It was the weekend of April 13-15, long after Mother Nature should have retired her snow and ice.
Damn that Mother Nature.
So anyway, she didn’t. Retire either snow or ice, I mean. In fact, she hit us with both. Because if you’re going to extend winter far beyond what’s proper, let’s do it with serious style, apparently.
My family and I were supposed to go visit my dad for the weekend. He lives about two and a half hours away, due north, close enough to see on the reg but, as he said when he moved there, “Far enough away that you can’t dump your daughter on me every single weekend.”
(My dad’s pretty cool, for the record. He was kidding when he said that. Mostly.)
He also lives far from the city, which is particularly attractive to me, the one who hates the city. Might have gotten that particular trait from him. So yeah, chillin’ at his house in the woods for the weekend sounded pretty damn good.
Until I glanced at the weather report.
Ice. Snow. Rain. Ice. Ice. More snow. Ice.
“Don’t travel if you don’t have to.”
Beginning Friday evening and extending until 5pm on Sunday.
So basically, if I’m reading the weather reports correctly, assuming I actually make it to his house, I’ll be stuck there, at least until Monday. Tempting, but…
So we stayed home. And did a whole lot of staying home. Pajamas. Movies. Wine. More pajamas. I spent a whole lot of time in front of my computer, while my husband and daughter binged on Buffy the Vampire Slayer episodes.
(He’s seen the series a hundred times; she’s just being introduced. Such cute father-daughter bonding time. Especially the questions she’s asking as a result of the snarky dialogue: “What’s an orgy?”)
I wrote 20k words. That’s write, I mean, right: 20,000 words. Oh man, did it feel GOOD. Orgasmic. (Yeah, there were a few of those in those words. I write romance after all.)
Sunday evening, my husband made a delicious homemade beef stew. And opened a bottle of cab from Napa Valley, circa 2013. Words cannot adequately express how freaking amazing that wine was.
He said, “Damn, we should have saved this for a special occasion.”
I said, “Hell no. This was perfect. Special occasions generally involve other people and no way did I want to share this bottle with anyone but you.”
We’re so romantic like that.
And life was good. Rosy. Fulfilled. Peachy. We went to bed Sunday evening and I thought, “That was an unexpectedly great weekend.”
And then Monday morning, April 16 happened. It was quite literally a succession of coincidences and dumb luck.
First, my suitcase from my spring break vacation two weeks prior was parked on the landing to the basement stairs, because I thought if I put it there I would actually take it downstairs and put it away.
When I woke up to get ready for the day job on Monday morning, I finally had enough of moving the damn thing out of my way every time I went outside or to the laundry room or, let’s be honest, down to the basement. So I grabbed it, flipped on the light, and headed down.
And stepped in water.
To be fair, our basement does flood on occasion, but it’s not real flooding. It’s in the northwest corner and it sort of seeps up through the floor when it rains a lot, and it’s probably a result of the roots from the really old shrubs on that side of the house.
But this, this was way more than that, plus it wasn’t in that northwest corner. It was…well, pretty much the entire basement.
So I texted my boss, “Um, I think my basement’s flooded, so I’m not coming in today.” And I woke up my husband (lucky bastard goes into work a full hour later than I do), who went downstairs and said, “Uh, the sump pump isn’t working.”
If you live in the Midwest US, Northeast US, and probably the parts of Canada that actually thaw for the summer, I know you are cringing right now.
For the rest of you that means, well, think about it: I have a basement, and by definition, that means the room is entirely below ground level. Or damn near, anyway (it does have windows, although they are pretty high and tiny). Which means when it rains—and snows, and ices, and then warms up so that all that frozen precipitation turns to water—the sump pump has to collect the agua pouring toward your house and pump it up, up, and away from your basement. And if the sump pump doesn’t do that, well… hello, insurance claim.
Yeah, this needed to be dealt with, pronto.
So I did what any red-blooded human being would do: I called my friends.
Help! Help! Does anyone know how to fix (or, eek, replace) a sump pump???
And like awesome friends do, one of mine came to my rescue. She called probably ten seconds after I texted her and said, “My husband has replaced three sump pumps for us. He’s on his way.”
