M. Giant's
Throwing stuff at the internet to see what sticks

Wednesday, November 16, 2005  

Home Free

About a year and a half ago, Trash and I were busy getting our house in shape for our adoption home study. One after another, all of the most glaring problems with our house were addressed and resolved. From repairing the oxidized ruin that was out bathroom medicine cabinet, to patching the wall in front of the exposed wiring of our entryway light switches, to nailing down the step on our bedroom stairs that doubled as a ramp, one domestic glitch after another fell before our energy and determination (and that of my parents, of course).

The whole time, I was looking forward to being done so that I could spend more time relaxing and enjoying our newly-perfect house. Plus I had heard somewhere that a house in great shape could go about seven years without any major maintenance. So I was looking forward to, if not seven years, at least five of not having any major home projects to work on.

So then we got done in May, and we had the home study. And then I found out a few weeks later that I was going to be done at the radio show by the end of the summer, so then I was busy pursuing and doing freelance projects. And then I was working at home all day, which was nice because I wasn't always seeing things around the house that needed to be fixed, but on the other hand I was too busy to enjoy it. And then a few weeks later we found out about M. Tiny, and a few weeks after that, M. Tiny actually arrived, and I was back to working in an office full-time, and while being at home with the child is certainly enjoyable, it's not always relaxing. So relaxing and enjoying the perfectly fixed-up house didn't quite happen the way I'd hoped.

And now the place is falling apart again.

It started a couple of weeks ago, with an ominous clunk coming from somewhere inside our dishwasher. And then the next time we opened it, instead of the smooth motion we were used to, the door swung free--unencumbered by whatever mechanism allows it to impersonate something other than a precariously balanced forty-pound iron slab--and slammed against the limits of its hinges. Now, there are a lot of things you can have in a house with a one-year-old, but a forty-pound iron slab that swings straight down at toddler-head level is not one of them. So obviously that needed diagnosing, and when I took the access panel off and pulled the dishwasher out to figure out what the deal was, I ruined three of the floor tiles I installed in '02. So those were going to have to be replaced, but it would have to wait until I could mail-order a replacement for the broken spring I discovered, so I shoved the beast more or less back into place for a week or so. At least I didn't have to look at the trashed tiles during that period, thanks to the towel rolled up at the bottom of the machine. Oh, did I forget to mention that I'd done something to make it leak?

Anyway, I eventually got around to fixing spring, leak and tiles. It took me a lot longer than I thought it would, and by the time I finished I was totally ready for bed. Before heading upstairs, I flicked on the downstairs switch to the light in our upstairs bedroom. Nothing happened, of course, even though I had replaced the bulb days ago. I think that's because there's a failure in the actual switch. Normally, that wouldn't be a problem; I'd replace the switch, and we'd be good to go. Except that one of the first things we did when we moved in twelve years ago was to install another switch for the same light upstairs in the actual bedroom, so that we didn't have to go all the way downstairs every time we wanted to turn the light on or off. And at the time, I congratulated myself for my cleverness in finding a wireless three-way switch that I could just screw to the wall and stick a battery into, saving myself the pain, heartache, mess, and certain failure of attempting to run electrical conduit lines through the walls and under the stairs. But of course, now the main switch has failed, the light won't go on at all, and I can't for the life of me find a replacement. I suppose I could replace the switch with a regular old vanilla switch, but some part of me is insisting that not having to go up and down the stairs to turn off the light is better than not having a light at all.

And then there's the gorgeous suspended ceiling in our basement that went in a couple of years ago. We installed new recessed lighting at the same time, and the most important fixture was the one behind the bar. So that we could see what kind of beer we were pulling out of the tiny fridge. The bulbs are kind of a pain in the ass to change, but that's okay because they're supposed to last seven years anyway. Except, of course, the one behind the bar is out. Two years later.

I took a look at this to see what was involved in replacing the bulb, and noticed that the ceiling tiles themselves were somewhat askew. I took this as a related mystery and let it go, until the night Trash called me downstairs to alert me to an odd phenomenon that was taking place over her head: soft, feline footsteps traversing the entire length of the basement along the suspended tiles. We hadn't really load-tested the things when we installed it, so we weren't prepared for the fact that we would one day have a brown-and-black cat named Phantom who enjoyed exploring up there. I suppose I should be grateful that she didn't electrocute herself when she inadvertently disconnected the light behind the bar, because it would have been a bitch to get her down.

And then there's the shingles on the roof that are beginning to slip out of place, just in time for winter. And the fact that I put my foot through a floor grate in my study yesterday (at least I didn't step on any apples). And the fact that our thermostat is heating the house five degrees hotter than we actually want it, no matter what number we set it on.

So, really, even though my period of perfect-house enjoyment never fully materialized, I'm glad that these things didn't start cropping up until M. Small was a little less high-maintenance. We'll get them fixed, in good time. Just not as quickly as we did when we had a deadline and no children to take care of. So my period of perfect-house enjoyment will simple have to be postponed a bit. Say, until M. Small goes off to college.

Today's best search phrase: "Portable BMI calculator." You know, I think they're pretty much all portable these days. Sure, the original BMI calculators were computers that filled up entire rooms, but there have been a lot of advances since then.

posted by M. Giant 10:17 PM 5 comments


You don't have to wait until M. Small graduates. You just have to wait until he is old enough to work on the house with you. Or better, FOR you.

By Anonymous Anonymous, at November 17, 2005 at 7:40 AM  

But the grass out back finally looks nice...

By Anonymous Anonymous, at November 17, 2005 at 8:07 AM  

...just in time for snow, though, right?

By Blogger Febrifuge, at November 17, 2005 at 10:30 AM  

"Plus I had heard somewhere that a house in great shape could go about seven years without any major maintenance."
Home ownership is like a long term monthly payment plan to Home Depot.

By Anonymous Anonymous, at November 17, 2005 at 11:26 AM  

Heh heh heh. Several years ago, my cat found a way to get up into the suspended ceiling in our family room, from the unfinished basement on the other side of the wall. She was cured of her penchant for going where no cat had gone before when she crashed through the tiles and hurtled 8 feet to the floor. It was like a feline atomic bomb going off in the middle of the room. She actually warped the metal grid things that hold the ceiling tiles up, even though she was a relatively small cat. So if you can't figure out how she's getting up there and put an end to it, you may soon have yet another household repair on your list!

By Anonymous Anonymous, at November 17, 2005 at 2:25 PM  

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