Saturday, April 19, 2008

The Stiner Family Compound

I love owning a house and I love our home. It is a huge responsibility and one I do not take lightly. As I said in a drbism, a home, "...puts a roof over your head and shelters you from the wind, sun, rain and snow. Your home is your haven and respite from the rest of the world. Make it what you want, take care of it, and keep it clean. Because, the more you love your home, the more it loves you back."

It's true, trust me I have learned over the last five years, owning a home is a lot of hard work. However, with the responsibility, the care, the work, comes a wonderful sense of freedom. Beth and I, and hopefully soon Omar, all get to have a hand in molding our home into a nourishing, nurturing haven. Putting in the hard work means I know I will always come home to a place that is both cared for and uniquely matches the personalities of my family and I. It means I will always be welcomed home, not just by the people, but by the home itself.

With that in mind, since we have moved in, Beth and I have put in a lot of work making our house a beautiful home. It's nothing fancy, in fact its quite modest - we are middle class, middle priced everything (I am a strong believer in buying quality, mid-priced consumer goods - appliances, furniture - if you take care of them, they last a long, long time, and you don't need to buy things over and over). Three bedrooms, 1200 square feet, some would call it small. I think its perfect. I think it's perfectly us.

In fact, I pride myself on doing most of our house and landscaping projects. Inside our house, along with Beth, I have installed light fixtures, wired our music system, replaced the screen door and made countless small repairs to walls doorknobs and lord knows what else. And recently, with much trepidation, I helped Beth replace our sink faucets.

Outside, I have erected a cactus house, set up compost bins, planted dozens of trees, bushes, shrubs and cacti, installed patio misters, painted our pool and made dozens of repairs to the pool filter and our sprinkler systems. I have potted, repotted, and cultivated a huge collection of both indoor and outdoor plants. With Beth's occasional assistance, I do all the pool maintenance and yard work myself and, last fall, I planted our first garden.

And, I love doing it! Sitting still never came easy for me and I turn my energy into productive projects to make our house and yard more beautiful. I mostly enjoy the outdoor projects; sometimes I feel like a farmer working his land and jokingly refer to our backyard as "The Stiner Family Compound".

I sometimes think, if Beth and I ever move, to another house or another city, it would be quite hard to leave our house, especially our backyard - I love our full green yard, and, like I am now, love sitting on the back patio with a drink, listening to the birds chirp along to the music streaming from the house, my eyes wandering around the yard, absorbing the energy and life I have helped cultivate. I like knowing I have created a special place to live.

The potential downside is I get so caught up in the doing, I miss the enjoying. There is always one more project, always one more little thing that will make our home more perfect.

A good example is for the last month or so I have been working diligently on replacing the broken valves for our automatic irrigation system. Oh my goodness, what a devilishly frustrating project. It has involved several trips back and forth to Lowe's, digging with my hands through three inches of muddy water while on my hands and knees, along with figuring out the wiring system and sawing and replacing PVC pipe - which, by the way resulted in purple (the primer) gluey hands.

The worst part is, after a month of neglecting relaxation time, all my hard work has been for naught - the damn thing still doesn't work! Ugh! So, I finally broke down and called a professional. I am so remiss to pay someone to do work on our house, especially work I think I can do, but really, I was left with no choice. If I hadn't decided to give up, I wouldn't be enjoying my cocktail while writing this blog post - I have missed enough relaxation working on this project, it was time to be done!

I don't exactly know what's going to happen to my obsession with house and yard work when we get Omar. Part of me wants to get big projects, like the sprinkler valves, out of the way before Omar arrives, so I don't have to worry about it.

Another part of me thinks it will be fun to have Omar by my side, having him help in the care and creation of our home. I want to show him how to plant a cactus or how to drill a hole. I want get messy with him and laugh with him, and share every part of life with him, the fun and the work!

I guess only time will tell. Who knows if he will even have any interest at all in getting dirty in the yard. Maybe he won't even view our house in the same way I do. It doesn't really matter, because like anything and anyone we welcome into our home, person, animal, plant, we will do our best to love him, care for him and let him become whatever he decides to become.

Taking care of our home has given me practice at cultivating life. If all this work means I am better prepared to care for Omar, it has been well worth it, a thousand times worth it. It might seem a silly comparison, but like a little tree we water and fertilize and protect, we will apply our love to help Omar grow tall, strong, healthy and independent. That kind of work seems easy.

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