On Birthdays of Beloveds and Quantities of Water

This year, I spent my 52nd birthday in a pretty quiet mode.

My Beloved turned 52 today, and she/we had intended a similarly quiet day.

However . . . . . . .

At around 10 am, it started raining.

Now, we are used to rain in the Great Northwest. Water is our element. Patterings and sloshings and drippings and gurglings are our soundtrack.

Today, though, it rained in the way that I remember from the Midwest -- as if someone is throwing great five-gallon buckets of water at you over and over -- the kind of rain no umbrella will shield you from, and even your Helly-Hansons will not keep from pruning some portion of your delicate hide.

Which was novel -- and I was actually fine with it -- I had already dedicated my day to hanging with my Beloved, letting the tides of her birthday wishes take me along in the directions she wanted to travel (and from the heavy hanging sky of early morning, I figured there would be much lounging and napping involved).

My beloved says that only cats really know what to do with a day like today.

It was around 11:00 or so that she went to the basement to get something.

"Honey . . . . . . I think you need to come down here."

I hate hearing things like that. You know -- that particular tone?

The basement drain was rhythmically regurgitating water -- and a wide pool had already spread around the chimney wall and toward the washing machine. Fortunately, the only things that were actually sitting in the drink were non-permeable (for the most part), and the pool was shallow.

We moved stuff around and put the press-board bookshelves up on blocks, just in case (the water hadn't reached them yet), and began mopping and bailing while I called the City to see if a storm drain was blocked.

The City crew showed up in about 10 minutes (one of the pleasures of a small town), and the three of them stood around my drain (where I had been watching the water gurgle up, then sucked it by the several gallons into my wet/dry vac, dumped it, and watched it gurgle up again). They were admirably responsive to my concern, and the older, bigger guy sent the two younger, littler guys out to the street (in that rain -- and not really hiding his delight in being able to order them out there while he stayed inside, dry), to dig up the outlets and make sure that they were running. Which they were. Which meant that the problem was in my sewer line, not with the city's storm drain. Which meant that I needed to call the landlord to authorize a plumber. Which I did.

Meanwhile, the rain slowed and the water in the drain, while not receding completely, at least stopped puking into my basement to the tune of several gallons a minute.

Long story short -- the drain stops spitting up, the plumber comes by in the next couple of hours (another lovely thing about my tiny town, where competition amongst plumbers is fierce and untamed, like an episode of Mutual of Omaha's Wild Kingdom).

He's a short, scrappy 20-something, and he doesn't seem to like me at first, but as the time goes by and he realizes that I really am willing to stand by the toilet and flush! every time he commands me to, while he snakes the sewer (saving him many, many trips up and down the basement stairs), he begins to warm to me, I think, calling me by my first name as we part.

Report: There are roots in the drain. It is marginally clear now, having been rootered, but we should keep an eye on it when we shower or run a bunch of water through it. The roots have been there for a while, but the big rain has the ground so saturated that the blocked (and broken) line can't drain as it usually has been doing (out the sides, not down to the street). He'll call the landlord to get authorization for this. He does. He calls me back. He'll be back with his crew on Friday to dig up our front lawn and lay a new line to the street.

Phew. There are times that I'm glad I rent, rather than own. I was a homeowner once. With a good landlord, I think that the trade-offs of power and responsibility are pretty much a wash. Yeah, I can't do exactly what I want with the property without the landlord's permission, but also -- when the sewer line needs replacing, it's not my problem.

On with the day.

My Beloved and I take deep sighs, and I realize that the whole thing has been a bit stressful.

We talk about the metaphor of the events of the day -- water (emotion) that we're done with, and want to move along (waste water) actually backing up into our house, and threatening to damage our possessions because roots (grounding, stability) have blocked the way to let it flow down to its ultimate desired destination. We talk about how this fits with our sense that it's time to move, but we don't know what's next, so we are tending to cling to the grounded, stable situation we've known.

Then we each have a little shot of the cute tiny bottle of Pravda Vodka that our friend has left as a birthday gift for my Beloved.

Since neither of us usually drink hard liquor, we toast to the future that we do not know, cough a bit, and bless the rain.

Posted byPortlyDyke at 9:41 PM  

2 comments:

Christina said... November 13, 2008 at 8:55 AM  

That happens often here in Texas. The water company will come out for free here and water-blast the roots out of the pipe. It does a much better job than an auger.

Anonymous said... November 18, 2008 at 6:17 PM  

Someone gave my son one of those little bottles of Pravda vodka, which he promptly turned around and gave to me. It's pretty good!
Also this year we had a 60' pine tree taken out that was in our front yard, its roots were growing all over the place and about to ruin the foundation of our house. It cost a small fortune!

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