Not that any of it will make for good reading, but I’m back in Chicago, in spades.
First I got bumped from my flight and routed through St. Louis, and in the process I realized I had left my cell phone AND the brick house keys back in Florida and so, even the business of getting home and in the house in the wee hours was full of complications. I did get a free airline ticket out of it but it’s not good to Bhutan, so what’s the value?
With first light, I noticed that the red bud tree in the courtyard was gloriously awash with those tiny magenta flowers- and strewn with the fake plastic green Christmas roping lights that looked so good in the dead of winter when it was still twined artfully around the balcony. It was less than artful in the tree and it looked like it would need a crane to remove it. Eventually, between climbing on a precarious step ladder, dangling off the balcony, scuttling around on the garage roof, the pruning loppers and a lot of obscenities- well, the Christmas lights are down. Sometimes, people who get up early and go to the office have a better deal.
The BIGGER problem: I bet you are all clever enough that if you moved into an urban townhouse you would automatically intuit that the shutoff valve for the outside courtyard water was inside your fireplace, right? You would know this even if the previous owner had completely redone the fireplace with a solid 4 inch thick masonry front with no access, short of a jack hammer, to said shutoff valve. And you would know that this valve is attached to the adjoining unit by a pipe to the neighbor’s special secret shutoff valve hidden (but accessible because his wood storage area beneath the firebox hasn’t been bricked over) and that cutting off the water at the end of the season involves cooperative communication between the two units. Suffice it to say that this knowledge did not come to me in any dream that I’ve remembered since moving in. And it certainly didn’t come to me by way of the previous owner.
Because here in Chicago, unlike Florida, Hell freezes over periodically and that’s when pipes burst. It matters not to the pipe that it runs inside a 30 ft length of solid brick wall and is cemented behind a stone hearth; the pipe bursts. And water, as we all know, has the power to move mountains so a brick wall, Stickley furniture, new wool rugs… ah, well. Enough about that.
Sophie has taken to higher ground; here she is in her bed (handknit and felted by moi). Rich and the cats made it back in 24 hours flat, none the worse for wear and Sophie and McCloud have settled in nicely. The unloaded contents of the car are in the middle of the warped floor in the living room. I have to run. A new plumber ("our plumber" as opposed to "their plumber") is coming this morning to stare at the solid brick wall and stone hearth so he can render a non-opinion about this invisible burst pipe situation. I have to find out where the 1800.00 new wool rug got shipped off to (our GOOD neighbor and a friend had the wits and kindness to come in and haul it off our hardwood floors and call a rug cleaning company to come take it away.) Then the appraiser is coming- what perfect timing!- because we are trying to get a new lower mortgage rate with our new bank. Perhaps the flotsam and jetsam of our Florida life, piled high in the living room, will distract her from the rippled texture of our beautiful herringbone oak flooring.
Or, maybe she’ll be impressed with my tidy kitchen counters. That is the second six weeks worth of mail on the counter- the small little rubber-banded stack in front is what we need out of that pile. We threw out the same amount when I came back once in March. Sort of puts the perspective on junk mail, doesn’t it?
In the midst of all, I returned to the zoo yesterday. School buses full of children everywhere, new red wolf pups, two new puma babies, a new Takin, and lots of energetic frolicking. I walked by Oz Park to get there and the gardens are lush with the perennials of my Midwest experience, the trees in flower, hundreds upon hundreds of red tulips blooming. There are good things happening and I will have cheerier updates and better pictures by the weekend. I just need a few days for a little, ah, attitude adjustment. Will you still be there? I hope so and I’ll pop by to say hello between now and then.
Last night, the good neighbor sent an e-mail asking how we were holding up with everything and I wrote back that "It’s the stressful side of life right now. I passed seals and birds." He wrote back that he hoped that wasn’t too painful.