The “joys” of home ownership, kitchen edition

There are also the ongoing issues, such as the oven that you have to set higher than you want.

For all the advantages of home ownership, it does have its downside. In December 2017, for instance, we paid our property tax a month early in anticipation of the new US tax bill, which make itemizing our taxes less advantageous in subsequent years. Or so I understand, because of these things, MEGO (my eyes glaze over).

Our hot water boiler died in December. It actually lasted over 14 years, which, I gather, is a good long time, a decade being the usual functionality, or so I’m told. And the furnace ($4000) was also replaced in 2017.

The pipes to our kitchen sink are near an exterior wall of the house. When it gets really cold, as it did for several days in the past month or so. Our contractor discovered: 1) there’s a small hole under the sink that goes directly OUTSIDE, and 2) there is a heating coil on the piping that burned out. And that was a good thing, apparently, because, it could have shorted and BURNED DOWN THE WHOLE HOUSE. Yikes – not MEGO.

The dishwater has ceased to work. Oh, it still turns on and off. But the dishes don’t get clean because the water doesn’t drain properly. Or really, at all. I used a ShopVac to suck out the excess water a couple times, hoping that it would solve the problem; it did not.

Fortunately, my primary job as a child was Washing the Dishes, by hand of course. I didn’t really mind either because we used to get graded at school on “health” or some such. The space under my fingernails was always dirty UNLESS I had recently washed the dishes. Ah, soapy water.

So those are the immediate problems. There are also the ongoing issues, such as the oven that you have to set higher than you want, 350 if you want 325, 450 if you want 400, but if you set it TOO high, it doesn’t make it above 300.

Or our freezer door that hasn’t closed properly since 2007, when one of my relatives (not my wife or daughter), while I was putting away something in the lower refrigerator section, decided to get something in the upper freezer section AT THE SAME TIME. I didn’t notice, so I stood up and my head and shoulders rammed into the freezer door, making the seal less precise.

When we first moved into the house in 2000, redoing the kitchen, especially the ugly and dysfunctional cabinets, was a goal. We got a new floor, and the aforementioned stove, dishwasher, and refrigerator have all been purchased since 2002.

There’s no money to buy them ALL again, let alone the redo because we didn’t win the lottery. (Oh, yeah, we didn’t PLAY the lottery.) The dishwasher will probably be replaced first since it’s most chronic.

So, to you new homeowners – you know who you are – THESE are the joys of being the landed gentry.

Food and home

Expect something major to break in the first year.

homer-simpson doughnutsY’ know I have several Ask Roger Anything questions, but these from SamuraiFrog struck my fancy:

What are your favorite and least favorite kinds of donuts? And if you don’t like donuts, what is your favorite pastry? And if you don’t like pastry… you’re no fun.

Thank goodness I am fun! There’s a place right across the street from where I work called Cider Belly Donuts. I try to go only once a week. I get a maple, usually. Historically, donut-wise, I generally will go for the glazed first.

I’m not that fond of filled donuts, usually because I bite into them and hit some dry donut when I wanted the jelly. I’m also not crazy about powdered donuts, although Spaulding Krullers, from my growing up days, was miraculous in that the powder did not come off.

BTW, my spellcheck does not like the word “donut”; it prefers the word “doughnut.” Anything that prefers a spelling with THREE silent letters IN A ROW is REALLY no fun!

Are you a coffee drinker?

No, I’ve never acquired the taste. And here’s my major pet peeve: food entities that do not segregate their pitchers for coffee and tea. I went to a wedding once, and the reception was catered by a well-known local establishment. The food was lovely. But I had some tea, and I could tell INSTANTLY that the carafe had contained coffee in the past. Coffee-laced tea is VILE.

I should drink tea more often.

What’s your ideal breakfast? What’s your usual breakfast?

The ideal breakfast is pancakes, two fried eggs, and sausage. My usual breakfast is cold cereal, for which I mix two or three non-pre-sweetened items, such as Cheerios, shredded wheat, and raisin bran.

My wife inherited a house. What’s something she should know about homeownership?

I don’t know if you’ll be living there. Regardless:

1. Take care of the outside so that the neighbors don’t complain. Mow the grass periodically. (Or hire goats; I’m in favor of hiring goats.) It generates goodwill amongst your fellow homeowners.

