A Midnight Escapade

When I think of midnight escapades, I’m remembering panty raids and pajama parties at Pima Hall during my college years. In other words, I assumed my involvement in any such activities was long in the past. Nope!

Here’s how life works at our house. During the day, while I’m working, Bill watches TV—mostly Sci-Fi with the recent addition of Monk. (He’s worked his way up to season 7. There are eight in total, so he’s still got a ways to go.)

In the evenings we watch TV together—crime dramas, Home and Garden TV, and a healthy helping of Gordon Ramsey’s “It’s RAW!”

Bill and Jojo go to bed around eleven, leaving Mary asleep on her bed here in the family room and me in charge of the clicker. That’s when I watch my B&G (blood and guts) programs—Dateline, 20/20, 48 Hours, Murder in the Heartland, and Cold Justice.

That’s what I was doing about a quarter to twelve on Monday night when I heard a strange clicking sound. At first I thought it was on the soundtrack of the program I was watching, a taped episode of “Murder Under the Friday Night Lights”. But when a commercial came on, the clicking was still there.

Then I realized it sounded like water running, making me think I hadn’t turned the kitchen faucet off properly. But when I stood up to investigate, I found a stream of water running out of a light fixture over the family room bar.

There was already a big puddle on the hardwood floor. Afraid, I’d slip if I stepped into that in my bare feet, I quickly dialed Tinus. Tinus Becker—our property manager/handyman/dog supervisor/ and all around life saver—has been with us for more than twenty years. Years ago we bought what was essentially tear-down next to our place and rehabbed it. That’s where Tinus lives. So he’s always nearby, but he also goes to sleep hours earlier than we do, and to prevent unwanted texts from coming in overnight, he usually shuts off his phone.

Next I made my way upstairs to see if there was any water running in the bathroom up there. Nope, nada, so I went down the hall, woke Bill, and asked him how to turn the water off. “The valve is out in the garage,” he told me, but I figured my being able to find the proper valve and shut things down was a non-starter. In that case, Tinus was still my best bet.

So I put on my bathrobe and shoes and headed for the garage. The robe is two-layers, Terry cloth on the inside and something lighter on the outside. So I turned on my iPhone’s flashlight and put it in the one of the robe’s pockets. I figured in the dark it would provide a little light, and a little would be better than none.

Tinus lives next door. We live in an area called Bridle Trails which is essentially an urban forest filled with lots of towering Douglas firs surrounding the houses. His forty-step commute from his back door to our driveway, is a rock-lined gravel path with lots of ups and downs and no streetlights.

It was raining outside but more of a sprinkle than a downpour. Not wanting to end up falling on my face in the dark, I grabbed Bill’s garage walker on my way out. That rolled along just fine on our driveway, but it was slow going—one roll; two steps. One roll; two steps. But when I hit the rough part of the path, that walker saved me from going ass over teakettle.

With no handrails, I didn’t want to risk climbing up onto Tinus’s back porch. Instead I walked around to the front of the house to where his bedroom is and started pounding on the window. Once apprised of the situation, he was off like a shot in his bare feet while I followed at a much slower pace—one roll; two steps. One roll; two steps.

Back at the house, Bill reported that by the time he made it to the kitchen, the water flow was down to little more than a drip. Rather than coming from a broken pipe, the water had entered the house through an upstairs window whose calking had evidently given up the ghost.

Between us, Tinus and I sopped up the water on the floor and bar with a bunch of bath towels. The bar glassware was removed from the shelves and moved the kitchen counter. Then with a bucket in place in case the leak came back, Tinus went home and Bill went back to bed.

I sat up much later because there was no way I could go right to sleep. While I was sitting there, I congratulated myself on handling a difficult situation in a sensible fashion—not stepping into that initial puddle of water; using the walker instead of pretending I didn’t need it; summoning help and rallying the troops. I went to bed around two, and by the time I crawled out of bed later that morning I already had 2300 steps towards the next day’s ten.

The next day Tinus went out and calked like crazy. This afternoon another downpour showed up, and just like clockwork, the leak came back. The plastic bucket Tinus had strategically place on the shelf did its work, but one the rain stopped, he went back up on the roof. Turns out we have a blocked scupper that had backed up and overflowed. The problem will be fixed for sure tomorrow, but here’s a word to the wise: Designing a flat-roofed house in rainy Seattle isn’t necessarily a good idea.

Between Monday night and now I’ve learned that if Tinus turns his phone on DO NOT DISTURB, the first call will go to voice mail, but a second one, placed within the next three minute will go through.

That bit of high-tech information means we’re all sleeping a lot better around here, and maybe someone reading this will end up sleeping better, too.