A few years ago I would have fallen into the “cat person” category. My children would often remind me that if it hadn’t been for the fact that “Daddy” was allergic to them I would probably have ended up on the animal planet’s “Hoarders” series. The crazy cat lady, uh… yes, that would be me. As it is, with allergic husband and all – we have three.
Growing up with three brothers my family always had variety of species dwelling on the property: in garbage cans (hognose snakes – and boy, was mother shocked when she went to throw the trash in), in cans (toads for the hognose snakes to eat), in jars (lightning bugs don’t live long in jars – in case you wondered), in hutches (about 48 hamsters at a time), in the dog house (between 7 and 13 cats at a time – they took over the dog’s house), in the pond (goldfish until the catfish ate them, but that’s another post), in homemade cages (for the praying mantis or surviving caught mice), in aquariums (about 10 of them for the budding tropical fishery), and on the side porch(dogs – usually three at a time).
Don’t think I wasn’t in the middle of all of it. I handle snakes. Have a snake question? Ask me. Insects? Expert. I adore frogs – the cool green ones. Not so fond of toads. In my mind the jury is still out on whether those bumps give you warts. AND when you pick up a toad it PEES on you! And its pee probably gives you warts also.
I suppose you can tell I had a problem with warts as a kid.
I was always involved with the animals. We grew up out in the country. Apart from my brothers, I wasn’t allowed friends at my house so the animals were my companions. I would even sneak out at night to sleep in the dog house with the cats. Warm kittens curled up and purring on your chest – there’s nothing like it. Is that weird? Probably.
But dogs? Couldn’t stand them. My brothers loved them. My brothers smelled like the dogs, i.e. don’t like either of them. (Okay – for the record, I love my brothers now, but this was then and now is now.)
I grew up and discovered I liked boys. I even married one. Although he is allergic to cats and initially I gave up a cat to marry my husband. He has been suffering ever since because we have cats. Heh. Heh. Though it is my theory that if you live with an animal long enough you become immune to that animal. There is scientific evidence to back this up. Apparently the cat’s saliva is particular to the cat and humans can build up a resistance. This proves my husband’s undying love as he has put up with and grown immune to our many fuzzy felines for all these thirty years.
Baby number one was a boy. I don’t know why it is that there’s this floating cultural idea that boys need a dog but I believed that my son needed a dog. We went to the shelter and the first puppy I saw was too adorable to turn down. Part German Shepherd and part Lhasa-Apse (I don’t know how either), Grover looked like Benji, but turned out to be the dog from hell. He tore off the siding of the house, the tile from the bathroom floor, ate through a storm door, and made life-changing messes on the carpet. I had him very well-trained. Only he was so smart he would watch to see when I wasn’t looking.
We gave him to a good home.
Years later one of our beloved cats went missing. I visited all the pounds. No Ajax. But, I phoned my husband, “Hey! I found a chihuahua that looks just like the cat.” “NO DOGS!” said my husband. I went home and pouted and whined. Poor puppy. Poor, poor little puppy – in that cold, cruel pound. “OKAY!” said my husband. “BUT IT WILL BE YOUR RESPONSIBILITY!”
Fourteen years later we had to put that precious pound puppy down and it was horrible. Yes, Skittles was the husband’s lap puppy for all those years.
Our wonderful Big Boy is a delight. All 80 pounds of him. Yes, the shelter people said he wouldn’t get any larger than 45 pounds. They lied! I could tell from his baby photos that his hooves declared him to be a future monster. We live in a big city. And he has a monster-dog bark.
I’m so glad we have him.
Last night was a little on the coolish side. Big Boy was shoved up against me in the bed, a snoring heater of a dog. Warm dogs smell like a combination of warm buttered popcorn and canned peas, have you ever noticed?
There is no place like home. My home at this moment is no place to work on art projects right now. It is the art project. The yellow bathroom is still yellow. I’ve got the paint for it and hope I can start the transformation tomorrow. The person I would hire to do the job – and he is such an expert he would be finished in an hour or so – is taking some time off because his father just passed away. So I keep thinking I will just open the can of paint and begin.
