The Handyman and the House

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After a couple of months alone in the house, its interjections of needed repairs have surfaced about ten items.

One of the joys of my recent, “mostly at home” status has been a chance to meet and talk with people who have wide-ranging interests.  Service providers necessary for living alone come and go because I can’t do everything in the house by myself, especially the things that my husband used to deal with—plumbing, carpentry, yard upkeep, etc.   Thankfully, a friend recommended a “handy man” for my list of a dozen needed repairs.

On his first visit, “Handy” was able to check off several things: an exterior door that would not latch (”Did you know someone tried to break in here?”); a drooping cabinet door.  The “fancy” lighting installed by a marginally competent contractor during a major kitchen overhaul is a more complex problem – it appears that there are issues with the fixtures themselves (under counter and track lights). This, along with the plumbing challenges, introduced a needed trip to the hardware store. Another great advantage of my new status is more willingness to say NO to some tasks.  The hardware store was one of my “no’s”. Handy will make that trip on his own, so the completion was postponed until next week.

The most important part of the half repair day was a reversal of the feeling that “things really might not be sustainable” to “this will all have a solution eventually”.

All of this excitement is jumbled in with the housing decision – huge, cluttered house, needs painting, large yard to maintain…isolated in a big city subdivision with lawn moats yielding little to no interaction with neighbors – vs. moving close to family in a much smaller town, smaller house, close knit community. That will come eventually.  I have no idea when yet.

But for now it’s The House And Me… and Handy.

The Holidays

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The Holiday Solution

What do you do for the Holidays?  Without a spouse to help with all the preparations, decoration, cooking, I decided to get away from the house in which we all remember 20 years of Christmas Past. Over the weekend I discovered that the two stunning holiday destinations in the state were already booked for Christmas week (in MAY)… so…after chatting with my two single adult children and getting enthusiastically positive  responses, I booked a 5-day Caribbean Cruise for the immediate family, including my husband’s 92-year-old mother. Both my children have cruised in the past, as has their grandmother, but it will be a new experience for me. A request will be coming for everyone reading this to pray for calm seas when the time comes!

 

A Speeding Ticket

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A week after my husband’s death, my brave 23-year-old daughter went back to school to face a nationally proctored sign language exam, and the usual battery of year-end tests. A month later she received her first moving violation ever – a speeding ticket. Heavy traffic, major interstate highway, slow driver in the far left lane, passing going too fast on the right.  Thank heaven for good friends. One of our long-time family relationships began when our now 30-something sons started soccer at the age of 5 – a team that stayed together through high school, and won the state championship their senior year. The friend’s dad was a lawyer in an organization offering services to member lawyers throughout the state.   He recommended contacting an experienced criminal attorney. That connection proved to be one of the most efficient and effective professional relationships that I have ever enjoyed.  After talking with the officer and prosecutor the attorney was able to have the citation amended to a non-moving violation. No points. In the last two months, I have found myself asking for special consideration in many areas. People have been honest, sincere, and amazingly helpful.  It is leading to a new perspective – less pessimistic, more sincere. What irony.

Starting Again

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My first post in quite a while – and with it a commitment to post every day. Now that most people know my husband has died, some things are easier, and some harder. I find it much easier to just not bring up the topic unless absolutely required. Even with my best efforts, every day has a little “surprise” related to being a new widow. And every day there is yet another thing requiring that I devise a solo inhabitant workaround in the house. The decisions come thick and heavy. Do I keep or sell the house?  Which retirement option do I take: lump sum payout or lifetime monthly income?  Can I afford to buy a newer car that is more appropriate to my life style than a little red sports car with deep (uncomfortable) bucket seats? Do I look actively for a new job or just work on the widowhood project? Things that have helped me cope are a great family , two lovely cats, and a home that is very conducive to contemplative meditation. Work on a curriculum (financial literacy for widows) has also taken on a life of its own, including the possibility of presenting it in a community college setting. More to come – each day.

Interviewing Financial Advisers

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One person that I hope to find is an adviser that is honestly interested in assisting women to take charge of their assets, whether they are financial, real estate, or other property. This would involve some sort of tool that, with a minimum of detailed input, would give the client a good feel for the assets she holds,  their true value, and their liquidity. Then when a decision about purchases, investments, or sales was required, she would be able to make it with a complete picture of what that would mean to her over an extended period of time. If she had to raise cash, she would have already planned for its source, anticipated when those needs might occur, and their true cost in the short and long term. So far, I have met with three different representatives, presenting them with this challenge.  It will be interesting to see what results my search yields!

Finally – Insurance proceeds

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Insurance money has finally arrived! Now I am able to start methodically paying bills and repaying a family loan that helped me through the thirty days while I waited for cash to arrive. Also started is the search for an excellent fee-only financial planner who can help me with a workable and meaningful personal plan.