Photo: It’s still winter, but the absence of snow and the warming temperatures have given us opportunity to visit with the flower beds in preparation for Spring plantings (which are still a ways off). I’m very pleased to see that the over-winter preparations we did back in November have produced gloriously black and nutrient-filled soil for the Spring. We built two new beds this weekend, and added more stuff to all existing beds. Now if we could just find the time to start these seeds…
Yesterday was a rough day.
It started with the last Sunday service of the rector of my church. She’s off to a new congregation and it’s been a very long goodbye that came to a full, official end yesterday morning. Much tears, much hugs, much sadness. The boys are bummed about it, too. Through my tears, I’ve been trying to seize on the lesson: it’s hard to say goodbye to our friends. We have to show some grace and also be gracious. The boys seemed to hear me. They did very well, emotional as they were. I know that I’ll get to see my dear friend in the by and by. Still, my heart ached for most of the day.
We got home and I put a duck in the oven. It was a dreary, rainy, chilly day. Perfect for a long, slow roast and a house filled with comforting smells. The Husband took up the task of shepherding the boys through a cub scout activity: making a fire-safety evacuation route in case of emergency. They had to make a map of the house to do this. They started in the basement and eventually made their way all the way up the attic.
When The Husband came back down, dismissing the boys to their room to play, he found me and dropped a bomb:
“I found two leaks in the roof.”
Please, Lord, no. No way.
“You can just patch that, right? You don’t need a whole new roof for a few drips, right?” I asked, prayerful.
The Husband shrugged, but not in a sincere way. He knew we needed a new roof. But we texted our knowledgeable, saintly neighbor anyway and asked him to come by. Surely he’d know what to do.
I paced in the kitchen while the menfolk conferred upstairs.
The verdict was as bad as it could be: “Sorry, kid. Don’t know what to tell you. That roof has never been touched since I moved to the neighborhood, I hate to say.”
I love my old house. I love the wood, I love the charm. I love the distressed floors, the symphonic staircase. I have enjoyed the projects. I’ve relished the slow, but sure, transformation from what it was to what it has become.
But I hate that we can never be proactive. Everything is an emergency. Everything is expensive. We never seem to be getting ahead because we’re always, always chasing the next set of challenges.
And mind you, we are still trying to piece together a plan for the boiler.
Now that we’re in “it might as well be a million dollars” territory (as in, more than our liquid assets by a mile), we’ve gotta come up with plans that involve banks and assessments and bids and shit. We’re back to where we were when we started seriously looking at this house in the first place. Here I thought I might actually have a month with some breathing room. Here I thought we might actually be making some financial headway.
There are actually four major projects that we need to tackle: the roof (leaking), the boiler (dying), the driveway (a mudpit) and the downstairs bathroom (a hideous, useless mess). We’ve built up 4 years of equity in this house. I guess we’re going to see how far it gets us and what we can pull off. We’re both in for an education, at least.
After the boys went to bed, we huddled together to get our taxes done. We learned that we will actually to have to pay (instead of get a refund) for the first time ever. It’s hard to say that doing all the “right” things we adults are supposed to do is a rewarding experience!
Bad stuff comes in threes, yeah? Hopefully that’s the end of the onslaught of bad news. I’d love for the pendulum to swing back to the other direction as quickly as possible and peak on the other side around “you won the lottery! All your troubles are over!”
Alas and alas… fantasies abound.
We woke up this morning and mournfully attended to each other. Breakfast, coffee, lunch to go, tasks divvied out. At least we can count on each other to be fully committed to the work ahead. I couldn’t do this without a partner. I’m so grateful for The Husband just for his mere presence sometimes. Sometimes, “I’m here if you’re here” is enough.
If I could call Grandy, she would tell me that “all young couples go through this” and “so do all homeowners.” She’d say, “owning a home is expensive, sweetie! Oh, but remember that it’s yours.” She would remind me that The Husband and I are smart enough to figure it out. She’d tell me to trust and pray and keep going. “You’ll make it through this one, too. You always find a way.” I’ll trust that the words she wrote on my heart are just as true as ever. It’s not easy. Nothing right now is easy.
Challenges, opportunities, potential… sometimes those words feel very buzzy and insincere. They are often co-opted by already rich people dangling a carrot over those who are chasing their own fame and fortune. “Every challenge is an opportunity for success” is the one I see most in my internet wanderings. It’s not an untrue statement, but Lord it’s flung around a lot. Challenges are, first and foremost, a stop sign. You can just run head-first into it with expectation that sheer force will get you through the wall. We aren’t all so powerful (I suspect not all of those already-rich people were, either). You have to stop, breathe, take stock of yourself and your capabilities. Do you have the pure, raw power to break through? The stamina to go around? The ingenuity to climb over? The team to build a solution? You don’t always have a luxurious amount of time to perform a full inventory on who you are in the face of the challenge presented. Whatever reflection you can do, however, will surely arm you with more and better tools to use.
I say this all to say, it’s Monday, Dear Reader: take the challenges that come to you this week for what they are. Heed not the voices of the outside and far removed. Take stock of who you are and what you have, then move forward armed with the best tools at your disposal. Let’s make it to the end of the week not exhausted from simply battling our way through every obstacle, but wiser for the purposeful choices we made along the way.
I’m a little tired, a lot concerned, and maybe even a moderately afraid, but I’m here, Dear Reader. I’m grateful you are, too.
Until Wednesday, take care.