The Goddess Speaks
Home owner counts bills and blessings
My house is falling apart. The plumber came to fix a broken pipe and found three more leaks. He's been back twice.
I hired an electrician yesterday because the circuit breakers for the air con and hot water heater have burned themselves out. He has to rewire the box. The cold showers aren't so bad since it is so hot, but I had to go buy an extra fan last night so we could sleep.
Last month my washing machine broke and flooded the floors. Cleaning up the mess, I discovered termite damage. When the inspector came, he said there was no longer any live activity. Then, he kindly pointed out three small palm trees growing from my outside wall and water rot in the wood by the upstairs window.
The washing machine was $500; the plumbing $700. I haven't gotten a bill from the electrician yet. I'm not complaining. Everybody has been helpful and reasonable.
In this case, not only is my wallet getting squeezed but also my schedule.
Most of these guys made appointments right away and came when they said they would. Other people were booked for weeks. Some wanted me to stay home all day so they could come at their convenience. I'm a busy single parent. I have a job. I needed somebody willing to accommodate me, or at least meet me halfway.
My daughter suggested that we just sell the house and buy a new one. Wouldn't that be easier? New carpet, new appliances, spic and span. Definitely tempting.
But I quickly came back to reality.
The title of the TV show "This Old House" keeps running through my head. I don't even know what it's about, but it reminds me that you don't just throw away a house. You fix it -- or in my case pay somebody else to do the repairs.
With regular maintenance and care plus immediate attention to emergencies such as overflowing washing machines, this home of ours should last a good long time. Long enough so my 9-year-old can grow up and have children of her own and bring them here to visit. Long enough so I can pay off the 30-year mortgage and leave it -- and its problems -- to her upon my departure from its comfort and safety.
These days when it's cheaper to buy a new DVD player than to fix the one that breaks three months after buying it, when we get new cell phones and iPods simply because the most recent model does just a little bit more, it's easy to develop a pattern of simply replacing what is broken, not fixing it.
But not me. Not this old house. It is my personal responsibility to keep these repairmen in business and their children in private school. Under my care, this old house will be our home, providing comfort and safety for generations to come. Or at least until it completely falls apart.
is publications adviser at Waianae High School. "The Goddess Speaks" is a feature by and about women. Essays of about 500 words may be sent to 7 Waterfront Plaza, Suite 210, Honolulu 96813; or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
The Goddess Speaks is a feature column by and about women. If you have something to say, write "The Goddess Speaks," 7 Waterfront Plaza, Suite 210,
Honolulu 96813 or e-mail email@example.com.