Friday, June 23, 2006
On Gutters and Grocery Stores
Owning a home comes with all kinds of treats. Some good and others, not so good. And, at some point in your home ownership, two things happen. First, you discover your house's Achille's hell (or heel, whichever you prefer.)
In the case of my humble abode, it's the fourteen feet of gutters on the back of the house. Seems they weren't properly cleaned last fall. Even worse, the gutter traps were completely missing, which means stuff accumulates and causes the water to back up.
We've had monsoon weather the last week or so, with more in the forecast, and the result has been water backing up under the eaves, traveling down the walls, and coming out in the mouldings around the windows in the kitchen and the office. Needless to say, I am not a happy camper.
I seem to have a history of living in places with water problems, though.
In my apartment in Walnut Creek, California, years ago, I had a ceiling that leaked so badly, I eventually had to construct a water catch and basin to capture the water and keep it off my desk and computer. I also had to enlist a lawyer to finally get the management company and the property manager off their sorry asses and actually fix the problem before the onset of that year's El Nino winter.
At my last apartment here in D.C., there was a water problem that resulted in sopping wet carpets in my dining room. Eventually, we cut a huge hole in the wall in the dining room in an attempt to isolate the problem. Somehow, the landlady managed to finally cork the dike and all was dry. (And then there was the time her handyman forgot to drain the pipes upstairs while he was doing plumbing work and I came home to find my kitchen cupboards and counters soak in murky water. Needless to say, on that one, I came unhinged.)
And now, it's gutters and backed up water. Yeah.
I had to pay a guy $170 today to rent a 40' ladder from Home Depot, climb up on the roof, clean out the gutters, and install new gutter traps. Sounds expensive, but that was cheap compared with the guy who told me it would cost $850 to replace the gutters and flashing. I don't think so.
And this leads me to the second treat: when stuff like this happens, there's no one to call but me. Home ownership brings with it the deer-in-the-headlights, stunning realization that, oh, hey, I'm the one you call when things break or need to be fixed. There is no landlady or property manager. I am the landlady and property manager. I am the landlady and property manager.
The result: I spent the entire day occupied with all things gutter, when I could have been editing tobacco research. Economically speaking, today was bit of a wash.
On a brighter note: I found a new grocery store this evening!
When you live in a semi-urban setting (i.e. in the city, but just over the border from the suburbs), your available grocery store choices can be abysmal. There's a Safeway not three blocks from my house, but it's more like a Slumway. There's another Safeway about two miles from my house, but it isn't much better. Tonight, I discovered a Giant Food hidden off the beaten track at Colesville Road and East-West Highway!
And I am hoppy, hoppy, hoppy, as my late grandfather would say!
At last, no more second mortgages on the house to shop at Whole Foods. No more long treks to the Giant on Park Road. No more wistful and wishful longing for a decent grocery store. One is here and it is a Giant! I "have a Giant on my side!"
I knew that one day all those years of working for them would finally pay off! Woo hoo!
(It's the little things in life that make me happy, if you haven't figured that out already.)
Photo of Niagara Falls courtesy of Delargy.com. Graphic logo courtesy of Giant Food.