Thursday, September 24, 2009

I blame Maggie

So there I was, contemplating my life of leisure with all three kids in school ALL day. (Sorry but I keep having to remind myself that it's really happening.)

Anyway, Maggie May, I'm sure you meant well, but I think you jinxed it!!!!

Sunday evening, a gentle rain started about which I was well chuffed since I hate watering the plants. It continued throughout dinner, seeming to get a little heavier. "Good", I thought, "the dirt/soil needs a bit of a soak".

Later the Queenager and I were lounging around, watching the Emmy's, her bony feet digging into my not-so-bony lap.

"Phew", I exclaimed, "is that your feet?" (employing doting, motherly tone.) Apparently not, as she'd just emerged from another spa-like showering session, plucked, creamed and deodorized.

And then I put two and two together! Heavy rain, bad smell .... can only mean one thing.

"Aarrgghh quick, pull the rug up", I yelled, catapulting Queenager off the sofa and leaping into action. Yes folks, the stupid, ancient, cracked city sewer pipes had once again backed up into the ground somewhere and forthwith into my basement family room. Why Americans in the mid-west have such a love affair with basements I will never know. They are the albatross of domestic life and bleed you dry both financially and emotionally. And the smell is like nothing else, even when you've had three babies.

Mr. Minimal was sent to find all the old towels, and predictably, came down with a very plump matching set reserved for guests. "Aarrgghh" I screamed again, "this is sewage. That would be wee and poo. We are NOT using those towels" (motherly tone slipping at this point.) He eventually located a handful of old, scraggy towels I keep specifically for wee and poo occasions. Ha. Talk about not making a dent. Those towels were wringing wet in less than twenty seconds, requiring me to wring them about (yes people) into a bucket and put them on the floor again.

I hope no-one's eating at the moment.

I then remembered a shop vac (huge barrel with vacuum hose attached) so the Ball & Chain was dispatched to the garage while I continued to wring shitty water out of the towels. (Sorry but I want sympathy.) Unbelievably, gentle readers, we almost filled a 25 gallon shop vac with the manky water that seemed to be gushing into my basement. Thank god it stopped raining after about two hours. I'm not very good after a night of vacuuming up sewage.

Next morning there was a small puddle, but we'd moved all the furniture, removed the rug and have a tiled floor. The nice, but expensive, men from the plumbing and sewage company came out mid-morning and "rodded" the main sewer pipe - to find that it was clogged with tree roots, from the stupid, ugly tree right outside my house. Didn't people realise in the 1880s that if you plant trees next to houses, you're going to have problems some day? Grrrr.

Know what the most annoying thing is? The tree belongs to the City of Chicago, so I can't do a thing about it. Except pay through the nose for the damage it does to my pipes. Apparently, if the pipes are under my house, it's my responsibility no matter the cause.

Anyone else think that's really, really annoying?


  1. Think this calls for devious middle of the night sprinkling tree with something it doesn't like behavour.....what a nightmare. I don't see why you should have to be responsible for the problem at all. NOT FAIR. Lx

  2. Yes...that is pretty nifty awful. Can you pay some teenagers to ram raid the tree? (You can tell that I've been watching old "Cold feet" DVDs lately. That scene where they are in bed making out in the shop window and then the ram raiders come along and....)
    Also ever read Thomas Hardy's "The Woodlanders"? There is an old guy with an obsession about a tree in front of his house. Did it for English O-level and it is seared on my memory. :)

  3. Ghastly- we had a similar rodding issue recently, though thankfully have no basement. The smell was indescribable. Kudos to you for wringing the shitty water. YOu have my sympathy.

  4. Oh I feel for you. We had terrible problems with the basement in our condo. Urgh the smell. This post has bought it all flooding back. Thankfully now I don't have a basement to deal with. I might deal with a load of shit in my life, from time to time, but for the time being at least my time of mopping up sewage water is at an end.

  5. Oh no........ not my fault, honestly!
    Sorry about the mess and the tree roots and the smell.
    Can you not sue the Council?
    Nothing worse than bad smells & things to do with sewage, rats and the underground world!
    Good luck with it.

  6. Oh do I feel your pain. I have a Chicago basement in which the sewer is fonding of backing up. Our rodding expedition revealed that the main reason is that the sewer in front of the house is only a foot tall. Apparently, that's quite shallow, especially when people sweep their leaves into it. Is the City planning to fix that sewer? I think you know the answer to that.

    So sorry!

  7. Eeew! Yuk! In my experience, American pipe systems are a law unto themselves. I never had a loo overflow until I moved over here. Totally gross. I've thoroughly disliked having to become an expert with a plunger!

  8. Jane!! Now that I have time I must come visit your new blog (not really new at all). Nice to hear from you. We have a plunger in every loo here!
    mep - I think ours is probably the same. We'll see very soon.
    Maggie - I'll let you off this time!

  9. This just happened to us last weekend -- thankfully, there was no smell, and we don't spend tons of time in the basement. Most importantly, Beatles Rockband set was salvaged before the water got to its part of the basement!

  10. Ha - your life's just all glamour, isn't it? Seriously, that post really made me laugh. Recently found you blog and very much enjoying it - Caroline x

  11. When I saw the blog title I thought you meant Maggie Thatcher. She's got a lot to answer for, it's true, but your ruddy tree ain't one of them. I definitely don't envy you your basement, though to watch American films the sole purpose of the basement seems to be somewhere to hide the bodies.

  12. So unfair! Glad you had the presence of mind not to use the guest towels - I am sure in the same circumstances I would not have noticed until far too late!

  13. Ah, had the same stuff going on in my house for a year. Now it's in summer sleep, we'll see what the winter brings. Sorry to hear and I definitely have sympathy for you.

  14. icky, icky, icky, oh and I am glad to see that city councils in the States are as annoying to deal with as in Canada......sorry!!

    Gill in Canada

  15. Yes, that's really really annoying, and here is lots of sympathy for you. Let's hope the internet cables are better maintained than the sewers.

  16. We had a 'French drain' put in in our basement, and it's completely done the trick. Wasn't TOO expensive (well, quite expensive, but worth it, and we got the people who sold us the house to pay towards it, since they'd sold the house as having a dry basement).

  17. No!!!! Definitely Maggie's fault. You need to watch that one!

  18. Ewwww! Sheesh! That is NOT the start you wanted for your new Nice Life as Woman With Lots of Time To Write. Expensive and messy - I would say what a bummer but perhaps not in the circumstances.

  19. How annoying! Maybe flush some Round-up down the drain? Take the tree out in a sneaky fashion.
    I love my basement but I know what you mean - it pisses me off on a weekly basis and we've also been flooded. But they can be handy if there's a tornado, right?

  20. I agree with some other people here - poison the tree! I'm sure some injections in the roots will soon sort that annoyance out.

    Here in New York, I always find it funny when you walk down streets lined with brownstones and the sidewalk is buckling from the tree roots. Who planned that?

  21. Thankfully now I don't have a basement to deal with. I might deal with a load of shit in my life, from time to time, but for the time being at least my time of mopping up sewage water is at an end.
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