The most daunting part of any project is the beginning. The act of opening up the can of paint, ripping open the box of window blinds, or taking the electric saw out of the shed feels like slogging through deep mud. Suddenly all the other undone or unfinished projects silently scream for attention. I still haven’t finished mending the shelf in the kitchen. I haven’t painted over the daubs of putty I put on the siding months ago. I haven’t replaced the cracked board on the deck.
At the same time I think of other projects waiting for me. My art projects. They are in careful packets or thick files, or even stacked in my art room under the boxed ceiling fan. I continue to take photos of careful compositions that would translate into artwork eventually. My files have become volumes on the computer’s photo organizer.
Art is not difficult for me. It excites me. Sometimes there is nothing I would rather do in the world than draw or paint a picture. Some pictures take many hours, some don’t take long at all. I do not stop until I know that it is done. I can’t explain how I know a picture is done. I just know when it is. Sometimes I have to do pictures over and over again because they aren’t what I saw in the beginning, in my mind. Art is visual for me and so the picture comes to mind and then I create it. Although my art is often very tactile, even using my hands to push the paint around on the canvas, I use many techniques and resources to produce the picture that I visualized.
At this moment in time my artful pursuits have taken on a larger canvas – the house(s). I’ve reached back in time on the arts and crafts home to try to visualize what the house looked like in 1910. My smaller canvasses sit quietly on their easel. It isn’t that I couldn’t reach the paint wherever it is. I could do it. It wouldn’t be that difficult. But the larger project has taken me out for a while. I feel guilty though. I feel as if I’m betraying my little pastels and colored pencils.
I wonder if I’m delaying the great projects for the good ones. I read a book long ago about the “urgent” and the “important”. There is a fine distinction because in the midst of busy-ness making a clear decision between what is truly important within all the terribly urgent – makes all the difference.
My blog posts haven’t been regular with all the major changes going on in our family. We expect to move from our one hundred year old Victorian cottage to our newest project – a one hundred year old Arts and Crafts house that we’ve been renovating.
My art room is overrun with boxes of light fixtures.
Sometimes things don’t go as expected. Sure there are some bumps in the road to a renovated house. For instance, the builder installed the kitchen sink under a window as planned but off-center, which was not planned. The entire cabinet layout had to be ripped out and re-installed to get it right. There are unfinished projects in the cottage where we live. I switched out an outdated bathroom sink and installed a pedestal sink. Perfect! Then painted the bathroom yellow. Not so perfect! With the new light fixtures installed the yellow hurts my eyes. Thankfully it is just paint. Unlike the new drawer pulls in the new old house kitchen which are not placed correctly. This is something that can not be changed without replacing drawer fronts. And replacing drawer fronts mean re-ordering and re-ordering means delays in the work schedule and delays here mean delays in the move-in date. And on and on.
When my daughter graduated from university and then got a job in her field (science) we were very happy for her. And three weeks later she tearfully told us that she was expecting. Her boyfriend told her he had things to do for himself. When pressed for details he texted her that he “wanted out”.
What a jerk.
So moving away from home and getting an apartment with a girlfriend isn’t exactly an option. So we will adapt. We will make room, we will rearrange and celebrate this new expectation.
MTV interviewer Josh Horowitz (After Hours with Josh Horowitz) has some of the stars of the Harry Potter series repeat phrases with an American accent. Of course I’m impressed. I can not speak with an English accent, although there is an English accent in my head. I’ve always loved anything English. To call myself an Anglophile does not begin to encompass my lifelong obsession.
It began in childhood. My mother was besotted with the Queen and everything English. Her grandmother was the third daughter of a titled landowner. With a child’s wide-eyed awe I listened to tales of my great-grandmother’s privileged childhood of having someone else do everything for her including brushing her hair (the ultimate luxury!) with tortoise-shell combs. And the stories didn’t stop there. She grew older and fell in love with a man who came from London, an indentured apprentice. They ran away together to America where they traveled by covered wagon to the wilds of Iowa. Their home included an “indian cabinet” a cupboard to hide in when the indians came to raid the pantry, though actually they were only after the pickles.
