The Next Frontier

So, yay! John and I bought a house last week…if by buy I can mean “signed the next 30 years of our lives away.” I love our house and I am terribly excited, but here’s something they don’t tell you about buying a house: you’re agreeing to carry a low level on constant anxiety for an undefined amount of time. I thought that the anxiety I had been feeling over getting the house would go away once we signed, that it was nerves that the deal wouldn’t go through, but guess what? Not so much. John and I are now responsible for the care and maintenance of the biggest place we have ever lived in as adults and when things go wrong, guess who gets to fix them?

Yeah. It’s a little daunting.

I’m going to assume that the stress goes down, or at least that you get used to defining your stress level at a new, higher “normal” as you  get comfortable fixing and improving things, so I’m trying to take this first exhausting week in stride and appreciate all the little lessons I’ve learned as things I now know and (hopefully) don’t need to relearn.

Lesson #1: Never install particle board cabinets in a poorly ventilated bathroom.

Our bathroom needs some work done–the window needs to be replaced and we should install a fan and probably replace the god-awful clawfoot tub with a real shower setup. (Personal peeve: Clawfoots are all well and good if your preferred method of getting clean is soaking in a soup of dead skin, dirt, and soap scum, but as that it neither literally nor metaphorically my cup of tea, the ridiculous wafting of steam-blown shower curtains when you’re showering drives me crazy. It’s like being attacked by a hoarde of soap-scum encrusted ghosts. So that will have to go.) Bathtub irritations aside, the previous owners handled the lack of shelving in the tub area by putting up a cheap particle board shelf. Particle shelf+heat+moisture+time = nasty, nasty mold, so just…just don’t do that.

Lesson #2: Hot water heaters are fickle bastards.

And unpredictable. After spending much of Sunday painting and scrubbing and unpacking, I wanted a shower. The water had been scalding hot (a safety hazard we might need to address, actually) earlier, so I knew the water heater was working. Neither of us had been pouring hot water down the drain for any reason for a few hours, so I had every reason to believe the hot water supply was ample. I won’t go into great detail here, but let me just say that, no, it was not.

Lesson #3: Maple stair treads are deadly as they are beautiful.

Okay, well hopefully not quite that deadly, but they are dangerous. I was, with no small hint of irony, talking to John about the dangerous nature of our steep and finely polished stairs. He was upstairs and I was walking down, so I was talking over my shoulder at him. In a brilliant display of, “Whoops, there she goes again!” I missed a step and fell down precisely half of the steps, slowing myself and maneuvering out of the way of head injury only by my iron grip on the banister. Today being  the second day after that fall, I am currently feeling the impact of the fall quite keenly and with it, a fair amount of gratitude that house-sitting for my parents is preventing me from being able to continue schlepping books and dishes in to unpack. I’m not entirely sure the shoulder that saved me from head injury could handle the weight today.

Lesson #4: Park facing east.

This is just a fun tip, but if you can park facing east, the sun might just reduce your scraping time considerably in the winter.

Lesson #5: Cold is cheap.

This is a lesson I’ve known since the first apartment I rented. Sarah and I used to waddle around the place swathed in quilts and sleeping bags because we didn’t want to pay for heat. Since John and I got married, however, our heat has been paid for, which means that if anything, we’ve had to deal with apartments where we couldn’t turn the heat down. A house is a much bigger prospect than an apartment too, so we’re slightly terrified of just how much it might end up costing us to heat our drafty old farmhouse, especially at night when we can’t run the pellet stove because it’s not hooked up to a thermostat and would just run until it ran out of pellets. Lesson #5a: Old people (aka, homeowners, which now includes us) go to bed early because bed is warm. Lesson #5b: Even though bed is warmer than not bed, it’s pretty hard to sleep even bundled in flannel and microplush blankets next to a furnace of a husband if the house is colder than 55 degrees.

On more positive notes, our house is gorgeous. The nasty contact paper was stuck onto some strange liner that thankfully wasn’t nailed down in the cupboards and was therefore easy to trash. The place is more or less entirely painted, thanks to our amazing friends and family. Our interest rate is absurdly low. We have more space and land than we know what to do with. The washer and dryer are AWESOME. (Seriously, how many water-efficient home machines can easily wash a queen-sized comforter?) We are closer to family and not insurmountably far from friends. All in all, we are blessed and I am looking forward to this adventure ahead of us.

Now to tear out that ridiculous tub…

5 thoughts on “The Next Frontier

  1. Check the hot water heater. One heating element may be bad. There is an upper and a lower. If the lower element is bad, you will get brief scalding hot water as the top one works to heat the whole tank of water, but then nothing once the fresh cold water displaces the dozen gallons of hot water in the top.

    Depending on age of the water heater, it may be worth throwing a few elements into it, they’re not expensive. But if it’s more than five years old, might want to start thinking about biting the bullet and just replacing it. They don’t have the useful lifespan they used to.


  2. Hi, Melissa
    Yep, you get used to the stress and realize the enjoyment of a ‘home’ will always outweigh it. Also, you may have happened upon a lifetime writing theme….really delightful reading. Glad you are ok after your fall, though!


  3. Re “Guess who gets to fix them”….. that is what your father will be doing :) After all that is what parents are for, to help out the kids. Grampy is almost 79 and he is still helping his kids!

    I am so happy for you that you have your own place. Because you will be enjoying your new home you won’t notice the anxiety.

    By the way I don’t know about water heaters but I do know there is a thermostat and if it is scalding hot it ought to be turned down. Relax and enjoy.
    Love you.


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