My House

This morning I was woken up at 6:15 by a high pitched squeal coming from the control panel of my home alarm system. It wasn’t a security breach. The alarm itself did not go off all through the house. I don’t even arm the alarm system at night. It was as though a mosquito, jacked up with a trunk-load of amplifiers, was suddenly and frantically flying around my bedroom. The rest of the house slept on, while I lurched toward the control panel and realized I couldn’t see a thing on the tiny little screen without my reading glasses. In the half-light, I grappled around for said glasses – which, I discovered, I had closed into my book before I’d fallen asleep, and found there was nothing legible on the screen for me to read anyway. There was only a green dot.

I have a paper shopping bag, full of every owner’s manual, receipt, maintenance record, and instruction booklet for every appliance or installed apparatus in the house, in a cupboard in my laundry room. When I bought the house almost thirteen years ago, the man who owned it gave me that bag, and I have carried on what he started. This morning, I dug out the bag and rifled through it, looking for the manual that might tell me what the mysterious green dot and the super annoying squeal may be indicating. Back in my room, with the noise drilling into my brain, I once again had to find my goddamn reading glasses to scan the booklet, which told me nothing definitive. I grabbed my laptop, and punched in the model and make of the alarm pad. Google garnered a number of trouble-shooting forums and frequently asked questions, none of which seemed to have anything specifically to do with a mind-numbing squeal or a green dot. Although, let me tell you, I wasn’t exactly calmly perusing the information over coffee – I was kind of spastically scrolling up and down searching for key words while wrapping a duvet around my head to muffle the incessant noise.

After maybe ten minutes, I was about ready to give up, wondering what the hell one does in this situation, when the piercing whine changed into a sound more akin to the sound of a bomb falling in the distance, but without the explosion. Like a whistle that kind of winds down. Like the auditory equivalent of a balloon losing air. Then, it stopped.

And, because I’m me, I just gratefully pushed the booklets aside, closed my laptop, and got back under the covers.

This reaction has become my default scenario of late with regard to any and all situations occurring having to do with stuff happening around the house. I guess I have always tended toward a page from the Scarlet O’Hara book of dealing with unpleasant realities. With a full-on and unapologetic Southern Belle accent I will declare aloud: “Oh I can’t think about this now. I’ll go crazy if I do. I’ll think about it tomorrow. After all, tomorrow is another day.” But I think it’s catching up with me.

I’m a pretty capable person. I can do a lot of things. I can look after myself, and keep things afloat quite efficiently. I’m good in a crisis, and I’m not a flake. But I must certainly admit: I hate dealing with household maintenance. I mean, I hate it. I hate it with the white hot heat of a thousand suns. And since I’m in the confessional mood, I may as well just go ahead and admit that, although I am a bit ashamed to say it, I’m afraid that I think of most of that crap as “man’s work”. Yes, there it is. My feminist conscience is cringing, but it’s true. I grew up in a fairly traditional household where Dad was in charge of that part of our existence. I married a man that took very good care of that stuff. I’m no princess, and I can dig in when I need to, but overall, I never thought I’d be the one figuring out where the leak under the sink is coming from. But life happens, and here I am.

My son is grown up, my lifestyle is changing, and I am ready to sell my house and move into something smaller and less suburban. I don’t ever want to think about the roof, or the lawn, or the garage door opener again. Luckily I live in an apparently desirable location and it doesn’t look like it will be hard to find the right buyer and the right price. I actually have a potential purchaser lined up, and it seems that the most likely scenario is that he will tear down this house, and rebuild on the lot. So, that’s all great.


In the weeks since I’ve made this monumental decision to sell, it seems that my entire home has reached some invisible expiry date. Every day it seems like another thing goes wrong. It’s almost as though the house knows that I’m dumping it. It’s almost as though the house knows it’s going to be demolished, and it is sacrificing its components, one by one, like a mother bird kicking its chicks out of the nest when it hears the loggers coming.

It’s creeping me out.

I had the roof replaced last summer. Anyone that has done that before knows that the cost is ridiculous. I was lucky enough to have family help with the labour, but I only just finished paying Home Depot for the materials. It looks great. It was a huge relief to get it done and over with.

A couple of weeks ago a puddle suddenly appeared in the sun-room. A leak, where there was never a leak before. What?

The stove now takes a mere two and a half hours to reach the standard baking temperature of 350 degrees.

The washing machine, and, yes also the dryer, stopped working on the same day. What fresh hell is that?

The handle on the sliding door leading to the back deck came off in my hand; a neighbour’s cat wandered into the foyer and promptly sprayed whatever it is cats spray all over the wall and my sneakers; the en suite toilet now occasionally has water dripping out of weird places; and when my potential house buyer asked if there was indoor access to the crawl space, I remembered that there used to be a trap door in my walk-in closet, but the guys I hired to install new flooring a couple of years ago apparently just went ahead and layed the boards right on over it.

Oh yeah, and, there is a mysterious breakdown of something or other to do with the alarm system.

What’s next? I cannot imagine. What do I fix, and what do I leave to the wrecking ball? What do I cop to, and what do I pretend worked just fine until the day after I sign the sale agreement?

Will the house come for me next? I am feeling a little flu-ish. If I inexplicably break an ankle in the next few days, I am definitely hopping all the way to an exorcist immediately.

But, I’ll think about that tomorrow. Tomorrow is another day.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s