Thursday, August 30, 2007

Put away your white shoes now, darlin'

This has been a really strange summer, weatherwise, but with Labor Day fast approaching I guess we can call it gone. Sorry about the dearth of entertaining reading here, but the days recently have seemed awfully short.

A few of my faithful readers have asked for an explanation of the "interesting"events posted August 11, so I'll tell you about one of those days.

I'm a confirmed procrastinator. There, I said it.

Most days it's a struggle for me to get myself out of the house in the mornings--most days I pull into the office parking lot at the last possible minute. On this particular day, I was feeling pretty good about myself; I refrained from hitting that snooze button "just one more time!" and ate a simple breakfast in time to head out of the house with a few minutes to spare. I'm out the door, arms loaded with purse and knitting bag and water bottle, headed for my car which is, as always, parked nose-out in my driveway, ready to go.

Why is there a puddle of water by the garage door?

I looked up, stupidly. The sky was clear. No recent rain dripping off the roof. And then I knew. I threw my stuff into the car, and went back into the house. Yanked open the laundry room door to see what I knew was there-- a floor full of water.

I said a few unladylike words, thanked myself for not having laundered the pile of towels in the floor, shoved them around so I could walk on them from the door to the @#$%@! water heater and turned the pilot to OFF. Went back across the towel bridge, opened the door leading to the garage, and fetched the water key from the garage wall.

Back again to the front yard. Used the key to flip the cover off the water meter, fitted it into the slot and pulled with all my might, trying to turn the water off. The valve wouldn't turn.
No reason to worry; I was wondering why those pieces of rebar were still keeping my garbage cans company beside the house-- I got one of those, slipped it part-way into the steel-pipe handle of the water key to increase my leverage, and gave it all I had. The valve wouldn't turn.

I stood in the middle of my front yard, with tears of frustration rapidly forming, and looked up and down the street, trying to think which of my neighbors might be able to help. Dear Mrs. Carter, a tiny Southern lady who is 80 if she's a day? Mr. Lunday, 90-ish and stone deaf? All the able-bodied souls on my street were off to work already.

I tried the city water department, but I got their voice mail--it was still too early for them. Then I remembered. Our heroic Bethany firefighters are always ready to help. I really didn't think this situation justified a 911 call, no matter how desperate I felt. Instead, I called my younger daughter, who for some obscure reason learned the fire department non-emergency number about 15 years ago and still knows it.

So I called, and my phone call brought me a big shiny red fire truck (quietly - they didn't use their sirens) and two extremely capable-looking bodybuilders, um, firemen. They applied my water key to the valve, added my rebar extension, and rippled all of their lovely muscles. The valve wouldn't turn.

We all agreed they probably COULD break it loose, but would most likely break the meter in the process. So one pulled out a radio and called another city employee. That call brought us a pretty red water department pickup, and another pair of valiant men. (Maybe not as impressive-looking as firefighters, but they had a much bigger water key than mine.) One put the key in the slot, and applied all his strength. The valve wouldn't turn.

The second water department guy went back to the truck and returned with a long wrench to use as a cheater bar, and the two tried again. With much loud complaining of metal-on-metal, the valve finally turned. Our heroes turned it back and forth a couple more times to loosen it up, but we all agreed that they certainly hadn't had to turn my water off in a very long time. So much for paying my water bill promptly all these years.

I thanked them and they all drove away, but my ordeal was not over. I still had a leaking water heater, and I knew I needed to call a plumber. [A moment of silence here.] There is some dark humor in that statement. I haven't had to call a plumber since 1976. I was married to the best plumber in town for 26 years, but he quit this life a couple of years ago, and now is resting where faucets don't leak and toilets don't clog. Probably drinking a cold beer and enjoying a cigarette.

So I called our friend at the supply house, and asked him who I should call. He recommended a local third-generation plumber who came out promptly (Honest! He was there by 10:30 am and finished in two hours!) and did a quick and efficient job of replacing the tank.

We got to talking about his dad (retired) and my husband (deceased) and his grand-dad (deceased), who all knew each other. We shared a few laughs and shed a few tears. I learned that his grand-dad was the same nice old man with a smile in his eyes who, twenty years ago, would order blueberry pie down at the local restaurant, then would say the slice was too big and would give me half.

I love blueberry pie.


  1. CurliSu,

    As promised. I stopped by your blog, even with your warning, that it's not all "knitting stuff."

    I cannot tell you what a wonderful treat it was to spend a day in your life. I laughed; I laughed louder, then I wanted to cry with you.

    Life, isn't all about knitting, as you'll see if you ever look at my rantings and raves, but so enjoyed the vivid imagery of your valves and blueberry pie.



  2. Oh - thank you so much for sharing. You've made me smile.

  3. Thank you for that beautiful story. It made me smile--your writing kept me right there the whole time.

    P.S. My blog's not all "knitting stuff," either. Some shun me for that--their loss, I say.