Further Adventures of a Homeowner

Nothing has gone easy when it comes to fixing things on this property. For example, the foundation of the enclosed porch was basically nonexistent, and after the contractor and his helper put in a new foundation and installed the subflooring, we discovered that the sewer pipe under the house needed to be replaced. So out came the floor, and many more days of hard work were added to the toll.

Months ago, they’d straightened the listing garage and fixed the crack in the floor, but after a couple of weeks, that crack grew and grew and grew. One of the problems was that, like the porch, the foundation was mostly nonexistent. So more recently, they got a jackhammer, and pulled out the concrete floor. Yesterday they finally returned to dig out the foundation in preparation to putting in a new foundation and floor.

Remember what I said about nothing around here being easy? Well, every time I looked out the window, I could see the guys poking at that dirt floor and talking. Now, these are not people who stand around and chit-chat. They work. So I was not surprised when they came and told me the bad news.


The deeper they dug, the wetter the soil got. I realize this is the middle of winter when generally there is moisture, but we’ve had very little precipitation in this corner of Colorado, and the rest of the yard is dry and rock hard. We wondered if there could be a nearby water leak, but then remembered that the water pipe comes in the front of the house.

Further digging in the middle of the garage floor, where no water should ever be, showed the same thing they found around the periphery of the building. Powdery soil and damp ground. And ancient sewer pipes. Putting those clues together with the hole they’d found under the porch several months ago, we figured someone had built the garage over an old septic system of some sort. No wonder the garage, though exceptionally well built with hard woods, is slowing sliding into oblivion.

We’re going to have to help speed up the destruction and tear out the whole thing because there is no way to fix that garage or even to build a new one in the same spot. (I say “we” but I have nothing to do with construction, though I did primer that old garage. It makes me glad I didn’t waste good paint or any more of my time painting a garage that will soon be defunct. I am disappointed, though, that the fake window I created will be destroyed, too.)

They’re scheduled to be here all next week, so who knows how far they will get, especially since now they will have to deal with permits and building codes and inspectors. They wanted to know if they should start some of the inside work, like redoing the bathroom ceiling and walls where the paint is peeling from the antique plaster, and I said, “Not way, not now!” With so many projects already started and unfinished, I can’t deal with one more long-term mess. Because even though the bathroom project seems simple, I know it won’t be because . . .

Yep, you guessed it . . . because nothing is simple when it comes to working on this house.


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.


A friend whose life was recently disrupted told me she almost envied me. The “almost” was because of how I got to this place in my life. The death of my life mate/soul mate and other family members, the years of not knowing where to go or what to do, and the need to start over are all the unenviable things that pushed me in this direction.

Her comment made me realize that if I weren’t me, I’d almost envy me too. I seem to have reached a balance in my life. No great emotional swings, just a quiet contentment punctuated by a brief sad spell now and again. I still tend to occasionally get caught in a mind trap (you know — when a disgruntlement gets stuck in your head, and it keeps going around and around and around, and doesn’t seem to be able to find its way out). And I do have small infirmities that slow me down (such as knees that don’t work as well as they once did). And sometimes I get restless from being so settled down.

But balancing all of that is . . . a place for me. Not just a room of my own, but a whole house of my own. A place to be me. A place where I get to set the rules (or to set no rules). A place I can count on being for years to come.

And not just a house, but a community.

I don’t count the cost of how I got here since it wasn’t a choice, trading a life mate for a house. It was simply that he died, and years later, I unexpectedly ended up with a house. (Oddly, the other day, I found myself wandering through the house wondering where we’d put his office and all his things, as if his living here were a possibility. But it was just an idle sort of “what if.” Not a grief thing.)

I never expected to love a house. It makes me feel good, owning this house, like wrapping a great warm blanket around my life.

So far, I feel safe inside the house, though certain neighbors make me leery, which is why I fenced the property. There is still a part of the back fence that isn’t finished since it will pass close to the as yet unremodeled garage (though the contractor is here at the moment working, and he plans to be here all next week. Yay!). I used a large board to block off the space between the fence and garage to keep people and dogs away, and someone stole the big board and left a smaller board in its place. Huh? Still mystifies me. But it does show me I was correct to have a fence installed, and once it’s completed, and the gates locked at night, I’m sure I’ll feel even safer.

So yes, though I never considered myself someone to be envied, I am envied, if only by me.


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.