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Wednesday, June 02, 2010


I went downstairs to find a piece of purple fabric.
Not wet, purple fabric.
Not wet anything, actually.

All I really wanted was a perfect piece of purple fabric for a Darfur bag that I meant to finish up before hitting the road to HappyVain to celebrate my old pal's birthday. That sprawling fantastical home on the hill, complete with the frolicking goat, picturesque rooster, some baby chicks, a chocolate lab, (a chocolate slab too, if I'm lucky), a couple of fat cats, tree house, and a gutted lawn mower to ride down the hill on. That's not mentioning some great kids, a grand and inspired home, some fine wine, a boursin cheese, and some portabella mushrooms with olive oil, feta cheese, and sun dried tomato.

So when I went downstairs for purple fabric, and found that the National News worthy summer storm had leaked into my basement, I decided that it was extremely minor and that quickly mopping it up would mean that it hadn't really happened at all. That I'd soon be loading the offspring into the van and heading off in the direction of guaranteed joy and bliss and happiness. I decided that I didn't really have to move all the furniture and stuff that was piled up in that particular corner of the basement, but that by simply mopping up what I could see, the problem would be entirely and swiftly eradicated.

Oddly, that little patch of H2O just kept reappearing. Much like fabric, but not nearly as delightful.

I decided to move the coat rack of out -of -season jackets to the other side of the basement. Likely discover a lovely little water gnome or something back there. Someone who would wave and apologize and send me on my way.

Sadly, that isn't quite the way it went.
Moving the coats led to moving the rubber boots, runners, snowpants and mittens.
That led to moving the old computer monitor (that got moved straight to the thrift shop), a box of Leap Pads (same fate), and a large shelf unit of fabrics. (there ought to have been purple in there somewhere, but maybe we'll never know). That led to moving out some scrap pieces of wet carpet, and peeling back the scrap linoleum floor.

No gnomes whatsoever. But a few cracks in the concrete, which is what you'd expect from a 50+ house. Or pretty much any house that endures the temperature extremes that we enjoy in Manitoba. And more puddles.

It was around about this point that Micah sloshed into a wet carpet in another corner of the basement, so I peeled back the carpet there too. Optimism slipping quite severely, I plugged in the dehumidifier, and got back to mopping. I think I carried around ten mop pails up that first day.

I started to have dark thoughts about my husband at a cabin somewhere with his book, his scotch, and his buddies. Did I mention that he'd left that morning, before the water gnome appeared, anticipating two days of golf? I started to suspect that I'd be eating PB & J; and not the mushrooms I'd been salivating after. I launched full bore into self pity, reviewing each and every episode of the MOTHER left with all the kids and all the problems while the FATHER seemed blissfully unaware. I tried to remember that what I wanted to be was a loving and kind servant who used suffering as an oppurtunity to grow.

I felt horns growing.
Teeth elongating.
Irritation percolating.

I whined inwardly about my deep and painful losses involving playing with fabric and buttons, fun road trips with coffee and licorice, weekends without daycare mess, and the outrageous inequity of being the lone adult to bear all this injustice.

I just had to call my mother. Tell her to pity me.
At the spry age of eighty-four, she promptly offered to drive over and help me mop.
Which really made me feel like the biggest loser, and not in a nice television sense of the word.

I knew that I wasn't really suffering, and that I wasn't really even flooding. I was just in a manageable amount of moisture that a mop and some commitment could take care off.

So, I mopped.
And then it rained some more.
So then I mopped some more.

After I put the kids to bed (late) on saturday night after a delightful meal of store bought chicken strips and french fries, I decided to put in a little time mopping. I had by this time located the wicked, ugly, stinking gnome. I'd filled in a long wall crack that had been directly behind my fabric stacks, and with the new deluge of rain, the water began to bubble and froth into the basement at the very base of that delightful crack. (Plus in a few other nasty little drippy spots)

Finding something akin to positive thinking, I brought my laptop downstairs and set it up close to the mess. I'd been wanting to watch the movie "Precious" but since I am almost utterly incapable of sitting around and accomplishing nothing, this seemed like the perfect oppurtunity. Mopping time flew from that point on- nothing like a horrifying story of survival to put a little rain water into perspective.

