I know, I know. I haven’t written in a while and I’m sorry.

When last I reported, we were still in the throes of recovering from the leak in the basement that occurred when we were on vacation. A plumber was called, the faulty main valve was replaced, we managed to dry out the carpet and the padding (and, we hope, the walls behind the built-in bookshelves that cover one whole wall of the downstairs den).

Trying to find someone to stretch the carpet and reinstall it was not so easy. Everyone we called wanted to sell us new carpet, and when we persisted that the carpet didn’t need replacing, we were quoted in excess of $250 to do the job. Finally, one company took pity on me and gave me the name of ServiceMagic, which is a home services website. You go to the site, fill out a form telling them what kind of service you need, and they match you with companies that provides that service. Within five minutes of submitting the form, ServiceMagic had lined up three companies and sent them emails with my job specs and contact information. All three responded so quickly that I was taken by surprise. One of them, Grados Flooring, hurried out to the house, looked at the situation and gave us a price to do the job that was much more reasonable than the prices we’d been getting from the carpet companies. We booked them to reinstall the carpet on the 18th.

In the midst of all this, I noticed that the refrigerator was leaking from the freezer door (yes, we have one of those old-fashioned freezer-on-the-top refrigerators). John thought maybe it was just condensation but I wasn’t so sure. On Monday of last week I noticed that the refrigerator didn’t seem to be as cool as it should be and that stuff was thawing out in the freezer. We decided to call for a repairman. I think I called over a half dozen and got the same response: the earliest anyone could come out was Wednesday the 18th. I booked a service call, cleaned out the refrigerator, unearthed all the coolers and went to buy ice.

On Wednesday morning the Grados guys showed up and spent about three hours reinstalling the padding and carpeting. They did a nice, neat job and were extremely polite – I’d definitely use them again. Then I got to wait for the refrigerator guy. He ran late and showed up around 6:30, took a look at the refrigerator, made a phone call, told us the refrigerator was over twenty years old and would cost $400 to fix and we should probably get a new one, took his $65 fee and was gone – all in the space of fifteen minutes. John and I went out to get dinner and whimpered at each other.

We probably lost half the stuff that was in the refrigerator, either from the initial purge (because we just didn’t have enough coolers to save everything) or from subsequent loss (because ice has a way of melting and the water gets inside even zip-lock plastic bags). It took us a couple of days to find a refrigerator that met our specs (dimensions being a major stumbling block), then a couple more days for it to be delivered. Meanwhile, since we needed to clean the newly-installed downstairs carpet, we rented a carpet cleaner from Home Depot for 24 hours. I cleaned the downstairs carpet (including hall and steps) and the living room upstairs, and in the morning started in the dining room.

For some reason the carpet cleaner wasn’t working properly; it wasn’t spraying the cleaning fluid and it was blowing dirty solution out the exhaust vent. We took it back to Home Depot, exchanged it for another machine, took it home and had the same problem. We took the second machine back for yet another machine, but this time the patient rental clerk walked me through the procedure and to my mortification, I realized that I had skipped an important step (mainly, pouring the mixture of hot water and cleaning fluid INTO the machine). What was really embarrassing was that I’d done it right the day before, but was cocky enough on the second day of using the damn thing to think I knew what I was doing. Couple that with the fact that I’d dinged an expensive end table the day before (I was carrying a metal CD rack and it came apart in my hands and crashed down onto the edge of the table), and I felt like I had the IQ of a sea cucumber.

(Lest you think only I was infected with the Dummy Virus, John sprayed himself and the laundry room with water while working on the water line to the ice-maker in the refrigerator, then not two hours later, busted a large glass bowl while jimmying with the refrigerator. No, I did not laugh at him, but yes, I felt better because Stupidity Loves Company.)

So it’s been a trying couple of weeks, which I feel like I spent teetering on (and sometimes teetering over) the edge of tears. I went to see J. Fred Shiffman and Nancy Robinette in Souvenir last week and turned into a blubbering baby at the end, when things got a little sentimental. That was okay, but then I couldn’t stop tearing up when I talked to Nancy and Fred afterward – they were both so wonderful and brought so many incredible layers to a piece that is probably only meant to amuse. I was embarrassed but I think it was just the release I needed.

The new refrigerator was installed today and is busy cooling and manufacturing ice as I type this. The downstairs den is almost back to normal (I still have some tidying up to do but the place is actually improved – John installed some additional shelving in the built-in unit). The carpets are clean. We moved everything in the dining room to one side to make room for the refrigerator to be brought in; once John gets home tonight we’ll restore the furniture to its proper place, and all will be right with the world.

Just in time for houseguests this weekend.


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