Wednesday, March 09, 2005

o the drama

So there I was minding my own business at two in the morning. Honest. And Graeme, who had fallen Dead To The World Asleep at 6:30 the evening before woke up. We got some milk and were hanging in the dining room, listening to the rain when I realized that the rain drops weren’t merely falling outside the house, but water was dripping from the celining. Over the bookcase, no less. So once Graeme was settled, I started investigating. First, I called Phillip, hoping to wake him up and have him come over and be The Man and wave his y chromosome about and make it all better. I left a message on his voice mail and continued to try to figure out where in the world the water could be coming from. I continued to call on and off, and as the water spread through the ceiling, the dripping areas multiplying, what was left of my composure began to unravel. In a flash of brilliance, I decided to shut off the water to the house. I grabbed the Mag-light, put on my work boots, and sallied forth in cashmere lounge wear into the morass that is the basement. Now, where the heck is the shut-off valve? Beats me. Phillip showed me once, six years ago, when he had to replace it while we were installing the dishwasher. Clearly the rat’s tangle of pipes weaving about the rafters were no help, and I began to understand why there are men who do this sort of thing for a living and why they are so gainfully employed. I called my dad. Never mind that by then it was after 4; that’s not important right now. I left an apologetic message on his voice mail and made a cup of tea. (When cats are in doubt, they wash; when librarians are in doubt, they make tea. It’s all really about making everyone think you meant to fall off the mantle ledge.) I called Phillip again, found that yup, he was still asleep. I can’t remember if I left a message or not, and put sugar in my tea, wondering if I had done that already. (It turns out I had, but an extra-sweet cup of tea was pretty good just then.) Over the next two hours, I watched the water spread across the dining room, moving books and chairs and tables out of its path as best I could. I put down towels and mopped up. I put down fresh towels and mopped up again. I called Phillip, confessing that I was clearly not intended to take care of a house when I couldn’t even figure out where the water was coming from.

Now, let me back up a bit. When I first saw the water patch, I assumed that my negligence of the gutters had come to haunt me. They are in a state beyond disreputable; they have degenerated to downright deplorable, and I figured this was the universe’s way of reminding me that entropy happens, and we have a responsibility to manage our lives. So before I ever went forth into the basement, I had gone onto the deck, stood in the rain, and looked and looked again to see where in the world this water could come from. There simply are no gutters at that corner of the house. When I finally figured out that it might have something to do with water from inside, I got more than a little nervous. Rain will stop eventually, but the city does a great job of making certain you have as much water to waste as you care to. The possibilities for damage escalated and I went inside, telling myself all I had to do was listen at the walls and I would be able to hear the leak, and I could somehow, someway, shut off the supply wherever it was. Fat chance. I listened to every wall around the leak site. Nada. Nothing. Zip. Zilch. That was when I decided to shut off the water to the whole house, and deal with it at a reasonable hour. Now, I confess that maybe anyone else would have been more quick-witted than I; it never occurred to me to call the water company’s emergency number in the middle of the night and have them shut it off at the street. In fact, that didn’t occur to me until after I had come home from dropping the boys at school, having called my friend Charlie on the way home and confessing that I was sleep-deprived, frazzled and flat scared of the damage that could be occuring. I called my handyman and left a message that I hoped he was on the way and that he could help. Not until I met Charlie at my house and having him also get nowhere on finding the valave in the basement did calling the water company come to mind. I’m a dolt, but there it is. I called Phillip again and got his voice mail. Then it hit me: the kids were at school: I could go to his apartment. I gave Charlie a quick hug and told him to keep the handyman there if he arrived; I’d be back in ten minutes. When Phillip opened the door, he was dressed and had his jacket on, his hair still disheveled from sleep and clearly on his way out. Maybe it had something to do with having missed fifteen calls in the middle of the night. You have to know he contemplated taking a shower before listening to his message.

The handyman arrived; Charlie went home; investigation ensued. The culprit was neither a gutter nor any recent remodeling. Instead, a cheap four-dollar rubber gasket had decided to depart this vale of tears and was slowly drowning the rest of the wall, cabinet and water works at the back of the sink in the upstairs bathroom. Irony that I bought a new sink for that space just yesterday and that removing the current sink is part of the bathroom remodel? Who knows. The universe talked to me. I think it said “Stay home and put your house in order.” Perhaps it said “you and your plans. You are not so powerful as you think.” Or maybe it was of the “I’d have gotten away with it, too if it hadn't been for you pesky kids” variety. In any event, I had a far more interesting day than I had planned.

I hope your day was better. for my part, i'm taking a little stop by the therapist on my way home before i immerse myself in the nice cosy realm of Oz (the last of season 4 just arrived) before getting the boys from school.

love and peace,