Eternal Optimism of an Unwashed Mind

Over the summer, my mother spent a week at my house with her contractor friend making various repairs. This visit was punctuated with text message conversations like this one:

Mom : “Your shower door is stuck. It won’t open.”

The Great Unwashed : “So?”

Mom: “No one can take a shower.”

The Great Unwashed : “I’m not seeing the problem.”

Mom : “Other people might.”

The Great Unwashed : “Who are these hygiene obsessed fanatics and why are they staying at my house?”

Over the next six days my mother and her friend made various necessary (the roof) and unnecessary repairs (the shower door) to my home. Thus when Sula, my closest friend drove me back to my house I was somewhat surprised to find this.

Who needs a thermometer when you can reach through the hole in your wall to check whether to wear a jacket?

Who needs a thermometer when you can reach through the hole in your wall to check whether to wear a jacket?

Sula: “Unwashed, there’s a hole your wall!”

The Great Unwashed: “It’s not a hole, it’s just an unplanned window. Admittedly a poorly placed one seeing as it’s directly underneath a window.”

Or maybe the window just had a baby?

Or maybe the window just had a baby?

Sula: “This is terrible!”

The Great Unwashed still nonplussed by the situation. “Well admittedly it is an awkward shape to find a screen for”

Sula: leans forward, inspects the unplanned window and adds in a horrified tone “It looks like something dug it’s way in.”

The Great Unwashed: “Cool! Free pet!”

Despite my need for light in this chronically frigid country, Sula insisted I stop up the hole before she left. Hence that entire wall is now covered in expanding blue foam. In my defense it was my first attempt at home repair and there is no longer a hole, however I question how the foam is made and whether or not my basement has become a biohazard, seeing as nothing natural expands to eight times it’s size.

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A Use For Small Talk

After discovering a large, rapidly growing puddle in my basement, I called my mother to get the phone number of her friend who is a contractor. While reciting his contact information, she accidently switched two of the digits which led to the following sequence of events.

I call the random number, because it is long distance, the man does not pick up. Hence I begin to text about my household issue to the random number, who I still think is Garry’s*, my mother’s contractor friend. At the same time, the wrong number recipient reconsiders failing to answer my call, figuring that it may be a long lost relative offering him money, or a cruise, or a hooker. Actually I’m not sure about the last one; he seemed like a standup guy, although I’m fairly certain he would have accepted the money or the trip. At any rate, the mystery man, who I think is my mother’s contractor friend, calls me back while I am texting about my small basement lake.

The Great Unwashed – Hello! Gary, thank you so much for calling me back.

Mystery Man who is not Garry- Hello? (Admittedly I found it odd that his voice sounded so different on the phone from in person but I forged ahead with the conversation.)

The Great Unwashed-  It’s Unwashed, the Great Unwashed, there’s water in my basement. Like a lot of water. A large puddle actually. Is this a problem? I don’t know what to do, I mean I’m considering getting frog eggs and growing some tadpoles in there but besides that, I haven’t a clue. Also the puddle is located between the only two useful parts of my basement; the stairs and the laundry machine which means I have to walk around the side through the den of spiders if I want to wash my sheets. This is bothersome today because Maddie, my dog just dried her wet, muddy fur on my bed.

Random Guy who is not Garry and is super confused- Um. I. I’m not who you’re looking for.

The Great Unwashed- You’re not?

Complete Stranger – No. You have the wrong number.

The Great Unwashed- Do you know anything about basements? Because your number is the only one I have at the moment.

Kindly and Extremely Understanding Stranger who is still talking to me  despite the fact that it’s long distance and using his minutes- Only the average amount of  basement knowledge.

The Great Unwashed- Well I have a sub-average amount of knowledge about basements, obviously given that I’m considering growing frogs in mine.

A pause while the recipient of my wrong number considers this thought.

The Great Unwashed realizing that my calamity has reached new heights as it’s now pulling in people I don’t know, who don’t live in my city- You know what? It’s ok. You have yourself a good night.

Somewhat Confused Mystery Man- You too.

