Thursday, August 09, 2007


During the early-late hours of Wednesday a storm of epic-ish proportions swept through New York, pausing on its way to dump a few inches of rain on or about the Steviemanse.

Awakening at around 6 am to bursts of lightning and crashings of thunder, I had the thought that I might have left the lid off the 5 gallon bucket I use to store various pool chemicals, and that once full of water a serious amount of unscheduled chemistry might get itself underway. Action was called for.

I leapt from the bed and fantically sought out a pair of swimming trunks1 and an old pair of sneakers, then de-alarmed the doors and ventured out into the vertical tsunami-in-progress. In a matter of seconds I was waterlogged and probably doing a passable impression of a Notre Dame style Gargoyle with water sluicing from my body any way it could2.

The concrete patio was awash as the pipe that moves the water way from the base of the downspout was overwhelmed. Probably blocked, but also it was never designed to convey the truly staggering volume of water that was being pointed at it. I took a look, and moved on.

Once in the vicinity of the pool I was temporarily out of the rain because of the young maple tree growing next to it. I muttered a few light-hearted swear words as I contemplated the benefits of being (relatively) dry at the expense of possible shredding due to shrapnel should the tree be struck by lightning, much of which was flying around the sky in a wanton fashion at that moment.

I found the bucket lid securely fastened, thanked whoever had had the foresight to put the lid back on and turned to go back into the house.

Which was when I noticed the waterfall sluicing down the siding from what was obviously a blocked gutter. Magic. I shouldn't have been surprised. Every bloody time the weather gets hyperpluvious this damned gutter ends up getting blocked.

The now almost continuous lightning precluded getting out a ladder and fixing things the right way, so I put a hastily formulated "plan B" into operation. Grabbing the downspout firmly in both hands and muttering a small number of swear words designed to ward off a lightning strike, I rapidly lifted and dropped the pipe so as to displodge the blockage.

A cascade of crap-laden water dropped on my head from above, but the flow from the downspout did increase a little. I tried again. More freezing water with a soupçon of rotten leaves aû roof-shingle grit fell upon me from on high, but this was no time to focus on the negative aspects of the process: more and more water was issuing from the downspout! One more shake would get the wretched thing working again and prevent the house from flooding (again). From some well of inner strength barely suspected, I summoned one more burst of resourcefulness and gave the pipe another shake.

Which was when the gutter, overloaded with freezing cold water, twigs, rotten leaves and about a hundredweight of grit washed off the roof shingles, overcame the relutance of the securing spikes to let go and tore from the soffit, releasing much of its bounty o'er the Steviebod.

"How refreshing!" I screamed to the heavens3, before grabbing the hosepipe and making my way back though the maelstrom to the flooded patio where I attempted to wash out the vegetation blocking the Pipe o' Drainage. In this I was almost entirely unsuccessful, so I threw down the hose in disgust and went back inside to get a shower.

I'd never noticed before, but roof-shingle grit is one of the stickiest substances I've ever come across. It took nearly 30 minutes to wash it out of the various places it had become lodged, by which time I was in no mood for nonsense. Fortunately, during this whole debacle, Mrs Stevie and the Stevieling had departed for places unknown, so the major sources of household nonsense were mercifully absent.

I dressed and made my way from the house to the car. The rain had stopped and the sun had come out in fine form, boiling the water from the swampy landscape and turning what should have been a less humid morining into a tropical hell-hole of humid horror. I took refuge in the fabulous Steviemobile, started the engine and dialed the A/C up to 11. The humidity was sucked from the vehicle as volumes of frigid, dry air flowed into the cockpit. I felt my skin dry. I felt my clothes dry. I felt my hair dry. I felt the temporary crown let go of the tooth it was mounted on.

So it was off to Doc Tugmolar to get it put back in again. While I was there I insisted on a sanding and grinding to make the damn thing less inimical to the soft tissues of my mouth. He grumbled and complained, but humoured me once I mentioned the small matter of the outstanding bill.

I thought about going into work afterward, it being only about noon by now, but the LIRR was in an advanced state of chaos again (Lake Mineola was just one of their problems that day) and the entire subway system had closed down in sympathy, so I decided to fix the gutters instead.

  1. It being light outside, and Mrs Stevie having made her views on adpoting a nil-attire approach to yardwork clear during the Domestic Flood Xena Fiasco
  2. And several ways I wished it wouldn't
  3. In case the neighbours were watching. Appearances must be maintained at all costs

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