Balancing Act: New home's impish ways vexing, but not boring
When I bought and sold a house earlier this summer, I was secretly afraid that, come move-in day, I'd fall hard into a bout of pandemic boredom.
No more downsizing and donating and packing. No more parades of workmen here, there and everywhere. No more sanitizing and schlepping my way from one house to the next.
Little did I know that the real excitement was yet to come, when I attempted to impose myself – only the third owner in 70 years – on a house that seemed none too happy with my arrival and eager to show who was boss.
A moving-savvy friend told me, "Brace yourself. This is that period when you have to get to know the house, and the house has to get to know you."
I would say it's more like a rebellion in which the house, sulking at the departure of its beloved owners, is staging all-out war – and I am determined to make peace.
First was the outside faucet, which refused to produce any water, no matter how hard I turned.
"Obviously the inside valve," a handy friend said. "You have to turn it on."
Not so. According to Chuck the Plumber, the faucet simply had died. Probably of a broken heart.
This ushered in several days of calm before the kitchen sink expressed its displeasure by taking a very long time to drain, the garbage disposal by spewing its contents into the kitchen sink and, finally, the dishwasher by gushing water across a floor it probably felt I had failed to clean to previous standards.
By this time, I remembered I had a home warranty and used it to summon a plumber, who immediately diagnosed the problem as outside the warranty and possibly requiring jackhammers and saws.
A second plumber also bowed out but recommended a team of drainage technicians, who rolled in impressive equipment that made grinding sounds, cleared the drains and suggested the disposal probably was allergic to vegetable peels.
"You're kidding," I whispered, hoping the disposal would not be offended.
I barely had begun to revel in free-flowing water before the kitchen shot off in another rebellious trifecta. When I grabbed frozen blueberries for my oatmeal, they were mushy. When I opened the dishwasher after a wash, the dishes still were dirty. And when I opened the porch door, the knob fell off in my hand.
By the time the home-warranty guy arrived to test them several days later, both appliances were on their best behavior, wearing "Who, me?" looks but leaving me to wonder when the next sick-out would be.
To my relief, he was on to them – adjusting the dishwasher latch to be on the safe side and replacing the refrigerator's control board, which seemed to be playing games with the compressor.
All this time, I tried not to be offended that the back doorknob, which had reliably ushered the previous owners in and out of the house for years, did not want to let me in to the house of my dreams and refused to let two different locksmiths repair it.
"I'll just get a new one," I said, only to learn that the new one would require drilling a bigger hole in the wood-and-glass door, and the only qualified driller was not available for two weeks.
Just as I was consoling myself that the new one would at least be my doorknob and loyal to me, I took a load out of the dryer and noticed it still was wet.
"Not you, too!" I cried. And sure enough, the dryer – my very own, brought from the old house – was now taking a page from its buddies at the new one. It ran, but had no heat. The part will arrive – on the repairman's second trip – in three to five business days.
Not to worry, though. With temperatures in the 80s, I am using the washer (say a prayer) and hanging everything on a line tied between a tree and the back fence.
It's pandemic-perfect, really – a boredom-fighting novelty.
And if I hadn't been back there hanging clothes, I probably would have missed those huge brown patches on the cypress tree and failed to call the arborist, who's puzzling over what's going on, when I could easily explain.
The cypress is just getting to know me.
Balancing Act author Pat Snyder is a northwest Columbus resident and life-balance speaker and coach. Find her at PatSnyderOnline.com.