Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Life on the (Funny) Farm by Cathy Lee Carper

Cathy Carper, who usually writes under the pen name Lee Carper, is an author who is working on her first manuscript in a planned series about a serial killer investigation team. She holds degrees in social work and pre-med/biology, with a focus on profiling and forensics.  For the past three years, Cathy was a judge for the Thriller Awards, a prestigious award given by International Thriller Writer’s Organization (ITW), and has attended numerous conferences where she continues to learn about the craft of writing.  Cathy was a member of a police  advisory board, and wrote several articles for a local newspaper.  She is an avid reader, writes reviews and critiques manuscripts for fellow writers, and has at one time or another been a member of Mystery Writers Of America, International Thriller Writers, and Sisters In Crime, as well as several writer/reader sites. 

Cathy has three adult children and many animals. She resides in the beautiful state of Vermont.

Life on the (Funny) Farm
by Cathy Lee Carper

For those who know me, you know I’m rarely at a loss for words.  Well brace yourself… this time is no different.  Ha, bet you thought I was going to say I can’t come up with a topic, right?  Wrong, quite the opposite.  I have so many topics swimming in my head, narrowing them down is proving difficult.  Although, in the interest of self-disclosure, I should warn you I have more than topics swimming in my head… I have voices competing for attention in there too.  Just kidding, but only slightly.  Due to a compressed nerve in my neck, I have enough narcotics on board to medicate an entire patient population of a surgical center.    

Last year I blogged about my strange neighborhood , and now that I’ve moved again, I was tempted to write about my new neighborhood -which amazingly enough, is even stranger than my last neighborhood- but then decided against that topic as I don’t need repercussions if a neighbor “meandered and mused” his or her way onto this blogsite.  These appear to be folks you don’t want to make angry.       
So.  Moving right along… going through the house-selling process almost always means having to fix up a few things.  Um, yeah.  In retrospect – just for giggles, mind you (more like nightmares) - I wish I’d kept a diary of my days at the old homestead.  Thought I’d show you a sample of how it would’ve worked:
Cathy’s Diary:

DAY 1)  We’re here!  What an awesome place.  Can’t wait to swim in pool!  Have decided to nick-name house THE SHANGRI-LA. 

DAY 2)  Pot-bellied pig continues to escape off leash tied to tree.  Fence company contacted.

DAY 3)  Fence installed.  $5,537.40  Whew… good to have that done!  Tomorrow’s errand: Go to bank and transfer funds.

DAY 4)  Upstairs toilet spraying water all over walls and floor (and me).  Plumber contacted.

DAY 5)  Plumber fixed toilet.  $150  Whew… good to have that done!  Better call dad and borrow some money.      

DAY 6)  Went for first swim in pool.  Noticed a funny crack in cement.  Pool company contacted.

DAY 7)  Pool leak fixed.  $1,500 (Hello, dad?)  At least everything is fixed, so now I can finally relax and enjoy my Shangri-La.    

DAY 8)  Have to pound palm over and over onto thermostat to get gas fireplace running.  Broke a blood vessel in my hand.  Electrician called. 

DAY 9)  Electrician came.  Replaced thermostat, but the dude stated all outlets need to be converted to “ground fault” (hmmm… I’m thinking as a backup plan, I should keep the outlets “as is” in case I want to stick a metal fork in there).  But no, poor sense prevailed, and I allowed him to replace all outlets.  $600         

DAY 10)  Downstairs toilet overflowed.  Plumber contacted.

DAY 11)  Plumber came.  He diddled with a couple of pipes (I would’ve liked to diddle a pipe right over his head).  $150 He states I should contact septic company.  SAY WHAT?  (I knew I’d need that metal fork!) 

DAY 12)  Septic guy came, pumped tank.  $350 (time to call dad again)  

… blah blah blah (more of same)

DAY 975)  Failed septic inspection.  Septic system replaced.  $7,600  (Hello, Bank?  Is this the loan department?).  Shangri-La has been flushed down the toilet.  I’ve now nick-named this h*ll-hole, THE MONEY PIT.         

DAY 976)  Failed heater downstairs, cannot be fixed.  New heater installed.  $2,200 (er… um… it’s me again, Dad)

DAY 977)  Awoke to flood in downstairs bathroom.  Ceiling caved in.  Assuming pipe has burst.     Plumber called (time for a glass of Cabernet Savignon).  Plumber came.  Said pipes were fine and problem appears to be a leak from roof.  Roofer called.  (decided to bag my wine glass and drink directly from bottle)

DAY 978)  Roofer states I need new roof.  (darn… I’m out of wine)     

DAY 979) For-sale sign placed on front  lawn

                                                                      End of Diary

Amazingly enough, other than the rapid succession of each event, the above depiction is accurate of my experience.   Worse, is during the “blah blah blah” phase, so many more things required fixing or replacing.  In the interest of time (and saving ya’ll from boredom) I decided not to list the myriad of other problems, but there were plenty.

