Monday, December 15, 2008

The Law of Averages

No, this post isn’t about math (sorry, you math-o-philia-ities)…well, it’s a little bit about math. You know how everywhere has an average rainfall for the year, well, here in Chattanooga the average yearly rainfall is 54.52 inches. Last year we had a drought and ended up way behind in rain. This year things were looking pretty dismal too. But, and here’s where the law of averages comes in, the thing about average rainfall is that sooner of later you catch up. Sadly, it seems to be happening at all once.

Last week, it rained and rained and rained some more. And that was great—plants drink in the moisture, depleted reservoirs fill, and basements flood. Yes, basements. Most houses in Chattanooga don’t have a basement, and there’s a reason. Flooding. Our basement floods, that’s why it has a drain in the corner. (It ought to be in the middle, where the lowest point is. I’d normally say that the engineer got his/her degree from an internet diploma mill, but since the house was built in 1940, I don’t suppose that will work.)

Early in the week, we suspected the basement would flood, so Calvin took the plastic bins and cardboard boxes and stacked them in nice piles. The idea was to keep everything as dry as possible. But, at some point, like a house of cards, the boxes tumbled. No one knew this until I went downstairs to put away a couple of Christmas things… Now in case you’ve never stumbled onto a scene of epic disorder, let me explain: there is a moment when you look upon the chaos and your brain tries to fit it into some kind of harmony. “Surely this can’t be a catastrophe of soaked boxes floating in a sea of mildew-y rainwater.” Of course, your brain gives up, and the reality of disaster follows closely afterward. The next thing that hits you is that the person who stacked this tragedy is currently out giving your 16 year old daughter driving lessons and will not be around anytime soon. In case you haven’t guessed, at this point you yell, “Arugh!” (After this, you call your husband and whine very loudly about your suffering. He doesn’t seem too concerned as he is instructing your daughter how to navigate a narrow ridge road without driving over the edge.)

Then you call your three sons and inform them that they will be taking their father’s place in this debacle. Now, you should be aware that the two youngest sons, who are card-carrying members of the “communist workers’ brigade,” aren’t eager to help, but they are willing, especially since they’ll be conscripted anyway. So they get assigned to wash the toys and toy bins. Apparently, they were confused and thought this entailed throwing soap bubbles at each other and spilling water on the kitchen floor. Suffice it to say, they now know it’s NOT part of the plan.

The 18 year old bears the brunt of the labor—he’s the only one strong enough to carry 30 rolls of soaked toilet paper out of the basement into the rubbish bin. He also carried out the bins of soaked books, clothes, and blankets. Unfortunately, there are no medals for meritorious service during a basement flooding. Oh, well.
Later that night, when you sit with your beloved trying to figure out how this came about, it hits you. It’s the mouse in the basement that refuses to be caught—this is his revenge for the traps. It’s going to be a long winter…