Letters From The Old House

By | December 9, 2014

WhiteFive days ago… It is snowing softly and the river is carrying ice floaties towards Kamloops Lake like a train that never ends. It’s peaceful. On a day like this I’d be thinking cross-country skiing and boys tumbling down slopes full of wild, dry grass dressed in thick fresh snow.

This morning I am secretly rejoicing that the lack-of-toilet pee spots in the front yard by the pee-tree will be covered by fresh snow.

It’ll be a while until the toilet will be fixed it seems. Think it absurd, I do too. Uncertainty is never good, yet when you have to pick after kids just like you do after puppies it becomes personal. Yes, a pun, what better time to throw one out.

We’ve been running to coffee shops for a few days now, and continue to be grateful for every flushing toilet. A miracle of technology. Chuckle if you want to; I know it doesn’t compare to the shuttle that was sent around the world early this morning, but trust me, a running toilet makes things alright.

On the mouse front, there seems to be none left on the premises.

Three days ago… I found the 11th mouse in a milk bottle at the bottom of seldom used cupboard. Mummified; the smell gave it away. Faint enough to mislead, unless you put your face in (nose included) looking for a jar. I did. A tough, cruel death by all means, inflicted by its own curious murine nature.

You may be now wondering about the tenth mouse, since we only had nine at the last blog count. He got caught in one of the traps our kitchen is laced with at the moment (it was a quiet subdued celebration, and a few shudders thinking some may still be around). Which brings us to a second question from you: do any of us ever get caught? Well, I almost did once while sweeping. The noise is enough to make one jump; every time.

As for the mummified mouse, the discovery can take your mind off lacking toilets for a bit. Until the smell clears away to make room for others issues at hand. We’re still showering in the go, ditto for laundry and pray that the toilet will not back up unexpectedly. Talk about the straw that breaks the camel’s back… It’s a tired, old camel, let’s just leave it at that.

We have decided to move. No more views of the river and the trees hemming its shores, projecting slim silhouettes in the water; no more guessing the weather based on the shade of the water or the way clouds arch over mountains, no more nighttime gentle blinking all the way into the distance and for me, no more wondering about a lone soft light in the middle of nowhere near the grasslands… an isolated cottage, who knows. The small mysteries we carry with; the answers are not as important as the mysteries itself – but that is the story of another day.

No crying over spilled milk, or moving in this case. We will still have a view and we will discover its mysteries and beauty. The very bright side of it is, of course, a flushing toilet and no setting off mouse any traps on the way to it in the middle of the night. Clouds and trees can be found anywhere, rainbows too, if only we find the time to look.

An old plumber named Bud came by this afternoon and spent a commendable amount of time in the basement. He surfaced with a long face. He left, like many before him, disillusioned, and we almost felt like consoling him. I also admit to feeling slightly envious thinking Bud will go home to a flushing toilet, shower and laundry. We did too, except that they all belonged to friends. Gratefulness reinvented.

One day ago…  A fresh team of plumbers paid us a visit. They came hopeful, they left disillusioned. Again. I knew that would happen. They tried and tried, they brought machines and cameras and skills. They took them with when they left, handing over an invoice and the farewell we have become accustomed to – ‘we are so sorry’. We are too, possibly seasoned by many days of dashing for toilets and making fun of the absurdity of it all, which makes people feel even sorrier for us. The silver lining? Knowing half the plumbers in town. Just ask.

Mice count is still at 11; traps are still set.

Today. After perusing over a few unreliable models, we have capture: A nice portable toilet is parked by the side of the house, welcoming weary inhabitants in its plastic arms. The boys find it funny, we all find it useful and, I am sure, the neighbours find it intriguing.

We are learning the meaning of those simple things we cannot do without, or we could, but with added effort. Like toilets.

We will start packing soon for our impending move and that will be good, as long as no mice jump in the boxes. They are amazing athletes; but you already knew that.

 ***

TodayToday was a balmy day in Kamloops, so unexpectedly balmy at almost two digits over zero that toilet and jumpy rodents worries faded away to make room for the uncomfortable question: is this because of climate change? If not, it may just be an occasional and fascinating Chinook; yet if it is due to climate change… no amount of plumbing can fix that…

I am hoping it’s the Chinook and the cold will return.

Rain draped over faraway hills and it dripped onto our front steps, and muck prevailed. There was a short-lived rainbow arched over the north shore and I was reminded of simple beauty. Of the world that we have and we have to hold onto. Of how short-lived everything is, worries and all, and how, at the end of the day, toilet or not, is what you make of it.

There will always be a bigger worry casting shadows over today, it’s part of the package. Often times we look back and we say ‘Give me mice and plugged drain pipes over this, any day…’ because we are, every now and then, humbled by the weight of life, by the way it takes bites out of us. It always does, and that’s what make it worthwhile; learning to cope, learning to hope, learning to say ‘It will be OK, it has to…’

At the end of the day, it’s what you make of it. It really is…

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