On Saturday we had DOB's aunt and uncle over to help us decorate our Christmas tree. Our evening was progressing in a relaxed and festive manner, when we received notice that the toilet was overflowing. A few minutes and the usual procedures revealed that this was no ordinary backup. To wit, all the rest of the plumbing in the house was backing up as well.
DOB called our regular plumber, who informed us that he could only help us if we had a certain vent in the ground next to our house. This sent DOB and his uncle out on a treasure hunt through the dark and five inches of snow to see if our shrubbery concealed such a vent. They concluded, after some time, that it did not.
So DOB went searching through the phone book to find a plumber who could address the problem through the roof. He finally found one, but they told him it would be after midnight before they could come out--and that we would have to clear the snow off the roof. So DOB set boldly forth once again in search of a neighbor who owned a ladder.
In the midst of all this we muddled through dinner and the like without making use of the drains. After everyone had more or less eaten, the gentlemen (augmented by B3, who had stopped by to use the exercise bike and was impressed into service) set forth to clear the roof. They finally did this by establishing a bucket brigade of hot water, while I at last was able to be of some help by filling the buckets. Then they salted it down so the plumbers would not be greeted by a slanted ice rink in place of the snow.
After everyone left, DOB and I prepared to retire for a short winter's nap until the plumber arrived. At this juncture, DOB noticed that our air vents were dripping again. His goal was to catch the leaks without making too much noise, and he decided glass was the ideal substance for this. Unfortunately, the glass that came closest to hand was my best crystal serving dish, which was still sitting unwashed on the table because I couldn't use the sink. When I protested this, he obligingly went and got my second-best crystal serving dish. I finally persuaded him to settle for a small corningware dish. And we went to bed.
At 3 a.m. I awoke for the usual reason and realized the plumbers had not arrived. DOB went to call and found that they were still on their way, hoping to arrive sometime before 5. They in fact made it by 4:30 and went to work deconstructing our plumbing and diagnosing the problem.
The diagnosis was tree roots. This was gratifying in that it was a genuine problem and not something that was our own fault, like stray toys. (It occurred to me later, though--was it just coincidence that tree roots overtook our plumbing on the very day we erected a Christmas tree? Or was something more sinister afoot?)
It was disturbing however, in that having a giant tree-eating machine enter one's house through the roof and work in the basement is just as loud as you would think. Naturally everybody in the house awoke. It was my job to keep them happy while DOB supervised the plumbers. Fortunately the little ones are still easily pacified.
The plumbers left, I took a short nap, and then I had to get up and clean up the aftermath in time for us to get ready for church and arrive there early to prepare for the Christmas pageant practice.
We arrived at church later than planned, but still in time; we got the costumes ready and otherwise prepared; we made it through practice, which is far more interesting with two small children, one of whom keeps busy moving a chair around to random parts of the stage and then protesting because she is too short to sit on it, interspersed with calling out "Potty potty potty."
We had lunch. The place was deserted--even the bulk of DOB's family had left us for the community band concert up in our town. We loaded up the car and fastened the children in their seats. The car would not start.
The pastor was kind enough to come back and loan us his car, so we were able to make it home and collapse in a heap. We're still recuperating from that and trying to get ready for next Sunday, when the pageant actually occurs.
And we're making plans to have DOB's aunt and uncle over again. Maybe in the spring, when it's time to clean out the gutters . . .