The truth lies somewhere in here. My great-grandmother was the third daughter of a titled land owner, who was actually a farmer. She probably did enjoy some luxury in comparison to others. The Orkney Islands of Scotland are cold a lot of the year. Relatives who still reside there must keep their sheep and cows in the barns for almost nine out of twelve months of the year.
My great-grandmother did fall in love with a man from London who was a plumber. She married and moved to America with her father’s blessing. And I imagine Iowa was still a little warmer than Scotland. I’ve seen the home they built. A three storied, multi-gabled Victorian. It may still be there in Mason City.
I know there is a lot more to the stories. The bit about the indians leaving one of their old people behind the fence where the body wasn’t discovered until the Spring thaw. The part about my great-grandfather’s family dying of influenza so he had to apprentice himself in order to pay debts and survive. I have a family history booklet created by some great-aunts and passed to the extended family where many of these stories are proved by eye witness accounts.
My mother’s family was from Scotland, but my father’s family was too. Does that make me doubly crazy about all things British? Yes.
I’ve immersed myself in British murder mysteries, classics, and television programming for over thirty years – or for as long as I can remember. If anyone could do an accent is should be me. In fact, after a car accident where I was knocked out, According to eye-witness accounts, I spoke in an English accent. They found it so amusing. Me? I don’t remember anything about it.
That’s why I say I think I have an English person residing in my head. I imagine this person sitting next to me wondering why I drive on the wrong side of the road. And asking what’s wrong with spotted dick pudding? But sadly I have not much accent. I can hardly do a “roight” right. Strange, really.
I used to have more of a Texas accent but can hardly remember much of it. I still say Italian with a long ‘I’ as in ICE. Occasionally I add an ‘r’ to wash so it comes out ‘warsh’. And I add ‘fixin’ as a preface to what I’m about to do, as in “I’m fixin’ to throw my warsh at the IIItalians.” And that’s as genuine as it gets.
In high school I wrote my first “novel”. I sent the bits of typewritten onion skin off to a publisher. The largest publisher that I knew about, knowing nothing, was Zondervan. They published Bibles. They had to be huge.
I have kept the rejection letter. Rejected because it was too controversial.
That was in 1973. The story was my story about the year I went to an all black school. Now, if I rewrote that story, which I intend to do, it would be historical fiction. I don’t believe I would write it as a memoir. I think it would read better to put someone else on that stage. Someone else can ride on that bus across town, with the loony bus driver who insisted we girls take turns sitting on his lap as he drove.
As a child I have loved books. I dreamed of a future writing and illustrating children’s stories. My mixed media collage on the right is a girl reading in a tree-house. My father constructed a tree-house that stretched between two trees. I spent hours up there concocting stories which I would act out. My stories usually involved being chased by the bad guys or (for some strange Freudian reason) a gorilla.
I wrote and illustrated several stories before I discovered SCBWI where I learned more about the mechanics of picture books. The Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators provides tools to learn the craft of writing. They offer great advice about the publishing world, and provide conferences attended by other aspiring writers, published authors and illustrators, and acquiring editors.
I discovered a real joy in writing words on paper. I love writing. I love my words. All writers do, or they wouldn’t be writers.
What I soon discovered was that no matter how much I love my words – a lot of others do not. In order to write commercially, or for publication, one must craft a story. Sending out a first draft, or even a second draft, is not a good idea. Yes, enthusiasm sells. Poorly strung together bits of thought do not sell. Save the enthusiasm for the final draft. It is hard. Sometimes I’m so thrilled with my new “idea” that I am bursting to share it. That’s when I must “put the lid on the pot” so my idea doesn’t boil up all over the stove.
As most of you who have been following me here on WordPress or on Facebook know, my husband and I buy and sell houses. We love to buy old and renovate and sell. Well, at this point it is more like buy, renovate, and rent, but that is another story.
