We have replaced the gas line, the sewer line, even the power line. Again spontaneously, the wire from the pole on the street pulled away from the house one day in spectacular fashion.
It snapped, crackled and popped, producing first flames and then a black line across the front yard.
We have been old-fashioned homeowners in that we started by saving money for a down payment.
Two times we chose houses within our means, and we stayed in jobs that let us make those payments. We did our best to take care of our mostly bank-owned castles.
When the mortgage crisis hit a few years ago, it became clear that playing by old-fashioned rules had kept us out of trouble. Living in the state of West Virginia, where values never soared into the stratosphere of make-believe, also was a blessing.
The hard truth about mortgages is that not everybody is suited for one.
If you can't save for a down payment, you might not be up to the monthly obligation or the inevitable plumbing disaster. If little of your hard-earned money is at stake, you might not bother with the maintenance needed to preserve the home's value.
Now our country's policy makers are debating mortgage rules again. The Obama administration is pushing to make home loans available to more people.
Critics, including lenders, are leery. They took a great deal of heat for the recent housing crisis.
The notion that owning a home is part of the American dream can be a dangerous concept in the wrong hands. It can be a nightmare, not a dream, if people reach too far, too soon and find themselves "underwater."
That means you owe more than the home is worth, more than you could sell it for.
You can walk away and say goodbye to your credit rating, negatively affecting many more aspects of your life, or you can remain in the home in a form of indentured servitude.
Although my husband and I never owed more than our house was worth, perhaps we have been slaves to those payments for the last few decades. We certainly paid far more than the asking price after interest was tacked on.
But we're thankful for a happy ending to our "death contract."
Ever the big spenders, we left the bank and celebrated with a fancy coffee for me and a smoothie for him. The cost was about six bucks, far less than a mortgage payment.
Friend is editor and publisher of The Daily Mail. She may be reached at 348-5124 or nan...@