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.

34 thoughts on “A Midnight Escapade

  1. I’m glad your adventure didn’t end up with more than a water leak, and no tumble/fall/etc. You showed more common sense than I have at times in situations like that. We do have to. When I read your story I first thought, “Oh no, not another water leak.” I’ve been fighting/searching for one in my 30+year old plumbing. Glad yours was only slightly elusive, and that you had Tinus to assist.

    Thank you for another of your great stories.

  2. Good thing you caught that fast, it could have been a much bigger problem. And what if the water on the floor had been electrified? Water from a light socket? Zzz zzz!

    Please consider calling your life saver, next time, instead of risking life and limb. Or, if you’re close enough, use baby monitors for a quick call.

  3. I so enjoy your emails! I was so happy to hear it was a somewhat easy fix. I’m only in my 60’s and both houses have had very unusual water catastrophes I’ve had to deal with. I watch Dateline and murder mysteries when my husband is out too! It’s so neat that you live in the same state as we do, I’m on Fox Island.

  4. My first thought was ‘oh no, not on the hardwood floors’, as I also have them and panic every time I spill something. I’ve had to replace a section twice since I put in hardwood floors, but I’m glad all is well with you. Safe from falling, safe from buckled floors and safe from it happening again with the next rain.

    • More grist for your mill! Life can be so “interesting” and educational at times almost always with very inconvenient timing.

  5. So sorry, Judy. I used to think that things like this only happened to me. Happy that you used the walker and grateful that Tinus is close by. Also glad to know that Tinus has that second call feature.
    Hopefully, your blocked scupper is now repaired.
    Take care, be safe, and stay dry!

  6. Oh, what an experience! Glad it wasn’t nearly as bad as it originally sounded. Let’s hope Tinus never leaves your employ. Makes me realize I need to learn where to turn the water off at my house. Your choice of TV programs such as 20/20 and Dateline are my favorites.

  7. Knowing where you can turn off your water when you leave is important. If we are gone, for any length of time, we always turn off our water. I also turn off the power to our hot water tanks, in case they lose water. We do this, not only in our house in Arizona, but our place in Washington. Bad water leaks can not only cause damage to your floor , but damage your drywall.

  8. I’m glad the situation was resolved. Monk is an amazing show. I’m not sure how I missed it when it was on regular TV.

  9. There are few things worse than hearing water running somewhere your house. Am glad you found the problem quickly. One of the first things I learned when we moved into this house was where the water turnoff was. My husband traveled a lot and I had to take care of the problems when he was gone.

    Hope you have a happy Easter.

  10. That was certainly a close call. Glad you made it safely to your handyman’s house and resolved the situation.
    Mother Nature has not been kind to the US this year. It has been a rough winter here in New England with more rain than snow. Hoping the spring will bring calmer weather.

    Have a nice weekend and a wonderful Easter.

  11. Love your approach to life’s challenges.
    Bridle Trails is a beautiful place, I live east of you in Duvall.
    I started reading the Beaumont books in the 90’s. I met you many moons ago at a Seattle Women’s show you were located back in a corner, and I have attended many of your talks in King County. A big fan, I am reading and in some cases rereading the Brady series.
    Have a quiet restful weekend and a very joyful Easter.
    M J

  12. Thank you for the phone feature lesson! I will have to figure out how to do stuff on my phone, but knowing the possibilities helps.

    Flat roofs seem to be a good idea only if you are planning to do things up there — such as garden on top of a high rise, or, as I did in my 20s, sunbathe on them. I guess in some hot places people sleep on them, too. Putting them on single-family homes in wet or cold climates has resulted in a plethora of unpleasant stories such as yours. And then there’s my own story — almost 30 years ago when my five-year-old sauntered into the kitchen and casually announced, “It’s raining in my room.”

    Steps are good! Better if you aren’t forced to do them dark of night in wet conditions.

  13. Water leaks are not fun and especially scary near anything electric. I’m glad all turned out well. Wishing you a Blessed Easter.

  14. Whew! You really wore me out! I’m glad to observe you are very logical and using caution these days. Some people never learn. Now, I need a Titus (love that name!).

  15. I love your daily and nightly work and TV family schedule. Unique and hilarious. Keep the Friday blogs coming. I enjoy them so much. Almost as much as your books.

  16. Too much excitement at an ungodly hour!
    God Bless Tinus- He seems to be able to handle just about any situation-
    The water combined with a light fixture is scary- However, perhaps the light was not on-
    In an emergency it is essential to stay calm and think clearly, as you did-
    Well done!

  17. Wore me out reading this. We had a kitchen extension that was flat roofed. When we reroofed, we got a slant to that extension–no more problems.

    Does Bill have “skis” on the end of his walker that doesn’t have the wheels? Wheels in front and Walker Ski Guides in back. They are GREAT. Dave (husband) has them on his. I pick his up either at Fred Meyer or Bartell’s.

  18. Wow ! Flat roof houses are all the rage as you know in our area. With building height codes so stringent in Kirkland and surrounding areas the builders want every inch of living space. No wasted attic space. As far as tv watching goes my wife and I started watching Perry Mason season 1 to 9. Followed by Matlock 1 to 7. Now we started Columbo. Currently on season 3 of 7. Anyway, hope your visit to the Apple Store went well. We had just finished 4.5 miles of our daily mall walk headed towards our 10k.
    Take care.

  19. You are so tough, JA. Good for you. Water leaks in a home or other dwelling are very disturbing. When you’ve been on this earth as long as we have, they add up. We used to live in a 250 year farm house in PA with a tin roof. Living there got me in the habit of checking ceilings often. Now I still check upwards, but we live in a relatively modern coastal home which still presents leaks. One time due to a bullet hole in our roof over a 20 foot ceiling. I’m glad that’s over.

