“Honey, I fixed the sink, and the tub, and the drain!”: The Joys of Homeownership!

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The Hubby and I were lucky enough to buy our first house in the spring of 2013.  It is no great estate or large tract of land by any means.  It is a nice little Cape Cod style home in the 1500 sq ft range built in the early 1950s, 1950 to be exact.  This was a huge mile stone in both of our lives, not just together but personally.  Growing up renters, the Hubby’s family had never owned their own place.   As for me, this was the first actual home that I had some stake in its ownership.  I had owned some land with an old trailer that I had lived in for a few months with my daughter and her mom when had been married but that was the closest I had made it.

It was exciting and a bit daunting to know that this place was all ours.  The good, the bad and all points in-between.  My family had owed a few places growing up so I was a bit more familiar to some of the “fun home owner” stuff that may pop up. I had always either watched or helped my parents and/or grandfathers do their own home  repairs when I was young.  This gave me a predisposition and exposer to the skills that I would use now.  Seeing these things getting done also instilled the idea of, “why pay for someone to do something when you can do it yourself at a fraction of the cost…if not FREE!?”   So yep, I was ready for anything that this old shack can throw at me.  Well, I thought I was. 

Within the first year, not much happened.  Whenever something would pop up the Hubby would ask if I wanted him to call someone.  No need! Clogged sink? Have plunger will travel!  Slosh, slosh, slosh a plop.  Fixed!  Wind storm decide to remove some of the shingles on the roof? I got this and who cares that it is only 25 degrees outside.  To the roof I go, shingles and hammer in hand.  DONE!  All hail the conquering hero!   When things got a little more than a simple plunging was needed, off to the big box home repair store I would go for a new tool.  I don’t care who you are, new tools are always cool.  Does not matter if you are Gay, Straight, Bi or Tie…NEW TOOLS ARE ALWAYS COOL!  With new tool in hand, I would go to work.  A bit of time and a few uttered curse words later and whatever was broken is no longer and again…Bear for the WIN! 

Now even the most winning team can win every time. There are times when the even the most stubborn person (I guess that would be me…I guess…maybe) needs to admit that they are not able to fix.  I know when it is time to call in back up.  This is when the tools I need to fix the issue is either when the cost of the tool I need is WELL more than having a person come out or if this is not likely to happen again.  If I am being honest, this is more of a VERY ROUGH guideline then a hard rule.

Flash forward to now.  We noticed that the drain in the bath had been getting slower and slower in the last few weeks.  OK, not big issue, a little liquid drain cleaner and the issue should be dealt with.  Well, not so much.  Well, NOT AT ALL!  What was once was a slow drain is not a STOPPED drain!  Well Shit!  I grab the plunger and try to clear the now non-moving water.  Nothing! At! All!  If you look at your tub and you will see that there is an overflow on almost all tubs.  I had the Boy grab the second plunger from the downstairs bathroom so I can seal the overflow and get better suction.  This worked…sort of…  but not really. 

Being the great father I am, and wanting to utilized the available free labor on hand, I had the boy give me a hand.  This way he could learn about this stuff the same way I did.  He held the seal on the overflow as I plunged.  Still nothing.  I got my 15-foot drain snake and started to go to town on the piping.  Nope.  I grab the shop-vac (when finesse fails, resort to brute force!).  Still nope.  More liquid drain cleaner.  Yet, still no.  It is at this point that the Boy’s education switched from vocational to more linguistic.  He giggles.  We called it a night.  Drain 1, Bear (and Boy) 0.  Folks, it was not looking good for the home team!

The next morning started with a trip to the big box home store.  NEW TOOL TIME!  Now I was ready for round two.  Fast forward several hours.  Coved in dirty tub water, frustrated and about ready to just say that this will be a tub free house, if you want to shower use the F##$@!g hose in the back yard, I gave it one last attempt.  I snaked the drain and then it happens.  The tub drained like the pipes were new.   VICTORY!!! Then a thought crossed my mind. “Is the drain really clear or did the pipe just break?  This is an old house after all.”  I all but sprinted to the basement.  Office, dry! Basement Bath, dry! Bedroom, Dry!  Laundry room, Dry!  I breathed a bit easier. 

