I think the theme for these times in my life is “marathon, not a sprint.”

When we bought the house, a couple of years ago, they warned us that the wiring was aluminum in our area when the house was built, and that aluminum wiring can be problematic for a host of problems. It can even be a fire hazard (such a comfort when you’re buying a house with wood siding.) We got an estimate on mitigation, and yesterday, we started the process of replacing it.

It’s expensive and time consuming, so we’re planning to do it in stages. Yesterday, I asked them to start with Mom’s portion of the house (my part is an addition, with less to mitigate because of changing standards.) But I asked them to take a quick look at the ceiling fan in the living room, before they started.

The fan is high on a vaulted ceiling, and I’m willing to replace light bulbs, but I don’t mess with wiring. It worked when we inspected the house, but not when we moved in. The previous owner had the elderly neighbor electrician who had installed it come by at the previous owner’s expense. Dude came by 9 times, alone and with a helper. He’d come by and then would say it was too hot to work up there and he’d have to come back. He’d come by and drink coffee with my mom and make snarky remarks about whether she’d made progress unpacking. My mother hated him. On the 9th time, he replaced the ceiling fan with a new one.

That was fine— it totally worked for the rest of that summer (it was early September by the time he replaced it) and into early July of last summer, and then it quit. I tried replacing the batteries in the remote, but with no luck.

There was no way I was calling the elderly neighbor again (I think the previous owner told me he’d spent more than $800 “fixing it” before they ultimately replaced it). I’ve thought of hiring a handyman to mess with it, but if it’s a wiring problem, I want to establish and resolve that.

So I asked the wiring guys just to establish that. They also have to look at every switch and outlet in the whole house and trace all of the wiring, in what could be four days of work, so I didn’t want or expect them to spend a lot of time on it, just to tell me whether I needed a new fan or their mitigation services on the existing one.

Instead, one of the two guys spent almost the whole day on it. Went and bought a new battery, went and bought a new receiver/remote combo. Up and down the extension ladder.

During this time, my mother wouldn’t fix food or eat in front of them, so by the time I came home early, a little after 4, she hadn’t had lunch (possibly not breakfast either.) This makes me so crazy. I offered, then and there, to make her something. “There’s absolutely no reason for you to pass out,” I said. She said no, she’d make herself a sandwich after they left. I said that I was going to be working on making food in the kitchen anyway— it would be nothing for me to make her something. She said no, she thought they were packing up. I did proceed to make salads in the kitchen for two hours before they left, and an hour in, I brought her a plate of cheese and crackers. I’d have brought her more, but her eating lunch at 6:15 when I planned to serve dinner by 7 seemed silly.

I don’t know if the problem was that them seeing her eat would make her self-conscious, or if she thought she’d need to offer them food if she made something for herself, but this way of thinking makes me so crazy. When I was a kid, dinner would be ready and the phone would ring. It would be long-distance, and she’d talk on the phone for hours and the rest of us could not eat until she got off. Or, God forbid, my dad would bring a coworker home for a drink after work. Multiple times it would be 11 p.m., the food would have been in the oven the whole time, and she would not feed us. (My mother’s was not a “serve yourself” kitchen.)

I am, as a result, militantly the other way about it. If you call at dinner time, I’ll either tell you I have to go and will call you after I eat, or say “I hope you don’t mind if I eat while we talk— I’m starving.” If you’re in my house and I need to eat, I’ll say “I hate to be rude, but I haven’t had dinner.” If I have enough to share, I’ll share it with you or offer you something else, or I’ll say that you can stay, if you want, but I’m going to eat. And if I’m feeding someone else, I’ll just excuse myself. I have a rule that the most important person is the one sharing space with you. Followed by someone you’re on the phone with, followed by someone in an electronic space. And I try to behave accordingly. I know I don’t have kids, but I promised myself as a kid that there was no scenario where my kids would find themselves praying for this jerk to leave at 9 p.m. so they could have their dried out, in the oven too long dinner before it was time for bed.

And people we’re paying to work in the house? I don’t object to their being there, but neither of them skipped lunch, so why should she? They didn’t expect her to feed them, and they didn’t expect her to starve. So bizarre.

In other news, I’m getting close on the work project. Close and yet, it doesn’t feel like I’m that close. Technically speaking, we should launch next week. Practically speaking, “done” doesn’t feel like it’s ever going to be a thing.

And Grey Area Guy is back, as of Monday. Working on a big project for work round the clock, so… you know. Not a sprint there, either.


So what do you think?

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