2. To that end, I know it’s your house, but try not to paint it chartreuse.

3. Keep the walk shoveled. It snows in Illinois – assuming the house is there – and S-P-R-I-N-G is a lousy snow removal strategy. Maybe you can barter a service. Your wife’s a great artist, and you are smart and very detail-oriented.

4. Expect something major to break in the first year. For my wife’s first house, it was the water heater. For us, it was the clothes dryer; those hanging racks all over the bedroom got old very quickly.

5. If you’re not handy, find someone who is. Because you may not be able to afford to fix certain things, but some items – like a sewer pipe that threatened our basement and cost $3500 we did not have to dig up our front yard to repair – you can’t afford NOT to fix.

6. It’s never finished. The first thing my bride said when we bought the house is that we needed to update our kitchen. We moved in 2000; it hasn’t happened. Oh, we got a new kitchen faucet, the only thing we could afford the first year when my spouse was a grad student. We got a new floor because the old one was treacherous, and a new dishwasher, which I HATE – loading the silverware is a chore -and a new refrigerator.

But the aforementioned sewer pipe, and a new roof, a new front porch (lest someone put his/her foot through it – it WAS that bad), a new shed (the old one leaked, and was falling down), and FINALLY, a new bathroom, has precluded fixing the kitchen.

What’s your favorite newspaper comic strip ever?

I have books on Krazy Kat, Pogo, and other strips from before my time. I own collections about Calvin & Hobbes, Peanuts, and a few others.

But I have the first four complete Doonesbury anthologies. I LOVED those early strips. I still read it in the paper, not nearly with the same passion. But I don’t think I read ANY strip these days with anything approaching a similar compulsion.

What was something nostalgic for you until you revisited it and the nostalgia wore off?

My 10th high school reunion rather sucked, although it was salvaged by the after-party.

I remember a guy named Charlie, whose hairline changed a lot in a decade. I didn’t recognize him, and he got all offended. Ten years was not enough time to get over all the petty BS of high school.

I went to my 32nd HS reunion and it was MUCH better. But I’m just not that nostalgic. Part of it is that I forget. “Do you remember the time…?” The answer is, generally, “No.”

I DO KNOW West Side Story isn’t as good a movie as I remember – it’s too long and too slow – but the music is SO good, I don’t care.

Roger answers Chris’ questions while on drugs

They managed to even make it into the freezer section of the fridge, where, hopefully, they died horrific deaths.

thx-comes-home-616wThis is the first blog post attempted since I had my hernia operation. Everything else I’ve posted recently had been written before, partially in anticipation of feeling unfocused now. Well, at the time of this composition, I was home, and still on Hydrocodone. But I couldn’t just watch TV all day. I had to write something. Whether any of it is coherent…


Haha! Internet is finally working at my new house.


– if you could have anything, what would it be? (We just did this as an icebreaker at my foster parent class. I’m curious if you’ll give the same answer I did)

I want to be around long enough for The Daughter to talk about some of the things I wrote about in this blog. And especially things I haven’t written about in this blog, because they’re too personal. (Yes, there are such topics.)

I think I’ve gotten to that point that there aren’t that many THINGS that I want. Oh sure, in some idealized world, I’d still like a place to watch movies, a dark room with cushy seats.

Or is this the question I’m supposed to say “world peace,” which, of course, is true?

– what endearing trait of your wife did you notice in the first year that you still love about her?

Hmm. I think I most was impressed that she owned her own home as a single woman. She was confident and strong and intelligent, and almost certainly more rational than I. Still is.

– do you consider yourself at all handy?

No, not at all; if there are four possible ways to fit something into a space, I’ll come to the right solution no earlier than effort #3, so it’s exhausting. This is why owning a home, in some ways, is such a drag. We were talking about the recent renovation of our bathroom. When you get an estimate for work, it’ll usually end up costing 15% to 25% more. This is why our kitchen, which has needed updating since we moved here, looks pretty much the same.

Well, new flooring, new refrigerator, and dishwasher, but the layout and the cabinet space – it’s still has that same 1970s look.

– what did you consider the best thing about being a new homeowner?

Well, I’ve been here for 15 years. Often, in my renter days, I had to move because of the whims of various homeowners, who wanted to renovate, move in themselves, and/or sell the place.

– if someone made you eat an insect, which insect would you pick to eat?

Fruit flies. They’re small. In fact, I probably already have. We had this rare infestation this summer in the kitchen, and some managed to even make it into the freezer section of the fridge, and the ice cube tray, where, I’m hoping, they died horrific deaths.

