Saturday, September 7, 2013
On Being a Committee of One
I'm beginning to think there should be another business degree program available -- one that would teach us homeowners effective techniques for the actual business of managing one's home, especially when one is a single individual with limited time.
There have been posts before on my blog about my stepping into the role of running this household, especially since my mother has become totally reliant upon care. As appliances wear out and need repair or replacement, as chores have a sneaky way of piling up, and life chugs along with our household members and our visitors, time doesn't stop.
I've expressed my love of this house, home to (so far) four generations of Cooks and Cascaddens. God willing, I intend to pass it along in due time to my son and his family.
In the meantime, I'm finding the 24 hours allotted to me (and the rest of humanity) each day to be insufficient. My mother ran this place single-handedly pretty damned well, even before my father's 1982 death and then my grandmother's passing in 1996. I'd love to ask her how she managed, even with her demanding nursing job, but sadly, that opportunity has passed with the decline in her memory. And no, she did not have a housekeeper, ever. We entered that era recently, when I engaged a cleaning service for a short time while I healed from my knee surgery. Mom did have a "gardener," someone who came for ten minutes once a week, mowed the lawns, blew the leaves down the street with his blower, and then disappeared. He then began getting careless, and actually destroyed some plants that had been thriving as part of the landscape since 1964, when our family moved in here. I would pitch a fit, replace the plants, and take the cost out of his monthly pay. His response would be to laugh at me. When this decimation continued, I sacked him.
Yes, I do need to reconsider hiring people for this help, but even that would require me being present to supervise their work and render payment. Recently, I also tried to do my own early-morning plumbing repair. The toilet in the tiny bathroom next to my home office was running...and running up my utility bill. So, I got on YouTube and watched some videos of "how to fix a running toilet." At 5 AM, I turned off the water in back of the bowl (a tight fit, even with my small hands), took the lid off the tank, and dutifully followed the steps put forth in the video. Nothing worked, and so I called upon the trusty guy who's been doing our repair work for decades. And while he was there, he also replaced the hot water tank in the utility room.
At times like this I briefly regret not becoming a plumber, especially when I get the bill.
The other day, I found a letter on my doorstep, allegedly from a realtor who wanted to make an offer to buy my home! For a brief couple of minutes, I entertained the idea of mailing it back to the person, with some well-selected, unladylike verbiage added to the bottom. Nah, I didn't want to waste the postage stamp.
My life plan includes continuing my local therapy practice (with flexible hours, and my office only 2 miles down the street), and finding freelance writing work to pursue the craft I love so much. I want to live out my life here, with steady income and choices showing life on my own terms.
This home is my love, with so much history. All I want is to maintain it well, and add an overlay of my own personal style during my lifetime. This will include replacement of the lawn with a display of water-thrifty native plants. I've long been an admirer of the Theodore Payne Foundation, and I've already put in an application with the Burbank's Go Native! program.
I like to think these current challenges are simply opportunities for me to step up and solve them creatively.
Speaking of YouTube videos, here's one that reflects my optimism: