It’s been pouring for days. It’s my kind of weather except when it impacts the toilets in my house. That’s where I draw the line. The toilets, the shower, the bathtub and the garage sink went on strike all at once and filled up with water. Grey, dirty water.
That required immediate emergency measures. I called two plumbers who were asleep and couldn’t be bothered with my plight. It was Sunday after all, the day of rest, and crises would have to wait. The third plumber responded and came over in 45 minutes. Meanwhile Alf was filling buckets of water from the shower and dumping them in the backyard. I was pacing the kitchen trying to stay calm. The rain continued. Calvin was on guard with nose quivering.
Finally Juan showed up in an unmarked truck. That sent alarm bells off in my head. Calvin began howling. He introduced himself and smiled with a mouthful of braces and spoke in faltering English. The alarm bells were getting louder. Calvin was grunting. Juan unscrewed the cap to the main pipe to the house and a volcano of water erupted flooding the front lawn. I was convinced we had called a hack and I was ready to phone another plumber, and then the police, if I could find either who wasn’t taking a nap. Calvin was hissing and booing at Juan.
Alf decided to go with it. Juan pulled out a snake and a camera from his truck and did a diagnostic. Sure enough the roots of our bushes were strangling the outflow from the pipe and would need to be replaced. Juan called two buddies who appeared too quickly – were they waiting around the corner? – which confirmed we had hired a gang of thugs to fix our plumbing. This was not looking good. Calvin agreed. He was showing his pearly whites and howling.
The gang worked all day digging and snaking and digging some more. Calvin snarled along with them from the kitchen. The guys took a break to get tacos. We asked where they went and now we have a recommendation for a neighborhood taqueria. Calvin got a gleam in his eye.
The gang continued with the dig. It felt like an archaeological excavation in my front lawn. The chewed up pipe was finally unearthed, and I began to calm down. Maybe these guys knew their job after all. Calvin, exhausted from his protective detail, had curled up in his bed and gone to sleep.
By the end of the day the plumbers had unplugged the back-up, got the water flowing again, and I had my toilets back. They said they’d come back the next day to install the new pipe and eat more tacos.
Calvin says, “I’ve earned at least a dozen tacos. Let’s go!”
I’m eating leftover deviled eggs and freezing. There’s a cold wind whipping the dead leaves into swirls today. The kind of weather that belongs on the east coast, not here. What’s happening to this side of the country? This is California, not Connecticut.
The deviled eggs, well I made too many this week and my guests didn’t eat them all. They left them for me to do that. Calvin, of course, is too eager to oblige, but I know better. He’ll rip one or two or three throughout the day that make me want to fumigate the house. He gets a bone instead.
Alf is buried in blankets, Calvin is under the bed comforter with only his tail showing, and I’m at the computer dashing this off. A rather inauspicious end of the year, I admit, but I’ve never been one for noisy cocktail parties with fireworks in the background. That’s better left for Hollywood, or New York City, or maybe Paris. And since I’m not there, I’m happy to huddle by the fire, even if it’s a spare-the-day day, reading my book, and saying cheers to all of you. Thank you for visiting my blog this year and being a gracious readership. Happy New Year to you!
Calvin says, “I read your blog, too. It’s time to give me a starring role. I want more lines. I need a make-up artist. My own chair with my name on it. And I certainly need better food. Including eggs.”
Alf and I had two major leaks today. One from a toilet, the other from the washer in the garage. I’m grateful they didn’t happen on Christmas day. It would have meant our guests using our neighbor’s bathroom. And they weren’t home.
It could be an omen for 2019.
Leaks. What do they represent? Not being in control, for one thing. All you can do is scream, grab towels and mop-up.
Then go to the store and buy a new toilet.
Another, the mechanism in the tank needs replacing. Could that mean we’ll need colonoscopies to check our plumbing?
A diversionary tactic is to buy a new toilet.
A third possibility, someone is leaking secret information about me and Calvin on our walks. Who would do such a thing? Those times are sacred.
Definitely buy a new toilet, preferably the kind that flushes itself.
So we went to the store. Who knew there were so many toilets to choose from? The selection was tush-numbing. We had to think about height, bowl shape, color, style, and flushing and water-saving technology. Really?
I have only one specification. I need a comfort-high toilet. I’m tired of sitting cross-legged at floor level.
Calvin says, “You need to practice using bushes outside the house. They like the extra watering, they don’t leak, and the leaves tickle your tush.”
Alf surprised me with daffodils and purple flowers that are popping up this spring. My azalea is bursting red so the garden is draped in the primary colors these days. My garden has never looked so colorful. It makes me smile.
