Believing I had supernatural powers, I slammed into a brick wall

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. 


24 responses to “Believing I had supernatural powers, I slammed into a brick wall

  1. Yikes!! I am so sorry about the pipes. That is a major frustration. Congrats on passing birds and seals. (Don’t forget to remind the zoo folks how clever it was of them to choose you over the other 300 applicants and ask them to triple your salary.) grin

  2. Oh, I LIKE the good neighbor!

    With all that is going on, I gotta say, you don’t come off as sounding crabby. Stoic, rather than crabby. How do you do that?

  3. Oh Holy HELL! Good grief!

    Hey, looks like I will definitely be coming North this summer, as in to Chicago, and maybe more than once.

    Will wait til your walls are dry to stop by.

  4. Would you Pllllleeeeaaassseee come help me find perspective – good humor in the face of turmoil? I need help. What a Twilight Zone kind of homecoming. yeGads.

  5. Just can’t imagine why you didn’t magically divine how to shut that water off. You must really be off your game 😉

    *truly hope the repairs & fix aren’t too exhausting.

  6. Well, being a Floridian, I would have no idea about turning off water…especially if the valve is cemented in in the chimney. Yikes! That really takes the starch out of you, doesn’t it. I’m so sorry! Maybe you should just move to Florida and stay. You’re one of the northerners we wouldn’t mind having year round.

  7. What kind of idiot cements/bricks over the shut-off valve into the fireplace and forgets to tell you? They need to be nominated for the Darwin awards, don’t they? Sorry that you had such a rough homecoming, but perhaps you can find someplace to go with that ticket, even if Bhutan is off-limits! LOL
    I’ll be here whenever you can come back.

  8. Welcome back! We’ll have to get together some time soon.

  9. Oh, man. So sorry about the floors, and the lack of keys, and the crazy flight. And your crazy neighbor, I’m so feeling you. Congrats on the zoo exam. Just reading how busy you’ve been makes me sleepy. See, how that works? It’s a genx thing: we’ve figured out how to be exhausted without doing a thing.

  10. I’ve heard this rumor of water pipes freezing and bursting, but never believed it until now.

    You didn’t leave the stove on when you left Florida didja?

    It’s really smoky down here.

  11. This is not good. I had a buried pipe like that once that cracked under the concrete. Fortunately this was outdoors, so I had no oak to buckle. I trust you and your insurance people will make it all well.

  12. Was there at least a karmic equality? Did the loonytoons neighbor have water on his hardwood floors as well? One could only hope so…

    Oh, look… you didn’t know I could ever be so mean, did you? I blame my ex for this.

  13. Welcome home! What a delightful homecoming!

    Your six weeks worth of mail looks intriguing — I thought I saw CATALOGS in there. CATALOGS! Ooooooooo!

    Hope the repairs go smoothly. Glad you can escape to the zoo — leaving what you may or may not have passed completly alone!

  14. I cannot tell you how sorry I am for all this “merde.” If I were a different sort, I would encourage you to make lemonade out of your lemons–but in your shoes, I would be an utter thundercloud until I had it out of my system. When the reality doesn’t match AT ALL the way I wanted things to be, I get just a BIT testy. Keep us posted on the repairs; I still remember my broken pipe at Christmas a few years ago. It was quite stressful and I did a lot of crying.

  15. Back up in the north country finally. And you brought some of Florida with you too. The temperature here in A2 flirted with 80. Sorry to hear about your plumbing issues. I can’t help you there. Water pressure and I do NOT get along.

    Hea, it’s great to be a Detroit sports fan right now. Hopefully, you haven’t sold out and are cheering on the Pistons over the Bulls. The Bulls coach came from that “other” school, another reason to say “Go Pistons.”

  16. Why has no one said any bad words yet? This is a situation that calls for SHITFUCKSHIT!!!!

    If I were there, I would totally help you clean up. Then I would sing you lullabies and wake you in the morning.

  17. FC really made me laugh with the stove and smoke comment. My son said he could not see downtown St. Pete from his apt!!! You know where that is. But suppose you are kept up to date by your daughter, or maybe not. We mom’s need all the help we can get. What’s the word for a good informant?

    Eeee-gads, your homecoming sounds so nerve-racking. (I do not use bad words)but…this is a real tempting situation to do so. Sure hope things are better now. Did the previous owners move the shut off valve to a new location? Hope hope…

    We did have a pipe burst in our PA house. After moving from Calif. we did not know the wrapping pipes stuff till afterwards, flooded our laundry room. Our wood floor now undulates like a stormy sea.

    Let us know how everything turns out.

  18. Have things gotten better there yet? I’m hoping. Waiting for an update on life in Chicago after the clean up. Wishing you well.

  19. that does NOT sound like a fun homecoming. But I am glad you are back closer to this home 🙂
    I must come out to see the new baby animals at the zoo.

  20. That’s a fine ‘welcome home’. I would be ranting and raving at the sight and then ranting and raving about the fact all this yellling isn’t helping a thing. How did you stay so calm?

  21. Oh my goodness! How awful to come home to something like that; I can’t even imagine. Wait. Yes I can. Yes, it’s definitely awful.

    Can’t WAIT to see you in July!

  22. You stayed centered and calm in the midst of chaos?! Positively yogic!

    Will you post again before passing elephants?

  23. Damn water.

    Glad the kitties are okay. Sorry you’re having to deal with all this!

  24. Oh, a belated hug.

    Sorry. And I thought the same things about passing birds, before read your neighbors comments.

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