    Best to you and Bill. So enjoy your writings.

  20. Oh my! That is sounding like our past month. We live in Anacortes, on Similk beach. Several of our neighbor’s homes are their second homes. Our next door neighbors live in Monroe full time on a huge property with barns, etc. They have become extremely good friends over the past 20 years. Both our husbands are 70 and are do it yourself type guys. 3 months ago Gary was on a 28 ft ladder trying to secure a piece of metal roofing that had come loose during on of our windstorms that blew through there. Well, he was blown off the ladder by a wind gust and basically pulverized his pelvis. He has been following doctor’s orders extremely well and hasn’t been able to lift anything, even a dinner plate. They decided to come up to the beach house a couple weeks ago and we offered to turn the heat and water on for them. Thankfully they declined the water. They got here while we were on our way back from Fred Hutchinson in Seattle with another friend who has been relying on us to drive him to his doctors. I got a text from Gary’s wife, Deb, who asked if it was ok if she came and got more towels from our house. They had turned on the water and it was leaking out of a ceiling fixture downstairs and flooding through the ceiling upstairs. A copper pipe hadn’t fully drained when they shut the water off last December at their last visit here, and had split. Well, we stopped at our house first and my husband got out to go help them and I drove our friend on home. My husband ended up replumbing their attic pipes and all worked out. They were ready to just turn around and go home since Gary couldn’t do anything. Deb was running around doing it all, on Gary’s instructions.
    So glad you found where your water was coming from. That is such a frustrating thing to have happen. And hopefully no damage was done to your plaster/drywall, etc.

  21. Oh my! That is sounding like our past month. We live in Anacortes, on Similk beach. Several of our neighbor’s homes are their second homes. Our next door neighbors live in Monroe full time on a huge property with barns, etc. They have become extremely good friends over the past 20 years. Both our husbands are 70 and are do it yourself type guys. 3 months ago Gary was on a 28 ft ladder trying to secure a piece of metal roofing that had come loose during on of our windstorms that blew through there. Well, he was blown off the ladder by a wind gust and basically pulverized his pelvis. He has been following doctor’s orders extremely well and hasn’t been able to lift anything, even a dinner plate. They decided to come up to the beach house a couple weeks ago and we offered to turn the heat and water on for them. Thankfully they declined the water. They got here while we were on our way back from Fred Hutchinson in Seattle with another friend who has been relying on us to drive him to his doctors. I got a text from Gary’s wife, Deb, who asked if it was ok if she came and got more towels from our house. They had turned on the water and it was leaking out of a ceiling fixture downstairs and flooding through the ceiling upstairs. A copper pipe hadn’t fully drained when they shut the water off last December at their last visit here, and had split from our frigid temps earlier this winter. Well, we stopped at our house first and my husband got out to go help them and I drove our friend on home. My husband ended up replumbing their attic pipes and all worked out. They were ready to just turn around and go home since Gary couldn’t do anything. Deb was running around doing it all, on Gary’s instructions.
    So glad you found where your water was coming from. That is such a frustrating thing to have happen. And hopefully no damage was done to your plaster/drywall, etc.
    So glad you listened to that voice and used the walker and didn’t go through the water and slip.

  22. I need a Tinus! I’m glad you’ve got him–what a life-saver! And your mention of Bill watching Monk made me smile, as I inherited all the seasons from my late sister, and watched them in the last 5 years. When he’s finished them, what about Murdoch, about a Toronto detective–has Bill watched those?

  23. Oh my goodness, I was right there with you—too much excitement at night. You did as I thought you would, you do as you write. You are Steadfast! Glad you thought of not walking on the water. Using Bill’s walker was a great idea. One summer living in Colfax WA, my husband was tearing off the old shingles with the help of a friend when they decided to take a break at the local cafe. I said it’s cloudy, black clouds it’s going to rain. He said, no it wont. It poured, luckily our bed was on wheels, I ran in pushed the bed to the side, and had buckets, and towels to mop up the water. When I went through the kitchen to take the towels to the washing machine I glanced at the window and it was closed and the storm window was closed, the water was filling up the gap fast. By then my husband and his friend were back, running for the bedroom. I had to sit down and laugh at what happened. It stopped as fast as it began.

  24. Thanks for the information about calling a “do not disturb” phone. Most of my calls to friends go to voicemail and occasionally I really need to get through

  25. Hello again J.A. That was a nice read. Hat’s off to Bill and I’m almost up to him on Monk movies, season 5. If you remember me, I’m close to the birth place of the Fuller Brush man’s home town. Now need a favor. I had told you that I started a friend on your books by buying him 24 after he had eye surgery and could read again. Now he is totally hooked on you, like I am. He questioned me about a girl in a Brady novel, Angie Kellogg and her background. I need to get him that novel where she originally came into Joanna Brady’s life, but for the life of me, I can’t remember which book it was. Would you please help me, or put Mr. J.P. Beaumont on the case ?
    Regards again from Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada.

  26. I just finished reading ‘Blessing of the Lost Girls’ and cannot begin to tell you how much I enjoyed it. Stunningly beautiful and deeply emotional. This story will resonated within me for a long time. THANK YOU so very much for writing it.

  27. My Dad built not one but 4 structures with flat roofs and we live in Grays Harbor County about 40 miles from the beaches so we get lots of rain here. We had a motel in Aberdeen and 3 duplexes with flat roofs but we had only one leak in all the years, as almost every few years my Dad was up on the roofs and put whatever you use, I think tar, to keep the roof’s waterproofed. I helped at the motel and we put on a silver coating of something that sealed and also reflected the heat to keep the rooms cooler. So I know exactly what you meant when you said flat roof 🙂 They aren’t the best in our Northwest area and need to be constantly under supervision 🙂
    Great story, thank you,

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