I’m beginning to think that no holiday is complete without a plumbing crisis of some kind.
It was a couple years ago on the night before Christmas Eve that the ceiling collapsed in my parents’ basement. Clumps of wet drywall and a steady drip indicated that something in the piping was to blame, and we had a time of it locating a plumber at that particular time on that particular date. Judging from the size of the check that went into his pocket, I told myself as a soon-to-be homeowner that I wouldd keep a list of emergency repair types so I’d at least know I was getting a quality patch job for the price.
Fast forward to last night, when I decided that it was finally time to attend to a couple persistent dark spots on one of the bathroom floors. I was happily scrubbing away when I noticed that things were not quite as firm as I would want them to be — in fact, one could say positively spongy.
Rotting floorboards! And lo and behold, from underneath, faint water spots through the paint on the ceiling. Memories of that Christmas flooded through my mind, and I knew with a sinking feeling that I’d been completely remiss in my follow-through: there was no list. In an instant I was off to the races through the yellow pages, flipping through listing after listing, looking for those magic words. “Emergency service!” “24 hour response!” But who to choose?
It’s maddening, trying to make a zero-information guess at service quality at 8 p.m., the night before a federal holiday. A few minutes and I came to the conclusion that I couldn’t make a guess at all. An example of the power of first impressions: it’s apparently impossible for a plumber to have a print ad that doesn’t scream, “Stay away from me! My work is like garbage!” Evidence of the impossibility of working with a yellow canvas.
A little later and I calmed down. A faint voice in my head told me that I’d noticed those water spots before — they weren’t new. The house wasn’t going to fall down overnight, and what I had was a far cry from a collapsed ceiling. I’m just going to call that bathroom off limits for the weekend and attend to it on Monday.
My brain is telling me not to worry, and that my pocketbook will be a lot happier during normal business hours. Paranoia is so easy, though.
At the very least, it’s time to make a list.
I guess trouble always comes in threes. At least, I hope so! I’m not quite ready for more just yet.
On the heels of the recent plumbing adventures came word that B.’s computer had just up and died on her. Apparently the power connector worked its way loose from its home on the motherboard and Compaq’s only remedy for this is to replace it wholesale. Since it’s out of warranty, well, time to start looking for new computers.
I’m still going to try and see if we can’t get it fixed, but timing-wise, this was really unfortunate. B.’s classes start on Monday and life will be pretty difficult without computer access. Sigh!
As if that weren’t enough, my lovely little Altima decided that it had had enough of America’s political landscape and chose to die just over the Canadian border. And I do mean just — we were still twenty feet or so before the Customs booths when the engine suddenly went silent. I’m wondering what went through the guard’s mind as we wheeled the car through the lane on foot. Maybe that’s a common sight for her. Who knows?
It was late afternoon, so things were looking pretty grim. At best, we could have gotten it towed and looked at the next morning. That meant an unplanned night in Vancouver; not a terrible prospect, but given circumstances, still irritating. That my conclusion after spending a good half hour repeating yellow pages exercises of a couple nights before, except this time with garages and towing companies. Definitely not looking forward to seeing the roaming charges on my next phone bill!
However, things start to get happier at this point. The tow truck driver brought some diagnostic equipment and determined that the main problem was that the battery wasn’t charging in idle (yay for long border waits!) but was getting juice just fine when I was moving. That meant that, with care, we could go ahead with our plans in Vancouver (minus a couple hours) and head back home to get serviced somewhere much closer to home. Yay for silver linings!
Now, you’d think based on my history that Canada has it in for me, but I have to say that everyone was super-helpful to me today, which made me feel better about an otherwise horrible situation. Special kudos to Rav, who made her way down from the city to come pick us up when things were looking especially bad.
That out of the way, the rest of the evening was great: dinner at Tojo’s, lucking into a signed Delerium poster, and ice cream — never forget the ice cream! — though given the choice, I certainly don’t plan on choosing curry-flavor again. And doing it all with friends: well, as they say at Mastercard, that’s priceless.
On our return through the border I just shifted into neutral and opened the throttle every once in awhile. My neighbors in line probably thought I was crazy, if they noticed at all. I was just happy to be able to drive home!
As far as trouble goes, that’s three. I hope the world is keeping count!
Jet calls it the “Fat Kreme a la Stone Cold.” I don’t know what to call it. I’m not sure I want to be held responsible for giving this any name at all.
One Fatburger, two Krispy Kreme glazed original doughnuts, and one small cup of Cold Stone strawberry ice cream with white chocolate chips. I didn’t have the heart to tell him that they’ve since opened a Jamba Juice next door.
On the other hand, perhaps that’s best for everyone involved.
The raw ingredients.
Our old friend, the Fat Kreme.
I was imagining a spoonful or two, but apparently Jet has other ideas.
Clearly a fork-and-knife affair. Personally I don’t think he wants to touch it.
Nothing complements the taste of a Fat Kreme a la mode like the smooth taste of the Macallan.
Clearly delirious from the aftereffects, Jet gives the thumbs-up.
Proof of a kind and loving god at last! It’s over.
It’s been a bit of a grind for the past two weeks, everyone. Sorry for being gone! In between dealing with fires at work and assembling and designing an electronic book for my 10-year high school reunion, I pretty much lost my ability to form coherent thoughts on other topics. I also drained my body’s ability to fight off illness, and somehow managed to catch a cold in July! The worst part was that, laid up for two days at home, I couldn’t take any time to recover; Saturday was impending and the book wasn’t going to finish itself. Sigh.
Don’t even get me started on the CD project. I get a headache just thinking about that.
I think I end up volunteering for projects because of very wrong, very selfish reasons. For example, I took on this one not out of the goodness of my heart, but because I just didn’t trust anyone else not to screw it up. What this really meant was that though I finished on time, with what I considered to be a successful product, I didn’t get much personal satisfaction out of it beyond the adrenaline rush of just barely meeting deadline. Instead, I got to Chicago sleep-deprived and still ill, hardly how I envisioned myself meeting and reconnecting with long-lost classmates.
Still, it was an elegant and hugely successful event — my first time ever in the Sears Tower. On the 99th floor, from atop the world, the 360 degree view of Chicago is simply breathtaking. Jill once told me that the women would all look the same, albeit more elegant, and the men would be almost unrecognizable (all filled out, adults at last) and she was right, definitely. Mostly, the biggest difference was in dress — lots of chic, tailored suits and fabulous cocktail dresses — a far cry from where we all were ten years ago. But the huge surprise was how easy it was to connect and reconnect: with those I knew, an easy familiarity, as if we’d never parted; and with those I didn’t, a newfound comfort, perhaps from the shared experiences of growing up beyond high school. As the night grew late, I was barely aware of what a wreck I’d been coming in, and I began to dread the thought that it all would end. It did, though, as it had to, many long embraces and promises of correspondence later.
One advantage of making the book: I had so engrossed myself in the doings and goings of my classmates in the days before the reunion, that I had a huge head start on everyone else. As to what the future holds for each of us, I guess we’ll all have to wait for the big 2-0 to find out.
Can I just talk about my addiction to Queer Eye for the Straight Guy? It’s just so fabby.
The lovely Altima is back from service, a thousand dollars and new alternator, battery and fan belt later. It feels like a completely new car! Where before it groaned up slopes or whined plaintively during idle, it’s now purring like a happy kitten. Suddenly I feel like another 100K miles isn’t out of the realm of possibility. Yay!