I would like to draw an analogy between selling a gorgeous property and selling a great manuscript (picture book or novel). Selling a property before it is perfect, is much the same as trying to sell a manuscript before it is as perfect as is possible to make it. (Though perfection is in the eye of the beholder in both cases. Yes, that is a cliché.) If you put your house on the market before the bathroom has been repainted or before the dog trail in front of the fence is re-sodded, then you risk those first lookers hating the yellow bathroom, and wondering what to do about the grassless trail in front of the fence. Those are unnecessary distractions.
By the same token if I send my manuscript out with two grammatical errors on the third page, the reader of that manuscript would toss it aside and send a post card rejection. Post card rejections have a little check mark next to the appropriate reason for rejection. Post card rejections are the ultimate rejection, right next to the rejection where you never hear anything. Ever.
When you lose your houses’ first lookers, you won’t get them back. If your manuscript is rejected by a publisher you can not send it back, even if your grammatical errors are corrected. For some reason known only to God that first reader at the publisher’s always remembers.
So no matter how enthusiastic one is about selling the gorgeous little doll house in the historic district or how enthusiastic one is about the adorable mouse story, stop! Wait. Learn patience. Learn to sit and get that manuscript right! Let it “cool off” and then re-read it. It is surprising what you see with a cold eye. Don’t use up all your publishers, don’t lose your opportunities. Polish. Polish. Polish. Get it critiqued by others who write in the same genre. Listen to their advice. It is okay if they find fault. Re-write. A gazillion times. Make your critique-folks glow with the same enthusiasm you have for your work.
Then and only then do your research on which publisher would most likely love your work. This is about writing now. Now is very different from 1973. Publishers are specific. They publish specific things, or at least a variety of specific things. Zondervan does not just publish Bibles, they have a massive range of things they publish. Match your work to work published by that company. It is unlikely if your research is thorough that you will get a postcard rejection. You may get rejected but there will be a handwritten note as to specifics. And that is all part of the learning curve. If you are like me – it still hurts. But I get up, dust off the rejection and keep on trying. You can’t stop me.
I sat across from her hospital bed as she pushed her food around on her plate. I waited. This was some sort of ticking bomb situation here. And I wasn’t about to be the one to light it this time.
“There isn’t enough salt,” she said.
I said, “Aren’t you on a low-sodium diet?”
“Yes. But I’m supposed to be on a low-sodium and diabetic diet.”
I thought – well that explains everything, but I said, “that means less salt and less sugar, right?”
She pursed her lips like she does when she doesn’t want to talk about something. She pulled out a plastic baggie from a stack of baggies that I thought were designed to hold all her meds. This bag was full of salt packets, the kind you get at McDonald’s. She ripped them open one by one and dumped the contents on her food.
My children and husband watched this and then looked at me. I didn’t know what to say. She must have noticed. She took a bit at the tip of her spoon and shook her head. “Still isn’t enough flavor.” And then she pulled packets of sugar substitute and emptied them on her food.
“Mom”, I said, “that’s sugar substitute. It’s sweet”.
“I know. It helps”.
I asked her what her sugar was. She said – two sixty-five.
“Not so good, huh?”
She shrugged. She pushed the food around and then pulled the two bowls of fruit closer. “I tried to be zealous about my diabetes when they first discovered it. When my weight went down the doctors didn’t seem too concerned, so I thought worrying about it was stupid.”
“Mom, that was 1964. There are better medications these days.”
My husband leaned over and whispered, “You shouldn’t preach.”
That was several years ago. Today, as I watched my eighty-five year old mother getting her nails done I thought, despite all the prickly feelings between us all these years, she was the best mother she knew how to be. I wonder what my daughter will think of me when I’m eighty-five.
I wonder if I will get to be eighty-five.
My mother has survived terrible ups and downs with her blood-sugar, hundreds of mini-strokes and one major stroke. These days she gathers twelve to fifteen books from the library every three weeks and proceeds to read them, preferring like me to read her way through authors. She gets a hair permanent and her nails done at the salon every four months. She looks pretty darn good.
