Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Good Riddance, 2010!

New Year's Day cannot come soon enough for me. Good riddance 2010! This past year has been the year of the shrinking bank account. We have lived in our current house for five and a half years. For the bulk of that five and half years, we have enjoyed a relatively problem-free existence. Then 2010 reared its ugly head and everything went to hell in a handbasket. This year has been nothing but one headache after another. I am so ready to see it scoot on out of here. Hasta la vista, 2010! Not to beat a dead horse, but let's recap, shall we?

The Great Debacle of 2010 begins in May. With the arrival of Spring and her promise of rebirth and renewal, the giant tree in our back yard falls on our house in the middle of the night. Ruanita and I jump from our bed, fully convinced that an airplane has just crashed into our home. We are flabbergasted by what we find in our back yard. One trunk from the awesome four-trunked tree in our back yard is laying across our yard and on our house. We find out the the remaining three trunks of the tree are rotten to the roots and need to go. We pay $2000 the following day to have the remainder of the tree removed, so as to avoid the other trunks falling on our house. This is not covered by our homeowner's insurance. We find a contractor to repair our electricity, as it was all stripped from the house when the tree fell. We also contact a contractor to look at the minimal damage to our siding caused by the fallen tree. "Minimal" damage turns into a huge ordeal when the contractor cannot match the siding to repair it and instead, tells us that they will have to replace all of the siding on our house, per Minnesota state law. This leads to the discovery that our house is coated in lead and asbestos, which will have to be removed. When pulling the siding off our second story deck, the deck collapses, necessitating the removal of the deck and the replacement of the door to the deck with a window. We pay our $1000 deductible, plus an additional $500 for the new window. $3500 total out of our pockets.

While the home repairs are going on, Ruanita backs are brand new 2010 Toyota Camry into a pole, requiring a new door be placed on the car. $500 deductible out of our pockets.

Suddenly, after weeks of trying to figure out where the strange, musty smell on our clothing is coming from, our washing machine dies. We have a repairman out, who announces rather unceremoniously that it can not be repaired. Ruanita, the kids, and I make an unforeseen to trip to Sears to buy a new washing machine. We discuss options with the salesman while the kids run around like lunatics sticking their heads in all the dryers. $600 out of our pockets.

Shortly thereafter, we have a serviceman out to do our annual tune-up on our furnace. We are good little home-owners who believe in preventative maintenance. We find out that our furnace is back-drafting. The cause? A crumbling chimney liner. It has to be replaced or we will all die from breathing carbon monoxide and exhaust. We briefly debate the pros and cons and eventually decide against death by asphyxiation. Another $1000 out of our pockets to replace the chimney liner.

Then, just about two weeks ago, after digging out from under The Blizzard of 2010, we discover water leaking in our living room. Our ceiling turns an ominous shade of brown. Water pours from the small space between our storm door and front door, coating both in a solid sheet of ice. The lovely red berry wreath on our front door becomes covered in creepy-looking icicles like something out of The Nightmare Before Christmas. What could possible be causing this?! We find out that we have an ice dam. Those quintessentially Minnesotan destroyers of plaster and sheetrock. We have another lovely visit with Doug, our insurance adjuster. We have a couple of guys out to remove the ice dam. A contractor comes out with heavy equipment to set up in our living room to try to dry out the wall and ceiling. A few days later, another repairman comes out to inform us that the attempts at drying have failed and he begins cutting away at our wall. When the plaster is removed, we discover that our studs are coated in ice. He informs us that he needs to continue cutting away at the wall until he finds dry plaster and wood. This could mean removing the entire wall. We decide the job is too large to tackle at Christmastime, so he duct tapes clear plastic up over the 4 foot by 4 foot hole above our fireplace and we decide to shelve it until after Christmas. He leaves us with the understanding that we need to really enjoy our holidays because our house will be a thoroughly un-enjoyable demolition zone shortly thereafter. The kids fret about whether or not Santa will be able to come down our chimney with a huge hole above the fireplace. On Christmas Day, we discover more water leaking. Another ice dam has formed, practically overnight, in the place of the one two men spent three hours removing just a few days prior. We clumsily assemble the expensive roof rake we purchased from Home Depot and Ruanita spends an hour outside diligently trying to scrape as much snow as she can reach off of our roof. The leaking stops....for the time being. Ruanita spends the remainder of the day sitting on a heating pad while her back spasms uncontrollably.

That brings us to today. The toilet in our downstairs bathroom suddenly has a broken handle (proof positive that my children's need to potty every 15 minutes is not natural...nor something a poor toilet can handle) and will not flush unless you remove the back, stick your hand in the nasty water full of who-knows-how-many deadly microbial creatures and pull the plug. We just discovered a crack in the windshield of our minivan. In addition, we believe the transmission is going out. On a positive note, however, the van has brought me closer to God, as I tend to utter a brief prayer every time I turn it on. Please God, just let me make it to Target. To top it all off, I have gained 30 pounds this year and my face has erupted into one giant zit from the stress of it all.

I am cautiously looking forward to 2011. It has to be an improvement over the previous year. Right? At some point, the tide has to turn. Correct? I suppose I should be thankful for the things I did enjoy in 2010, however. The entire year has not been all doom and gloom, though it certainly appears that way. I do have things to be thankful for. A house full of healthy children. A solid marriage. A job. A roof over my head (albeit a leaky, dammed-up roof). A supportive family. Fun times with friends. I have complaints, no doubt, but in the greater scheme of things, my complaints are rather minor. All in all, my life in great. It's a prize. Or, to quote that most superlative and sublime of all holiday movies...

It's a Major Award!


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