Welcome to the Misadventures of Widowhood blog!

In January of 2012 my soul mate of 42 years passed away after nearly 12 years of living with severe disabilities due to a stroke. I survived the first year after Don’s death doing what most widows do---trying to make sense of my world turned upside down. The pain and heartache of loss, my dark humor, my sweetest memories and, yes, even my pity parties are well documented in this blog.

Now that I’m a "seasoned widow" the focus of my writing has changed. I’m still a widow looking through that lens but I’m also a woman searching for contentment, friends and a voice in my restless world. Some people say I have a quirky sense of humor that shows up from time to time in this blog. Others say I make some keen observations about life and growing older. I say I just write about whatever passes through my days---the good, bad and the ugly. Comments welcome and encouraged. Let's get a dialogue going! Jean

Saturday, May 28, 2016

What Else Can Go Wrong?


This was supposed to be an easy week but it didn’t turn out that way. The only thing I had scheduled was a trip to my brother’s house, a haircut and a Gathering at the senior hall (which was even more fun than the launching of their first Gathering a month ago). Then on Tuesday I took a trip to the basement to check on things. Things were not good! Water was spraying out of a pipe, looking like the ‘rain’ setting on a shower head. Water was on the floor in an eight foot square area underneath the 'shower' and along the outside wall was a river thirty foot long by three foot wide. I check the basement once a week (when I remember) so who knows how long the problem was going on. I called my plumbing service and they came out three hours later. In the meantime I was having a panic attack and it never even occurred to me to do the first thing the plumber did when he came down the steps. He grabbed an empty 30 gallon plastic storage container I had near-by and put it under the 'shower.' I did trace the leaking line back across the basement to a turn-off valve near the hot water heater but it wouldn’t budge. I can’t open jars either.

The plumber had to drain the hot water heater to get the water out of the hot water recirculation line (the villain in this story) and it was hour before he got the leaking joint cut out and replaced. And since he was here I asked him if he’d have time to fix an outside faucet that I can't turn off or on without a pair of pliers. He did and you would not believe the massive ball of pollen that came out of that came out of that fitting? No wonder it didn't work. Next up was turning the water back on that comes in from the street and getting all the air bled out of the faucets. The shower sprayer in my master bath failed the test and no water would come through. An easy fix for a tall guy with tools. The filter screen had gotten clogged up with junk and since he was already standing in my shower I asked him to check out the mixer in the faucet. Lately it’s been going from cold to the hottest setting with no middle ground and it was actually on my ‘to do list’ to call a plumber to fix it. The whole episode cost $228.22 and an attack of the nerves. On the good side, if this had happened over the coming holiday weekend the bill would have been double. My dad would be proud that I found that silver lining here.

But that wasn’t the end of it of the water saga. The plumber said the standing water should disappear overnight. It didn’t which told me the cement was thoroughly saturated and I was worried about mold starting if it took too long to dry out. I called Tim, the-son-I-wish-I-had, and he brought out a wet/dry vacuum and sucked up the standing water. He’s a good friend but I still have to pay him for things like this---$50 in this case. He owns a small clean up business and he can’t afford to turn down other work to work for free for friends. Though occasionally we barter. Once I traded an 1880s set of ornate cast iron legs off an old factory machine for several hours of his time. He made a table for his kitchen out of them. (He’s got an industrial themed kitchen…lots of stainless steel and industrial ‘wire cage’ light fixtures.) My husband would have loved seeing what became of those legs. After his stroke they were a huge bone of contention when we downsized. No amount of talking would get him to agree to put them in our auction, so Tim brought them to our new house where they sat in a corner for fourteen years. 

Don would have also loved knowing that one of his favorite art prints is now framed and hanging on my brother’s living room wall. As my brother said, “It just makes the room” and he's right. He’s never had a good eye for hanging things on walls. Everything was always the wrong size or shape for the wall or hung at the wrong height and that bugs me whenever I see that in any house. But until five/six years ago he's had a wife, so I couldn’t suggest rehanging stuff without maybe causing tension. I’m glad, this time, he asked for my input in his redecorating project. It was fun.

