Thursday, June 4, 2009

Of shop vacs and improvisation

Hello, blog. (Blows virtual dust off of virtual interweb space.) I know, I've been neglecting you. Yes, I've been busy. And actually, I've been having quite a lot of fun, now that I seem to have the hang of this mom-thing, and I have lots of awesome new mom friends in my neighborhood to hang out with. Yes, I've been neglecting you for coffee klatches on H Street and addictive chicken cutlet Philly-style Italian sandwiches at Taylor Deli and playdates in the park in the lovely spring weather in DC which only lasts like, a minute, so you have to get out and enjoy it. It's true. And am I here to write about all the fun we've been having? Of course not, because why would I do that? It's boring. Suffering really has much more pith and drama to it, don't you think?

So. The baby has her first illness. Just a mild cold, nothing too bad. But she's all snuffly and snorty and stuffy and has a pitiful little cough, and she just cries sometimes because she just doesn't feel good, and isn't quite her usual happy smiling, wiggling self, with the slightly glazed eyes to match.

This morning, I decided to kill two rubber duckies with one stone by taking a long shower, and putting the stuffy baby in the bathroom with me to have her snuffliness soothed by the hot steam. I wedged the bouncy seat through the narrow door, strapped Helene in, gave her some toys, and hopped into the shower. It was strangely quiet within a minute. I peeked out, and there she was, sleeping away, still holding a toy. Awww. I finished my shower in a leisurely fashion. When I got out, I realized the baby was (a) still sleeping soundly; and (b) totally blocking the door. Do I try to get her out of the seat and into her bed? If not, how do I get out? I dripped and stared and thought for a moment. Then I shrugged, picked up seat with baby in it, moved her away from the door, and left her in the bathroom to keep napping in the warm steam. Her head was elevated, which helps the snot, the steam was soothing her nose and throat, and it was certainly cozy-warm in there. I did sneak back in to put the baby monitor in there. And she slept for a good 45 minutes, and woke up happy. Huh. I'm a genius.


When I realized the baby was actually sick yesterday, I tried to coddle her, holding, nursing and carrying her a lot, and torturing her with the snot sucker only when really necessary. She took more naps than usual, and was relatively happy playing between them, so I decided to cook an awesome dinner with our CSA veggies and some tuna steaks. I made mango salsa, set the rice cooker, tossed squash, asparagus, and spring onions with olive oil, salt & pepper to prepare them for the grill, and marinated the tuna in maple syrup and soy sauce. This would be a great dinner. I chilled a bottle of Virginia rose, and resisted the urge to open it now.

And then it started to rain. And rain. And RAIN. And rain harder. And harder. And HARDER. I have never seen rain like this in Washington, DC. If I still lived in Florida, I would have evacuated already for the hurricane. Trees whipping. Rain going sideways. News saying something about possible golf-ball sized hail. I kept looking nervously at our new skylight, and examining the floor for water, hoping our roofer had done a good job. Then I remembered the basement. It used to occasionally get water under the door when we forgot to clear out the storm drain. It didn't matter when it was just old cement floor down there. But now there are closets and books and fancy electronics. Better go take a look. I carried Helene down and propped her on her play mat.

The water under the door started as a trickle, and I stuffed some towels against the door. Which worked for about ten seconds. The water kept coming in. More towels. More water. Oh crap, the Danish teak table that we're going to refinish. And the boxes of books. And Seth's poker table top. What's in the closets, since water is going under those doors? Suddenly, I was barefoot and ankle-deep in cold rainwater and soggy towels, frantically rescuing things from the oncoming flood. Which was headed towards the Very Expensive Electronics. Oh yeah, and the baby on the floor. Who is starting to cry because she is miserable and stuffy and tired and sick.

"This is why we got ceramic tile and carpet tiles!" I said reassuringly as I sloshed around, moving boxes and pulling up sodden floor tiles. The baby was not reassured. Then the phone rang. Seth. He was late getting home. Yes, I was glad he wasn't drowned, but could he please COME HOME RIGHT NOW BECAUSE THE BASEMENT IS FLOODING? Thanks. Must go, floodwaters still in force. I continued to carry heavy, wet carpet tiles to the utility sink. Helene continued to wail. At least the rain seemed to be letting up. Maybe. I could see water still pushing against the glass basement door. Opening the door - not an option. Carrying baby out in downpour to examine drain? Not an option. Leaving rolling-over baby in house with encroaching floodwaters while I go outside - also not an option. Where is Seth and why is he so DAMN LATE?

Seth arrived, and went outside to see to the drain. It was indeed clogged. With seeds from some tree that are weirdly, cosmically, exactly, precisely the size of the holes in the drain. I hope they were from the stupid tree in our backyard. Which we are having removed soon because it was stupidly planted incorrectly by the stupid previous owner, and it's root-bound, strangling itself, and dying anyhow. Seth unclogged everything, and I saw the water drain away. Now there was more water inside than out. Seth was dispatched to Home Depot for a shop vac. I hauled the last of the carpet tiles, rescued what needed rescuing. The water had stopped just short of the giant new TV. Oh yeah, and the baby. Who was still whimpering. So I hauled her upstairs, sat on the sofa, and decided catch up on my Tivo'ed "Deadliest Catch" episodes while I waited for Seth and the shop vac. Because footage of crazy Arctic storms at sea and immense walls of water dwarfing fishing vessels seemed appropriate.

Sink full of sodden FLOR tiles.

And then water started to drip quite loudly and steadily through the doorframe of the back sliding glass door. In the newly renovated sun porch. I looked over at it, looked down at the tired baby in my arms, and wished for a large slug of scotch. I turned up the TV volume and tried to ignore the dripping.

Sick baby. Flooded basement. Leaking roof. Trifecta!

Seth came home with an alarmingly large shop vac. I put the baby to bed, and went downstairs to slosh through the basement once more. Seth had the vac almost together. I helped him finish it, and left him happily sucking up water off the floor (He's always wanted a shop vac, it turns out. He is sure that he and Helene can make more messes that will merit the vac. And we can suck all the debris out of the storm drain with it. Which is much more fun than you, know, sweeping.). And I went upstairs to make my planned awesome dinner, damn it.

We will hug it and pat it and call it R2D2.

One delicious dinner, one bottle of wine, and one slug of scotch later, the basement was almost dry, the roofer would be called in the morning to fix the very old roof that we stupidly left over the very new addition, I'd caught up on "Deadliest Catch," and stayed up too late, and the baby amazingly slept soundly. We're still drying out here today - the basement, the sun room, the roof and the baby - but I think we'll make it as long as we don't lose the snot sucker, can pay the roofer and figure out how to get those carpet tiles to dry faster. All the domestic f-ing bliss you can stand.

Yeah. I had these great plans to take photos of the finished, decorated, furnished, fabulous new basement for the final "after" shot of the renovation. But instead, you get this.

1 comment:

Lorie said...

I feel guilty for enjoying reading about your suffering ;-). Seriously, I'm sorry you had to deal with all that. Always something!