In the end, everything was fixed.  The tub drain worked, the Boy learned a few new things like simple plumbing (and a few new words), and I got some new tools.  BEAR FOR THE WIN!  Homeownership can be a great thing but frustrating as well.  When all is said, and done, I have to say we kind of like it.  That is until the next thing breaks at least.

Cheers!

Bear on the Road

Courage Found On The Back Of Two Wheels: Overcoming Fears One Mile At A Time.

I am very lucky.  I have been blessed with a great stepson.  The Boy is an amazing kid.  He is kind of your normal 13-year-old boy.  He can be funny, moody and too smart for his own good by half.  For as long as I have known him he has been afraid of…well most everything.  I am not going to get into who or why this happened, mostly because it matters very little in the big picture.

There have been so many things that he has either stopped or not even started because he was scared.  I am not going to lie, this has been a large frustration of mine.  I have attempted to get him into different things like sports or other activities he mentioned that he MIGHT like such as skateboarding. I got him the gear and all then…nothing.  Oh well.  Such as life, right?  I came to a point where I was not going to push it anymore.  I knew it was not going to be best for him to try to push into stuff beyond his comfort zone until he was ready. 

Fast forward a year or so.  I bought a new-to-me Harley.  When I showed a picture of it to the Boy he said that he thought it was so awesome.  I asked him if he wanted to ride on it when I got it.  He said, “maybe.”  This was about what I was expecting he would say.  He always says “maybe” if he thinks “no” will hurt the other person’s feelings.  Like I said, he is a great kid!  I told him that he is welcome to join me if he wanted to. 

A few days before I brought the bike home, I decided to check in with him and see if he was still at a “maybe”.  He said that he thinks that It would be a lot of fun to ride but he was scared.  I told him that it was ok.  I asked what about it was scaring him.  He said that he did not want to fall and get hurt.  I told him that if he wanted to ride with me I would teach him how to ride on the back of the bike.  I also told him that if he wanted to ride with me he would always wear both a helmet and proper riding clothes just in case something would happen.  I then told him that I would only ride on the slower side streets until he said that he was comfortable.  He thought about it and said that he would like to try.

We hit the cycle store and he picked out a helmet for himself.  Of course, he picked out a red and black full-face.  The red and black was exactly what I thought he would because these are his favorite colors.  The full face was my call because I wanted him to have the most protection available, heaven forbid something would happen.  Then we ordered matching jacket and gloves for him.  If it is worth doing, it is worth doing all the way, right?

The next week I was able to get the bike home.  The weather was nice-ish (in the upper 30s and no rain).  The bike was not home a few hours and the Boy was all “WHEN CAN WE GO RIDING!?”  I told him when the weather warms a bit more.  I did not want to let his enthusiasm fall flat so I took the opportunity to start teaching him some basic riding safety stuff like how to get on and off the bike, what to do (and NOT do) when he was riding, etc.  I also let him hear what the bike sounded like when it was running.  If you have ever heard most Harley’s run, you know that they can be a bit loud.  The Boy has had a thing against loud noises forever so I wanted him to get used to the sound now so it did not add to his anxiety when it was time to ride.  He jumped a bit when the bike fired, and being a bad dad I have to admit I chuckled a bit.

A few days went by and the mercury finally got about 50 and I decided to give a ride with the boy a try.  I came home from some morning appointments and just mentioned off hand to the boy that I was thinking about taking to bike out to the store and wanted to know if he wanted to join me.  Man-oh-man!  You would have thought that I just gave the kid $1M and every Christmas gift that he had ever asked for all at once.  After he stopped bouncing around like a bunny on PCP I said “so that is a maybe?”  He then snapped back to his 13-year-old self and said “yep, maybe.” 

He got his gear together and mounted the bike as I had taught him. I have to admit that I was a bit proud.  So, after a quick review of the rules of the road we were off.  After about 5 to 10 mins I felt the Boy relax and start to enjoy the ride.  After about 15 mins I asked him how he was doing.  “THIS IS GREAT!”  So, after all his fears and worries, he loved riding with me.  I ask him what his thoughts were about this.  He said that he loved riding and if he was wrong about this, he wanted to start trying other things that he was too afraid of trying.  I told him that was great and that we would work on them together. 

