Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Hey, Children, Whats that sound?

My hearing is not what it used to be but it is still pretty good. Nowadays, I have trouble picking a certain sound out of the noise of everyday goings on in this house, but, here was something extra happening.

I though it was a fan running at first, or a motor, so I wandered around the house and decided it was outside, and it was...only it was inside, too. Stepping out the back door I looked down at the "freeze proof" faucet that we use to water the dogs and saw that they were being well watered unintentionally. A plumber had replaced a bad faucet for me and had apparently not replaced the insulation that protected the pipe from a mere 12 degree night. As I looked at the water spewing out, I had that sinking in the gut feeling one gets when one realizes that things are probably worse than it seems at first glance...Down in the basement a disaster in progress was waiting to make my day.

I opened the door to the utility room and it was like one of those hilarious commercials where the door has the water backed up waiting for the unsuspecting, underinsured victim to bear the full force of the wall of water that pours out upon release from its confines. The sight of me dancing around trying not to get my shoes totally wet as the water chased me around the basement now seems funny but not right then. I made stepping stones in the crystal clear pool out of the iron weights from the workout bench (see, I do use it) and made my way to the cutoff valve which didn't cut anything off, as it turns out. The plumber had saved himself some work by stubbing in the outside faucet from a convenient spot that totally screwed me up.

Ok, stop and think...I had originally put several valves in the house and it was just a matter of figuring out which one...sploshing over to it...and then it was quiet except for some dripping...Ok, a lot of dripping.

Anyway, I shoveled water into buckets and hauled it outside while I tried to remember which neighbor had my wet or dry shop-vac, hoping my old brain could come up with the answer before my kees and back gave out from stooping over and bailing water with a dust pan. From my years as a whitewater canoer I am an excellent bailer and I could see progress after ten or fifteen buckets and went careening off down the mountain side after the shop vac.

This morning some of the carpets are drying out and the house is nice and toasty because of the extra heat applied downstairs. Some of the old cardboard boxes in the basement corners have been investigated, sorted, and tossed out...Things that should have been done long ago, even before the great flood. I've installed a brand new cut off valve in a place that should thwart the evil designs of my ex plumber... (Who turns out not to be a plumber in the first place, but a registered electrician who bought a used truck that had "Plumbing AND Electric" painted on the door so, hey , why not? This is rural Tennessee, after all, plumbing can't be that hard, and a new sign would cost money, right?)

So, today...It's a clear day, the sun is beaming across the gorge and highlighting the eagles as they fly by on their way to look for dead fish on the lake. The sun is beaming in and highlighting the crows, too, but they don't have as fancy a paint job so think "eagles" with me and let's enjoy the morning before we go down into the bowels of the house and start digging back into the soggy memories stacked up against the back wall. Old treasures and tragedies, slightly soggy, both waiting to be dealt with one more time.




  1. Too bad for you electrical-plumber induced problems but it sounds as though you've got a good handle on the clean up - now, there's a city in Louisiana that could use your help.

  2. You remind me once again why I live in South Texas. We had a hard freeze about 10 years ago and everybody's pipes burst. Of course, our summers are hot enough to melt pipes.

    It's edging-up on 70 degrees here today and Bubba is going to bar-be-que. Nothing pleases him more than to call our northern friends to tell them that he's bar-be-queing in his shorts!