Snow, Babies, and Why You Should Never Skip #3

Ask and Ye Shall Receive...

Last Wednesday the white stuff came screaming out of the sky (thank you Mr. Pynchon). Only instead of large, gentle snowflakes cascading down like it was Christmas in Bedford Falls, it was hard, wet, painful sleet that within a few short hours encased the entire street in ice. I went out to shovel the steps and sidewalk only to come in sopping wet 45 minutes later. By 5 o'clock I was one of only two houses that succeeded in doing any shoveling at all. Now, six days later it's still just the two of us. The road isn't plowed or even salted and the parts of my house I didn't succeed in digging out have hardened to concrete. In the backyard I can see squirrels slipping and sliding across the deck and garden. Today starts a 4-day bout of upper 40's weather, so maybe the Devil's Tower of snow in the back of my driveway will begin its inevitable decline.

New Homeowner's Idyllic Life Finally Shattered...

I woke up around 5:30 AM on Monday morning, wide awake and feeling rested and ready to take on the world. Or at least my mother and family, who we were planning on visiting later that morning. The wind was kicking up a party outside, and the house was freezing. We've been having a few issues with our boiler lately, so I went downstairs to check out the problem. Sure enough, the water gauge was below the minimum line, and the boiler was off. No worries - I've handled this thing before:

  1. Turn off the boiler.
  2. Open valve to add water.
  3. Close valve.
  4. Turn back on boiler.

I should emphasize at this point in the post again my feeling of being rested and ready to take on the world. I would also like to point out that I have done this process dozens of times in the past in the old apartment.

I would also like to add that, if you have to skip ANY of the above steps, DO NOT skip #3.

I went back upstairs and sat down in the den looking for a DVD to watch. As I sat there on the floor, flipping through some contenders for the DVD player, I could hear a sound like spraying water. It kind of sounded like the radiators were letting off some steam, but I never heard it that loud before. I slowly turned my head to left, a copy of THE LEOPARD MAN in my hands.

The radiator in the kitchen was spouting up the air, and had already covered the floor in about a centimeter of water. I ran in and immediately shut off the pipe leading to the radiator and surveyed the damage, angry but resigned to cleaning up the mess before the Missus woke up.

That's when I heard the running water upstairs. I took the steps two at a time (no mean feat when you're wearing a robe and have the agility and grace of a horse on ice) and ran to the bathroom where the same thing was occurring. I shut off THAT pipe as the Missus woke up asking in her tired, beautiful voice just what the !@#$ was going on so early in the morning.

I started explaining when, as I ran through the events of the morning, it hit me.

I had skipped #3.

I jumped down the stairs, grabbed the door molding and spun into the kitchen, threw open the door to the basement launched myself into 3 inches of water. I bounded into the work room, turned off the boiler, closed the valve, and shut off the hot water to boot. At this point it became obvious we flooded boiler and, consequently, the pipes leading to the radiators. I left the Missus in the basement momentarily while I went upstairs to make sure no more radiators were leaking, gushing, or generally destroying the house. I walked through the living/dining rooms, going from radiator to radiator. As I neared the front door, I felt a few small drops fall on my head.

I looked up.

There, stretching from one side of the room to the other, was an enormous crack in the ceiling. About a three foot area was slowly dripping water on the floor where I was walking.

I think it was at this point I went a little crazy.

Around 7:00 AM we called my brother-in-law over. 60 gallons of water later (emptied the Shop-Vac 5 times) the basement was free of water. We completely emptied the boiler, refilled it to its proper level (this time remembering #3), and disconnected all the radiators, emptying them of excess water and cleaning out the valves before re-connecting them. About 5 hours later we turned the boiler back on and cheered as all the radiators began working again, including two that did not work previous to that morning's incident. So it looks like the only damage that needs to be repaired are two valve replacements for the radiators that spouted, and the damage to the ceiling, which isn't that bad since in the next two weeks work begins on repairing and repainting the living room and dining room.

Things That Go "Bump" in the Night...

Although it actually occurred the evening before the Boiler Episode, I wanted to end this post on a happy, warm, and huggy moment. A couple of weeks ago my mother bought us the BebeSounds Prenatal Gift Set, which allows you to listen, talk to, and play music for your baby. We finally broke it out Sunday night. We couldn't hear a heartbeat or any moving around yet (although we're not exactly sure what we should be hearing), so we broke out the microphone/speaker set to read and talk to the baby.

Now I've been doing this on a semi-nightly basis anyway, but using the tried-and-true method of putting my mouth close to the Missus' stomach and waxing over a broad range of topics, from why Mommy is driving Daddy crazy to why Mommy is driving Daddy crazy. But we liked the idea of the microphone, so we set it up and I read him his first bedtime story which , due to a veto from the Missus on my current book, Norman Mailer's The Spooky Art, was Richard Scarry's The Bunny Book, about a bunny family wondering what the new baby bunny will grow up to be.

(SPOILER ALERT: It's a Daddy Bunny).

One of the bunnies (I think it was Uncle Bunny) thinks that the baby bunny will grow up to be a train driver, whose train will go "TOOT! TOOT!" along the tracks, or something like that. As I made the "TOOT! TOOT!" sound, the Missus jumped up.
"Do that again! The baby kicked!"
I read the page again, and again the little guy kicked and jumped like a teenager doing the Frug.

Man, the smile on my face that night just came back to me.