Water Water Everywhere

Anyone who has ever dealt with water knows, the water always always beats the house.


Outside of Phoenix AZ, our rental was cooled by a swamp cooler, a garden hose affixed to a fan at the top of the double garage sized home. We were young, necessarily frugal, so learned to live with this gerry-rigged cooling system, happy to have the water run off under the 4 large grapefruit trees at the back of the house. The night of the Big Windy Storm, the trees generously dropped enough grapefruits to give us over 8 quarts of freshly, hand-juiced juice.

When my high school girlfriend visited in Aberdeen SD, she taught me that the city siren meant tornado alert. With my husband out of town, she and I and my 17-pound Jack Russell pound puppy went to sit on the basement steps, finding water rushing into the basement. Apparently the owner had neglected to install a $1.00 plug there that would have stopped the overwhelmed sewer from backing up.

In Vancouver BC we learned water heaters die, sometimes incontinently enough to piss water all over the basement where they are often installed. Another flood, but miraculously the water heater was still under warranty.

Living on a desert island called Curacao, the day I hosted play group we had a minutes long rain. With a handful of nursery school aged children happily playing, one of the mother's asked to use our bathroom. On her return to the group, the British woman said to me, "You seem to have a bit of water back here."

Noting the rain was past, I told her no worries. It often oozed dampness into that room after a rain. After play group, going to put my son down for his nap, I found 5 inches of rain in the back of the house. I'd overlooked the "Keep Calm and Carry On" British mentality. An American would have come out of the bathroom bellowing, "It's raining HERE!"

Then there was Ecuador. In our second rental, we found outside the sliding glass door in the dining room a Little Dutch Boy styled-dike protectively blocking water from coming in the slider. Why ever would one have built that?

Given the rental's house's central air conditioning unit had been stolen off the roof while the house was unoccupied, we used window air conditioners. After the first rain we invested in plastic bins too. For every time it rained--and Guayaquil, Ecuador had Houston TX style tropical rains--the water would go into the openings atop the house for of the central A/C, wending its watery way through the vents into the house.

My husband investigated the dike outside the dining room, only to find that years of unmaintained gardening had laid down leaves covering the runoff drains. Once they were cleaned, down came the dike.

In tony Westport CT, I learned the multiple ways water will out. One morning our teenage daughter came up from her carpeted basement bedroom to exclaim, "DAD, the basement is flooded!!" Another water heater had died. We learned you could call the fire department to pump out the basement; the firemen telling us to get out of the foot of water sloshing in the basement next to the electric floorboard heat.

I had learned a new vocabulary word--nor'easter. Though the house was on a rise and had a poured cement foundation, when water flooding our 1/4 acre came up to within an inch of the basement window, it almost came pouring into what we might have had to rename the basement swimming pool.

Mexico City was a mile and a half above sea level and our home was above the city, so no water problems? Except for the Mystery of the Oozing Steps. The builder would try this or that, to no avail until it finally fell on us to do something. Another El Maestro showed up at my husband's call. He looked about for about half an hour, followed by his helper. Señora, I must dig a hole here to find the source. Pointing to the house's second laid flooring, after the first 5000 square feet of flooring that hadn't been properly dried--had buckled everywhere-I agreed.

El Maestro cut a hole in the closet by the oozing steps and immediately located the problem. A gray water pipe hadn't been properly connected. Sneer if you wish, at the Mexicans. The very same sort of problem oozed out water pipes in our new home in Northampton MA. American builders can be careless too.

By the time we moved to Chicago IL, I thought I'd seen it all.

Our realtor was excellent, we narrowed our choices down to the 'great view' condo built by the so-so builder OR the 'no view' condo built by the great builder. Location, location, location, we bought the great view.

Having seen the teeny dot of water on the inside window ledge of the master bedroom before we bought, I wasn't surprised that within a few years water was oozing in the wall. Coming in from outside it was covered by our condo association, a job that took over a year to complete.

The January night we returned from our realtor's customer gathering, we were awakened around 1:30 AM by our smoke detectors. Apparently it was raining in our lower floor family room and two-car garage. An inner wall copper pipe had frozen, exploded, pissing water everywhere.

After using our wet dry vac (bought for the flood of sewer water that came in the basement after a pumping station went out during a tropical rainstorm), towels and more labor than anyone wants to do in the middle of the night, my husband called our home insurer.

"Why are you smiling?" I asked him as he exhaustedly slipped under the covers.

"Hope. The woman at the insurance company was named Hope."



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    Candace Drimmer

    TIMELINE June 1972 to June 1973---Candace moves to Lima (Peru)----- June 1973 to May 1974---Candace and The Husband live in Glendale AZ----- May 1974 to August 1974---Living in Toronto, Ontario (Canada)----- September 1974 to May 1975---Living in Aberdeen SD----- May 1975 to July 1979---Living in Vancouver, British Columbia (Canada)----- July 1979 to June 1980---Living in Asuncion (Paraguay)----- June 1980 to September 1980---Living in NYC----- September 1980 to November 1982---Living in Connecticut----- November 1982 to January 1983---Living in Ponce, Puerto Rico (USA)----- February 1983 to July 1986---Living in Willemstad, Curacao (Netherlands Antilles)----- July 1986 to July 1989---Living in Guayaquil (Ecuador)----- July 1989 to July 1995---Living in Connecticut (yes, again)----- July 1995 to August 2001---Living in Mexico City (Mexico)----- August 2001---Return to Gringolandia (a.k.a. United States of America)----- I was an accidental expatriate; love and marriage led me to it. One day I was a bandy-legged kid sitting atop my dogwood tree looking out of my small backyard world in 1950s New Jersey, wanting to move somewhere--anywhere, different. Next thing I knew I met a young hirsute anti-war, soon-to-be-Peace Corps volunteer, fell in love and moved to Peru in the 1970s. WHAT an adventure it's been!! NOTE: I gave up Facebook, so apologies that I cannot answer any comments since it is only set up via FB.

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