Last night I was feeling good. I’d worked on the house all morning, moved the sheep for an hour, and then driven a little over three hours round-trip to pick up a shower curtain rod and a dehumidifier for the basement.
In between moving bouts in the past week I had set up the basement with all our six-foot bookcases, our television, and a sofa, love seat, and rug I’d bought on Craigslist. I’d only had time to unpack about a third of the books but one could see that it would be a cozy spot. However it was humid. At Lowe’s I would buy a dehumidifier and finally track down a shower curtain rod.
At first I thought Lowe’s was sold out of both. The store’s website had shown the dehumidifier in stock. In the appliance department a woman looked it up on her computer and told me I could order it online with free delivery. Sigh. When I then went to the bath section and found the rack for shower curtain rods empty, I was in disbelief. I found a man and asked if there might be some rods stored in the back. “Is no one in the Adirondacks showering, or is everyone showering? There are no shower curtain rods to be found anywhere in any town!” He in turn looked up the shower curtain rods and found there were some stacked near the ceiling.
A partial victory! I hurried home to return the car to Lucy in time for her scheduled workout and I gave the shower rod to Nick. He installed it. We have a shower! Hooray!
Lucy took the maiden voyage after her nine-mile run. I had purchased some frozen lasagne for an easy supper and while it cooked I did barn chores. At last the long day was over. Rain drummed on the roof. It was pleasant sitting with my girl at the dining room table, watching the rain out the windows. I went upstairs to change into my pajamas for supper while Lucy set up our show. I was exhausted.
“Mom,” called Lucy’s voice, “there’s some water in the basement.”
What? I pictured a little moisture. I clattered down the two flights of temporary construction stairs and found that rain water was pouring in under the basement door. It was already over an inch deep on the floor by the door and flooding toward the new sofas. The new rug was already sodden. Boxes of DH’s mountain books were standing in water, as were unmarked boxes containing half of everything we own. What to do? With two mighty heaves I threw the big sofa to be cantilevered on top of the coffee table and then the love seat on top of the sofa, grazing the ceiling. Still the water crept closer.
I raced upstairs and jumped back into my clothes. I called Nick. He couldn’t hear me through the bad connection. Water? He thought there might be a small drip from the new shower.
“Water is pouring in under the basement door and under the window!” I screamed, and hung up to race downstairs again.
I was so tired but there was no time to waste. Go, go, go! My breath was coming in dry sobs as I sloshed through water, pulled wet boxes, and stacked them on the stairs.
Nick arrived with his girlfriend, Amy, who came halfway down the basement steps and asked kindly, “Are you all right?”
“I am done!”
I have no idea what I meant by this. Luckily she did not stop to inquire, but turned to Lucy and together they began pulling the wet boxes from the stairs to the safety of the mudroom. Still the water poured in.
Nick came into the basement with a shop-vac and began trying to vacuum up the water. He apologized for the flooding. After excavating the basement, the men had left the grade sloped toward the house. It was due to be corrected after construction was finished. The drain at the door had similarly been left blocked. (He borrowed my knife to cut it open now.) He was very sorry.
“I know you are,” I said, and never paused in moving boxes or the strange tearless sobbing. I couldn’t seem to breathe properly or think.
There was little room to move things away from the flooding. I would move items once and then the water would reach them again. I was moving a bookcase out of the water when I glanced out the window and saw the pounding rain sheeting over the ground and flooding into the window well… clearly on its way to join its brethren in my basement.
“I have to chop a channel with my pickaxe!” I screamed over the roar of the shop-vac, and ran for the door. Upstairs Lucy and Amy looked at each other. They thought I was going to attack the basement floor.
Instead I raced down to the barn, grabbed my deep-bedding pickaxe, and ran back up the hill in the downpour. I began hacking the dirt and rocks in the ground above the basement to create a new path for the water, away from the house. I was soaked to the skin and could see nothing through my glasses in the rain. I took them off. Nick joined me with a shovel and the two of us chopped and dug in the driving rain. Finally the water coursed through our channel in a muddy river, cascading past the house and safely onto the grass.
Flash forward two more hours.
The water was out of the basement. We had rolled up the dripping carpet and carried it to the porch. (I will drive it to the cleaners today.) The sofas and some of the bookcases were off the floor on 2x4s. Books were stacked all over the dining room and living room. Some of DH’s mountain books were standing on their spines on a towel to dry. The mudroom was again filled with boxes. Amy had brought fans from her house and they were blowing in the basement in an effort to dry the space. (I had put out an email call for dehumidifiers at school. A colleague responded that he thought there was a free one up for grabs in a garage and I had driven to find it by headlights. When I brought the large machine home, I was dubious. Lucy looked it up online. It was a humidifier, “for dry and arid climates.”) To the four of us punch-drunk with exhaustion, this seemed funny.
This morning my beautiful house looks like a storm has swept through. The flood was an unexpected end to a tough week. I haven’t even mentioned the problems with the bank, the difficulties with Moxie’s bad teat, or the propane installer who stapled a hideous, bright yellow gas line the size of a garden hose at waist height across the back of the house, meanwhile gouging the new hardwood floor in the kitchen by lifting the stove off its sliders.
I’m very, very tired. It has started to pour again. We are due to have rain on and off for the coming week.
But of course I am not done. This morning I will walk and feed the dogs, do my barn chores, and then make the new day’s list.