Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Not a Great Day

I had some tutoring this morning and a couple of phone calls to make, then I planned to get outside and start reclaiming the yard from the natural havoc that occurred over the winter. You may remember my saga of the leaves? Well, there are still plenty of leaves left, even after the dozens of cubic yards of them that I removed in the multiple battles last fall. I had already had a short bout with some stuff along our walkway on Sunday, and I was ready to dive in for as much time as I could squeeze in before the predicted rain began. It started out as a very nice day, rising into the 70s (fourth straight day of that) and sunny.

So, out I went, first to clear the driveway of the gravel from the town’s snow treatment and some other stuff that had gathered there. I broke for lunch and finished the driveway right after. I then headed for the area behind the back deck, which is a series of tiered planting areas with a bunch of azaleas and some other shrubs, part of the Grand Design of the Master Leaf Catcher from whom we bought the house. I didn’t get all the leaves picked up, but I did get them cleared from the plants so they could begin their spring development. We have a few plants around that are some kind of ornamental grass. It grows tall and then turns almost white when the season is over, almost like straw. One of those, the biggest one, is out front near the street, and it was six to seven feet high. One night last week before my son Ryan headed back to college, we lit that sucker and watched it burn. It is quite spectacular (which is why we did it, and why we did it at night). There is also a good-sized one of those in the planted area out back.

Because of the torture that is the leaf removal process I have toyed with the idea of burning the area clear. That thought crossed my mind today. The grass in question is at one end of the planters, so I figured I’d give it a shot. Now, I knew that this would be quite the conflagration, and I knew that the flames would singe the timbers that the planters are built from, but they need to be painted/stained anyway, so I was willing to let them get scorched in order to see how effective/destructive the burning method would be.

So, with a garden hose connected close by, I lit the grass. It went fast. I knew it would. It caught the leaves nearby on fire. I knew it would. Pretty soon, the fire had spread to an area I thought was plenty big, so I fetched the hose to keep the fire from going beyond those boundaries. I turned on the faucet and climbed up near the burning area and began to water the perimeter to keep the fire within it. A really pitifully weak stream dribbled out of the nozzle. “That’s weird,” I thought, and headed down to the faucet. As I climbed down, I noticed that the fire, as fires are wont to do, was spreading. Quickly. I got to the faucet and realized I hadn’t opened it all the way. “That’s the problem,” I thought, and headed back to where I had laid the nozzle down, picked it up and began to spray the perimeter again, which was now larger than intended, but not (yet) out of control; the woods were not far away. The stream was only a little better, but enough to take care of the immediate problem, so I continued watering the perimeter. When that was accomplished, I went back down to the faucet; some burning continued. I tried the faucet and found it was wide open. Then I saw it: water dripping from beneath the sideboards on both sides of the faucet. “This isn’t good,” I said. I had to take care of the other burning areas, which took a few minutes, and then headed for the basement where the pipes came through the wall.

I opened the door to the back part of the basement where we have a lot of stuff stored and looked straight across to the wall where the pipe is. I saw a little trickle of water rolling down the wall. Then I turned on the light. It didn’t take long to realize that there was about a half-inch of water covering the floor. The entire floor. I ran to the main cutoff valve and shut off the water supply. Damn! I was angry. What a mess. Now, instead of making progress outside, I had to shift my focus to cleaning up water inside the house.

I won’t bore you with the gritty details of the clean-up, except to say it was, and is, a giant pain, but I will tell you one thing more: It was all my fault. I had neglected to take the hose off the faucet before winter weather set in. I know better; I just didn’t do it. I’m really peed off!!!

Lesson learned.

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