Saturday, March 23, 2013

From Housewife to Handyman

Last week was an adventure to say the least.  On Friday (the 15th) I realized we were very low on propane.  So low, in fact, that we could not run the furnace or water heater.  After our busy weekend, my mother convinced me to break out the space heater.  On Monday I tried to light the pilot on the water heater and a breaker popped.  Now a third of my electricity is out and there are no lights in my family room or kitchen.  I tried to fix it that night and again Tuesday morning, but I had no luck.  Of course, a friend stops by to help and he has everything fixed in seconds.  I finally got propane Thursday morning and I still couldn’t get the pilot lit on my water heater.  After trying all day, I finally take the darn thing apart and light it by hand.  Not the safest idea, but I needed a real shower more than you can imagine.  

That week tested my resourcefulness more than I was prepared for, but we made it through.  I stocked up on foods than can be prepared in the toaster oven so we had plenty to eat.  I made sure we used paper plates and plastic spoons so dirty dishes didn’t pile up in the sink (It was already full so there weren’t realy any clean dishes to use anyways).  I broke out the space heater so our family room was at least a little warmer than the rest of the house (this one was a little scary because the space heater is older than I am).  I let my son sleep in my bed since I have an electric blanket so my bed was much warmer than his.  And I took a shower via coffee pot.

While my husband is home, he tends to most of the household maintenance while I stick to maintaining the farm.  I can repair fences with the best of them, but ask me to unclog the sink and I am as lost as a field mouse on Broadway.  Over a year ago my dishwasher quit draining, so I just stopped using it.  My husband came home from deployment and looked at me like I had 3 heads when I told him I didn’t even try to fix it.  He couldn’t get it running properly either, so my idea wasn’t so bad after all. 

But just giving up on things that break is not an option for most of us.  I do not need my dish washer, and I am perfectly happy washing dishes by hand, so I got off easy with that one.  But when my electricity went wonky, I had to do something about it.  As many times as I tried to fix the breakers, I had to call a friend to bail me out.  I can’t even flip a switch properly.  Once we got the propane tank filled, I had to get the furnace restarted and get the water heater running.  Last time I needed to turn on the furnace I needed help, luckily I got it all by myself this time.  The water heater was a bit trickier.  I after trying all day, I ended up calling my husband for help.  He talked me through it, but I was terrified of blowing up my house the entire time.

I have lived on my own as a home owner for 2.5 years, with small stretches of time in there with my husband, and I still feel like a mess when it comes to house repairs.  As military wives, we need to be able to hold down the fort while our spouses are away.  We need to be able to fix the toilet, unclog the drains, repair the washer and dryer, run and maintain the lawn mower… the list never ends.  It is always beneficial to have a support system for help when things get out of hand, but that is not always the case.  I love to think of myself as an independent country girl who can take care of herself.  But in reality I need help sometimes.  As much as we want to be able to do it all, that is just not true most of the time.  And of course, most of us can not afford to call in the professionals all the time.  What I would love to see, is more classes offered on how to maintain things around the house.  I am not saying we need classes in cooking and cleaning, but unclogging the kitchen sink is a skill we could all use.  The same goes for breaker boxes, washer and dryer maintenance, and lawn mower maintenance.  If any of you happen to know of classes like these in your area, pleas share them so others can enjoy.  I will look up what I can and compile a list.  Until then, wish me luck that my house stays standing until my husband is home again.  

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