I think what almost irked me more than the house falling apart, was being dissed by service people.  Makes me wonder how they stay in business.  The following is a great example.  Let’s refer to the electrician as “Sparky”.  By the way, this was a new electrician, as the one who replaced my fireplace thermostat was no longer in business.  Okay, Sparky came to the house to check things out, and said he’d get back to me in a couple of days with an estimate.  You know where this is going, right?  You’re right… I heard nothing.  After giving him a couple more days, I called and left a message.  Again, nothing.  The third time… still nothing.  It had now been about a month, so I finally got in touch with the person who referred Sparky, and that person did eventually get through.  Turns out Sparky neglected to let folks know he had been taking a couple of weeks off for (get this) DEER HUNTING - *rolling the eyes* -  at this point, it was clearly time to find another electrician.  He was my second one, so in the end, I went through three electricians.  I also had a parade of plumbers, lawn-mowers, snow-plowers (I don’t think that’s a word, but it sounds good - *giggle*), and who knows what else.  Selective amnesia I suppose.  Last but not least, don’t even get me started on the cable company (which by the way, I’d considered dedicating an entire blog-article to my cable company - *ARGH!*). 

In retrospect, the absurdity of how many things went wrong in only three short years, is really quite hilarious.  I tried to maintain a sense of humor throughout, and for the most part, did manage to pull it off.  The rest of the time however, was a real thrash.

I can now happily report I’m in a new place, and so far so good.  Let’s hope the only diary I might keep these days, would have page after page filled with fun times. 


vtnana42 said...

As Cathy's mom, I can attest to the facts as being absolutely true! It was quite the expensive three years, and, in addition, she has dealt with (and still is) various situations with vehicles. Perhaps another blog Sweetie?!?

Kaye Wilkinson Barley - Meanderings and Muses said...

Cathy - Welcome!!!! Somehow I just knew I could count on you to make my laugh out loud. And you never disappoint. Now, listen to your Mom and tell us about the vehicle(s) situation, please.


jenny milchman said...

Yikes! Yes, this is why I came to my sense about the lovely new/old (and I do mean old, like Revolutionary War old) place we could've gotten for a song, right on a creek, and not too far from our kids' school--when my husband said: You have a book coming out. Maybe we shouldn't divide our focus.

Thanks for seconding him! And best of luck in the new place!

Warren Bull said...

Experiences like that are enjoyed more after the fact.

Cynthia said...

I got such a good laugh while reading this. Talk about a money pit! Cathy did well with this. Most wouldn't show the composure she has.

cathy said...

Thanks ya'll. As my mom said, I could write a blog all about vehicles too - suffice it to say, my son goes through cars (MINE) more than most people go through cups of coffee in the morning. One time he was so desperate to get rid of his car that he actually put a helmet on and PURPOSEFULLY slammed his car into a tree, claiming he was avoiding a deer (totaled the car). Thankfully he wasn't hurt, but for gosh sakes, he actually crashed it on purpose just to get the money (and he was on MY insurance too). He has gone through 4 or 5 cars in about 3 years. It's become a running joke in the family now - don't loan him your car or something is bound to go wrong.

Beth Anderson said...

Oh, Cathy, and I thought I had it bad with my house, which I'll be putting up for sale soon. Never a dull moment or lack of extreme aggravation when you're trying to fix up a Money Hole house and everything needs fixing or replacing (pick the most expensive choice, which for me was always replacing). And I found out about teenage boys and cars when I had one of each aeons ago. They're not rational when it comes to cars, ever. Still, you've handled it with your usual humor and I am sitting here smiling. Great blog!

cathy said...

LOL... thanks, Beth. Yes, it was the same in my case as well - all the things that needed replacing were the expensive ones, like the new septic system (that one was mega expensive), new heater (couple thousand), new roof - etc etc. The thing that really got me was I'd only lived there less than 3 years, so it wasn't like I even had time to enjoy the place before I was losing money on it. Oh well... as Warren said, it's stuff like this you can enjoy after the fact. I do find humor in the whole thing now, but at the time, it was a bit *challenging* to find humor (or the money!).

cathy said...

Oh, I forgot to thank you guys for your comments - thanks Cynthia, Kaye, and Jenny! I think my blog article would've been much more humorous if not for my stupid neck pain - it was hard to concentrate. Kaye... I begged out of being the Bouchercon virtual hostess with the mostess last year since I was judging one of the book contests. Am doing that again this year too, so my guess is I won't have time to do the B'con thing again - which is too bad because I had fun doing that.