It’s Not All Mary Poppins

We interrupt our regularly scheduled programming …

I was going to tell you about making gingerbread houses with the tots, which we are in process of making, and we are having SUCH FUN!!!

But something even funner happened this morning, and I just had to share. We will start at the beginning …

I get up early. Really early. Five, give or take fifteen minutes, generally. I do this because I like the quiet, the peace, the solitude. I could, as so many people do, get that at the other end of the day, but that doesn’t work for me because a) I have teenagers and b) I fall asleep.

The younger teen is in school, so she has lights-out at ten, but I’m well gone by then. Staying up later would be work, a monumental effort probably involving toothpicks in the eyelids, not to mention copious amounts of caffeine — which sort of takes away from the “peace and tranquility” aspect of it all.

So, morning it is. It’s dark, it’s quiet. I get some reading done, I might catch up on a couple of emails, but mostly, I think. About my work, about my goals, about challenges to overcome, about things that give me pleasure and satisfaction. I think and take notes, and write to further the thinking. An interactive process between me and the paper, because yes, this form of writing is always done with pen and paper. Much as I love my keyboard the rest of the day, the glaring white glow of the monitor is an affront to this very quiet time; the blanket of stillness around me is best suited to — no! requires — the soft scritch of pen over paper.

The feeling that the whole world sleeps while I have this hour or two of solitude is immeasurably precious to me. Which is why the sudden loud hum from the kitchen came as such a jolt. Why, when it escalated into a choppy screech, I found myself standing staring at my wailing fridge. A sharp vending-machine smack to the front didn’t help. Nor did the swift kick to the side.

Clearly fridge abuse was not going to help. The noise was the fan. Of that much I’m quite sure. Not from the rear, but from the freezer compartment at the bottom. The compressor?

The noise is growing louder. Were I upstairs in bed, I’m sure I’d be hearing it, and I briefly wonder if the whole house is about to be woken by a screaming appliance. But no. No because while it increases in volume, it decreases in tempo. It’s getting slower. And slooower … and now the noise is lower, more grind than squeal … and s.s.s.l.l.o.o.o.w.w.e.r.r.r.r…

And …

it stops.

The fridge gives one final, convulsive shudder, and is no more. Silence thuds against my eardrums. It has given up the ghost. Let us have a short moment of silence for the faithful, if leaky, refrigerator.

Everyone else in the house is still sleeping. It’s just me and the corpse. I can’t leave it like that. It’ll soon start to stink.

It takes five minutes to unload the freezer compartment into the basement chest freezer. Another five to put two plastic grocery bins full of produce and condiments at the chill end of the unfinished basement. They should last a few days down there. Certain dairy products are on shelves in the back porch, where I hope they won’t freeze solid.

It is only as I turn to head back upstairs for the seventh and final time that I notice, in the velvet early-morning silence that I so treasure, a semi-regular drip … drip … dripdrip … drip. There’s water dripping into the laundry tub! And it’s coming from … the ceiling. The unfinished basement ceiling.

Look at it! A steady rivulet, about a foot wide, a glistening swath along the underside of the kitchen floorboards along which pulsate half-formed droplets, sparkling domes of water gliding along the stream, which, when they reach the joist about the laundry tub, accumulate sufficient weight to form into a drip… drip … dripdrip …. drop.

It appears to be coming in from the outside wall, but that’s crazy. It’s well below freezing out there. There’s no ice dam, just a huge mound of snow. I know, because I was out there, at ten to six in the half-lit morning, digging. Just to make sure.

At a more decent hour, I call the contractor. The very wonderful contractor who fixed our porch last summer, the man who earned my undying gratitude for a) doing it quickly b) doing it mostly on budget, (even my pathetically small budget, which had caused other handy types to stagger away in fits of derisive laughter) and c) dealing with the eight-seven gazillion carpenter ants that emerged when a rotten board was removed. (Said carpenter ants being the little surprise that caused the “mostly” in the “on budget” sentence.) AND, I particularly love him for doing this all while I was OUT OF TOWN. I didn’t have to actually see one single carpenter ant. And that, my friends, is a GREAT way to spend your honeymoon: NOT seeing a seething, pulsating swarm of carpenter ants dripping from the ceiling and onto the porch deck.

So when I hear his voice on the phone, later that day, AFTER dawn has broken, I am instantly reassured.

“Turn off the water to the house,” he tells me. “Open the lowest faucet and the highest ones in the house. Wait an hour. If the drip stops, we know it’s a pipe that’s probably frozen and burst.”

As indeed turns out to be the case. Mr Wonderful Contractor Guy will be around tomorrow morning, with his friend Mr (we hope) Equally Wonderful Plumber Guy to find and repair the leak. I am hugely relieved. Faced with the choice of a few hundred dollars for plumbing versus ten thousand dollars a foot for foundation work? I’ll take the plumber. Well, yes, really what I’d like is for the leak to magically fix itself, free of charge. But I don’t think that’s one of my options.

So, you can see it’s been an eventful day here at casa Mary. With no water (which means no water and also NO FLUSHING) and no fridge, I think I’ll be cancelling the party I had scheduled for tonight.

So if you’ll excuse me, I have some phone calls to make. Because tonight? Tonight I won’t be hosting a party — I’ll be buying a fridge!!

December 19, 2007 - Posted by | commemoration, random and odd, the dark side


  1. Oh pathetic leaky fridge, you will be missed.

    Hey! Maybe the oven, with it’s faulty temperature setter, will quit too! Then we can mourn the loss of two slightly inept appliances.

    Comment by Haley | December 19, 2007 | Reply

  2. LOL. Not this month, okay?

    Comment by MaryP | December 19, 2007 | Reply

  3. Don’t ya just love unexpected expenses right before Christmas?

    Reminds me of last year when our car died, not so suddenly but very dramatically, just a week and a half into December.

    Sucks that you had to cancel a party as a result though…but then with no water all day, totally understandable.

    (Oh, the bathroom, may I direct you to our rented port-a-potty in the backyard?)

    Boooo… No, I don’t. However, I’m coming around to seeing the fridge as a Christmas present to me. I will thoroughly enjoy it! And the porta-potty? Thanks, but, um, no.

    Comment by Sheri | December 19, 2007 | Reply

  4. Hi Everyone:

    You all should know about FLO n STOP, a wireless push button pad that is placed by front door to turn off the main water valve. When you leave your house and push the off button, you will never come back to floods from bursting pipes or broken water hoses. Call me if you have any questions.

    Regards and Happy Holidays.


    Technically, this is spam, but I’ll let it stand because it’s relevant. Though I do note that merely turning the water off will not prevent bursting pipes, since, unless the pipes are drained there will water in there to freeze, expand, and burst the pipes. Does this button also drain the water when it turns off the mains?

    Comment by Florence | December 20, 2007 | Reply

  5. Well I don’t think it would drain them, but I guess it would limit the flood to what was actually in the pipes 🙂

    True enough. But really, if you’re that worried about this possibility, it’s such a simple matter to turn off the water and drain the pipes (take less than two minutes), that I can’t see going to the expense of putting in a gizmo that would only do half the job, and still leave me with plumbing bills.

    Comment by Monica | December 21, 2007 | Reply

  6. Ha! Fridge abuse. Now that was the A material. Very funny!

    Comment by nomotherearth | December 22, 2007 | Reply

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