Some problems are like sawmill gravy. I learned to make gravy from my Mom. We are a family fed on classic Southern cooking. (Alabama – The Heart of Dixie – Southeast USA) Momma told me (several times) the story of a couple who were making gravy for the first time. They discovered the problem with sawmill gravy. The combination of heat, flour, and milk can keep a simple pan of gravy growing exponentially. This couple was caught into a sawmill gravy catastrophe. They called a friend to see if it could be canned. It kept growing!
This past week I had one of these catastrophes. Catastrophic thinking is a distortion that gives you the feeling that this the worst thing that could happen. The more you think about it, the bigger it gets. My example started with a broken water heater. Money spent. New water heater didn’t produce any hot water. Another cold shower. Water pours under the house. Plumber. Estimates. More issues with water. Termites. I am ready to blow the house up!
Frustration over problems kicks catastrophic thinking into high gear. In my example, our water problems grew by the hour for two days. Leaks were springing up in several places where many non-professional patch jobs had been. It became apparent that we need to have the house replumbed. That started a process of making more decisions. Each decision came with fears from others (NEGATIVE STUFF!). I honestly thought that a bulldozer was the best solution.
It is easy to see how the negatives can pile up, but where are the positives? The water heater went out, but we were able to replace it with an improved model that should not cause the little annoying problems the old one gave us. Two days of cold showers didn’t kill me. We had a leak at the water heater, but the plumber found that the wrong materials were used in the installation which may have led to the old one to go out and he fixed it. This led to the discovery of a leak under the house. The plumber could easily see that the water lines to the sink were one of my Dad’s “fixes” that were not put together with proper plumbing materials, but the leak was stopped temporarily. During the time the plumber was here we made the decision that all of the old pipe and the nonprofessional “fixes” throughout the system could be replaced rather inexpensively and stop the nightmares of leaks that my 80-year-old Dad was trying to solve himself. The ground would be dry, and we could stop further termite damage. The gray water system was practically not a system and was dumping water from the washing machine on the ground right at the foundation and from the sink through a pipe on top of the ground. The men in this family didn’t try to make that work, so I added the gray water repair to the list. With all of the work being scheduled we voted to replace the septic tank that was hand built when the house was built in the 1930s. It has been a headache and for decades, and “fixed” by the same two guys who were jacking around making repairs with tape on the plumbing. If I throw out all of the negatives that were this catastrophe, I can see so many positives that will save the house from crumbling down. For the first time in my lifetime, I can see this old house become a real home. It could not be insured as anything but a barn previously. The guys were afraid of the water to both houses being cut off or this house being condemned. With their shoddy “fixes,” they knew their work wouldn’t pass muster. I counted eleven positives which include my guys feeling better about themselves for their messy work.
My catastrophe will cost some money but will prolong the demise of this charming little place where so many of my family and extended family lived through the years. That’s a giant positive!