there has been an unusually large amount of household failure the past couple of weeks- not personal people failures (as far as that goes, things are peachy), but the general STUFF that makes this Modern Household function in the comfortable way for which this 21st Century woman has become accustomed.
Ok, I’m going to list it all out. For shock value, then I’m going to put it all into perspective, because I’m binge-watching Little House On The Prairie.
The first thing that happened was the stove quit working. It started acting a little fractious (it has electronics) then quit working entirely. Well, the oven anyway. It’s electric. The top is gas so with a lighter I was able to use it. I googled fixing it, made use of a Nearly-Electrical Engineer Who Can Read A Wiring Diagram, then called a repairman. He came, fiddled with it, and said there was something wrong with the household wiring.
Now, I am one to go immediately to The Worst Possible Scenario, and had visions of the house burning down. So I bought batteries for the smoke detectors, and checked my insurance policy. I needed to bake something, so called a friend to use her stove. She recommended an electrician, who came out almost immediately, and figured out it was the breaker, and replaced it. Oven now works, though the timer on it doesn’t. I’ll take what I can get and worry about the timer later because…
The hot water heater quit working. I called Dad, who said things like “thermostat and elements” and something about a particular type of socket thing for removing the element. I was going to Home Depot anyway, so picked up replacements and called the electrician. I forgot the socket thing. The electrician came back out and replaced the thermostats and said they were working, but later I discovered there still was no hot water. The elements needed replacing too. I drained the tank, and #2 Son and Girlfriend did all manner of attempts to replace it, and discovered that no, the tank wasn’t drained. instead it was refilling itself as fast as the water was coming out. And they couldn’t get the elements out either. Upon trying to turn off the water valve going into the tank, it was discovered that it was corroded open, and the knob on top broke off and now the whole valve assembly needs to be replaced. And it’s copper pipes so a plumber who can weld copper pipes needs to do it. And this was a Saturday night.
Also, the microwave oven quit working. By this time I was thinking things like “conspiracy” and “poltergeist” and “the house is jealous of the new house” and “ok the wiring really is bad and I simply cannot afford to have the whole house rewired I just can’t” #2 (Nearly-An-Electrical Engineer) expressed excitement at the failure of the microwave and requested to disassemble it and use the parts to build a Tesla Death Ray with the maser. I considered it, and thought perhaps he could aim it at the house. Because I don’t think there’s anything in the insurance policy about Death Rays. However, I am not interested in being complicit in the construction of something called a Death Ray so suggested he find the parts elsewhere.
In the process of working on the water heater, there was water spillage, and towel usage. this necessitated washing machine usage. The washer started making a squealing noise during the spin cycle. I’m choosing to assume it’s a belt thing, but since it is a FancyPants washer and not a bucket with a washboard, it’s probably also a soon-to-be catastrophic failure, because that’s the way things seem to be going around here. At least it’s not something electrical. However…no. Not however. No more about that. Done.
The cat has a cold and is hoarse (I know it’s a cold and not something more sinister, because she’s had it before and that’s what the vet said. Also she’s a Precious Precious Princess™©® and has allergies. The dog’s tail is bald (also allergies). #4 did about 87 loads of laundry yesterday and it’s all piled around the office (which includes proximity to the chair in which I am now sitting). At least if I try to get out of the chair and fall over from Appliance Despair I’ll have a soft landing.
Now for the perspective part…
Like I said, I’m binge-watching Little House On The Prairie. I don’t have to cook in a fireplace. (I could, though. The fireplace is clean and functional and I know where I could borrow some cast iron with feet. Also I totally know how.) I have large pots in which I can heat water for hygiene needs. I am not an oil field roughneck so my hygiene needs are minimal. The others in the household can shower at #1’s place (I’m not going to do that but I do have friends I could ask if needs must). Ma Ingalls didn’t have a shower, or even a bathtub. In fact, I don’t recall ever seeing her perform any sort of personal task like that. I never even saw her use the outhouse. She is a magical unicorn with no digestion, and my role model.
I have a very comfortable bed and a completely functional heat pump, plus I live in a place where heat needs are minimal. I have lovely warm sweaters, and a stove on which I can heat water for tea. Also the coffee make works. If it dies I’ll just go to the local agricultural supply place and get one of those campfire percolators and make coffee on the (functional!) stove, which, if it quits again, I can use it in the fireplace.
The cars work (yes, plurality of cars. I’m overrun with 21st Century conveniences). Everyone is in good health. I was able to negotiate some insurance though the recent election will likely see that change. I have proven myself capable of dealing with enormous change on very short notice so I’ll handle that when the time comes.
Last night, I was sitting at the table with #2’s Girlfriend. She’s a self sufficient sort who fixes stuff, and was deeply frustrated with the water heater. She kept apologizing for not fixing it and I kept telling her not to worry, what happened would have happened to anyone etc. It is all just inconvenient.
Perspectives really change. When something the world considered The Worst Thing Ever (that is, the death of a spouse on whom you relied for nearly everything) happened, I’ve become rather blase’ about hot water heaters and stoves and microwave ovens. I feel sorry for the dog’s naked tail, but she isn’t gnawing on it or anything, it’s just kind of ugly. And I don’t think dogs are particularly vain like that anyway. I was thinking if it came down to it, I would quit school (though I would suck it up until the end of the semester in 3 weeks)) and go ahead and move to Alabama. I’d find someone who could take #4 in for 6 months, until he graduates, and offer them room and board for him. Then I’d put this house on the market as a “fixer-upper” and start over. I have that option. Not everyone does, but I do and for that (as well as many other things) I am ridiculously fortunate. but, because of the discombobulation and frustration and overpowering grief that came with Himself’s death, all this business with the stove and water heater and everything else is just inconvenience. And minor inconvenience at that. If Himself were here, he’d know exactly what to do about each thing that went wrong. He’d have the tools handy, and the know-how to use them. He’d have known to check the breaker as soon as the stove acted wonky. He’d have known exactly what to do with the water heater and valve and everything. BUT, he isn’t and now I know what to do NEXT time stuff starts acting up. That makes me feel pretty good. I also know breakers aren’t $100 each (I had no idea) and new water heaters aren’t $1000 (at least not the kind I would/could/possibly need. Of course I checked.)
With each thing that has gone wrong, I had 2 options. I could flip out and act as though it were another straw on the proverbial camel’s back, or I could laugh and think “you won’t break me. I won’t let you” and be thankful I’m not in a Conastoga wagon in the deepest wilds of Minnesota, trying to make a tasty meal out of cornmeal and a piece of beef jerky. Laughing is easier.