God love her.
Side note:This is so totally a romance novel epilogue, don’t you think? Heroine finds her happily ever after with hero and author thinks, I need to let my readers know they really, truly did have an HEA. So she writes this adorable epilogue about the heroine’s best friend who’s in a bind and the heroine sends her fabulous, wonderful husband to the rescue. Except in a romance novel, he’d drag his best friend along, and this epilogue would be the start of the second book in the series…
Wait, back to reality.
It wasn’t an easy job. Sump pumps don’t ‘get repaired.’ They get replaced. And usually when you figure out it’s time, the basement is flooding, or damn near. Which means water is pouring into the concrete hole in which your sump pump resides at an alarming rate (only alarming when the pump doesn’t work, FYI).
We had two minutes in which to work. (By we, I mean “he.” All I did was time how long it took for the water to fill the hole before the old sump pump kicked on and sucked it all out again, which was, to reiterate, two minutes. Also, even though he got the old one working again, it needed to be replaced. Like, stat.)
And he did it. Boom. Two minutes. Switched out one incredibly corroded and old, old, old pump for another, brand new, pretty, stainless steel beauty.
(I don’t want to make this weird, because these are my real life friends I’m talking about in this post, but damn, doesn’t this sound like an awesome scene from a romance novel??)
Which wasn’t sucking the water out.
Oh, it was working, just not fast enough.
You see, I live in an old house. Not, like, historical landmark old (which would be so cool), but, like, not-remotely-up-to-code old. What that means in terms you and I can understand is: the pipe that sucks the water out of the house and spews it into the front yard wasn’t big enough. Back in the 60s, when my house was built, they thought it was. Today’s reality: we need a pipe that’s twice the size of the one currently hooked to the over-worked sump pump.
Twice. The. Size. Think about the Mississippi River and, oh, some random creek meandering through, I don’t know, anywhere.
That’s the difference, when you factor in the number of feet up (like defying gravity up) the pipe has to push water so that it’s out, out, and away from my basement.
Commence bailing. My friend’s husband and I started scoping water from the sump pump well and running it up the stairs, through the garage, and out onto the driveway, for literally an hour, while he tried to piece together exactly what to do next because what we thought was a miracle wasn’t working.
“I’m going to run to the hardware store, see if they have [insert gobledegook here—or at least that’s what it sounded like as I rushed past him, water-filled bucket in hand], I’ll be back as quick as I can. Hold down the fort.”
That’s what my friend’s husband said at this point.
So I held down the fort. I ran up and down those stairs, scoping and dumping water, for… maybe five minutes.
Yeah, five minutes later, he pulled back into my driveway. I’m not even sure it was that long.
“Wow, that was quick.”
“Yeah, I found a plumber at the end of the road.”
I am not joking. That’s what he said to me.
“He’s on his way down here right now.”
That’s the other thing he said to me.
And guess what? This guy (kinda cute, like, might be the muse for my next plumber-hero) hurries down my stairs to look at my almost-overflowing sump pump well.
Even I paused at that point. Like, wait a minute, is this real life? Because it’s reading like a book right about now. Not a nonfiction one, either.
But yeah, that’s what happened. My friend-with-plumbing-experience left my house to go find some part that might possibly solve my flooding problems, made it to the end of my street (which is like 800 feet long), spotted a plumber at one of my neighbor’s houses, and convinced him to come down to my home to fix my problems.
Does this shit happen in real life?
(Sure, but it costs and arm and seven legs, but we won’t get into that right now, because that’s not particularly romantic.)
So anyway, that’s what happened. My basement flooded. I texted a friend. She sent her husband to help. He tried. It didn’t work (through no fault of his own), so he tried again. Found a plumber. Plumber charged me a million dollars (not really; it was pretty much exactly what I expected if I didn’t use a friend), fixed the flooding problem.
Happy ever after.
Yet one more reason why I write romance. Because the HEA…happens.
Tami Lund writes romance. Wins awards. Drinks wine. And writes about the plumbing problems in her 50 year old house. Because, why not?