The House Witch

It used to be that a bad day could be blamed on karma or the bad kitchen witch – you know, the burned onions or the jammed garbage disposal.

A few weeks ago, the kitchen witch conspired with whatever devil lives in the crawl space or the roof eaves. They got together, decided to make my life miserable – and they weren’t just kidding around.

The first inkling of all the trouble ahead was a water drop. Dear Richard was standing in the living room doorway when he felt a drip on his head. Any way you slice it, that’s not a normal living room experience. And of course, he looked up as he was telling me. I moved as fast as I could to the doorway looking above Richard, then beyond. Ohhhhh, Noooooo.

There were discolored spots everywhere, loose tape peeling away from the seams of the ceiling dry wall and slow forming drops oozing to freedom. I went over the stairs as fast as my ancient legs allowed, to the bathroom directly above the living room to find – nuthin’. The room was completely dry. No dampness in the hall. No water in the bedroom next door. Huh?

Back downstairs I checked the master bath next door. Like the Sahara.

It had been bitter cold and windy for days – maybe it’s something from the roof? But why is the upstairs dry?

Long story short, it took five men three days to determine it was a plumbing leak below the bathroom floor that had been dripping for a long time before it broke through its super-saturated dam. When I stepped up and touched the ceiling, water ran down my finger.

The men with the crowbars, black bags and big fans arrived from Erie to take down one end of the living room ceiling.

My Christmas tree was still up and this mess happened over the weekend I’d planned to take it down. I usually try to have it packed away by Valentine’s Day and I had been right on schedule. But there was no getting to the tree in the corner with all the furniture piled up around it and the three ginormous fans in the other end of the room.

And a houseful of company was arriving in two weeks.

Two weeks? OMG. This can’t be happening. But it was. We slept – sorta – for three nights with the fans roaring, fans big enough to dry out a 747 hangar.

Then a miracle happened. Glenn, the master carpenter/construction guru, was free. Free to put our ceiling back and restore us to normalcy. Christmas got packed into its five large tubs and put away. And Glenn finished putting the second coat of paint on the perfect new ceiling. That was on Friday. Hooray – the company doesn’t arrive until next Thursday. Still time to shop and cook and get ready.

What I haven’t divulged is that the reason for all the company was the Gala I was planning for the theatre. Early mornings and late nights can be dealt with if everything at home is spinning normally. With a bit of good luck on top of the bad, we got through the ceiling disaster. Back to Gala planning and running.

The refrigerator died Monday.

The witches had conspired again. The repairman said he could fix it – for a lot of money. “But in the end you’ll still have a 13-year-old refrigerator.” He advised us not to spend the money on him.

I really didn’t have two minutes to research Consumer Reports and scour the internet. But a new French door fridge to fit in the precisely measured spot of the old one required an informed decision. It took more than two hours.

After work that night we went to Lowe’s. They had one of the chosen options in stock but they couldn’t deliver until Wednesday. The witches were cackling again.

Clean out the old fridge, get the new one in, reload, restore the kitchen. Wednesday night. Whew. But way behind on guest prep for Thursday.

The only thing we could laugh about was all that fur-bearing food we had cleaned out the week before made the shelf stripping easier.

Friend and family arrived on schedule Thursday and I made the very best dinner plan – reservations. By Friday night all the beds were full plus a 100-pound yellow Labrador retriever was in residence. The gourmet selection that evening was pizza. All in the final throes of preparation for Saturday’s Gala.

I decided that everyone who came, plus family at the hotel, came to celebrate. I was feeling guilty about not cooking but my daughter convinced me that everyone would understand. I promised myself I’d cook brunch Sunday.

The Gala went off on schedule and went well, I thought. Something good has come of these horrendous – and expensive – two weeks. Maybe my angel was back – shooing off that pesky kitchen witch.

The stove broke Sunday.

Sunday’s brunch was underway when Dear Richard discovered that half the burners wouldn’t light. The glass top modules both work – just not on the right side.

The same repairman knew how old the Jenn-Air is – it was installed the same week as the refrigerator. He’s has ordered a repair kit he’s hopeful about. “Let’s try it before we declare it totally dead.”

The company is all gone. Tonight was a late one at work so Richard had dinner in the oven when I arrived – not enough room for top-of-the-stove cooking. I think we’ll bag the garbage and hand wash the dishes. He’s afraid to use the disposal. I’m afraid to run the dishwasher.

My plans for this weekend? I’m doing laundry – in the 26-year-old washer and dryer.

I swear I’m hearing a cackling sound.

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