Home repair and misplaced anxiety


How often does something going wrong create a phantom pain of sorts for you?

I’m thinking of those times when you encounter a problem, an issue, a repair need… whatever… and potentially as a direct result, you find yourself fearing a repeat.

Let’s say you’re driving your car. You hear a noise. You bring it to the shop and get the muffler replaced. No more noise.

Another time, the car won’t start and you bring on the jumper cables. After getting it running, you take it out on a long drive that day, and over the next few days it appears to be starting without issue.

In the first case, the problem was identified and repairs made. Chances are good, with no noise and the issue identified, that from the first feet out of the service station you are no longer getting into the car wondering if the muffler is failing. But in the second, you never replaced the battery or checked the alternator. Just a jumpstart got it moving again. Even if you could identify something like leaving your lights on as the cause, in this situation you might find every turn of the key met with a deep breath and crossed fingers.

The general idea is that whether the car, the house, or anything in particular, when you come across something that isn’t doing what it’s supposed to do… when something happens that isn’t supposed to happen… there are circumstances that seem to cause few lingering worries while others create ongoing fears.

Light doesn’t turn on, likely a dead bulb, replace with new bulb, light turns on, done.

Strange storm brings wind and ice and snow and assorted fun, ice dams form on roof backing up water into the ceilings including some lovely discoveries in light fixtures, clean up problems and weather breaks with no lingering problems discovered, every forecast involving the slightest amount of moisture triggers concerns and horrible thoughts of ice dams and electrical issues and the house burning down.

A few months ago, Terry and I began noticing signs of some critters in the yard. Spots with digging and holes and such all over the place. One evening, after the sun had set, I walked onto the deck in the back of our house and looked across the yard. Off in a far corner, where the spotlights were fading a bit due to distance, movement. Grab a flashlight… careful, careful, no noise and slow movements back onto the deck… thank goodness careful and thank goodness plenty of distance between edge of deck and the corner of the yard because… skunk. In addition to our new friend the identified skunk, we felt pretty certain an unidentified raccoon had been enjoying the overnight service window of the available buffet offered by our bird feeders.

The feeders were emptied and then brought inside for storage. I walked around the yard, checked out some things like our shed, and sealed up access points. Over time, the signs of visitors disappeared. Still… on any evening… I turn on spotlights, grab a flashlight, and check things out quite carefully before moving in any direction away from the house.

It’s a weird sensation created by certain developments. Consider a drainage ditch out along the front edges of a property. And your first reaction, especially if you’ve never lived in a house with such a feature in the yard, might just be to wonder why you would consider it at all. That said…

The first time you see it completely filled and moving a strong current of water, try following that sight with not considering it any and every time it rains. Impossible.

I suppose the peace of mind develops from the cause and correction… the pairing of both, the balance if you will… where being able to know both what is wrong and that the proper corrections have been made assists in completing the entire process. For most of us, if both sides aren’t completed, the anxieties spread. (Kind of clearing the ear worms so to speak, where once part of a song gets in your head, often the only release from repetitive purgatory comes from listening to the entire song.)

Friend of mine had a very slow oil leak in a very old car years ago. His potential solutions for the issue included repairs for which a very costly estimate had been provided… as in, dollars at a level above and beyond the value of his car. His eventual solution for the problem was a case of oil in the trunk, a pan under the leaking area every evening when he parked it in his driveway, and checking things out with the dipstick every morning before starting it. He dealt with the problem all the time, but managed to get several more months out of the car while he saved whatever he could—including the dollars that would have gone into a repair—to make his purchase of a replacement.

Funny note for that story? He keeps two bottles of oil and a couple of tools in a kit he stores in the truck of every car he’s owned since. One older experience constantly influencing the new.

Different friend of mine was having horrendous electrical issues with his car. He claims that AAA had even told him no more tows for electrical issues on that car level of horrendous. To this day he remains at the extreme sides of peculiar and quirky with his habits of checking his vehicle for any and all electrical usage.

I’ve been thinking of putting the bird feeders back out. Colder weather is coming, I enjoy watching the birds, and I like thinking that our efforts help them out a bit when food is scarce. Tonight though, I need to grab a flashlight and head out on the deck. I want to make sure that previous visitor is gone for good before I reopen the buffet.


If you have any comments or questions, please e-mail me at Bob@inmybackpack.com