i have a few places i write. there’s my original blog, there’s here on medium, and there’s the writing i do to print and put in a binder. i write and print and then delete those writings. i like that they don’t live online anywhere. i like to see the pages stack up in a binder, real pages that i can turn and feel. i like that those words only exist in that one place. i took out a piece from this “printed and only living in one place” text to share below, mostly because the story changed from my broad brush to a specific incident from this morning. because the binder is meant to tell the story of a decade of my life (my 40's,) i tend to write about the big picture as it changes every few months. but then after i ended up writing the story of how i got soaked this morning, i decided to add it also here, where i enjoy the idea of short reads with the whole story self contained. hopefully that awkward intro explains how i even got myself into writing about my day.
“i told caroline last night that i love easter. easter is a special time for me. easter always shows me new things and bigger directions. i related that i like to write on easter.
while she tried to understand what i meant by those statements, i tried to sort out what i meant as well. with a dozen big ideas i’m considering these days, which ones will i embrace? what do i have to write about? what is so new and redemptive about this holiday? what direction will i pursue from here
my life is about as amazing a life as i could imagine. i don’t think i could conjure up a scenario much more rewarding than the one i am living. i am surrounded with overwhelming love and devotion from family close and distant, friends from deep to occasional. even the distant relatives are full of warmth and love, and even the most occasional friend still brings me joy. you can only imagine the strength i feel from the close family and the deep friend. i am surrounded. engulfed. overwhelmed. soaked.
writing the word “soaked” has me thinking about my morning:
i sat with cada while she went through her easter basket and then i made caroline some coffee. i went and swam for 38 minutes.
i remembered that i need to stain some trim boards for a table i am glaze coating at work tomorrow. the stain has to be dry and it’s only 3 boards so i went to the shop and raced through that project. caroline was getting antsy about the easter lunch at our house with 15 people, and i knew i needed to help out. i was taking out the garbage and recycling, staining that wood, and basically getting my chores out of the way early so i could focus on party prep.
— — — — — — — — — — — — — — my son just came in my office to tell me about his neck ache. i imagine it’s from too much computer time but he wants to blame his pillowcase? something about his pillowcase was the wrong fabric or shape? regardless, i tried to spend some time with him which only led to him wanting to know what i’m doing. trying to explain that i’m writing must sound weird to him. i compared it to painting, and attempted to explain how i like easter, but he then decided going to bed was more fun than listening to me and he left. i may have scared him off too talking about how interruptions break my chain of thought. as soon as i said it i thought i shouldn’t have said it. — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — —
so on my way back from taking out the trash this morning, at some point around 10 am, i decided to “push” the dead palm tree in the yard, the one caroline had been telling me to take down. it was like breaking a dry dead branch hanging right in front of your face, the tree just cracked and fell in an instant, my 10 year old could have leaned on it with less pressure.
we live in the country and are required by local laws to have a backflow preventer. this is a device that keeps any water on our side from contaminating back into the city water lines. they say this is needed because we have a well. our well is not hooked up to the house water but if i did decide to do that for some crazy reason there’s a chance our well water could feed back into the city water and contaminate it. so we have a water meter, then a pipe that comes up a foot and turns 90 degrees and a huge metal device is hanging there (the backflow preventer) and then the pipe turns and goes back into the ground and to the house. the thing is ugly. i have to wrap the pvc in insulation or rags to keep it from freezing in the winter so i’ve just taped on insulation year round. whenever big trucks are coming and going (think septic truck or large ups truck,) i have to watch and wave them away from the pipes because they are close to the driveway yet hidden partially by large grass i planted to hide the hideous plumbing contraption. the truck drivers are looking back at me with frustration because they don’t see the pipes and just imagine i don’t want their bumper to touch my large country grass. the backflow preventer has to be inspected every year and paperwork sent in to the city to verify our inspection, even though we live outside the city limits in the county. while i could write another 2 pages about backflow preventers and the insanity that they represent for me, i will spare you. because i want to get to the part where i get soaking wet like i had jumped fully clothed into the lake.
just a mild shove from one hand and the dead tree snaps with gusto and cracks that pvc pipe on the house side of the backflow. i quickly turn the water off at the backflow and go inside to report that i’ve ruined easter.
