Lucy on the concrete slab of our condo ~courtesy Cathryn Blum
Several weeks ago, one of our house-sitters texted to let us know that after showering on the third floor, water from the second floor toilet had overflowed on to the floor. The water extended out of the powder room into the pantry, the kitchen and the dining room. Water was also dripping through to the first floor through a sprinkler cutout in the ceiling. The good news: it was clear water, not waste water. Many towels and a day later, the plumber snaked the pipes, and everything seemed back to normal. Our insurance company set us up with a remediation company to assess damage and dry the space to avoid mold and more permanent damage. With the problem apparently solved, the house-sitter continued her stay with only a bit of inconvenience.
Less than a week later, another house-sitter took a shower in the master bath on the third floor and came down to find the second floor flooded once again! The plumber returned, this time with a camera scope, and after clearing the drain line, discovered a broken pipe under our first floor bathroom. Significantly, the broken pipe was made of a plastic and not to code for a high rise condominium. Thank you developers. The remediation company, which had yet to pull up the wood flooring, or set their fans and driers, got to work. With plastic sheets closing off the stairs in both directions and fans and dehumidifiers running 24×7, the place was uninhabitable. The cats – whom we can only assume to be unhappy with the sequence of events – were confined to the third floor.
Several days later, because somehow there’s truth to bad things coming in threes, the first floor bathtub filled with three inches of dark, smelly waste water. Given that the problem was caused by illicit construction practices, the building management and the condominium insurance were on the front lines of diagnosis, remediation and repair. They expect repairs, which will involve cutting through the 18-inch reinforced concrete slab of our first floor bathroom, to take 2-3 weeks. With no working drain lines, the condo will be unlivable for some time.
We have navigated the situation by phone, text and email, and seem to have done fairly well so far. Our house-sitters have been extraordinary and wonderful, and fortunately for all, have other housing options for the time they had been planning to stay in our home. We are now mostly concerned about getting someone in to feed, water and love the cats.
We are nearing the end of our planned time here at God’s Pocket. I’ve been a bit restless and unsteady with the return of our hosts and diving guests. Both David and I have been helping out here and there – I try to snag washing the dishes, David worked the dive boat yesterday. But it is no longer “our” place to care-take, and I am uncomfortable being here in a status somewhere between unpaid guest and volunteer staff while the owners and the chef are working long days.
So, David and I have been talking about our future plans, as well as what awaits us in San Francisco. We have decided to leave March 7 when our hosts go to Port Hardy to pick up the BBC documentary film crew. We believe we will still take our time returning to San Francisco, stopping in Vancouver, Whidbey Island, Seattle, and several places in Oregon. I expect to find it unsettling and difficult to adopt a leisurely stance when my instincts are to rush back to San Francisco, notwithstanding being unable to stay in our home.
It is a beautiful day here in God’s Pocket as I write this. We had waves of heavy rain come through yesterday afternoon and night, but for the moment, the sky is clear and the air is crisp. I just saw an eagle swirl in the sky over the bay. There’s a gentle sound of lapping waves as the tide begins to come in. I repeat to myself that this is all good practice for me: to accept and look beyond what can’t be changed, like the floods at home, and to notice and be grateful for the good and the beauty in this moment, here.
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