Small Challenges of Homeownership

There have been a few small challenges I’ve faced lately in my new adventure of homeownership. For most people, especially if they are coupled, none of these things would even be considered challenges. The person who knows how to do things simply does them. But when you are alone, you have to hunker down and deal with the situation yourself.

For example, the other night the water went off. If the electricity goes out at night, a quick look out the window lets me know if it is an area outage or if the outage is mine alone. But with water, there’s no way to tell. I did look out the window to see if my neighbor’s lights were on — if so, I could have texted her to see if she was having the same problem. But she seemed to be down for the night. Since I couldn’t call her, couldn’t call the water company, I started to panic. There is nothing that makes a person feel so alone as when there is a problem and there’s no one around you can ask “What do I do now?”

Well, I took a deep breath and realized there was nothing I could do. It wasn’t as if I were in any danger, and I had plenty of water to drink, to brush my teeth and get cleaned up for the night. I even had enough to pour into the toilet tank in case I had a flush emergency. If there was a problem with my plumbing, such as a broken pipe, there wasn’t anything I could do in the middle of the night anyway.

So I went to bed. End of problem. Literally the end. When I got up, the water was back on.

Today, I dealt with another small situation — changing the furnace filter. I suppose I should have done it a couple of months ago, but I am not fond of going down to the basement, though it does seem a bit less dungeon-y than when I first moved here. When the walls and floor are painted, I hope that will be the end of the dungeon feeling, but there will always be those steep stairs to give me pause.

Still, I did what I needed to do. Luckily, I’d already been tutored on how to change the filter, so that wasn’t a problem. It did make me wonder though, what to do if the furnace goes out. Is there a gas shut off valve? Or does the furnace automatically shut off? I’ll have to ask next time the contractor comes (next week, maybe!)

I know what to do when the electricity goes out — mostly just wait until it comes on. (I have flashlights within easy reach, head lamps to make reading easy, and plenty of batteries.) I now know what to do when the water goes off. I know what to do when the smoke alarms start chirping. I even know what to do when they start shrieking for no reason (pull the crazy-making thing out of its socket!) I figured out how to change the battery on the thermostat when it needed changing.

So gradually I am meeting all these small challenges of homeownership, and once met, they are no longer a challenge.

There is always something new to contend with, however, and as long it’s not something dangerous, like the house filling up with gas fumes, I’ll be fine. If something dangerous does happen, well, I’ll do the best I can. Meantime, I am careful. Dryers have been known to start fires, so I never leave the house when the washer or dryer are being used. I am careful about turning off the stove and making sure there is nothing on the surface that can catch fire or melt. Even though it’s electric, it can still cause problems. (I once unthinkingly wiped a drip from the ceramic top, and melted a so-called cotton cloth. Since cotton doesn’t melt, it had obviously been mislabeled.)

I figure such good habits will serve me well in my old age when/if I get more forgetful and less vigilant. But that’s not problem for today, and hopefully, not ever. Supposedly, “sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.” And the challenges of homeownership are certainly sufficient unto each day without having to worry about things that may never happen.

***

Pat Bertram is the author of Grief: The Inside Story – A Guide to Surviving the Loss of a Loved One. “Grief: The Inside Story is perfect and that is not hyperbole! It is exactly what folk who are grieving need to read.” –Leesa Healy, RN, GDAS GDAT, Emotional/Mental Health Therapist & Educator.