These feelings well up and I want to tell her what I’m thinking. Before I can she reaches out and pats my hand and tells me that she’s proud of me. And I wish I can take back all those times I was so smart. When I wasn’t.
Today was the day I told my mother that she would be a great-grandmother. Her eyes grew wide and she smiled and said, “I don’t know how I feel about that. I never thought I’d see the day.”
Daybreak strained through a thin sheet of clouds. I stood on the front porch. A fickle breeze gushed through the tops of the cottonwoods. It sounded like people clapping. A mixture of dread and anticipation made my stomach queasy.
It was September 11, 1961. My brother was seven days old.
We’d been listening to the radio all morning. News of the impending hurricane kept my brother and me home from school. I don’t know where my father or my older brother were. Maybe father went to work. He rarely stayed home from work. I wonder, now, if he and Bobby weren’t helping my grandparents at their home, tying things down, clearing their large yard of car parts and stacks of wood, though why my father wasn’t helping my mother with her tiny baby, I don’t know. Plus, we had our own loose car parts and stacks of wood in the back yard. And there was our wonderful swing-set. I was worried about the swing-set. Who was going to protect that?
My mother called me to come in when the first spattering of rain bit my skin. My anticipation became a trembling excitement. I wanted the big storm to come. It was different. Something new. Something to look forward to. I retreated into the front room and kept my face pushed against the window. I watched as scatterings of leaves danced across the pitted asphalt drive and out of sight. Where was my father? Was my brother Bobby at a friend’s house? My mother didn’t seem to know.
She didn’t seem to hear me much these days. She pressed the baby against her breast and looked sad. I didn’t worry for long, the storm was coming.
The window panes trembled with a rat-a-tat-tat. I pressed my fingers against them. The temperature outside had changed. It was cooler. The rain patted against the glass, coming at it sideways. The clouds were rolling in now, deeper and darker almost like the ocean’s waves as if the world were upside down. The tall trees were doing a jig. The wind only brushing their tops. We had big trees. When I hugged them my fingers didn’t quite touch on the other side.
My father had recently added on to our house with a family room big enough to skate in, and my parents now had their own room with an attached bathroom. So I no longer shared a room with my older and younger brother. I had a room of my own. When they asked what color I wanted the walls painted I said, “Aqua, of course.” And so the walls were aqua, with one wall of wallpaper with ballerinas dancing across it. Curtains to match. And my own closet. I was a princess.
In the process of adding on to the house my father dug trenches in the backyard for the sewer. Brother Jon and I had a wonderful time playing trench warfare. The pipes were only part of the hardship. Our creed was simple: The life of the soldier is tough. And don’t eat the dirt, no matter how hungry you get.
After the trenches were filled in the swing-set appeared. We were thrilled. Now we could swing up and see over the wood fence into the neighbor’s yard. The neighbor was a wicked witch for two reasons. Instead of a cat, she had a stupid beagle that bark-howled all the time. We beat on the fence to make it stop and it got worse. We hated that dog. She also had a huge wisteria bush that grew over into our yard, which was okay by me. It was a fort. But one day my older brother trimmed the vine and tossed the trimmings over into her yard and she screamed at him. That was the second reason why she was a witch. At least I think that’s what my brother called her.
The wind was getting wild by this time. The trees limbs whipped and punched at the ground. My mother pulled me from the window. We had to get on the floor in her bedroom. She pushed my baby brother under her bed a little while she kept an arm around me and my little brother. I was on the outside of that circle by choice, having scooted as far away as possible to keep an eye on the drama outside.
The color turned sickly, first greenish and then almost purple as the wind pushed against the one tree I could see. It lay almost sideways in the wind. The whistling noise grew into a low moan and then into a high-pitched howl. My little brother was fidgeting. He kept pushing against me. It made me mad and I pushed back. But every time I got mad enough to DO something to him, some other noise outside distracted me.
