Before I started feeling significantly better, though, a major plumbing problem showed itself Sunday night - that's a week ago as I write this!
That Sunday night, I just happened to look up when I was in the little half-bath off our family room and I noticed something odd-looking about the ceiling. The drywall was bubbled out and it looked soft. When I touched it, the bubble moved. Yikes! There was water just under the surface of the drywall! My husband (hereafter referred to as Hub) was already asleep and I made the decision to not wake him up with a problem that could not be resolved that night, but to tell him in the morning, then call the plumber and hope that they could take care of it the next day. Hub may have slept that night, but I don't think I did.
Our plumber's docket was already filled with jobs on Monday, and since the drywall was still holding and not looking much changed, I decided to take a Tuesday appointment and pray the leak would stay contained for another twenty four hours.
I went to bed Monday night, setting my alarm, planning to greet a plumber first thing the next morning.
Tuesday morning a plumber arrived, cut the affected section out of the ceiling, located and fixed the leak very handily. He did what inspecting he could in that little area and he let me know that while there didn't appear to be any more leaks, our copper drain pipes were showing serious corrosion and considering the age of our house, we should brace ourselves for needing to replace them pretty soon. Within a few months would be our safest plan. Before he left, he gave me a preliminary estimate on what that job would cost. I soberly sent him on his way and made a mental note to get that job scheduled sooner rather than later - since an extensive pipe replacement job would mean cutting into more drywall it seemed best to get that big job done before fixing the relatively small hole in the half-bath ceiling. No sense in hiring a drywaller twice if I could help it.
The pictures in this post are of the finished work and are not not representative of the chronological order of anything that happened over the last two weeks, nor relative to any text they may be near. They are simply here for your enjoyment.
After the plumber left, I headed for the recliner where I could rest - while trying to hack up a lung from a lingering cough from the flu I'd had over the weekend. In that state, between dozing and coughing, my phone rang and it was one of my sisters in Florida. We don't talk often, so I was happily surprised to get a call from her. The pleasure was short lived though. She had some devastating health news. We talked, I cried, and suddenly she had to go - she had called me in between phone calls with doctors' offices and when they called she, of course, needed to take their call. Then she called me back - this scenario repeating itself once or twice more (memory fades) and finally I was left all alone in the middle of a very quiet house with a hole in one ceiling, I no longer thinking of sleep, still feeling a bit sick in my own physical body, and now sick at heart over my sister's news.
I should stop and make note right now that Hub was gone for three days (had left that morning) for an out of town work conference. Preferring him to be able to talk to the plumbers before having them make swiss cheese out of our drywall, we both decided (over the phone) to put off scheduling the larger job until the following week.
I spent the rest of the day suspended between two realities that I didn't know existed just a few hours prior. A house with a hole in a bathroom ceiling and me contemplating more holes and more mess before it was all over, and a sister over 1,000 miles away facing a health crisis. She has breast cancer. She has a great spirit about her. She's a Christian and has a very strong faith. She confidently quoted scripture and she even talked about plans she's made for later in the year to travel. She also wanted to talk about our mother who died of breast cancer 24 years ago, just four years older than my sister is now. She talked about genetic testing. I can only imagine the thoughts and emotions she is battling as she awaits surgery.
I remained in this contemplative state the rest of the day. Alone, deeply concerned for my sister, praying, coughing the remains of the flu out of my system, and I might add... feeling the lingering effects of the vertigo attack I'd experienced just three weeks prior. It was a surreal few hours. And the calmest hours of my week.
At some point that evening, I visit the little half-bath with a hole in the ceiling, and I noticed that there was water on the floor. Confused, thinking the plumber must have splashed water on the floor and it had gotten missed in the clean-up, I started to wipe it up. And then I saw a splash.
Looking up into the now gaping hole in the ceiling I could see water dripping out of it. Climbing up to get a better look I located another leak less than a foot north of the first (now fixed) leak. WHAT?!? Suddenly, my sad little contemplative world turned into a panic as I called back the plumber and told him the larger job just moved up in priority! I wanted to get it scheduled immediately.
That night I went to bed, setting my alarm, planning to greet a plumber first thing on now the second morning in a row.
Two (different, but friendly) plumbers from the same business showed up the second day and after analyzing where the drain pipes ran, made a plan for where the cutting of drywall needed to happen. Walls and ceilings were cut carefully to create as little damage as possible and I commenced to trying to find places to be where I was out of their way as they went up and down stairs, between bathrooms, crawled in and out of the crawlspace, making a crazy amount of noise, working, working, working.
Every once in a while I jumped up to move stuff out of the way where I hadn't anticipated they would need to go. At 6:00 in the evening, and them not finished, I began to worry that I wasn't going to have running water and plumbing that night. They assured me they wouldn't leave me high and dry and they did get things hooked up so I could do laundry, shower and do all one does with running water and plumbing, but they had to come back in the morning to finish up the job. They assured me, it wouldn't take long and they'd be gone before noon.
I went to bed setting my alarm clock, planning to greet the plumbers again first thing for now the third morning in a row.