And last but certainly not least, this week I got invaded by huge black flies. Upstairs and down. Dozens of them. The first day I killed over thirty before I lost count. The next day Tim vacuum up dozens in the basement and the third day I bought fly paper for the basement, a two pack of longer handled fly swatters than the one I had and an outdoor trap to hang by my back door, near the dog’s pen. I still can’t figure out how they all got inside. I’ve never had that happen in my life. It’s possible they came in when the plumber was going back and forth to his truck with all the doors left open. I hope so because the other possibility is that one fly laid eggs somewhere inside and I can expect another 100-500 more to hatch. I’ve been carrying a fly swatter every time I walk across the house and today I've only killed four or five. Hopefully, the worse is over. ©

NOTE: The photo above is of the print I gave my brother before it was triple matted and framed. It's probably 3 1/2 by 5 foot.

19 comments:

  1. Always good to have house mishaps involving tradies on non-holidays.

    I'm not tidy - unlike my kids, who are neat freaks and upset by crooked placements, etc. I don't wear specs at home and am always amazed at the dust on the odd occasion that I walk around the house with specs on.

    Re flies, I had a sudden influx of them a few years ago when the weather warmed up after winter-end. They were large, waxy (when squashed) and VERY dopey. Colleagues at the office thought (privately!) that I lived in a slum when I asked about these unusual flies. I rang the local council for any information - nada. The internet revealed "cluster" flies, prevalent in Oz and New Zealand, which lay eggs over winter where they can, e.g. dirt close to house, in house ceiling, etc., and come out when the weather warms up (I had them swarming close to the sun-facing windows). Sprays and the vacuum, over several days, got them out. I had a few the next year. ~ Libby

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    1. These flies were very dopey, too, making them rather easy to kill. Haven't seen any today so I think it's over. I'm hoping it was just a combination of the doors being open when they hatched out on the first really warm day we've had. What a weird thing to have happen and I'm glad it didn't happen on a day when the dog was home alone. LOL

      All those HGTV programs on decorating have turned a lot of young people into neat freaks who get "upset by crooked placements."

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  2. Oh my, that was quite a week. House repairs just freak me out. I've never had a basement but I know they're famous for water problems of one kind or another. Those flies are visitors I would not like to have. I know you've said you like living in a house. I, on the other hand, was so glad when our house in Texas sold that I said never again will I own property. The foundations of homes in our area cracked badly. It was an expensive on going forever problem to deal with. I was so glad to get out from under that. The prices you quoted actually sound pretty good though. I would have thought it would have cost more. One nice thing about living here is I see very few flying creatures, and also very few crawling creatures. I like that.

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    1. I don't like basements either but where we live they won't let you build a house without a basement. But I've never lived in a house without one. Broken pipes can happen in any house or apartment only they do more damage when they do it in finished rooms.

      I didn't think the price the plumber charged was too bad either. They have a base charge just to come out and charge for every ten minutes. He was a fast worker. When my husband was alive I had a rule that he couldn't try to talk to tradesmen because it took too long for him to get out any language. LOL

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  3. YIKES! Thank goodness you went downstairs!! BEFORE the holiday weekend. I think you got a GREAT price. I have to clean all my sprayers at least twice a year here in Maui ... put a plastic bag of vinegar over it and fasten with a rubber band (or whatever) and let it sit for several hours. Get out an old tooth brush and ICK the stuff that comes out. I also have to do it for my sink faucets. Disgusting.

    How often do you have to drain a water heater?

    P.S. I, too, love the painting! AWESOME!

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    1. It was a good price for all that he did! The screen that gets clogged in my shower is not easy to get at i.e. the soaking trick won't work for me. I've lived here since 2001 and this is only the second time this has happened in my shower and both times the water had been turned off at the street. Vinegar is a great cleaner though, isn't it.

      You'll have to ask our blogger friend, Judy, how often you're SUPPOSED to drain a water heater. I think she does it twice a year? I have never known a single person who has EVER done it but her. I think it might be a thing more common in areas where the water is hard and full of minerals.

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  4. Oh, man! Some days you're the pigeon and some days you're the statue. Sure hope those darn buzzers stop reproducing. Nerves of steel, you have, with your fly swatter in hand.

