Our most recent reason for hating this old farmhouse was this weekend, when the February cold froze our water pipes, despite our best efforts at avoiding the adventure. It’s not that I don’t like old-fashioned, because, as you probably know by know, I’m a bit partial to it (though I don’t always know it myself). But when the kitchen sink pipes remained stubbornly frozen for three days, and when I had JUST caught them up over the weekend, I wasn’t about to be kept from staying on top of that clean sink by the mere lack of running water. No, not I. I may not be much of a housekeeper, but I AM stubborn.

Off I marched, bucket in hand, to that new bathtub. Back I trudged to the kitchen, once it was full, to dump it into the sink. Then some trips for rinse water.

It was then that I realized that all other reading needs to be suspended so that I can reread the Little House on the Prairie books, because, my friends, I am living on the frontier in a house only slightly better than their cabin.

OK, that’s an exaggeration. And when I read the note on the shower wall, courtesy of Small Fry’s Crayola bathtub crayons, “Sometimes I feel like I let you down with this house,” I realized that the problem lies in me. This house is just that – a house. We make it our home by the efforts we put in it. Love it or hate it, it’s ours. We might have to cart water to the kitchen to do dishes, but we can revel in the old-fashioned line drying in the summertime, because there’s no Home Owners Association to forbid it. Yeah, I could do this all day – listing what we hate and countering with what we should be thankful for instead. It wouldn’t change the fact, though. We hate this house.

As my mother would say, “Join the club.” Every house – just like every person – has its special features. Some breathe a little too hard and let in the winter gales. Others have a hard time staying quiet and they creak all night long. There are the houses that inspire great works of art, and the houses that serve as refuge for those wandering souls who just need a fleecy blanket and a warm cuppa. There are vacation homes and model homes, and mine is neither.

Whatever romantic notions you have about old farmhouses, I have to say I can’t help sharing them. As long as I don’t have to live them.

And that makes me furrow my brow, dear friend, because I know a lot of Catholics who are that way. Do we have a tendency to be a conditional sort of being, we humans? We’ll love it, IF. We’ll do it, IF. We’ll obey, IF. Is there ever not an IF? Do we ever just trust and listen?

As for me, no. I’m trying, and if doing dishes the old old-fashioned way, carting water across my house and being reminded to pray for those who don’t have the luxury of ANY water is my nudge, then I should be thanking God, not griping about how I hate my house.