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I definitely have a love/hate relationship with my home. Having lived here for ten years, the majority of my time is spent managing projects, contractors, and tearing out former owners’ mistakes. This home is the reason I quit my full-time job (with benefits) and began working from home. In 2000, I was full of optimism and energy; today I am cranky and exhausted as holiday money is usually spent on yet another maintenance issue. I have not had a proper getaway since 1999.

Nearly two months ago, I had a slow running drain in the basement sink. When consulting all sorts of “experts”, the verdict suggested a septic system inspection. When the contractor began to dig up the yard to expose the septic tank, he suggested that the thirty-year-old distribution box be examined as well. Upon further excavation and inspection, the distribution box was found badly deteriorated and in need of replacement. Therefore, a simple $295 pump became a $2000 renovation, not including the expense to replace the damaged landscape. Work was scheduled for the following week, after the county inspected and granted a permit.

Then record-breaking rains began for weeks. Then the contractor had a death in the family. Then, upon his return, he contracted pneumonia! In a perfect world, this project should have taken a week. Instead, it took until today, nearly two months. And for my effort and expense, I have an area of lawn and garden paths that are totally trashed by heavy equipment and backfill. With current temperatures in the low 100’s, and soul wrenching humidity, renovation of this area will be delayed until fall, or whenever Mother Nature delivers cooler conditions. That said, heavy thunderstorms send red rivers across the nearby mulched beds, requiring immediate intervention. I will call erosion control next week. Perhaps sod is the remedy of choice.

So my thought for this day is: Home ownership is tricky, expensive, and riddled with dysfunction. This experience has been far from fulfilling, nor is it the way I wish to spend my retirement. Home ownership is a seductive temptress, who promises the naive serenity, only to empty one’s purse in the process. Perhaps this property will reap profits when it is sold, yet that too is debatable when listening to Nightly Business Report.

PS: The upside of this essay is the song of the small toad I hear tonight. It was delighted with all the excavation, finding plenty of hiding places, yet I feared that final day, it was crushed or buried by the traffic and closure. How could such a tiny creature survive such disruption? Alas, its song is loud and clear—a comfort along side the strong chirps of the nestling tree swallows residing in the nearby bird box.

PPS: Following all the septic efforts and expense, the drain in the basement continues to run slowly…go figure! Turns out the kitchen drains needed Glug! Now the lower level runs fine. So goes the contest…

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