Saturday, August 3, 2013

The never-ending saga of homeownership


     “That’s it,” I tell my husband in no uncertain terms when we put on the new metal roof. Such a sturdy roof should last long after we are no longer walking on this earth. The next owner of our abode will have to worry about replacement costs.
      No more home restoration projects. We can sit back and live in our house without the inconvenience of construction interruptions of any kind. We have beaten the money pit game, and our cash flow is intact.
      All the company we have put off can be invited. The guest bathroom is now ready, the interior painting of the entire house is done and the landscaping complete.
     Good-bye drills laying all over on the dining room table. Farewell contractors’ trucks hoarding our driveway. Extra trips to the dump are a thing of the past.
      What could I have be thinking? I am well aware of the domino theory—a single falling domino causes an entire row of upended black and white pieces to tumble.
      Homeownership always equals a project or two in the works. It’s a fact of life like calamity, which comes at the wrong time right in the middle of the busiest week in the month.
      “It’s a never ending cycle, so you should be used to it by now,” says my practical husband when he told me recently that we need to fix our front sidewalk because it isn’t destined to make it through another winter safely.
     That project in itself wouldn’t be too bad except that a contractor is putting in a paved driveway for our neighbor and cuts us a fair deal if we want to do ours that afternoon, too.
     “Here we go again,” I grumble facing multiple projects on the docket—and their bills. Early on in our marriage I took over the financial management of the household—more, you don’t need to know.
     “But it is a chance of a lifetime, and it will go nicely with the new sidewalk,” says my husband. I am a touch afraid that I am hearing pleading in his voice.
     “If we do the driveway that means we have to landscape along the sides to get the right drainage slope.” I say. (I am proud of myself for coming up with this thought.)
      I suppose years of home ownership haven’t gone to waste. My husband is the better one to see the bigger picture with his artist’s eye.
     “It all goes together,” my husband retorts. He is not in the mood for long technical explanations that I really don’t care about anyhow.
     In the meantime I hurriedly hide my “wish list” journal containing my ultimate household dreams for fear that my husband has been reading it in his spare time devising more schemes.
     I have a few other projects that would be nice, but I could live without, like high fencing around his numerous outside project materials he has collected from living here for many years.
     It shouldn’t surprise anyone that my mind reader husband is off getting the measurements for the fencing as I write.
    “How can we not do it? Our dependable college apprentice is here for the hefty work of setting the posts in the ground. You’ve wanted that for years,” says my husband delighted that he is pleasing me.
     I smile and button my lips. (I’ve learned a thing or two over the years about keeping a marriage running smoothly.) 
     Granted I have spent more time at the hardware establishment than at the shoe store, my preferred choice for leisure shopping. Aisle 10, the plumbing spot, is great for commiserating with others homeowners who are in the same boat struggling to keep afloat.
      There must be a comfort level to it as I look at the faces of all the other folks picking out their colors and fixtures for their weekend projects.
      I sense an immediate bonding with a complete stranger when he announces that he is on his third, or even fourth bathroom update. Call me crazed in the head or what, but I totally get it.
     It was ironic that last night my daughter and her husband called and said that they are putting a purchase offer on a new home. We are delighted for them. We wouldn’t think of dampening their joy with the fact that there will be more to do once they move in.
     “Oh, well, they’ll learn,” I said. (Didn’t I go through the naive stage at their age?)
     Personally, I think that we are done for the season, and I can put away my grubby work outfit if I hold my breathe.
     No sooner have I congratulated myself for the ordeal being over when I hear a cry from the kitchen.
     “Honey, the dishwasher is making horrible groans in its rinse cycle,” my husband yells out. “We’ve got to plan for a new one.”
     Maybe a new dishwasher will be the last one that I ever buy in this lifetime if we get one with a super long-term guarantee. Could it be that things don’t last as long as they used to, and you are being programmed to expect to continually replace items?
     Homeowners are always building for the future. Life is so unpredictable, too, and as long as you have the emotional tools in your workbox, you are ready to measure your success.