll pay for your floor to be replaced," he told me.  "Well, we've got two auto claims in there now for car mishaps with one unnamed child so I'm stuck with my oceanic floor," I said hopping over the laminated waves. 

The next night we went back to Lowe's and picked out a new dishwasher.  Six months no interest!!!  Yippee!!!  Then we waited ten days for the install, washing dishes like the Pilgrims.  "I'll be a little late to work tomorrow," I gleefully told my boss one day. "Our new dishwasher is coming.  No more washing the dishes in the sink!  I bet we're going to be amazed at how clean our dishes are going to get.  And quiet, too.  I've heard the new ones are really quiet."

Not. So. Fast.

The installer looked at our old school rigged up Kenmore and said, "Hold your horses, Luck-Be-Any-Lady-But-You. You need a shut-off valve for the dishwasher and your electrical isn't up to code.  When that gets done I'll come back."  Off he went into the gloomy, thunderstorm that had descended over our house and like Rose on the Titanic I clung to the door, lifted my pruney, dishwashed palm into the air and whispered, "Come back."

I called a plumber for the second time in a month.  All will be fine I told myself.  I'd have him fix the tub faucet upstairs while he was here and check that off the list of "good stuff gone bad."  He did those repairs and at the last minute I remembered that there was a drip behind the downstairs bath faucet.  "Can't be fixed. ma'm.  You're going to need a new faucet," he said.  Of course we did.  I wrote him a check.

I made a call to the electrician.  All will be fine I told myself.  I'd have him fix those two basement lights that haven't worked in eons and check that off the list.  Two hours and do-you-seriously-really-make-that-much-money and my electrical problems were fixed.  I wrote him a check.

Finally, an early morning jaunt to Mark's jungle garden resulted in me getting stung three times by hornets.  I lost my shit.  My patched, primed, caulked and no longer optimistic shit.

I tended to my stings and made another call to someone who will come out, haul away the crap from the Frankensteinish Laboratory out in back and get it ready for next spring's grand plan.  I will write one more check and then I will go into hibernation.......keeping my misguided exuberance in check until a season or two has passed and our savings account is replenished.

Until then I will swoon over the handiwork of the pros who made our little, pricey charmer shine once again. 

I still love her but if I think she needs anything else I'll save my husband the trouble and tell myself to shut it.


  1. Delightful read .......... And your Home looks beautiful !

  2. Your house is charming, but I bet it didn't seem that way during the hornet attack. Just starting a new home improvement project today and this post made me a wee bit nervous!

  3. I just now saw your comment - yes, he uses staples and we need to pull a few soon! Your house is charming.