At 3:00 AM, the little brook showed no signs of stopping, so I opted for the pile-of-towels-and-blankets solution and headed upstairs for a little snooze.

Husband arrived home in the early afternoon of day 3. He was sweet and kind and apologetic. I was pathetic and started snivelling about being tired and sore. He then inquired as to whether we now allowed our children to freely frolick on the rooftop of our humble home? I shot back that I'd just cleaned our eaves troughs; exiting out of the boys bedroom window and I thought it was utterly appropriate for the boys to join in on all the festivities, seeing as how we never got to Goat Hill as planned. In fact, the boy's visit to the rooftop had provided my deepest laugh thus far in this unplanned weekend of damp-osity. Wet from the knees down, I was leaning toward the edge of the roofline to point the hose at the clogged eavestrough when Micah called out-

"So, mom? I guess it's just you, and me, and Zach, Sam, the kitty cat out here on the roof-- oh. And your other friend- Butt Crack?"

So, yes. In the absence of any other contributing adults, it was absolutely a brilliant idea to extend the backyard play area to include the top of the house. Besides, all that suffering had promoted a lot of personal growth in me. Markedly in the areas of sarcasm, self-pity, and irritation. I had hoped it would cause my mathematical cell to grow, but after around 30 buckets of water hauled up to dump into the toilet, I'd lost count. I was much too busy committing energy to feeling sorry for myself, pounding nails into my martyred flesh, and walking around on my own face to spend much energy on anything mature or rational.

Yep, I certainly had grown as a person.

Which came in pretty handy five days later when I realized that the shelving unit full of fabric that I'd moved away from the crack in the wall had sufficiently soaked up the first ten or so buckets full of seepage. I had some laundry to do, before all that fabric grew cultures and life forms enough to make it destined not for darfur, but for the landfill.

Lucky me. I might find that absolutely perfect piece of purple, after all.


janice said...

Joyce, once again you have made me laugh and made me cry. Just the kind of person I like - you are. My mother would have said exactly that. She sat in the middle of my kitchen on her walker and conducted the making of New Year's Cookies (rual kuken - oh, you can't write pluout deutch, can you) her last New Year's on earth.

"a loving and kind servant who used suffering as an oppurtunity to grow" That is a very Buddhist thing to say - I am also a Christian who is a Buddhist and observe the rituals of neither.

Sounds like I might get damp, living under your piles of laundry.

briacolleen said...

And here I was, complaining about having to turn the fan on in the basement to make sure that damp patch dried-up itself. Silly me. I should always know that someones got it worse off, especially when the water gnomes are involved. Damn gnomes.

oh, and I hate when my teeth elongate...happens about once a month for me...

Mary K. said...

Nightmare-ish, but highly entertaining at this end. Great story, Joyce. ...just too bad it's true. Wish you a dry rest of the week.

joyce said...

kiss & hug to you Janice. I would like to have met your mom. well, I'd like to meet you and your daughter too, maybe we should start there? I'm impressed that you make roll kuchen! Isn't it partsil-tYA that you make at New Year's?
You'd get damper in the basement, so don't get so picky.

Bria- I was feeling so sorry for myself for staying up all night with the mop... and remembering friends who live along the Red River and what they went through last spring with that flood. What a selfish whiney thing I am. Did I help THEM? I think not.
Still. plugging in a fan takes some commitment. You shouldn't minimize your own pain ;)

Mare- looking good down there now. It doesn't smell great- eau du damp basement. I'll be keeping the kidlets out of the basement for a whole month. Let's just hope for sunny outdoor days every Monday to Friday til we get down there in July with a jackhammer.

Schwester laura said...

Joyce, I'm sending sympathy your way. Makes me want to scream and kick something = just for you. Wish we lived closer. I want to spend more time with you. Whine whine.............

Lori said...

I laughed with you and I cried for you. We have major sewer problems at our house and it's only 15 years old. Be glad you are only mopping water. I also wanted to say how brave I think you are for posting your messy house photos. Wow! Girl, you are the bravest woman I know of.

Judy said...

I'm sad for you.

Even when other people have it worse, it still sucks.

Roo said...