I have to say that this was and is one of those moments of growth that parents live for.  This is the kid that is/was afraid of almost everything in the world because he thought he was going to get hurt.  Now he wants to go and conquer the world.  From this single victory, he has found the courage to face the many other things that he has been to afraid too. 

A lot can be learned from this moment.  I know that there are still many things in my life that I sometimes struggle to find the motivation or energy or even reason to attempt to overcome.  It is so easy for me (and us) to just make excuses why we leave those things unchallenged and/or unchanged.  We can take inspirations from the Boy’s example and step out of our comfort zone and face one thing that we may not normally do.  Maybe it will cause a snowball effect in our lives and all those things that we have been too comfortable or too afraid to do will be next on our “done” list.

As for me, I am going to enjoy our time together with my new Road Dog.  Who knows where the road will take us.  All we do know is that it is going to be an adventure, and we are both looking forward to seeing where it leads.

Cheers!

Bear on the Road

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Nothing To Fear But…Well, Stuff I Guess. Fear And How You What Can Be Done With It.

Fear.  Fear is one hell of a thing.  It can be an amazing motivator, a great preventive and an enlightened educator.  Fear can be the thing that will keep you from getting yourself killed.  Your proto ancestors are proof.  If it was not for fear, when they saw that sabretooth cat they would have said, “oooo kitty, me pet.” instead of “ooo big death kitty, me run now!” (at least after that first time when Augh got eaten, but that is another story).  Fear is also the thing that tells you that MAYBE you should not go down that sketchy looking unlit alley at 3am.  Fear can also be the thing to make you pause to make sure that you have everything in place before doing something.  So, as I said, fear can be a good thing. 

Fear can also be a cruel implement, a method of torcher and destroyer of things never started.  In the wrong hands, fear can me worse than any amount of physical pain.  Some people use fear to maintain control over others.  Fear can also be used to break people down.  If you have been unlucky enough to be in an emotionally or physically abusive relationship you understand this point far too well.  Fear can also stop things in their tracks before they even get started.  So, fear is something to be…well feared, in the wrong hands. 

“Ok Bear, so we all know that fear can be both good and bad.  What it the name of Great Oden’s beard dose that have to do with a blog?”  Well I am glad you asked.  Blogs, like life, can just be affected by fear (Hold on now, hang in there with me.  I promise that I will at least try to make this analogy work).  When I sit down to write, I fear that I will not put out something that is worth reading (I know that, over time, many of you will wish that I had put more time and energy into this fear but that is neither here nor there right now).  In this instant, fear can be a good thing.  It drives me to attempt to put of the best writing that I can.  Fear can also help me choose what topics I choose to cover.  Fear makes me think about how my topic of choice will be received.  There are times where I choose to NOT post on a topic in fear of offending to many people.  No, I do not conceder this pandering or compromising honesty or integrity.  This blog is not here to troll, stir the pot or get people spun up…not most of the times anyway. 

Fear too can also be the death of a blog.  There have been many times that I wanted to start this blog but did not out of fear.  What if no one likes my writing? What if I sound like an idiot?  What is no one even reads my blog?  Or worse, what is people DO read it?  In these ways, fear stopped me dead.  I had to come to a point where I wanted it more then I feared it.  And when I feared it more, I had to just gut it through and do it anyway. 

“Good job Bear!  We just spent the last few minutes reading your ramblings about fear.  Now what in the Sam Hill does this have to do with us and our lives?!”  Well…a lot!  What I want you, my lovely and amazing readers, to take away from this short “rambling” is simple.  Fear can either mold you are control you.  It will make you better or make you into nothing.  It is all in how you choose to react to it.  If I allow fear to stop me from blogging (or other things that I enjoy and are passionate about), then I have allowed fear to destroy my ideas and dreams.  BUT if I harness fear and use it to hone me, as steel is used to hone a blade, then fear becomes a very useful and almost necessary tool.  In the end, the choice is mine, and also yours.

Cheers!

Bear on the Road

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