We have the worst soil on the planet. The Mojave has more chances of sprouting flowers than my front and backyards. It’s hard clay, and when broken up with toil and sweat, it winks at you for a moment, and then scampers back to form its impenetrable layer of steel. No matter how much rich soil and delicious nutrients you pour down its black hole of a gullet, it regurgitates the clay. I’m convinced the clay runs deep to the core of the planet.
It’s a wonder Alf is succeeding where I haven’t.
“What’s your secret?” I asked.
“Patience,” he said.
“That’s never worked for me,” I said.
“Maybe it’s the rain. That helps.”
We used to have a rainy season, but that was so long ago. I had given up on it.
“It must be the rain,” I said.
“And not my green thumb?”
“You don’t have one. You’re from New York,” I said.
“How do you think Central Park came into being then?”
I checked Wikipedia.
“Not by New Yorkers. The two landscape architects were from England and Connecticut respectively. It proves my point. Brits know a thing or two about gardens.”
“Then we should import one and really go mad,” Alf said.
Calvin says, “I love our clay soil. I like hearing the splashing sound my pee makes on it. Kills all things green. Adds character to the command, ‘Go potty!'”
I’m writing this on the subway on my way home. Two women, about the same age, complete strangers, sit in front with their backs to me. I notice both have the same shade of blonde on their heads, out of the same tube, probably the same store and shelf where all the other hair dyes live, where a spectrum from black to almost silver beckon to female customers. Boxes and boxes with faces of models half their age. I wonder what shade they picked. Bubbly Blonde or Gold Nugget. One is trying to camouflage the Earl(y) grey. The other had highlighted the mouse(y) in her head. At any rate, it doesn’t work. I would have chosen a warm brown with flecks of red cardinal to make their complexions come alive.
I say if you’re going to change your color, go for broke. You can always paint over it if you hate it. Or live like another woman for a while. It’s your opportunity to go Bohemian, paint a canvas, go belly dancing or hug a stranger, your husband. He’d think he walked into the wrong house. You might come home looking ten years younger and then the adventure begins.
Calvin says, “So when’s your next appointment at the hair dresser’s? I could use a little excitement around here.”
September 21 was World Gratitude Day. I completely missed it. Probably because I was grumbling. It’s my default mode.
Alf and I were on vacation in Ashland, Oregon at the Shakespeare Festival that week. One night we saw Sully, the Clint Eastwood movie. I can say I was grateful I wasn’t on that heart-stopping flight. You forgot it was Tom Hanks. He was Captain Chesley Sullenberger making life decisions in that pilot’s seat and you were right there next to him.
I was grateful to have seen the best Hamlet and Richard II ever. They rivaled anything you’d see on Broadway.
On the drive home we came to a snarl of traffic on the highway. “Now what?” Alf said. “Probably an accident,” the know-it-all in me said. As we inched closer we noticed a full grown deer splayed dead blocking the four lanes. The lines of cars sat there with engines idling. “Now what?” Alf said again. This time I didn’t have a response.
Suddenly a car closest to the dead animal veered off to the right. The driver, a tall, strong muscled man, got out, his wife too, and he ran across the highway and grabbed the 120 pound animal by the front legs and dragged it to the left side of the road and left it there in a heap. Then he ran back to his car and got in. Nobody honked thank you. Nobody waved. Nothing. In a flash the traffic started up again and began rushing past the deer without any thought to what just happened. Stunning.
I was thankful for that man who took the initiative in front of oncoming traffic. Fortunately the drivers in the front lines acted as a blockade otherwise who knows what carnage could have transpired with man and beast.
Calvin says, “How gutless of the driver that killed him to drive off like that leaving others to pick up the mess. If this had happened in the woods, my tribe of beagles would have surrounded the beast and howled for help.”
The kitchen is complete. It’s so different Alf and I feel we’re in an alternative universe. We’re having to get used to it like a new house.
Unlike us, it’s bright, open and sleek. What was once a traditional kitchen of the 60’s is now a bold space with stainless steel, grey cabinets, black and white granite counters, and a brown hardwood floor.
Our son, the artist, immediately spotted all the flaws. “I would have laid the hardwood floor in the opposite direction,” he said. A floor is a floor. Vertical or horizontal, once you throw rugs over it, who’s to notice? He did.
Our daughter was thrilled with the upgrade. “Wow. Makes the house look glamorous. I’ll be coming over more often.” Who knew modernizing the house is the secret to bringing the family together.
Right now I’m purging food items, pots and pans, and small appliances before we fill up cabinet space. I discovered I’ve been hording bags of spices, too many spatulas, dish towels and oven mittens, and an extra set of dishes meant for a banquet of 24. Time to toss.
Calvin says, “I have to establish new scent trails to my food dish.”