A window broke. I jumped. My mother held me down. She had curlers in her hair. She always had curlers in her hair. But on this day, some of them had come out and bits of her hair stuck out from the tight pin-curls everywhere else. It made my stomach sick when I saw the tears on my mother’s face. I asked about daddy and Bobby. She said don’t worry. I worried. The carpet smelled like baby powder and a strange mixture of dirty feet and the perfume my mother liked. “Intimate”.
Our house was built on a cement slab so we didn’t FEEL the wind inside the house but we could hear it like there wasn’t anything between it and us on the floor. It was like a wild animal trying to get in. I was scared. It seemed to go on forever. Then it stopped.
I jumped up. My mother said, don’t go outside but I ran, out into a changed world. The trees didn’t look so well, drooped to one side. Our sandbox was gone. The swing-set remained but the chains were wrapped around the other parts and our “carriage” the two person swing-part was twisted. Before I could look at much more the wind picked up. Why? My mother yelled. I zipped safely inside.
Back on the floor. My mother told me the “eye” had passed over us, that was only a short calm spot. Now the back side of the hurricane would have to go over us. SWEEP through was more like it. This time the tree I could see from the window twisted backward as the wind whistled into a frenzied howl that seemed louder than the first time. And it took longer. Worse. This wasn’t exciting, or fun. It was terrifying.
But it finally ended.
The days following the storm were cool and breezy, as if nothing had happened.
We came out of it with some broken glass and debris and rainwater on the floor. The baby was fine. My mother’s relief washed over all of us.
Now the exploring could begin. Outside was a wreck. Our garage leaned even more than ever. There was a handy hole in the back wall that we found useful when playing hide and seek. If you used the alley behind our house to count you could sneak a peek at what was going on through the garage.
Some of our fence had blown down. The part between the other neighbor and us, the cowboy neighbor. It took some months to get that fence up and so my brother and I watched as they brought a calf home from their ranch soon after the hurricane. The calf wouldn’t stand. They tried everything to get it to stand. They’d hold it up, prop it up. They even fed it from a bottle. Finally, they must have seen us watching and said something to my mother. She told us we had to come inside. My mother told us later they had to put it down because it couldn’t nurse. It made me ill worrying about that calf, thinking about that poor mama cow not knowing what was wrong with its baby.
I discovered where my father and older brother had been during the storm. They had at first decided to go down to our bay house to see to tying things down and getting the fishing poles, but they didn’t have time. And a good thing they didn’t go. The hurricane touched land a mile south of the bay house. That was where the storm surge was twenty feet. There was nothing left of that neighborhood except the bay house. All the pretty shingle houses – gone. Our ugly ramshackle wood house – fine. Much to my embarrassment, my uncle and father had allowed a tree to grow up through the eave of the roof. They simple added more roof around it. But this eyesore saved the house. While all the other homes were being washed away, leaving only brick chimneys to mark their former places, our house was lifted up and twisted around that tree and set down again. Except for the outhouse. IT was washed away. When they repaired the bay house, they added indoor plumbing. YES!
Instead of going to the bay house, they were caught by the fierceness of the storm at my grandparent’s house, not a mile from our home. It was fortunate they were there. A tree the size of Houston blew down, barely missing their home and while they sat inside praying for safety, the wind lifted their home right off its pier and beam foundation and set it down sideways in the yard.
I always loved the Wizard of Oz movie. I never disbelieved for a second that a twister couldn’t pick up a house and put it somewhere else.
Hurricane Carla was the largest category 4 hurricane to hit the Texas Gulf Coast to that date. Forty seven years later, Hurricane Ike rivaled Carla in size but not in strength. Though a killer, Ike was loosely woven and disorganized. Carla was tight and mean. Ike’s storm surge measured eight feet. Carla’s storm surge measured twenty.
The weather is cold. The stark sunlight bares all the squish and frozen brownishness in the garden. Lots of s sounds in that sentence. Pamelot, I did that just for you.
