I grew up in the suburbs – spent nearly the first thirty years of my life there.
But then I spent over a decade in the rough-and-tumble living of a big-big city, where I learned a lot more about dining out than I did about taking good care of my primary means of shelter. When I had my mid-life crisis and ran screaming back to the quiet of the suburbs recently, I didn’t even take with me my books on basic home repair or my less-used power tools – they had been purged during the effort to unclutter our city apartment for showing to prospective buyers.
I don’t know today whether those few books and tools would have helped me to avoid some of the snafus of the last year or so, and truthfully none of the snafus have been more than minor. Nonetheless, I feel a little dumb about some of the basics which I could have done a little better. For example …
I always knew that rock salt could wreck your pavement and cement, but I put down too much anyway, and I put down the most caustic variety of it, which I bought cheaply at the grocery store. There are better options out there, and better ways to use it. I also didn’t notice that a nearby tree was kind of close to our power lines, and then got to worrying about the branches only after they had been dragged down with snow and ice onto the lines. I doubt there will be damage, but I sure plan to cut away those branches once the warmer weather comes. Further, I failed to realize the importance of making sure rain gutters are as clear as possible prior to the cold season, and failed to make sure I could get my darned ladder up to all the gutters anyway. I can think of at least one large shrub which will need to be severely chopped back during the warmer weather so that I can get to all my gutters better. No problems, in particular, but I guess it just makes me worry more, since I’ve recently learned about “ice dams” and how they can damn you if you ain’t careful to prevent or get rid of them.
As you can see, most of these worries and troubles are just that – worries and troubles. No actual problems. But I’d rather not worry about what we are going to do if our power goes out and we have no heat, and I’d rather understand enough about our heating system to understand what our options are in that case, and whether there is anything to be careful of during the outage or when it all comes back on.
I learned about spiders, and all the creepy places down low where they can creep in, and about how you have to keep an eye on the squirrels to make sure they aren’t building nests inside your attic or inside your car’s engine. I learned what a sump is (sort of) and why you might want to have the means to pump one, and I learned how to read a homeowner insurance policy so I could understand what happens if a tree falls on my house. I learned that it is best to keep a snow shovel inside the house so you can get out, and also in the car’s trunk, at all times. And I learned to talk to people as much as possible and to read about other things I should be worried about, so that I can rest easy and enjoy my quiet life in the suburbs.