Ken, the builder, risking life and limb to inspect the state of our roof.

As I sat watching The Nanny and eating my salad, the lights flickered and the power went out. Five minutes later, it went back on. That’s weird, I thought to myself. It’s windy, but it’s always windy here. I took another bite of my salad and got back into the show. The power went out again.

This had been going on for about a week. I began to think our house might burn down around our ears while we were sleeping. I finally called the power company and our electrician, Chris. They both had bad news: it would cost between $5,000 and $10,000 to repair it properly.

You might remember number one on my bucket list: “Get my dream kitchen.” I felt it slipping away from me as Chris explained that the electrical box was toast.

The next afternoon—frustrated—I drove to Washington Federal to visit the loan officer. “Hi, Colleen? My name is Marie. We’re thinking of bulldozing our house down and starting over. Can you loan us a crap load of money and change our current mortgage to a 30-year loan? We’re in our forties.” I’m sure she thought I was on crack.

She replied, “Well, we’ve made 30-year loans to people in their seventies. Tell me what you’re interested in and I’ll see what we can do.”

“First off, I need a new kitchen. I’ve been stuck in that little hole in the wall for almost fifteen years. Then, there’s the 1955 vintage radiant heat panels in the ceiling that are all cracked and dog-ugly. There are three failed windows left that we haven’t been able to replace yet. Our master bathroom has no hot water, a bare concrete floor, and the sink is leaking. We need a new roof, new siding, and new electrical. And that’s all just for starters.” Wow. I am complaining. There is no other word for it. I just made it through almost four years now after being diagnosed with Stage III locally-advanced breast cancer and instead of rejoicing from the rooftops, I am complaining. Profusely.

Next, it was time to call the contractor. “Hi, Ken, thanks for coming over to give us your expertise.” My husband and I walked him through our fixer-upper. “First of all, we’d like to know which option we should go with: bulldoze the whole thing and start over or remodel this half so that we can get a proper kitchen in here?”

Great news: The contractor does not think our house needs to be bulldozed over. His exact words were, “The house has great bones.” I guess it’s just this homeowner that needs an attitude adjustment.