The Welch house is fast becoming amazing. All the rot on the outside has been extracted board by mushy board. The kitchen no longer has holes in the floor. We are getting the gas turned on today so maybe there will be a little heat soon. The only day I didn’t see the house being worked on was the day we had the flood in the living room (It was 22 degrees outside).
I took the workers brownies today. I had them trailing after me, the pied piper of brownies, until I put them down on top of a pile of Sheetrock.
Did you know if you put the oil in the bowl before pouring the dry mix in, it comes out of the bowl easier?
And no, I didn’t eat a brownie.
Okay, while transferring the hot brownies from pan to plate, a bit fell to the side. Just a bit. It was excellent.
It is day 24 of my Hundred Days to Health marathon. I have lost and gained and lost and gained and lost – one pound. I keep my diet under 1,500 calories, heavy on the protein, low on the fat and sugar. I’ve only broken my code twice with potato chips one day and chocolate on another day. So shoot me.
I don’t know what else to do – I have begun racing a bike for two miles, I’ve upped my weight lifting. In January I lifted the equivalent of 12.8 elephants. How is that possible? Well, it wasn’t all at one time! All my machines at the Y are plugged into a computer program – FitLinxx. I can access my information online, and every time I use a machine it transmits the info into the program. They use elephants as an incentive.And I suspect they might be using small elephants.
So where am I going wrong? I haven’t really lost a bit of what I want to lose. So … what to do? What to do?
It was a cold and blustery morn. Over thirty states were covered in snow today (Wednesday). More snow than normal. Here in the south it was cold, though not nearly as cold as up north. Our wind-chill factor was in the single digits while the temperature hovered in the twenties all day. Unusual for us.
Britt and I went to the new old house to check the pipes. There is no heat working in the house and the project manager had turned off the water and emptied the pipes the night before the big freeze. I didn’t expect any problem.
We walked in and Britt noticed the frozen puddle in the dining room. There were mini-icicles hanging from a ceiling beam above it.
We went upstairs. Britt climbed into the attic. I turned the corner and stepped into the master bath just as a spout of water shot up from the drain pipe where the shower will be. Water spread out and ran beneath the two-by-fours of the framed closet. Britt went downstairs to look for something to mop it up. I heard him yell and ran down. Water streamed down along the ceiling beam in a cascade of water. He scooted the wheelbarrow that was sitting in the living room to catch water. It wasn’t enough. He ran outside and dragged two garbage bins inside. The swath of falling water was growing. The ceiling plaster was sagging in one corner. He took a broom handle and pushed up. Water gushed.
With nothing to wipe up the mess we drove home for some mops. We were gone about twenty minutes. By the time we made it back the water was frozen solid. We had to use a dust pan as a scraper to get it up off the wood floors.
I went upstairs to check the conditions of the second bath. It is the only surviving bathroom of the demolition work. The toilet was disgusting so I flushed it. Not a good move. Brown water shot from the wall behind the toilet, splashed across the floor barely missing me. I heard Britt yelling from downstairs, “What did you do???”
I rushed downstairs and water was pouring from another spot in the kitchen. At about this time frantic calls to the project manager produced the project manager. He came in calm as the morning breeze and told us that the water backed up because the plumbers had had their “pressure” test earlier.
They had left the pressure cuffs (that look much like blood-pressure cuffs) in the pipes. As the water froze and expanded around the cuffs the water pressure pushed them up and out along with the water. And the toilet? It is so old, they knew they needed to replace it and a few pipes around it. That was scheduled for this week.
The freeze just heightened the troubles a little.
So this week the house may get painted on the outside before it freezes again at the end of the week. And the toilet may get replaced. And because the plumbers passed their inspection we may get some drywall and tile in so that we don’t have flooding from upstairs to down. I’m only hoping we don’t have to deal with any poop-cycles ever again!
Note on the diet: Salads at fast food places have as many calories as the burgers. Go for the chicken sandwiches – for over two hundred fewer calories – as long as the words “extreme” or “deluxe” isn’t part of the sandwich’s description.
Second note: Onion rings have fewer calories than fries.