Tag Archives: household problems

April column for Michiana House & Home Magazine: Monitoring the leaks

      One of these days, I will learn. Nine years ago, we moved into our new home and upon settling in, our washing machine began to leak water onto the laminate flooring. As President of this operation, I pointed the problem out to the Secretary of Home Improvement and he acknowledged that Houston, we indeed had a problem.

He proceeded to monitor the situation for the next decade.

Now, I don’t like to nag, but I am the kind of person who was born with a lot of get up and go whereas my counterpart…was not. In fact, he is a big proponent of the wait-and see-method of dealing with problems. Perhaps if we pretended not to notice the washing machine leaking, maybe it would stop doing it.

“It’s not a naughty child making a play for attention, you know,” I commented wryly.

When it became a more pressing concern a few weeks ago, he agreed it wasn’t faking and decided to take a look at it. That’s when he decided I must be overfilling it with clothes.

“You’re kidding, right?” I responded. “That washer can hold up to 12 pairs of jeans in its largest setting. It should be able handle a baseball jersey and a pair of sweatpants without its water breaking!”

“Well it only does it when it has a full load,” he offered.

I asked him if his honest solution to this problem was to divide the clothes in half and do double the laundry. Admittedly, it was a solution, but not a very practical one and considering the washing machine was a high efficiency model, it seemed like a bit of a cop out. In the end we decided to purchase a new unit.

Before it arrived though, I insisted he replace the floorboards I knew to be warped underneath the old machine. We had some extra ones that were included when the house was built. I showed him how they fit together and felt relatively confident that he could handle the repair.

I really have too much faith in that man. My floor is now a unique jigsaw puzzle of mismatched boards with wood putty filling in where there were gaps. Take my advice, if someone tells you they only had two boards, even though they needed four and “made do” by using wood putty, check their work, I beg of you. Don’t try to make sense of it, just check the work.

The other solution of course is to order additional flooring, have it installed or address the original leak before it becomes a bigger concern. Of course you might want to reconsider your relationship choices before they become a permanent part of the household “cabinet!”


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March Column Michiana House & Home: Who ya gonna call?

phone           As a general rule, good things do not happen at 2:30 in the morning.

No one tends leaves the house that early unless they work the graveyard shift, have a family member in the hospital, or need to respond to another emergency. And if the phone rings at that ungodly hour, it’s a pretty safe bet it’s not the call telling you that you’ve won the Publisher’s Clearinghouse Sweepstakes.

So, the other night when I was jolted awake by the phone, I knew it wasn’t good news. I fumbled for the handset in the dark, pushed the talk button and croaked out a greeting. It was a dispatcher from my alarm company who wanted to let me know that my phone was out of order.

“Let me get this straight,” I replied, dropping my head back to my pillow. “You called to tell me that my phone isn’t working?”

The woman sounded perplexed by my response. “Yes, ma’am. You see, we received a code that the phone line was down and we wanted to call and tell you about the problem.”

Had it been any other time of the day, I would’ve laughed, but nothing is funny at 2:30 a.m. I told her I appreciated her concern, assured her I was in no immediate danger and politely explained that since we were talking from the phone line in question, she could feel free to disregard the code.

“I hadn’t thought about that,” she said. “That’s a good point. I am so sorry for bothering you.”

“Not a problem,” I told her, preparing to hang up.

However, she wasn’t quite finished. “Now, before I go could you please tell me your passcode so I can confirm that I am speaking with the homeowner?”

Now I am all for precautions, but I’m not always prepared for a pop quiz in the middle of the night. I rattled off the first four digits that jumped into my head and was told they were incorrect. I tried another set that was either my son’s birthday or my high school locker combination, but that wasn’t right either. I tried three more times, told her to give me a hint and asked to use one of my lifelines before finally giving up on trying to pass the math portion of her SAT.

“No offense, ma’am, but it is 2:30 in the morning. I applaud what you are doing here however; I can assure you that I really am the homeowner. If I were a burglar, I wouldn’t have answered the phone in the first place. I wouldn’t have taken the time to reason with you and I wouldn’t conveniently know Julie Young’s birthdate, her son’s cell phone number, her billing address and her mother’s maiden name!”

After giving her the digits of my landline, the one she had dialed only five minutes before, the dispatcher let me off the hook. I tried to go back to sleep but I couldn’t help hoping that the next time she fears there is something strange in the neighborhood, she calls Ghostbusters instead of me!

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Michiana house & Home Magazine: Head’s Up!

IMG_0417      There is nothing that will bring your day to a grinding halt like a case of head lice. It doesn’t matter if you are working out, cooking dinner, catching up on your e-mails or having an otherwise productive life, all activity will come to an unceremonious end the second you find some creepy-looking bug crawling around in someone’s hair.

When the College Man contracted a case of this crud during a recent school break, it’s no exaggeration to say that the house went on lockdown as if it were under attack. The beds were stripped and sheets washed in the hottest of temperatures. The mattresses and furniture were fumigated to prevent further infestation. Every surface was scoured with the most powerful concoction on the planet while the affected individual was quarantined to a barstool and told not to touch anything. (For the record, he sat there looking wide-eyed and panicked as if he might spontaneously combust at any moment.)

Over the next several hours, as I combed through the boy’s follicles to remove his little “friends” and their demon spawn, I couldn’t help wondering why we freak out as much as we do about this condition. (Keep in mind; the child has a LOT of hair so I had plenty of time to devote to this issue.) It’s not that lice isn’t a serious problem that must be dealt with immediately, but why does such a small bug illicit a reaction typically reserved for a declaration of war? We see insects doing all kinds of things all of the time, but we usually don’t flip out about it. In fact, if we spot a unique specimen in the yard, we might even call our families over to take a look at it. Lice, on the other hand, usually causes people run for the hills.

So why is it different? My guess is because bugs aren’t supposed to be there in the first place. It’s not unlike finding a mouse in the house. We understand mice exist and were created to perform several important jobs. They eat cheese. They give cats something to chase and they head up major entertainment corporations, but we don’t want to see them rooting around our kitchens. The same goes for lice. I’m perfectly fine with them being in the yard or garden, but settling a colony in my son’s hair? Not so much.

In the weeks that followed, I had a minor freak out every time my head itched and I could not pass a mirror without searching my scalp for signs of life. Although I had done everything to rid my home of these unwanted guests, the memory of their visit lingered, as did the sympathy scratches. While I am not one for using this column as a PSA, in this season of hats, scarves and other cranial coverings, consider this your heads up to be on the lookout for these creatures and to get a jump on them before they bite out a huge chunk of your day!

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