Like a well oiled machine, I dashed out to the car, headed to my eye exam. I had a grocery list in my purse, dinner prepped in the fridge, a kid across town to pick up, and Bible class refreshments to whip together, all in the next couple of hours.
The one kid left in the house was vacuuming because company is coming for the weekend.
I glanced over to my patio, wondering if I should add tomatoes to my list (answer: always yes) and that’s when I saw it.
Water was bubbling up along the edges of the concrete like a simmering cauldron.
It crept along the front of the house and almost to the door.
Water pooled and spread and filled the side yard, discovered the sloping path along the south end of our home, and cascaded merrily down hill into the back lawn where it soaked through and then moved into the wilderness beyond.
The wilderness was happy.
When I turned around, one hand groping blindly for my cell phone, already screaming for the lone child in the house to “get out here on the double!”, I noticed another fun detail:
Water was running out from under the basement doors.
If the water is outside, how is it…inside?
I slopped back to the front door, met the child running out, and peeled off my soggy shoes.
Five seconds later, I had Hubby on the phone.
“Water!” I shrieked (I’m very helpful in emergencies, ask anyone) “There’s water everywhere! How do I make it stop?”
“What?” he replied, sitting at his dry desk with dry shoes on and frowning helpfully, “What do you mean?”
“There’s water flooding our front yard. I can’t tell where it’s coming from. It’s…it’s coming from everywhere! Where is the thingy you turn off to make it stop?”
“Okay, Jolie, you need to calm down. I can’t understand you. Look around and tell me where the problem is.”
“The problem is, that water is flooding everywhere and I need to turn off a water thingy. Where is it? What does it look like? How do you do it? If you would just tell us where to look…”
First he had us find a valve that was already a foot deep in water. It was in an open cylinder maybe 8” in diameter and filled with muck.
“Feel for the knob and turn it gently clockwise until it won’t turn anymore. Be careful,” Hubby said, “it’s a little rusty. Don’t cut your hand and don’t force it too hard.”
He was on speaker phone.
I looked at the kid and the kid looked at me, and we both knew who was going to wade over there and attempt the ludicrous.
Five minutes later, the deed was done.
Our little Bellagio fountains continued to bubble. They needed a soundtrack.
“Well?” asked Hubby, “Anything?”
“No,” I said, watching the kid wipe his muddy hands on his pants.
The next place he sent us was to a underground box near the street.
“Lift up the lid, take a wrench, and turn the handle off. Be careful. It’s an old, fragile handle. We don’t want it to break off the pipe.”
Here’s what you need to know: anything underground or basically not moved every day has a crop of black widow spiders that live in it. Anything connected with a regular water source will attract snails and slugs.
When we lifted the lid with a screwdriver (don’t judge) we immediately jumped back screaming.
There was also a little frog sitting perfectly on the handle in question.
“What?” he seemed to say, blinking in the sudden light.
The kid and I knew exactly who was going to put a hand into the black hole of horror.
He removed the frog and turned the handle a “quarter clockwise”.
This is Plumber Talk for “not parallel with the pipe”.
We looked towards Niagara Falls. The frog was going over it in a barrel.
“Help!” I despaired into the phone, “We’re watering the universe…”
That’s when he asked what color the underground box was.
“Color? Green. Plastic. Why?”
Apparently there was another box, a concrete one clearly stamped with the word “WATER” on it’s lid near the one we opened, but it was under our pine tree and completely covered in pine needles. Buried treasure.
We pried this lid off, doing the shrieking spider dance again, and the inside was full of dirt. A cute little glass meter was humming along in there and I wondered briefly, “if I just smash it with a hammer, will the water stop? Will my bill stop?”
This handle was a bear, once we found it. None of our tools could make it budge. Finally, I took a big wrench, said some magic words (don’t ask the kid) and showed the handle just who was in charge.
Water to the whole house trickled to a stop.
We sat there, covered in mud and spider guts.
I kicked a slug off my foot.
“Thanks, babe,” I said into the phone, “I guess we needed a moat.”