After rising early, getting ready for the day, I mindlessly went downstairs and headed for the kitchen when I noticed the shine of water on the floor of the back hallway. WHAT?!? Proceeding to the bathroom on this floor, I could see that the toilet in this little half-bath (a different half-bath from the one with the leaky ceiling) was overflowing, creating a little lake on the floor, out the bathroom door and across the small hallway - heading into a heating vent. I grabbed towels out of the dryer I had washed the night before (that had been used to mop up water from the downstairs half-bath), spread them out to soak up the mess, and once again called the plumber explaining this new problem. Because, clearly, they were now going to be here at least a little longer than they had planned. In tears I cleaned up this new mess and waited for the plumbers to arrive. In case you have forgotten, Hub was still gone on his work-related trip. The plumbers got here exactly when they said they would, but it felt like an eternity waiting for them that morning.
After spending time trying to figure out what might be creating a blockage, they decided to finish the drain pipe replacement job, and they would ream out the system before they left. Everyone hoped (and expected) it would be a simple job to get the drains (the brand new drains) flowing freely. In the middle of the afternoon on Thursday, Hub arrived home to plumbers working to both clean up from the job of replacing pipes, and reaming out the house's main drain pipe through the clean-out opening in the front yard. It was a busy place.
After an hour or so of that scene, in the middle of the afternoon, the plumbing company's owner showed up, presumably to see what was taking so long and to make sure we were doing okay with this. For another couple of hours attempts were made to dislodge a mysterious blockage. A toilet was pulled and the machine auger was brought inside to clean out the drain from that direction.
At some point, water began to flow, the toilet was reset, the plumbers left, and all was finally right with our little world again. Happy to have everyone gone, Hub went out to get us a fast food supper and after we ate, I set to work cleaning up from all that had happened the three days prior.
When cleaning and putting back together the second half-bath (where they had reset the toilet), Hub was upstairs showering, the washing machine was once again washing towels, and suddenly the toilet began to fill and would have overflowed again had I not been right there to stop it. WHAT?!?! After much yelling and running and getting buckets (that had been put away) and rubber gloves and more towels, we called the plumber yet again! Clearly the clog hadn't been truly cleared, but how on earth had we been able to flush and run water for a period of time with seemingly no problem and now suddenly there was this clog again?
After some time of dealing with that, and getting the toilet under control, I went to transfer the towels from the washing machine to the dryer and lo and behold, the laundry room floor had a small puddle of water. WHAT?!?!? The washing machine drain pipe had overflowed. It wasn't a huge mess, but clearly, it wasn't draining properly, and this was a new dilemma.
After spending some time analyzing what was working drain-wise and what wasn't (so we could, hopefully, hasten the diagnosis the next day) I went to bed, setting my alarm clock, planning to greet the plumbers again first thing for now the fourth morning in a row.
Friday morning, the first plumber - the man who had been here on Tuesday - showed up with another machine drain cleaner and set to work right away to remove the same toilet that had been pulled and reset the day before, and augered the main drain line from inside the house. Again.
At some point, he finally hit "pay dirt" and said he could feel the release of the clog. Yay! We both went outside and watched with fascination through the clean-out pipe as water wooshed through the main drain pipe over five feet below us. I could have done a happy dance. I kept my cool, though, and tried to be friendly, all the while eager for us to say our goodbyes and me to have my house back so I could set to getting it cleaned up and put together (to whatever degree it could be put back together - remember... we still have holes that need repair, and after that will have walls and ceilings to paint, and stuff to be moved back to its right locations when those big jobs are done). Sigh. None of this was in my plans this spring...
But for now, I am enjoying doing laundry, washing dishes, showering, and (ahem) flushing without fear. Well, without much fear, anyway. I have to say... I still feel a tad skittish when I hear water running through the pipes, listening for any unusual splashing or the dripping sound of water where it does not belong. I figure I'm probably due to be a little nervous for at least as many days as I went through to get it all right.
Dear reader, I thank you if you read this long and messy tale. And if you did not read it all, but somehow landed here, I am thankful for that and would be so appreciative if you'd just read the next paragraph and offer up your thoughts and prayers...
Beginning yesterday (Saturday morning) and I'm sure for the foreseeable future I will live somewhere suspended in the surreal place between my reality in Indiana, where life goes on (more or less) normally, dealing with my messes and my limitations, so very aware of my sister's completely not-normal reality as she begins her battle with cancer. If you pray, I (and I know she) would appreciate prayers. For strength, for health, for healing, for courage... for me to know how to be of some kind of emotional support for her in all that lies ahead. Sighs and sympathetic groanings do not go unheard, either - I am sure. Thank you.
And now, while this is of absolutely no importance to me anymore, I share what pitiful little crocheting I did over the last two weeks. Most of the last two weeks I either had no energy or emotion to spend doing something like this. Though, a few days, keeping my hands busy with mindless crochet stitches was my therapy as I prayed and thought.
At some point, I think when I was first coming out of my flu fog, I wanted to crochet something easy, so I whipped up another Openwork Scarf using two different yarns held together:
This was a fast project crocheted with an L (or 8mm) size hook
And while the plumbers worked away, for four days in a row, my all but forgotten Last Dance blanket saw the squares finally seamed together and the edging started.
All that's left to happen here is that I crochet many rows of a linen stitch border until it's wide enough, and then weave in the ends. I may finish by next week. I may not care when I finish this. My heart has already moved on to to another idea for what my hook needs to create.
To see what other YOPpers are up to, visit our group on Ravelry!