My first instinct, though, was a grasshopper, probably a response to watching the TV show Kung Fu, a few decades ago.

– what character have you most identified with that you’ve encountered in the last year? It can be in a book, TV, or a movie

I assume you mean a fictional person when you say “character.” I suppose Scott Lang in the Ant-Man movie, who had the social conscientiousness to do the right thing, more than once.

Houses and dogs and books…

In all likelihood, you will pour every dime into the purchase, so that inevitable first repair of something you did not expect, you probably can’t afford.

Let me answer the rest of the questions from New York Erratic:

What would you say is the most difficult part of buying your first house? Is there something that you wish people would have told you?

I didn’t own my first house until I was 46 when I moved into the house my bride had purchased seven years earlier.

“Everyone” said that you’re “supposed” to own a house. I was never that interested in doing so.

My parents didn’t own a home until I went away to college. So I had no models in this area. While having to move every few years could be a pain, it was less of an encumbrance than a house.

In 2000, we bought our current home AND we were landlords; I HATED that. It was enough to take care of the living abode, but going over to mow the lawn and shovel the snow off the roof – it had a flat roof – was a royal pain. We sold it in 2004, shortly after The Daughter was born.

So to the question:
1) You DON’T have to buy a house.
2) If you do, it would be helpful to be handy with tools, which I am decidedly not.
3) In all likelihood, you will pour every dime into the purchase, so that inevitable first repair of something you did not expect, you probably can’t afford.
4) This will almost inevitably lead to buyers’ remorse. “How did I not notice that the dryer has a capacity of four shirts?” (This is true in our case, BTW.)
5) If you DO buy a house, you may spend lots of money on stuff that nobody can see. I was visiting my cousin Anne at Thanksgiving, and she told of the thousands of dollars spent to avoid flooding in the basement, expenditures no visitor or future purchaser will ever see. Some of our similar improvements involved spending thousands of dollars having a hole dug in the front yard to dislodge a tree root from the plumbing, lest we have sewage in the basement.

A LOT of investment in a house is all but invisible, and that can be REALLY discouraging. If I had it to do over again, I doubt I’d buy a house at all.

The single advantage is that people seem to think you are a “grownup” when you own a home.

Have you ever owned a dog?

Yeah, I was around 10, maybe (give or take two years). We had an Alaskan husky called Lucky Stubbs; I have no idea who named him, but it wasn’t I.

Anyway, he would nip me. I would say BITE but it didn’t draw blood or anything, so nip. But then he nipped one of the daughters of our minister. THEN my father gave him to a farmer where he’d have more room to roam than our tiny city back yard.

PS: after that, I was rather wary of dogs for years.

What’s your favorite spice?

Scary Spice.

OK, I jest. Cinnamon.

Old used books or brand new never read books?

Usually new, unless they are vintage. Books are like cars in that when they’re about 20 years old, they’re just old, but at some point they become VINTAGE. I have a hymnal from 1849, and another book from that period called Verdant Green, and THOSE are, as the kids used, are COOL.

Yup, another quiz

I’ve been a renter most of my life, and I think at some level, I still have a renter’s heart.

Stolen, as is often the case, from Jaquandor, who stole it as well.

1. The phone rings; who don’t you want it to be?

You know, I just want it to be someone I know. I love the answering machine. I especially love caller ID. Do we screen our calls? You betcha! All these folks with PRIVATE or blocked phone numbers we wait to hear their voice on the machine. Friends, we pick up…
The only person who knows my cellphone number is one of my sisters. I don’t even know it, I use it so infrequently. I have no desire to be available 24/7.

2. When shopping at the grocery store, do you return your cart?

There’s a designed area in the parking lot; I return it there. Though before they had them, I always returned them to the store.

3. In a social setting, are you more of a talker or a listener?

Listener, unless I’ve had at least two glasses of wine.

4. What was the last compliment that someone gave you?

“You’re a good dad.” This was not from my wife or daughter, BTW. She may be right, for all I know.

5. Do you play the lottery?

Yeah, when it’s over $100 million and I think of it, which is maybe twice a year.

6. If abandoned alone in the wilderness, who would you want with you?

If I were abandoned alone, I wouldn’t HAVE anyone with me. OK, I’ll pick Clark Kent. Even if he didn’t want to reveal his secret identity, his strength and other powers could come in handy.