my wife is furious. instead of being inside helping her i was outside taking down a dead tree on easter morning? and just before i was doing that i was doing something else equally as dumb, staining boards? in other words, the only place i should have been, and the only thing i should have been doing, was helping her in some way get ready for our 11 guests. knocking out the water line to the house, no matter how accidental, was nothing short of stupid.
i agree. i mean, how can i not? i am so hyper aware of those damn pipes that i should have at least pushed from the other side, away from the pipes. i just never expected the 15 foot tree to go down that easy. in my mind i was checking how much work this thing was going to cost me in the coming week. i never intended to fell the thing with a nudge….but of course, in the moment there’s no time or space to explain these excuses. the water needs to be repaired.
i notice that i need 2 parts. i need a threaded piece that threads onto the large brass backflow device, and i need a ¾” pvc coupling. i pull out the plumbing supply box and my jaw drops when i see i have the threaded piece. i never would have guessed i’d have that in a hundred years, and i had the coupling too. cool. i could have this glued back up and running in 20 minutes maybe, and that including the 15 minutes for the glue to dry.
the heavy backflow device was barely held up by a 2x4 that the whole big mess was attached to. all the weight had caught on the edge of a 2x4 and that’s the only thing that kept the other side of the upside down U shape from breaking. i grabbed a few tools and a piece of wood that seemed the right length to rest the heavy backflow on while i worked. i was nervous and jumpy and when i set the backflow on the wood it slipped and as quick as the tree had fallen - the other side of the pvc snapped and water shot up like a geyser. the first piece had broken horizontally and i was able to shut it off right away. but this piece had water shooting far above the height of the now fallen tree and i realized that i had a much larger problem on my hand. i scrambled around looking for my phone to call the utility company(gru.) i was sure i could not cut this water off and gru would have to come out on easter and in the meantime we’d have to call off the lunch. the lunch we had been planning all week. the party i had even repainted 2 old metal tables and 8 chairs for. the party i had even repaired and repainted an old picnic table for. the party i had even mowed all the grass and made meringue cookies for.
after pacing and sweating it and calling and leaving a message with gru, i got an umbrella and went over to see where the meter was, i needed to figure out if maybe i could turn the water off at the meter still, which used to be somewhere in this flooded out area. as i stood there already soaked but under my umbrella to just lessen the impact, as i leaned in to look for the meter, i kept getting too close and the geyser would get caught under the umbrella and make a virtual monsoon around me. this happened at least 3 times before i found the meter cover floating under the river of mulch and leaves. i ran and got a wrench and plunged my hands into the now flooded meter box trying to feel the shut off while the water pounded my umbrella and most of my body. i had to basically tilt the umbrella sideways to keep the worst of the spray off my face so i could see. this left the rest of me to just get good and harmlessly drenched. i found the shut off. i was able to shut it off. the geyser subsided.
it was about this time that my daughter runs out with my phone. gru is on the phone. i stood there in disbelief that i was able to stop the flow and even more stunned that less than 5 minutes after i had called gru they are calling me back. i explained my situation to the nice gentleman on the phone and we confirmed that the problems were all on “my side” and i would be left to deal with them. he asked nicely at one point, “so is this something you’re going to be able to fix then?” and i said “yes.” while i wasn’t at all sure if that was true, i knew that if i had easter plans with my family, there’s a good chance this fellow did too and whatever problems i had gotten myself into could wait until normal business hours.
now i needed a 90 degree pvc piece too. lowe’s was open. i bought all the parts i needed plus some “just in case” parts. i even bought pvc primer, which i had never bought before and figured was a useless waste of money. but i didn’t want to mess up again. i wanted my fix to work. i got it all back together and the first 2 cars pulled in as i was glueing up the final joint. i had to wait 15 minutes to turn it on so i explained my predicament to the in-laws and made sure my wife knew we were close to having water once again. she had somehow remained calm and continued to ready the meal in all the ways she could. i don’t know if she trusted i’d fix it or just decided we’d make it work despite my bungling, but the crisis was over. lunch was 20 minutes late getting out but it was the perfect weather for a picnic. we all ate outside and enjoyed the cool weather and breeze and shade of our yard. we hid over 100 eggs for the kids and we even played scrabble on the deck. it all turned out just fine. i always like sundays but easter is my favorite sunday.”