It’s just when you’re gliding along, minding your own business that everything goes wrong. All those insomniac nights, wide awake, worrying about every little thing – that stuff never happens. It’s the moment when all seems placid, contentment within easy reach – and then -boom!
Oh, we’ve got tolerance for a little upheaval. Like the week before last when we got the news that our orchard had developed a death wish, some kind of pestilence that was moving inexorably from tree to tree. It started, apparently and predictably, with the apple tree. It’s always the apple tree. So now, here we are:
But we had no idea how completely we were to be cast out of the garden of Eden for our transgression of sinking into “merrily, merrily merrily life is but a dream” mode. There we were, standing on the back patio, having just made peace with the orchard debacle, professing our charitable acceptance of the little disruptions in the greater scheme and being rather proud of ourselves for our equanimity. Just another little bump in the road, right?
Going back thirty plus years ago, our son Taylor’s first complete sentence so captivated us that it became part of the canon of our family lexicon, pulled out from time to time for our amusement. “The water it-a goes-a down the drain,” Taylor had sagely observed. We applauded extravagantly (and basically sat back at that point to await the eventual presentation of the Nobel prize for something, anything, everything to this brilliant scion of our clan.)
That was the sentence that came to me as we were standing on our patio and suddenly became aware that we were standing in water, the daintiest little ladyfinger of water, that was definitively not a-going-a down-a the drain. In fact, not only was it sitting there like so much spilled milk, it was actually coming up. Up from below. From between the seams of the carefully designed and expensively constructed sections of concrete.
The CE grew very pale.
And hence began a rather long and not very happy week, starring a valiant team of landscape workers digging here,
and digging there,
and digging pretty much everywhere in hopes of finding the leak. Any and all effort would be expended in order that the unspeakable word not be uttered – the word that, in fact, must not be breathed, the word that could not even be forming in the back of one’s mind. That word, a pox upon humanity: jackhammer!
While the CE was out there, up to his elbows in mud, I was envisioning an opportunity. I’ve long harbored a vision of a tidy little expansion of our back courtyard, one featuring wisteria-festooned pergolas and a lavish outdoor fireplace. One that would mean instead of shivering, wrapped in blankets as the marine air turns dining al fresco into dining al freeze-o, we could have a more civilized experience, one that, you know, included heaters.
I made the colossal mistake of thinking this was the right moment to share this vision with that muddy-elbowed man. And, while his bark is infinitely worse than his bite, this week he was growling and barking like mastiff.
It didn’t go over well. It turns out that when a man is experiencing intense anxiety tinged with a dollop of despair, he does not want to turn his thoughts to home improvement projects.
Did I mention that it was a very long week?
On and on it went. Like the drunk searching for his keys under the streetlight, our diggers dug up every inch of exposed soil as the inevitable reality slowly descended: this leak was hiding dark and deep beneath that cavernous expanse of concrete. Since the J word could not be uttered, they turned to the only slightly less traumatic T word, and the tunneling commenced.
I think our resident legion of gophers would be very proud of what was accomplished here. Basically, the CE and a small (but alarmingly ever-growing) army of workers, performed a root canal on our patio. And, like every other root canal, once finished there is very little to show for it but the dim memory of sharp pain and a distinct contraction in one’s bank account.
But they found the leak!
And not a jackhammer in sight!
I was slightly disappointed that China did not come into view given the depth and breadth of that tunnel, but grateful to have my husband back, minus the barking, albeit with a much thinner wallet. Dollar bills went flying into that tunnel project faster than Jerome Powell can print them.
Having been jolted out of our year-long idyll, our “we could just stay home forever” mode has turned rather abruptly to “we gotta get out of here”. We’re packing our bags for Vegas, baby, in hopes that all that dirt magically puts itself neatly back into place by the time we return.