Before we were retired my wife and I outsourced a decent portion of our maintenance and upkeep needs around the house. With both of us working we did not have the time or the inclination to dedicate those precious few hours of freedom the weekend afforded to pursuits other than leisure. We had a gardener who took care of everything from lawn mowing to plant pruning to all around fertilizing. A team came once a month to do deep cleaning and dusting around the home. And if anything went wrong with an appliance or we encountered other home issues, we promptly called a repairman to come to our rescue. My philosophy was always leaving it to the experts although we were occasionally shocked by what seemed lofty fees for service rendered.
These days things are different. I have time to do more than I did while I was employed – a lot more. Rather than give in to the knee jerk response to call someone to bail us out, I am learning to explore what I might be able to do to remedy the situation. I have come to realize if you are not sure how to fix something Google can often light the way. Best of all I am discovering a previously unknown curiosity about the inner workings of things manmade as well as those in nature’s realm.
Did you ever watch the show MacGyver? The times I tuned in I was always impressed and sometimes amazed when he made something out of nothing to save the day. My concoctions may not be so lifesaving but it still feels good to combine miscellaneous odds and ends you find around the house into a fix for some problem.
Had the pre-retirement me noticed curling leaves on a rose plant my first reaction would have been to call the gardener and trust him to make it better. These days I am the gardener. If there is a problem it is up to me to solve it. I am learning the basics of fertilizing for our numerous rose bushes as well as how to deal with the omnipresent gophers that feast on any plant not protected by a wire mesh tightly wrapped around its roots. I am now able to maintain as well as modify the drip irrigation system that frugally waters the vegetation. We are even going to try our luck at growing a few vegetables from seeds. If all goes well our salads will soon include fresh off the vine heirloom tomatoes grown from seeds – how cool is that!
Although I grew up in high tech I have never really been the guy who got all the pieces to work happily together. There was always an IT guy or I enlisted the aid of a knowledgeable son or daughter to handle the details. Since there are no longer IT guys in our life and we now live at least an hour from our nearest child it is time to start doing more myself. I upgraded my iPhone yesterday, something I dreaded. Prior experience has shown nothing seems to migrate painlessly from the old to the new. True to form I lost a bunch of my contacts, the songs I had loaded from CDs were nowhere to be found, and I lost my Back in Black ringtone. Never fear said the new Dave. I Googled how to do various transfers and got the contacts (most of them) where I need them. AC/DC is back alerting me to incoming calls. And although I never figured out how to automatically transfer the songs I still got it done the old fashion way by reloading CDs onto my laptop. That wonderful feeling of satisfaction when my phone was just as I wanted it was worth the effort. And I did it all myself.
Taking on more responsibility to keep things running smoothly on the home front gives me a sense of accomplishment and independence. Instead of waiting in dread fearing the next predicament I find myself happy to take a shot at fixing whatever might come along. I accept I have limitations and as a rule leave anything to do with electricity to the experts. And if I cannot figure out a reasonable solution, I dig up the number of the local repair person. But first I step to the plate and take a swing or two.
In retirement we have the luxury of free time. Taking on little things like home repairs can offer a level of control in a world where we seem to have less and less influence. I may not be able to run those miles like I used to but I can sure figure out what it takes to have a magazine cover worthy garden. I may not be quite as quick when it comes to understanding the latest tech gizmo but I have faith I can remedy that squeaking door. I cannot do it all and honestly I don’t want to. But I can take a shot at fixing problems as they arise, give it my best MacGyver and maybe get it done. And when I get it done I have another line item to add to my growing retirement resume.