People like yours truly really should remember to stop and smell the roses more often. Reflecting on life’s blessings is easy to be distracted from when you’re busy being a crotchety middle-ager. I’m personally blessed as it is just to be the guy who whose main squeeze is Mrs. Webb, but I can also say for sure that we both have it pretty good.
Our 2.4 kids are healthy, happy, and show no signs they’ve inherited their father’s pyromania. We managed to survive the Christmas season without going bankrupt, while still satisfying our profound need to acquire stuff. And, after years of talking, hoping, dreaming, worrying, and planning, we recently bought a house.
It certainly helped the process that I had experience repairing & refurbishing homes, and that my wife wasn’t allergic to paperwork. (“What? You need ANOTHER $#&@% signature?!”) It’s been a productive, eventful, thankfully minimally profane eight months since the whole thing started, and I thought I’d take a moment in-between wall anchor purchases to share some thoughts:
Throughout the saving-up period, I ended many a conversation between us with the same five words: “…when we get the house.” Now they end with “…I still haven’t finished it,” which has a much nicer ring to it. (Some might call it procrastination, I call it putting my labor on back order.)
We were smart to rent one of those temporary portable storage containers. It allowed us to pack up at our own pace, saved us the hassle of driving a big rental truck, and enabled our cat to have the furniture all to himself during the entire trip. (Kidding!)
Laminate flooring has its perks: it’s inexpensive, looks a lot like real wood, and it’s so easy to install, the previous owner didn’t have to worry about removing the asbestos vinyl tile I discovered while doing my carpet prep. Fortunately there was minimal exposure to the now-illegal carcinogen, and it is great comfort to my family to know that we now live much closer to the local hospital in the event I start loudly gasping for breath and coughing up blood.
Like most people in our tax bracket, we didn’t get our “dream house,” but we got enough of its features: one story, a spare room, dishwasher, nice enough area that we probably won’t die from a drive-by shooting, not built on the site of an ancient sacrificial graveyard, etc. If you want to learn a little about the sorts of things you should or shouldn’t be selective about, you might consider watching the HGTV show House Hunters. I caught enough episodes with my wife to know just how compromising you need to be if you want to look like a complete moron.
That wasn’t the only thing I learned from ‘Hunters; after watching it for a while I realized that there’s a great deal of hatred out there for wall-to-wall carpeting. I can understand the popularity of hardwood floors–I spent a good portion of my childhood walking on home-grown maple strip–but the snooty, “EWW”-like reaction of many HH shoppers to carpeted rooms often made me wonder if they were possessed by the spirit of Marie Antoinette. Sure, carpet may scream “cheap, dull suburbanite,” but it’s easier on the feet and back, insulates & quiets rooms, and makes it easier to electrically shock unsuspecting children.
One thing we won’t miss about our previous house is the bugs. Oh, I tell ya, bugs really, REALLY liked it there. It was like Candyland for entomology students. The seven years we spent there were peppered with assorted man vs. nature battles, the most memorable involving ants, moths, crickets, and termites. I know this isn’t exactly high praise, but we at least never had to deal with fleas or roaches, and the earwigs never got aggressive with us. The only bugs giving us any trouble at the new place are crickets, those elusive locust-wannabes with some of pestkind’s quickest reflexes. Things aren’t so serious here that we’re making frantic phone calls to exterminators (yet), but I wasn’t exactly filled with optimism when I saw two of them copulating near the rear tire of my truck (absolutely true). Show me a bad omen, and I’ll show you a pair of lust-crazed field crickets goin’ at it on a concrete slab. Anyway, I lately seem to have taken on an unusual, mildly unsettling, borderline hungry-tarantula approach to the side door of our garage. Poised to take out the noisy little bastards, I swing the door open and flick the light switch up with the speed of a Ford GT, and nail any who dare show their faces with quick forward jerks of my left foot. It’s like a round of Hokey-Pokey in a psychiatric ward.
All things considered, we’re pretty well settled at our new digs and can smell the roses. As for this home-tinkerer, not only will 2018 be similarly productive, I predict a year from now I’ll be able to proudly exclaim, “I still haven’t finished it.”