Friday, March 13, 2015

Avalanche Manor

A cautionary tale of engineering gone wrong

You thought these were for Mardi Gras, but they are also for Purim.

Purim is the Jewish holiday that comes with costumes, alcohol, revelry, and something called “shalach manot” bags (pronounced Sha-LAKH mah-NOTE  BAGS), which are filled with fun gifts such as hamentaschen, chocolate, potato chips, oranges, and Mardi Gras beads.   

A plethora of hamentaschen, for the Shalach Manot bags

Shalach Manot bags, all ready to be given away!
“Shalach manot bags” is a phrase which, when texted to the Common Household Husband, gets auto-corrected to “avalanche manor bags”.

It turns out we live in Avalanche Manor. 

Outside, on Erev Purim, it got warm enough to cause a dripfest, from melting snow and ice and dripping directly from the sky.  Inside, on Erev Purim, the dripfest partied all the way into our basement.  The Common Household Husband was out, of course. 
This was just the beginning of the flood.  It got more impressive.
I did some quick investigating, and concluded that the water must be coming from melting ice dripping from the deck directly into the house via the doorway.   I supposed that there was a crack between the deck and the house.  Solution: shovel the deck, at least the part right next to the house.  Younger Daughter’s job was to take the photos.  (I had a feeling our efforts should be documented.)
The Common Household Mom, fighting
against nature.
Shoveling the deck turned out to be not so simple.  There was a layer of impenetrable ice under the snow.  I fetched the Shovel for Hacking at Hard Things.  Alas, the ice was unhackable.
The shovel for really tough jobs.
YD and I put our thinking caps on, and decided to try to channel the water away from the supposed crack.  YD fetched some plastic bins and an aluminum roasting pan.  
YD setting up bins and roasting pans.

There was so much water dripping from the gutter above us that the bins were already full by the time we got the whole thing set up.  It became evident that we needed to put something underneath the bins to tilt them away from the house. 

The Army Guys bin
I said, “Wouldn’t it be fun if we could use the Army Guy toys to do this job?!” YD agreed.  It would be like the National Guard coming to our rescue!

I fetched the Army Guys bin.  Much to my surprise when I opened the Army Guys bin I saw this:
Is there a scene in Toy Story in which the Army Guys
get routed by the Polly Pockets and Barbies? That seems
to be what happened here.

Okay, then, Polly Pockets to the rescue!  We randomly pulled out a few pink unicorns and tiny dolls in plastic clothes, and stuck them under the bins.  I am sincerely sorry that we do not have a photo of the Polly Pockets, midriffs bared, heroically holding up the bins.

That really did not do the trick.  Aha!  We’ll use a tried and true Boy Scout solution:  the tarp!  I plunged out into the dripfest again, moved all the bins and Polly Pockets, put the tarp over the crack between the deck and the house, and put the bins back into place.  Just in case the tarp didn’t fully work.  
Tarp, bins, Polly Pockets (underneath the bins) -
the whole Megillah!

Then the temperature started to drop to below freezing again.  I started having second thoughts about our engineering marvel, thinking that it would all freeze and be stuck like that for weeks. 

Just then, the Common Household Husband arrived home.  He examined the situation in the basement.  He said, “That insulation up there is wet.  Let’s push it back so that it is not right above the basement door.”  We did that, and within three minutes the basement flooding stopped.  He went onto the deck, said a few choice words about our clever set up, and removed the whole thing before it got frozen.
It never occurred to me to feel the
insulation (ick) to see if it was wet.

And that’s what we did on Purim.  The weather was so awful that all Purim festivities at our synagogue were cancelled.
You are saying, “That was a mini-flood, not an avalanche.”  Well, yes, but we have several other water-related issues in our house, so it feels like an avalanche.  I might tell you more about those issues later, but right now it’s time to make a pie.  Tomorrow is 3.14.15!


The Blog of Ruby Red Bud said...

You really ought to write a book, you are so funny!

Karen (formerly kcinnova) said...

Well, heck, who would think to check the insulation? Not me!
I think your solution was quite rational, and I regret the absence of pictures showing Polly Pocket at work.
"Avalanche Manor" sounds like my craft area.

Karen (formerly kcinnova) said...

Wait! Inquiring minds want to know who is now going to be the lucky recipients of those Shalach Manot bags.
Mmmmm... hamentaschen!

Common Household Mom said...

Karen, the Shalach Manot bags are given to members of the congregation, but other synagogues might do things differently.

Green Girl in Wisconsin said...

What a mess! And I cannot imagine the frustration you must have felt through all of this, but you sure keep a good sense of humor.

Cassi said...

So, how did the insulation get wet?

I would have loved to have seen the polly pockets finally doing something useful :-)

The Crislers said...

Ooooh. Leaks are the worst. THE WORST! The only good thing to come from them are humorous blog posts for the rest of us to enjoy.

And I appreciated the pronunciation guide for Shalach Manot- I was really mangling that in my head.