Tuesday, January 7, 2014

BACK HOME


We're back in the cottage. For better or worse. We returned Sunday. The place is a mess, stuff strewn everywhere—bags, boxes, plastic tubs, teetering piles. Like a bomb detonated in every room. We're trying to put some of it in the best order possible given the situation, and the rest we'll get around to one of these days.

The carpet, pad, wood floors, and baseboards have been pulled up and piled in the yard. We're walking on rather rough concrete. But it's dry, swept as best we can, and with the little woodstove going and pumping out heat, sufficiently warm. The necessary bathroom facilities all work. The kitchen is usable. Truth is, we've camped under rather worse conditions.

Of course we returned on the day when that arctic low that's been making such headlines moved through. The day started off in the mid-30s˚F; above freezing. About noon it began to rain, and the rain soon intensified to where it was coming down pretty heavy. Temperatures began dropping. In mid-afternoon the rain turned to sleet—wet, sloppy, nasty, soak-you-in-a-minute sleet. The cold grew. The sleet continued unto well past dark, then sometime between 8–9 p.m. turned to snow, which eventually accumulated to maybe 2 inches. That on top of the wee'k earlier snow, plus the sleet and ice from the previous hours. 

Sunday night the temperature plummeted to a record low for the date of -14˚F (-24˚C) with a windchill somewhere in the -45˚F. Brrrrrr. Trips to the woodpile were quick and interesting. Myladylove and Moon-the-Dog spent the night in the bedroom, which we've also put into usable shape, and which has electric baseboard heat. I was afraid I'd be too comfortable and sleep too well. Instead, I slept (sorta) on the recliner in the great room so's to be handy for tending the fire—which I did every couple of hours. I did the same thing last night when temperatures bottomed out at -10˚F, and I'll probably do so again tonight, though the low is only suppose to be a balmy 6˚F.

Today, as yesterday, will probably be spent cleaning up and/or organizing whatever I can and keeping the woodstove fed and glowing. The cold water taps in the shower and kitchen were frozen this morning, though the bathroom sink tap worked. I set up a heater and blew warm air into the plumbing access opening and managed to get both those going—but the bathtub refuses to drain. Don't quite understand why—ice in the outlet line?—and nothing I've tried so has helped.     

Come leave for work time, Myladylove's Honda wouldn't start. I managed to get my truck up the driveway hill and she drove it to her branch office. The downside is I won't be making my planned grocery run.

The image above is of the river upstream this morning. In spite of our prolonged days and nights of seriously low temps, the slightly high water, and a fairly fast current caused by Sunday's rain and sleet has prevented a freeze over—though there're lots of ice chunks and slush being carried along. Incidentally, that blue is not the river's true water color but a reflection of the early-morning sky and shadows; the water is really an opaque dirty tan.
               

14 comments:

Bonnie said...

Oh my - sounds like a nightmare scenario to me. My heart goes out to you.

Hope the temps rise to make the work ahead more bearable. If it were me, I would be concerned about starting any renovations before being sure there is no mold anywhere. Sometimes I wonder if floods are not harder catastrophes to recover from than fires ...

What a start to 2014! Surely, it can only get better.

Gail said...

HI GRIZZ, oh my. You are quite in the thick of it, for sure. I am exhausted just reading about your survival challenges. I can only imagine how overwhelmed you both are as one thing after another presents itself for resolve. Thank goodness for the wood stove and running water, 'cept the tub drain. Oh Jim, quite the challenge, huh? I wish I could help. I am holding you and your lady love in prayer and good thought and your cottage too. And the river looks beautiful and I can see her potential to cause havoc vividly. Oh my... take time to rest, ok? And give thanks, create some balance as I know you know to do and will.
Love to you and prayers and hope for us all
Gail
peace......

Grizz………… said...

Bonnie…

It's supposed to get above freezing—barely—Friday. Don't know if that will help or not. As to mold, right now, with it below freezing, the air is dry so mold is not an issue. I'd guess there will be a bit on the lowest portion of the walls, but we'll gradually replace that area of sheetrock…months vs. weeks, of course. Don't really foresee it being too bad, though. And in many ways, you're right, I think—flood can be at lest as serious as fire, but maybe not as bad as having everything absolutely flattened by a tornado.

We'll likely survive—the stress being more a problem than the work ahead—and if we do, we'll recover better than beforehand.

Thank you for your kind words.

Grizz………… said...

Gail…

I appreciate your prayers and thoughts. It does seem like we're having to deal with one thing after another. And I remain flummoxed by the tub failing to drain. Everything feeds into one line which goes to the septic tank. If washer, toilet, and both sinks aren't having a problem, I can't for the life of me figure why the shower/tub is. Sounds like a stump-the-plumber question.

It wasn't really "our" river's fault that we had historically high water and the house got wet…so I'm still okay with the stream and don't hold this against it.

Our woodstove is a lifesaver, literally. Works like a champ! I'd give it a kiss…except then I'd have to treat my lips for burns. Maybe I'll hold off on that smooch until summer.

Carolyn H said...

Grizz: I've been in the kind of mess you're going through right now. It's no fun at all, and I hope you are soon past the worst of it.

George said...

Glad you're home, Grizz, but sorry that the going is so tough. To have this flood damage and the polar vortex simultaneously is most unfortunate. Again, however, I admire your optimism and good cheer. Having read your accounts, no one will hear me complain about the frigid weather in this part of the country. Knock on wood — all of the household equipment seems to be doing its job.

