Saturday, October 24, 2009

Rain, rain, go away

OK, so it rains almost everywhere and this won't be a post whining about it. (And anyone in Southern California, please keep quiet at this point. We don't want to hear about your fabulous weather. You're living on a fault line remember!)

Trouble is, in the States, where they do everything BIG, when it rains it absolutely lashes down. So much so that there are usually consequences. And yes, you've guessed it, I've been having quite a few of those consequences recently.

About a month ago we had the first torrential rain of the season. I may have blogged about the consequence then, but it's all a bit of a blur. The sewage leak, that is. Oh yes, 25 gallons of sewage water on my basement family room floor. (Thank god it's tiled (with a rug on top) rather than carpetted.) This flood would be because the City of Chicago planners, in their infinite wisdom, planted giant trees less than ten feet from the houses. Oh, and they planted them right above the sewage pipes, which being over 100 years old, are now completely clogged with the roots. Did it never occur to anyone that the roots would reach for water, even though it's nasty sewage water? Anyway, the roots in turn, cracked the pipes, allowing sewage to leak through the ground. Our basement is two feet lower than the one next door (where the leak seems to be), and Voila. Big, smelly leak.

And Chicago being Chicago, even though it's a city tree, which I'm not allowed to touch, I am required to clean up all the leaves and dispose of them (which does not include merely sweeping them into the gutter for the Streets and Sanitation cleaners to take care of. Oh no, apparently that's not allowed.) And even though the city tree roots have cracked the city sewage pipe, it's on my property so I have to see to it.

Hence the two Irishmen currently digging a giant hole in my front garden, to renew some of the sewage pipes that link to the main ones in the street. It being almost Halloween, I am thinking of buying a plastic sleleton and draping it by the side. I'm sure the neighbours think I've done away with the Ball and Chain, but he's really in New York.

And what does it do, now that I have a giant hole in the front? Rains for 24 hours straight of course. Thankfully, the basement is dry, but the Irishmen didn't cover the hole so now it has two feet of muddy water in it. (At this point I am tempted to make Irish jokes, but I will either end up with a brick through my window or sued for discriminatory blogging so I'll keep me trap shut). Hole full of water means that the City Inspector can't inspect their handiwork. Meaning that we have to make another appointment for him to come out, and pay for his time naturally. Aren't I quite the philanthropist for keeping so many people gainfully employed?

And finally, secure in the knowledge that my basement is warm and dry, I got the little guy up for school, opened his curtains, to find the window sill covered in water. His room is at the top of the house on the back, and it's a flat roof. A flat roof that is apparently leaking.......

Ho hum.



  1. I thought this sort of thing only happened in Albania, & other such developing countries, not in 1st world, technologically advanced, experienced countries where they should know better (& been developed long enough to know better)But actually it's obviously just that builders & town planners are the same the world over. I won't spell out in what way exactly. I think we all know..

  2. There are a couple of gardening shows where the landscape designer is enamored of planting trees right next to the house. Of course it looks lovely when he leaves, but in ten years time it's going to be too big. I wonder if they are just drumming up future business for themselves . . .

    In your case, I have no doubt that if it was your tree causing the problem, they'd make you pay for it. So unfair that the city won't pay up when it's their tree!

    I hate flat roofs! Complicated roof lines are just as bad in New England winters.

  3. Please put a skeleton in that hole! would be such a laugh as long as it was a plastic one & not the Irishman! I would feel tempted!
    Sounds like you have the same kind of red tape in Chicago as we have here.
    Would take years over here to get anything fixed.
    Nuts in May

  4. Oh you have my sympathy, I have had exactly the same experience, only difference was that good old Yorkshire Water came to my rescue. They replaced the pipe, and then removed all the damaged landscaping, cleaned the garden and then relandscaped it for free. Suppose there are some benefits to being here.

  5. I was going to put the skeleteon hand creeping out (because of course the hole's still there), but I've decided it's going to be a hand written notice saying "Husband Number 4). I just hope no one takes me seriously. Will take photo.

  6. What a stressful thing to be dealing with. Hang in there!

  7. It sounds like an awfully unfair system and I would be very angry. I guess you're gritting your teeth and keeping a stiff upper lip, aren't you?

  8. Yuck! you have my sympathy... as I also live in the Americas, albeit South, I know what you mean about when it rains - we seem to having more than our fair share this year too! fortunately the drains haven't overflowed so far - maybe it is because our house is little higher than the others on our street, but we have had roots in our water tank!

  9. What got me was that it is Irishmen digging up your garden. Why is it always Irishmen?

    Definitely do the skeleton thing!

  10. Toni, I am dumb dumb dummity dumb...I clicked onto you at PRG to find your blog and say how much I like your writing to find it's you - expat mum! Oh dear, I would have made a terrible detective. Terrible. I love this blog, I love Toni's writing and you are one and the same people. C- must try a lot harder...I thought your piece about childhood obesity and insurance companies opened up so many issues, ones very close to my heart - thanks!

  11. MH - too funny. I am getting to be a bit of a curmudgeon over at PRG with all my ranting, but I always seem to be irritated about something. I think I've got one in tomorrow which is a bit more light-hearted.

    Thanks everyone for the sympathy. I have taken a photo or two and will post next.


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