Wednesday, August 20, 2014
The Mysterious Leak
"I grew up in a town where if you see a sign like this on the ground, it means either they hit the sign to avoid the deer, or the teenagers got into their parents liquor cabinet again.” – J.D. Tuel, our older son, commenting on a picture he took of a downed road sign on Facebook this morning Got up before six this morning and took our son J.D. to the ferry so he could go to work, then came home, had breakfast, read the paper, and drifted back to the bedroom to lie down again for a while. Dozed off, woke up again, and was lying there waiting for my brain to start firing on all cylinders and petting the dog, when suddenly I heard a woosh of water running! Oh no! A leak, I thought. We insulated our pipes and closed in the crawl space years ago, but it has been awfully cold a couple of times this winter. Maybe something froze and broke and has now cut loose. I quickly went to the hot water heater closet, where I could hear the water gurgling through. What to do? Rick always took care of this stuff. My first thought was that I needed to check under the house to make sure water wasn’t gushing away there. In my haste I grabbed and put on a pair of work shoes which were somewhat too large for me. I’ve discovered that Rick’s shoes are only somewhat too large for me, and have taken to wearing them with thick socks for outdoor chores. Went outside, grabbed one of the two ski poles I got at Granny’s that I use to keep myself from toppling over in the yard. I have bad knees and the yard has uneven ground – a prop helps. Made my precarious way down to the door that opens to our crawl space, anchoring the ski pole as well as I could and hanging on tight as I wobbled downhill. Opening the door and sticking my head in, I could perceive no telltale sound of water running – whew, what a relief. Closed the door again and made my way around the rest of the house, carefully picking my way along the ravine side and then up and around to the front door. Went to the water heater closet. The wooshing water sounds had stopped. Maybe it was the water heater filling up and it was topped off now? The feeling of crisis passed, but I figured I still had a problem somewhere, and I still didn’t know what to do about it. Time to ask for plumber recommendations on Vashonall, I thought. Or maybe put a post asking for help on Facebook. Then J.D. came down stairs. He had decided he didn’t feel up to going to work and had turned around and come back out here so he could spend some time with his daughter, arriving after I had gone back to sleep. Then he took a shower. That was the water I heard running when I woke up. We haven’t had anyone living upstairs for long enough that I’d forgotten that sound. So the whole thing was one of those panic reactions to an ordinary event. Of course if I had realized someone was taking a shower upstairs and I didn’t know who it was, I might have had a whole different kind of panic. I thought I’d grown out of jumping to conclusions, but apparently not. This experience makes me realize that I do need to line up a plumber, and a handyperson – people who can help me do the things I am unable to do around here. Did I mention that Rick always took care of that stuff? J.D. walked home from the bus this morning while I slept. That’s when he saw the sign lying by the side of the road. He knows what he’s talking about when he mentions teenagers getting into the liquor cabinet, among other teenage adventures. Sometimes he tells me stories from when he was a teenager, and I’ve noticed that at some point in almost every one of these stories, one of the participants says, “My dad is gonna kill me!” It seems to be the unifying theme of teenage adventures, anticipating death at the hands of one or both parents. We never killed him, though. One adventure involved taking our car for a joyride and wrecking it, and my response then was, “God let you live. It would be wrong for me to kill you now.” Not that I didn’t feel a little homicidal at the time. I did. Glad we let him live. He’s been helping me with a lot of the heavy lifting around here. I don’t think he knows much about plumbing, though. Too bad.