It began early. Too early! My husband decided that as there was a load of logs being delivered at any time today as well as the possibility of a family visit, he’d better get up at the crack of dawn to make the juices, light the fire, have breakfast and get to the shops as soon as they opened. No matter how ‘quiet’ he tries to be, I always wake up and this is never a happy start to our day: I don’t react well to being woken up, whatever the hour. I need time, lots of it, to come to, review my dreams, make an inventory of my aches and pains, work out what day it is – always a tricky conundrum during school holidays because I don’t have the school children or school traffic to at least give me a clue as to whether it’s a weekday or a weekend. I don’t usually manage much sleep – Morpheus and I are mere passing acquaintances – so when I do slip into slumber I like it to last as long as possible.
So his getting up even earlier than usual is not an auspicious start – the usually full-throated blackbird hasn’t even warmed up his vocal chords yet! I want to stay supine for as long as possible, in order to gather my strength and my wits ready for the possible onslaught, I mean visit, of my lovely grandsons who usually like to invent some kind of medieval torture to inflict on their doting grandma – their favourite ‘game’ at the moment is Demon Dentists! They seem to have grown out of spies and pirates. We have a playroom full of cardboard instruments of torture designed by them over the years (see Creativity is Contagious), usually after a visit to the local ruined castle and of course used only on yours truly – I don’t know how Grandad always manages to get away with it!
We haven’t seen them since Valentine’s Day and I was looking forward to the annual Easter Egg frenzy, I mean well-organised, leisurely garden hunt (I swear they only love me for my chocolate 😉). So was Grandad, you’ve never met someone with as sweet a tooth and being well-brought up, they usually take pity on him and donate a small portion of their Easter booty.
But at 8.22 our daughter rang. This couldn’t be good news. It wasn’t – or it was, depending on how you looked at it! She couldn’t get the boys moving – the youngest (not that young) wanted to travel in his pyjamas! The oldest didn’t thnk it was worth travelling all that way just for a couple of hours. She would try again during the week.
Ok. So I’m up but not dressed, I’m still in ‘coming to’ mode, when my husband gives me this news. I was off the hook, my sentence to torture has been commuted, but I am disappointed, though I understand. They’ve had a busy couple of weeks. The oldest had performed in a play, they both had violin exams, they just want to chill. But I’m up now. I sip my hot water as I look out on a damp, dark sky that looks leaden with rain, and groan. No sun then. I should have stayed in bed.
Nevertheless, I gird up my spirits (?!) and decide to go in the shower, wash my hair and see what the day has to offer by way of compensation. I love a scalding hot shower! It eases some of the kinks in my muscles and I love the total privacy of it, no interruptions, no extraneous noise, just quiet contemplation and a cocoon of hot, relaxing water. I let it cascade over me and muse about the new day ahead.
I go back to bed! I can’t face drying my hair, it can do what it likes, I don’t care. Bed is warm. Bed is quiet. Bed doesn’t require any effort. Bed doesn’t make me look at dark clouds. I can close my eyes and shut everything out. Just for a few minutes.
An hour later, I get up – again – and in passing the mirror I realise I made a huge mistake. My hair is standing on end! I mean literally standing on end.
Throughout the following hours, I don’t know what to do with myself. I was all geared up for chatting and playing. The house had been cleaned and tidied, I had even discovered my husband cleaning the big kitchen window – wow, everything was so sharp, so clear, I had begun to think I was developing cataracts! – raw chocolate eggs had been made…
The day needed recalibrating but I didn’t know how to do it. I write a post, I watch a recorded episode of NCIS, I contemplate the woodburner – a very calming ‘activity’, I highly recommend it – I watch my husband going back and forth, back and forth with a wheelbarrow full of logs. I watch the rain and feel sorry for the people fighting with umbrellas in the wind and am grateful that I am inside contemplating the woodburner!
I would have watched the cycling Tour of Catalunya, but we prefer to watch the recording so we can fast forward the ads and the boring bits and besides, my husband was otherwise engaged with a log store.
At one stage my daughter texts me to say her oldest has just come downstairs and asked if it was too late to go to Grandmas! We’re now looking to Tuesday.
And so we arrive at dinner-time – pasta since you ask – and our evening date with a boxed set of The West Wing.
My husband goes to the utility room to fetch something from the freezer and…
A flood happened. Not the freezer, the drain under the sink. Silt and water flow along the vinyl and he gets everything out from the cupboard, shines a torch, dons rubber gloves and begins digging out the silt. A tremendously heavy downpour had coincided with him emptying the bath and this was the result.
Except that turns out to be only the half of it. I look over to the door leading into the small extension we use as a playroom/craftroom and groan. When we open the door, we discover the flooded drain is just the apéritif: the flow of silt-sodden water has found its way into the playroom and the carpet is sodden. I groan again. And again. My husband is right royally fed up. It’s getting late, dinner is half-prepared, he’s been stacking logs most of the day, he’s tired and hungry and this is what he faced.
And do you know what bugged us most? Last autumn, we decided we would raise the floor in the playroom, it’s taken us years to get around to it. For some reason the previous owners had added the extension but it was a step down from the rooms it led off. So finally, we decided to bite the bullet and raise the floor as well as some other minor alterations. We decide we’ll do it in February this year.
Only we didn’t. If we had, it would have created a small step up from the utility room and the flood would have been stemmed before it reached the playroom!
The best laid plans and all that.
The next couple of hours are spent cutting out carpet and clearing up.
I put photos of the flood on Instagram to show the family. I half-seriously asked ‘What to do now?’ My son wrote back, ‘put a couple of convector heaters in there.’
I’m not sure how to relay this to my husband. He has just come in, in short sleeves, cold and damp from dragging a sodden carpet out to the garage, which is all the way around the side of the house and up at the top of the drive. He is exhausted and hungry. He has locked up and is standing at the stove, ready to start over with dinner. He opens the pasta. The packet splits in two and the contents hit the floor.
The heaters are in the garage.
Copyright: Chris McGowan
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