    A house is like an ornery kid sometimes, and sometimes it's the BFF. God bless Tim. Does he know of anyone in Connecticut? I lost my handyman this spring - he got too old and worn out to work. My 'honey-do' list is growing. I'm not through throwing my hissy fit over him deserting me. It'll take 3 handymen to replace him. Anyway, today I had a small victory getting the A/C up and running. Today I'm the pigeon.

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    1. Tim is 20+ years younger than me so with any luck I can keep him a long time. He's coming back in a week or two to vacuum and bleach my basement floor just to be sure I don't get mold.

      I've only seen one fly today, thank goodness! But I love your pigeon and statue metaphor. Live is that way sometimes, especially if you own a home.

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  5. I'm going to have to read this tomorrow -- I'm just too tired to go on at this point. But I did want you to know that I suddenly received emails for your last two posts. I love it when a system works!

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    1. Thank you! I don't know what exactly I did in my settings to make that happen---I tried a bunch of stuff---but I'm glad it seems to be working now.

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  6. I'm glad you didn't mention any odor along with those flies. The only time I've had black flies, they came along with a carcass of something in the walls. The word of advice was, "When the odor disappears, so will the flies." And it was so.

    One nice thing about renting (at least in a place with a management company that cares about its rep) is that when "it" goes wrong, I just place a call. I'm trying to think -- there were a couple of air conditioner issues, and I once had a dryer replaced -- but mostly it's been fine. I do need to have my carpets cleaned, but I've been putting off even asking about that, simply because of the furniture moving. It's such a hassle. Maybe I'll do it after hurricane season. No sense going through that if everything is going to blow down.

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    1. Interesting about the odor and that makes sense. No hint of it here and the flies seem to be all gone today. One other thing I've learned is that flies like to lay eggs in dog poop so I need to pick up Levi's more than once a week for trash day because they can hatch in less than 7 days. The fly catcher by my dog pen should help prevent them from finding a way inside.

      I lived in an apartment house for a year and maintenance service was hard to leave behind. But in that year the fire department was their three times and that was kind of scary and this was a complex of young people, not the old and forgetful.

      Good luck with hurricane season! Stay safe.
      !

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  7. I'm treating this as a cautionary tale -- a reminder that my hot water heater is on its last legs and that it would be smart to call the plumber and get it replaced before it blows a gasket and floods the basement. -Jean

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    1. Very true. They never blow when it's convenient. I had one blowout on a day when I needed to go to a funeral and had to shower at a friend's house.

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  8. I was interested in the lovely picture on the top of your page that you said you gave to your brother. I have been observing houses and shop fronts with that flat facade on the front and they were such a feature on Main Streets of days gone by. Now in so many almost abandoned villages and towns, they look so forlorn, especially when viewed from the side and most especially when they are standing alone. It is a lovely picture.

    Regards,
    Leze

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    1. The artist said the store is an actual place from the back roads of Indiana. It's so iconic, though that it could have been any place. It was signed and numbered, limited edition print with a very low print run. We bought it an outdoor art show back in the day. Two of the artists we bought when they were first starting out became very famous--Wayne Cooper and Paul Collins.

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  9. Boy oh boy. What a mess. I'm glad you found the silver lining. That's a talent some people have. If H had no other redeeming qualities, I'd keep him around for his silver lining detector abilities alone.

    The invasion of the flies is a little eerie.

    Water in the basement! Good grief. What a mess. That happened to us in Maryland. A hurricane came through and the basement flooded. The shop-vac is a great tool. I would still keep an eye out for mold. Good thing you check your basement regularly.

    I've been catching up. I haven't been online much this week, but I can't miss any of your posts.

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    1. Thanks so much for making my blog one of your 'catching up' stops. I miss seeing your posts and comments online.

      I've been going down the basement every day now to check for mold and prepared to spray if necessary. I wish we'd get a few days in the 90s so the cement would totally heat up. My friend, Tim, is going to do a totally treatment when we can line up or schedules sometime in June.

      The flies are totally gone now and it was eerie!

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  10. Geez....plague-worthy list of "what's next" woes! Here's to a better week! :)

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