7. Do you like to ride horses?

Other than ponies as a kid, the only time I did was June 9, 1976, after my very first hangover; not recommended.

8. Did you ever go to camp as a kid?

My family went camping for years. Tent, air mattress, Coleman lantern, and stove. I hated it.

9. What is your favorite party game?

Seriously, what is considered a party game? Charades I don’t hate, but I’m not a big fan. What else?

10. If a sexy person was pursuing you, but you knew he/she was married, would you go for it?

Assuming I were available…well, no. Relationships are complicated, and third parties often complicate them more.

11. When was the last time that you lied?

Probably some half-truth to the Daughter about keeping EVERY SINGLE PIECE OF ARTWORK SHE’S EVER DRAWN.

12. Could you date someone with different religious beliefs than you?

I have, and it’s created difficulties. Not a dealbreaker, but not optimal.

13. If you have a S/O, who pursued who? If not, do you like to pursue or be pursued?

I think was mutual pursuit the first time out, but I certainly pursued the last time around.

14. Use six words to describe yourself.

Learned, contemplative introvert posing as extrovert.

15. Name a song that could make you cry?

There are lots. Sometimes tears of joy. On the other hand: “Sweet Bitter Love” by Aretha.

16. Are you pleased with your education?

Yes, I am. Best thing I learned in junior high: diagramming sentences.

17. How do you feel about gun control?

Why does one NEED an automatic weapon? Apparently, a lot of American guns end up in Mexico, contributing to the death toll there. If you have rules for driving a car, then some sort of regulation of guns (background check, waiting period) seems reasonable. The Second Amendment is no more absolute than the First Amendment is.

18. If your house was on fire, what thing would be the first thing you grabbed?

My metal file box, which contains my passport, my SS card, and some genealogy stuff.

19. How often do you have a romantic weekend?

A whole weekend? Maybe once every 10 years.

20. Do you think more about the past, present, or future?

Yes. The past informs the present; won’t do THAT again, including something in this very quiz. the future is hope, but the future is uncertain, so living in the present is all we really have.

21. What was the last adult magazine that you have read?

Probably the Playboy magazine that had a follow-up John Lennon piece after the January 1981 interview.

22. What are you told about your eyes?

I’m told that they are attractive, much to my surprise.

23. How tall is just right?

For me, my current height.

24. Where is your dream house located?

Is San Simeon available? Seriously, I’ve been a renter most of my life, and I think at some level, I still have a renter’s heart. If I OWN things, I have to MAINTAIN things. Or as a speaker, I heard once said: “The two happiest days in a boat owner’s life is the day he buys the boat, and the day he sells it.”

25. Do you have a secret fetish?

Why would I tell you? Then it wouldn’t be a secret. Actually, not sure that I do.

26. Have you tried bourbon? If yes, what type?

Yup. Jack Daniel’s, obviously, and a few others. It was my drink of choice in college, with ginger ale. (Purists are booing – I hear ya.)

27. Have you ever seen a male or female stripper?


28. When was the last time you were at TGI Fridays?

Years ago, for dinner with a group. I don’t recall the occasion. It was OK.

29. When was the last time you were at Church?


30. Where was the furthest place you traveled today?

Yesterday it was to church; today, I have off and I’m hoping that it’ll be no farther than the local CVS drug store four blocks away unless I ride my bike for exercise.

31. What was your favorite job?

Probably the one I’m working now, though the job at FantaCo was great for a time. And the job at the Schenectady Arts Council in 1978 was nice but lasted only ten-and-a-half months.

32. What condiments do you like at your BBQ?

Mustard on hot dogs, ketchup and mustard on hamburgers, onions on sausage, BBQ sauce on chicken and ribs.

33. Bud is hosting Thursday Thunks this week. Will you play?

Probably not. I think one or two of these a week is enough. (It’s not the writing that’s time-consuming; it’s the visiting. I do these Sunday Stealing things and don’t even post them in Sunday Stealing.)

34. Do you look like your mom or dad?

If you saw me with my dad at Carol’s and my wedding in May 1999, you’d say absolutely related. Just last month, someone on Facebook who knew my dad – this guy and I went to elementary school together – says I look just like my dad.

35. Who was the last person that you showered with (it’s okay to leave out the name)?

Well, the answer here is who you think it would be, but I’m not saying that outright, because, well, you know…. (Answer stolen).

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