“…And itsa hard, itsa hard, itsa hard…Itsa haaaaard rain gonna fall,” Dylan sang in my head last Sunday night. Bob Dylan has no bleeping clue about hard rain.
The renovation on our 150 year old house finally began in earnest after 7 years of stops, starts, trials, tribulations and of course, “the worst economy since the Great Depression.” A construction loan was not easy to come by, but we managed. To say we were excited about it is like saying Mark MaGuire used Flintstones chewable vitamins during the season he broke the all time record batting average. (I had been rooting for Sammy Sosa).
Be that as it may, when the project began “from the top down” I danced a jig knowing that the leak that began in my roof two years prior would be drying up. No more “putting out the buckets” when the forecast called for precipitation.
Day one went very well. Demolition started on the roof over the kitchen, and the fireplace that separated the kitchen from our dining room and our master bedroom with the impending addition was mostly obliterated. I was one step closer to my very own, first ever bathroom for ME (and my husband) that first sunny day and oh, the joy.
The following days of the week brought drizzle and a visit from the engineer who okayed our plans to support the new roof and continue in the addition. Before I knew it, the weekend rolled around and a tarp was nailed up to protect us from the elements. The builder and crew left the premises while I dreamed of the flurry of activity that would be occurring on Monday.
But with the weekend came not only a work stoppage and a flimsy tarp system, but God’s answer to every prayer raised in the Western Hemisphere during the prior two years for a relief from drought conditions. God responded with a resounding YES on Sunday night. As an added bonus, He sent wind for the wind farms, too, but accidentally to the Southeast instead of the western plains, and they tore the tarps away like a Band-Aid from a scabbed knee.
As the Vikings and the Saints duked it out for a trip to the 2010 Super Bowl, the leak started at the corner cabinet over the countertop. We’d had that experience before, so we put out our little 8 ounce square Tupperware to catch the drip. Ha, ha. The remedy turned out to be like holding back the mighty Mississippi with a table spoon.
Thinking everything was under control, I returned to watch the devolvement of Brett Favre. I heard an ominous splash which sounded like water that did not hit it’s Tupperware target, so I went to investigate. The entryway to my kitchen contained a small pond. I called out to my husband and ran to the laundry room to retrieve a towel or two and a bucket. Think faucet here; think a steady stream raining from the ceiling. I placed the bucket underneath the waterfall and held my hands out, gaping. Where the previous owner had drilled holes to hang her artsy-fartsy baskets from the ceiling was a new sprinkler system.
Frank and I managed to get the situation under control with two buckets and 4 towels. The mop was on standby for when the rain stopped. Again: ha, ha. After having wrung dusty water from dish towels which were now assisting the Tupperware under the original leak at the corner cabinet, I stepped toward the sink to wash my hands. On the way, I noticed a new sensation. It wasn’t exactly rain, but it was more like a kind of pleasant mist akin to what one would walk through in a theme park on a scorching summer day. It was emanating from the vicinity of our refrigerator. Frank looked up to find the cabinets above the fridge oozing a steady stream of ashy colored liquid which bounced off the top of the fridge and gaily sprinkled onto yours truly.
Believe it or not, the fun did not stop there. A peculiar crashy-splashy “tink-tink-tink” thrummed in the pantry. We looked panic-stricken at each other like 2 pre-teens caught with a cigarette. Water was flowing from the attic access down the walls, and onto the shelving where we store our “dry goods.” Quickly, we began relocating box food, Tupperware, paper bags, cans, and every other sundry item from the metal shelves to the kitchen table. Placing another bucket on the top shelf to collect the majority of the flow and three beach towels on the floor to stem the tide into the kitchen, we thought we had it all under control. Ha, ha? You betcha.
The Saints had long ago crushed the hopes of the Vikings and we were tired. I emptied a few of the buckets and wiped the counter tops and we retired upstairs to read a bit before checking on our kitchen, firmly believing that the rain would slow down soon. I had a feeling that after reading a chapter, the counter would probably be a bit flooded, but that was easily remedied with another couple of dish towels.
Around midnight I returned downstairs to find the pond in the entryway had become a lake. The pre-drilled basket holes were not enough for the rainstorm, so rain was now coming through the door frame to the kitchen as well as the dining room. The dining room fireplace was leaking from both sides and the flood had spilled also into that room and a small creek was making its way toward the electrical system that supported our computers and my husband’s “home office.” Calling out an expletive with no regard for the sleeping children, I brought my spouse running. Several towels, more buckets, bowls and Tupperware and a significant mopping later, we nearly had it under control again.
When a darkening seam developed on the ceiling between the pantry and the stove, Frank decided he’d better grab a flashlight and head to the roof to do something about the tarps. I could hear him up there in the deluge, hammering and cursing and I realized the wind could very easily sweep him off the roof or he could slip and fall. The sky opened up and pored like I had not heard it until that point. I called on all of our dead grandparents, my parents, the Blessed Virgin and the Lord Himself to protect my husband. God knew I did not want to be left alone to deal with this leaky house!
Frank made it safely off the roof and came back inside looking very much like a wet yard dog that has been kicked one time too many. I loved him more at that moment possibly than I did when I married him almost 20 years ago. Again, thinking we had it under control with the re-nailed tarps he could get in place, we went upstairs to retire.
You guessed it. The bedroom fireplace had leaked. Water gushed toward the bed and into the carpet. Bucket, towel, mop…bucket, towel, mop…it was the final insult. I went downstairs to tend the counter top, the kitchen doorway, the pantry and dining room. Looking around, I counted 14 towels, 7 buckets, 2 pots, 1 roasting pan, 3 Tupperware bowls and a large storage bin and completely lost it. This was a disaster. Then, realizing that this would probably be the last time this would happen to us once the renovation was complete, I was able to take heart. “It is just an inconvenience,” I said to myself. “It could be worse; I could be in Haiti with the earthquake victims who have no homes at all.”
It sucked no less, but I felt a little better about it anyway.
At 2 am the rain finally started to taper off a bit. We did one more round of emptying, wiping, mopping and swabbing and went back up and read so we could unwind a little. By 3 am, there was blissful sleep. At five, the alarm went off and the school system called to say flooding had delayed school. Excellent; I had two hours to set things aright. The contractor came at eight and work began again with renewed effort to replace the roof immediately.
Today there is tar paper and a schedule to begin adding shingles. The addition over the kitchen is framed and roofed. I could almost breathe a relieved sigh, but…
Tomorrow there is a forecast for rain and snow. Ha, ha. Shut up, Dylan.