I had always thought pleasantries and small talk were a waste of time. Now I see that their usefulness lies in figuring out early on that you’ve called the wrong person before you tell them all about your house owning woes and plans to breed Kermit the Frog next to the washer and dryer.

Kermit is feeling unsure about living in my muddy, flooded basement. (Photo Credit: Jim Henson Productions)

Kermit is feeling unsure about living in my muddy, flooded basement. (Photo Credit: Jim Henson Productions)

*Names have been changed to protect the identities of contractors I later got in touch with and coached me through a muddy situation.

Negligence and Garbage Soup

I was caught in a garbage-poo-water tidal wave on Friday. It was a situation of my own making, which is frustrating because when you’re left standing completely soaked from the waist down, smelling like a mixture of old socks and rancid chicken, you only have one person to blame.

The Friday before last was garbage day and the truck arrived to empty the containers before I left for work. Ordinarily I would have left the bins on the curb but that day my grandparents were supposed to arrive for a visit before I got home from work. So I hurriedly grabbed the large can and blue bins and placed them next to the house, rather than in their place under the awning in the backyard.

Then because I’m an idiot, I left them there. For a full week. On the surface, this shouldn’t have been an issue. Being a minimalist environmentalist means producing shockingly little trash, hence there was little need for me to use said containers. In fact, after a week the only items in the garbage bin were from my grandparents. The bags were easy to see what with the fact they were floating.

It rained a lot this week. And by a lot, I mean every night, for hours and sometimes during the day. My recycle bins were both thoughtfully equipped with drainage holes. Unfortunately the enormous black trash can was not. The week of rain and my own stupidity had created a giant cauldron of garbage soup. The piece de resistance was the bag of dog poo bobbing on top.

On Monday when I thought of the garbage cans right before bed, there was already a foot of water, which had cooked in the midday sun, effectively creating a bacterial paradise. Tuesday, when I looked out the window at the rain, the bacteria were screaming “WOOOO! Come on in dirty water from the eaves troughs, it’s a party!” and taking off their microbial tops in the riotous fun. Wednesday the sun shone the entire day and the bacteria got together and made sweet, sweet mono cellular love in the afternoon. Hence on Thursday there was a population explosion, also the mosquitoes decided to get in on the fun and lay some eggs in there too.

When I arrived home on Friday, the water line was two centimeters from the top of the container and it smelled atrocious. Pulling gently on one of the two black handles I tested the weight. Garbage-poo water sloshed over the side from the slight movement. “Eeek” I cried jumping backwards as the splash sprayed the ground. Removing my shoes and placing them in the backyard, I stared down the product of my lazy idiocy.

Because the fates have a dark sense of humour, the can was situated right next to the hole in my basement wall. Meaning that if the garbage bin was to tip, my basement would be flooded with garbage soup. I had only one option; drag the can as far away from the house as I could and empty it there. Ideally not on my neighbour’s lawn, as I hadn’t yet determined who placed the angry note in my shaggy grass.

Taking a deep breath, I accepted that I would be soaked while completing this disgusting chore and I tugged slowly on the handle again. Once more a small wave of disgusting garbage water splashed onto the driveway. Determined to preserve the integrity of my basement, I pulled. The can moved a little, the water moved a lot. My foot was wet.

Emboldened by my lack of gagging over my soaked foot, I decided to try and wheel the garbage can as though it was full of refuse and not one hundred pounds of mobile liquid and bacteria. I tipped the bin slightly and the garbage soup yanked against my tiny pipecleaner arm, pulling the container down sharply, creating a tidal wave which spread across my driveway and drenched my legs and shorts. Shrieking, I tried to jump away but then glancing back at the hole in the basement wall, I charged back into the growing puddle of garbage water, righting the can.

Having dumped most of its contents onto my driveway and effectively into my basement, the can was much lighter as I pulled it haltingly towards my front lawn. Tipping it again, I let out a much smaller shriek and attempted to direct the remaining garbage water onto the grass.

I realize this is just an unfortunate coincidence, but I’m beginning to feel like I’m bad at this whole home ownership thing.