Some months are just no good. Right from the start, with apologies to Murphy’s Law, everything that can go wrong does.
That’s the way April has been at the Woodward residence. The month started, as readers of this column may remember, with a late-night visit to a veterinary clinic. We were dog-sitting Roux, our older daughter’s dog, when she (the dog, not our daughter) jumped onto the kitchen table when no one was looking and ate a shocking amount of freshly baked brownies.
Chocolate, as most dog owners know, can be deadly for dogs. We arrived at the clinic just after midnight. Three hours and $400 later, the crisis had passed and Roux was cleared to go home.
This was on April 2. The month – and the challenges it would bring – was just getting underway.
The day after the brownie fiasco, my prescription glasses broke. I was putting them them on when part of the frame snapped off. This was a relatively minor annoyance; a helpful technician had my glasses fixed in no time. The hardest part was driving to the clinic on Eagle Road, which was doing a passably good imitation of an L.A. freeway during rush hour.
Next, the router that delivers wi-fi to our house broke. It’s amazing how much we rely on wi-fi. Without it, we couldn’t get or answer emails, use Google, shop online, etc. The guy who installed the new router spent two hours at our house drilling holes, running wires and fending off Roux, who’s a good watchdog when she isn’t sleeping or eating brownies.
The old router was a black box. The new one looks a little like a blunt-nosed rocket ship with a green light in the middle. I half expect it to transmit a message from Flash Gordon or Ming the Merciless. It cost $150. The service call was another $150.
This brings us to the amplifier fiasco. I sold a guitar amplifier online to a buyer in Texas. I’d always used Fed-Ex to ship gear, but the buyer insisted on UPS. Several days after shipping the amp, he emailed to say he had “horrible news.”
The horrible news was that the amplifier I had spent hours obsessively packing to prevent damage had been damaged. The buyer’s email included a picture of the box. It looked like it had been dropped from a height, run over by a fork lift or hit with a battering ram. The amplifier’s new owner reported that when he turned it on, he saw a flash of light, followed by a puff of smoke. Never good signs.
I contacted the head of the company that made the amp to ask if he knew a capable repair person near where the buyer lived. He did, but the buyer wasn’t interested in a repair. He wanted a refund. Bottom line: He’s sending the broken amp back to me and I’m refunding his money. So much for obsessively packing to prevent damage.
The second week of April was when our granddaughter Kelsie and her husband, Christian, installed new flooring on the second floor of our house, replacing threadbare carpet that had been there since she was a toddler.
The job necessitated moving furniture from bedroom to bedroom to get it out of the way. This meant that the bedrooms where the furniture was being kept were all but inaccessible. I squeezed and wiggled like a contortionist to get to a dresser drawer with a checkbook I needed, only to learn that the drawer was under several hundred pounds of other drawers. I still haven’t found that checkbook.
Midway through the flooring project, the hot water heater broke.
The first clue that something was wrong was a diminished flow of water from the kitchen faucet. It wouldn’t get hot, either. The water heater at our house is in the furnace room, which is in the finished basement. When I opened the door to the furnace room, the nature of the problem was all too apparent.
The water heater didn’t just stop heating; it was doing a highly successful imitation of an open floodgate. Its bottom had completely rusted out. Rising water had covered the furnace room floor and gone under the walls to an adjoining bathroom and the family room.
“Call Christian and Kelsie!” my wife shouted.
The family handyman and handywoman had just left for the day and weren’t far away. Christian shut off the valve that supplied water to the tank (it was hidden by a heating duct; I didn’t even know it existed), and we used every old towel in the house to mop up the water.
The next day, we bought a new hot water heater. Christian had it installed in no time, and, for now at least, the mishaps seem to have passed.
In some ways, we were lucky. The online company I sold the guitar amplifier through will pay for me to get it fixed. The new floors look great, and the water-heater leak could have been much worse. If it had happened in the middle of the night, an entire floor of the house would have flooded. And if Christian hadn’t been around to shut off the water, it might have flooded anyway. We’re fortunate to have someone in the family who can build or fix just about anything.
That said, no one is happier than we are that April is hours from being over. May will never be more welcome.
Tim Woodward’s column appears every other Sunday in The Idaho Press and is posted on woodwardblog.com the following Mondays Contact him at email@example.com.