Scott said...

Grizz: I was so busy myself around Christmas that I didn't realize you'd experienced a terrible tragedy. Now, I've read your account of the flood and your account of the return.

Friends of ours who moved to the area from Michigan were looking at houses. There's an old stone miller's house along "my" creek that was for sale. The house has been fully renovated and restored and is a beautiful structure, but it IS near the creek. It's not as close to the streambank as your cottage is, and it's significantly higher above the water level than your cottage is, but nonetheless, it IS along the creek. I assured them that I had never seen the house even come close to flooding during the 25 years that I have lived here (which is absolutely the truth), though the creek has gotten fairly close during the worst of our hurricane-related flooding. They bought the house, but admit to having some trepidation every time it rains. I hope I didn't lead them astray. Good luck to you, YourLadyLove and Moon as you recover.

Grizz………… said...

Carolyn H…

Thank you. Well, you obviously know what we're dealing with—and you're right, it's more work than fun, though there is a sort of perverse satisfaction in knowing we're not yet beaten. Luckily, we're both equipped with a similar survivor mentality and willing to rough it as long as it takes—concrete floors, everything in a mess, frozen water pipes, and cars that refuse to start, among a list that just seems to keep growing.

In the end, life gives you two choices…get on with it or give up. We're not giving up.

Grizz………… said...

George…

This whole scenario has been a sort of Murphy's Law Drama since the beginning…and I wouldn't expect any less from here on out. However, it would be rather churlish of me to pitch a depressed and angry fit and fling myself in the river as a final act of premature defeat. Of course, I would like the bathtub to drain and Myladylove's car to start—but unless winter lasts longer than my woodpile, I'm just going to keep plodding muleheadedly along.

Grizz………… said...

Scott…

Hey, thank you for writing. I appreciate hearing from you.

Please, however, let me say, while we've been seriously inconvenienced, had our lives disrupted, and can easily see months of work ahead to put things right…we've not experienced a "terrible tragedy." Things could easily have been so much worse—a foot of water instead of an inch; no friends to help us out moving and storing stuff, or to give us a wonderful place to stay until we could get back in here; and once here, having the woodstove and working electrical power, internet, water, etc. and all sufficient to be more or less comfortable, at least to a "camping" level.

No, tragedy is when you lose everything. Tragedy is when you put a loved one in the ground. Tragedy is when the doctor shakes his head and says "put your affairs in order." Tragedy is being on the street with just the clothes on your back and an empty belly.

Lots of folks live far worse lives than this every singe day, with no end in sight, nor any hope of things getting better. We're both lucky and truly blessed. To mix idioms—we have our work cut out for us, but there's light at the end of the tunnel. I'm even thinking if we do this right, we'll come out better than we went in, house wise; we have a perfect opportunity to change a lot of things and redo it to our satisfaction.

Re. your Michigan friends and their creekside house…don't worry, they'll be fine. And they'll enjoy the home, soon come to love it, I'd bet—and at that point, be willing to ride out whatever comes along. That old miller knew what he was doing when he built the place. It's been there a long time, endured and witnessed much. The risk of it flooding to any degree is likely less than that of a kitchen fire, or a tornado, or an invasion of copperheads. (I'm kidding about the copperheads.) Life, love, and houses all come with risks. Nothing ventured, nothing gained. Give yourself a break…you told them what you knew, gave them your best guess/advice. And they'll soon learn to quit counting raindrops.

Robin said...

Eleven days since you've posted. I'll be back and saying prayers in the meantime....

Grizz………… said...

Robin…

Finally got around to getting back online and taking care of some things—your comment being one of the first.

Your prayers are always welcome. We've just been working our fool heads off, trying to do what we could to put things back in order. We're okay. Exhausted at the end of most days, but otherwise good. And we may actually get past this by September or October. With luck. Given our level of competence in a lot of areas, however, it's going to be on-the-job-training and slow going. (In lieu of funds to hire an expert…do, redo, and keep redoing until you get'er right! Otherwise known as the Muddle Method.)

Hey, I'm kinda glad you've been worried, though. At least you've written me twice. Can I expect a third missive?

Anyway, thank you. You're a dear friend. Truly. Please take care—and let me know how YOU'RE doing.

AfromTO said...

Sorry to hear of your mess-would lifting each piano leg and sliding a rubbermaid tub under so each leg sits inside its own tub giving a good 25" high rubberboot save you not moving it next time?

Grizz………… said...

AfromTO…

Sorry to be slow. I'm just now getting back to tending my blog.

Your idea re. piano would certainly work. But I was concerned about dampness, as I knew—between pulling up floors and carpets, etc.—it was going to be a while before we could get the house dried out…which indeed proved to be the case. My friend's big truck with the liftgate worked perfect, as all we had to do was roll the piano down the hall and out the back door practically onto the lowered ramp. A piece of cake!

Moving all the books (for the same reason, dampness) was much, much harder simply because there were so very many. It took four of us several hours—even though about half my books were in my writing room which is adjacent to the back door where the truck was parked. Of course, winter with its falling snow and sleet didn't help.

Now, it's just a question of redoing every floor and most walls. The walls weren't really damaged, but I'm changing walls, closets, work counters, etc. Something in every room A sort of total remodel. Almost. A lot of work but a lot of creative fun, too.