Houses And Other Needy Things

ToasterOvenThe toaster oven died this morning.

Now, I realize that is a minor annoyance for most people.  After all, if you’re used to having a toasted bagel in the morning, being forced to have a cold bagel instead is not a great way to start off a hectic workday, but it is not a crisis situation.

However, in my case, this is just one more setback in our already unsteady financial situation.

I blame it all on the dog and my mother.

After having to replace our hazardous front porch last year, we were digging out financially and holding our own, when the 12-year-old dog became ill and had to be put down.  It took over $1,000 of our minimal savings, by the time we took him to the emergency vet, had x-rays, then ultimately had to have him euthanized and cremated.  I don’t regret the cost – we loved that dog, and his ashes are currently residing in a place of honor in our living room.

But then, my elderly mother became seriously ill, necessitating two overnight trips to visit her in the hospital and the nursing home, which were in a town a couple of hundred miles away.  I don’t have credit cards, so all expenses for the overnight stays had to be paid in cash.  Not a lot of money, and again, I am glad I went,  because my mother died while I was with her – and I would have been devastated had I not been able to spend those last few days with her.

The little devil in my brain has been whispering that if my dog and my mother had not died, none of the following would have happened:

The dryer broke and could not be repaired, and the washer began showing signs that it would soon be suffering death throes, so it made sense to replace both of them at the same time – another $850.

Were we done then?

Nope, the microwave died – that was only $60 because we only use a small tabletop model, and Walmart was having a sale that week.  And the  iron stopped heating – another $30.

Meanwhile, it turned out that my mom did, in fact, have a very small estate, and the executor made a distribution of about $2,000 to each sibling.

OK, so the cost of vet bills, the hotel stays, the washer & dryer, the microwave, and the iron were pretty much covered.

Wouldn’t you think fate would be satisfied?


The smaller dog got sick and we had to take her to a doggie specialist 85 miles away – $105 (that vet gave us a break because we had traveled so far to see him).

fishThe filter on the fish tank failed – $40.  I suppose I could have let the fish die since they’re only guppies, but heck, they’re still living creatures, right?  And I did save them from being “feeder fish” at the pet store.  And it’s so cute when every single one of them comes to the top of the tank when they know it’s near feeding time.

The weather got chilly, and the furnace croaked out.  We had three different reputable contractors tell us that not only did the furnace need to be replaced, but since the hot water tank was just as old and could leak at any time (thereby flooding the basement and ruining the new furnace and the new washer/dryer), it would be best to replace that, too.  In the process of replacing these items, it was discovered that we needed a dedicated electrical line for the hot water tank.  And then, it was discovered that the main water shut-off to the house was corroded, about to go, and had to be taken care of immediately.

Total by the time that was all completed?  About $4,800.

Done yet?  Not on your life.


It rained, and rained, and rained.  The ceiling in the master bedroom began to leak.

Granted, when we moved into the house almost 20 years ago, the home inspector told us we had about 5 years left on the roof.  So we were 15 years over that estimate.

And the roof had to be done NOW, before winter set in.  Every single contractor we called said that because we already had several layers on the roof and there were now holes, the roof could not be repaired – it would have to be a total tear-down and re-roof.

The first estimates came in at between $6,200 and $8,000 (thank God it’s a small house).  But we didn’t  have $6,200-$8,000.  So we shopped around.

We were already into Fall, and here in Buffalo, NY, snow can come really early.  I cringed every time it got windy or looked like rain.

Finally, we found a young, recently established roofer who had an A+ rating with the Better Business Bureau.  He was able to do the roof for $4,600 and got it all done in ONE DAY by bringing in 10 men to do the work.

I had to borrow $1,200 from a relative to meet the cost of the roof.

OK, so now we’ve GOTTA be done, right?

Nope, my car developed:  (1) first, a flat tire, and (2) transmission issues.  Thank heavens, the tire could be patched (only $15), and the transmission repairs were covered by the warranty.

So – NOW we’re done?

Nope, the toaster oven died this morning.


EmergencyFundI’m almost afraid to go home after work today.  There are still a few items in my house that haven’t been repaired or replaced in the last few months.  I don’t want to jinx myself by telling you what they are.

And Christmas is coming, as is tax season.

And – I still have to pay Cordelia for all her blogging advice.  Thank heavens she lets me pay her with food and drink!


ADDENDUM:  Immediately after scheduling the above for publication (and I mean, within days), I was driving home on a dark, rainy night and ran over something I couldn’t see, shredding another tire.  New tire$170.  Please — am I done yet?


As always, I love to hear from my readers.  You may either comment on this post, or email me at


Images by:  j valas images, and Alice Chaos, and Mark Purcell, and SalFalko, respectively

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10 Responses to Houses And Other Needy Things

  1. Abby says:

    Yup. When it rains, it pours, and then your umbrella breaks, the leaf rooks and your basement usually floods. It sucks, and being a single homeowner myself, I can relate to all of these things all too well. Sorry that you’re in such a rough patch, but on the bright side, things can only get better? 😉


    • One would hope so. The good part, at least, was that we did, in fact, have the cash for the repairs and hopefully will be able to re-build our emergency fund before the next emergency (knock on wood). Thanks so much for reading!


  2. ouch, sounds painful, 1014 will be better!


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