Enduring on the Lake

Friday, August 29, 2014

Chapter 19


Dog Belly was packed both with people and with vendors.  After a slow start that had worried the local economy autumn tourist season here in October was finally in full swing.  However Mrs. June and Mrs. Slowthower both shook their heads and said, “Honey, this is nothing.  Last year this time people were parking up and down the sides of the highway ‘cause the parking lot was full.  This year the parking lot is only three-quarters full and the vendors are looking worried.  Maybe good for us maybe not, we’ll see.  Max!” 

Max winced at the bellowed call but politely answered, “Yes ma’am?” 

“You stick with Sydney and help her out.  There’s a few that like to set their thumb on the scale.” 

Max looked at me but managed to keep a straight face until we had separated from the rest of them.  “You gonna let anyone cheat you Syd?” 

“You remember what happened the last time some guy tried to cheat us?” 

Max nodded.  “I reckon he does too,” he answered with a big grin. 

“I reckon he does at that,” I agreed with a satisfied grin. 

*********** 

Apples, snap beans, collards, grapes, okra, peanuts, pears, pecans, sweet potatoes, pumpkins, and turnips.  The back of my pick up was loaded, but not with just fruits and veggies.  I went a little nuts in the stalls selling plants.  Not regular plants but exotics that would have to be extra careful of and grow them in the sun room.  Calamondin oranges, citrumelo (house-sized citrus that is a cross between an orange and a pumelo grapefruit), kumquats, lemons, limes, sunquats (a lemon/kumquat hybrid), Tahitian orange, tangerine, acerola, Australian beach cherry, miniature bananas, dragon fruit, dwarf pomegranate, fig, guava, June plum, miracle berry, olive, papaya, passion flower, peanut butter fruit, pineapple guava, start fruit, tree tomato (aka Tamarillo), and yerba mate. 

I also bought some clearance trees and plants that I plan to plant in the spring after the last frost.   A couple of raggedy pots of ostrich ferns, teaberry, cornelian cherry (actually a dogwood), crabapple, elderberry, hawthorn, highbush cranberry, quince, serviceberry, mulberry, redbud, rosa rugosa, spice bush, lilac, black walnuts, chestnuts, sunchokes, pawpaws … and I brought a whole croaker sack of daylily roots. 

One of the surprises of the day was meeting Josh.  Max and I were making our way along one of the aisles when a man grabbed him.  Max was just in time to laugh, “Josh!” but the man in question saw me slip the sharpened nail file back under the wide sweatbands I was wearing on my left wrist.  Normally those bands are so heavy plastic grocery sacks don’t leave a dent in my arm when I’m shopping but they are handy for other things as well. 

“You gonna introduce me to your date?” he said to Max. 

“Aw Josh!” 

“Well?” 

“Fine.  Syd this is Josh.  Josh this is Syd.  Are Tommy and Melissa here?” 

“Sorry Buddy, not my weekend.” 

Max sighed.  “Figures.” 

Josh sighed too.  “Yeah, it does.  But …”  He pulled from behind his back a large hot dog.  “But don’t tell Zane … or Mom.” 

As Josh suddenly disappeared into the crowd I asked, “Am I going to get in trouble if you eat that?”

“Naw.  Josh was just teasing.  Zane would try to get a bite then take half and Mom would try to eat the other half.  They’re crazy for dawgs fully loaded.” 

“No offense but … ugh.  That thing looks like a three day streak of indigestion.” 

Max just grinned and took his first bite. 

Another surprise of the day was to find a couple of new stalls that were basically discout grocers and freed stores.  They were doing a banging business.  My flea market cart was full to bursting and I still had to figure out how to get the trees to the truck and I was irritated that I wouldn’t be able to take advantage like I wanted to. 

“But Zane would help out,” Max said sharing my frustration as my deal finding had become a game to him. 

I jumped when I felt hands on my shoulder and a voice right in my ear.  “Someone taking my name in vain?” 

“Geez Zane.  Scare me next time why don’t you.”  I saw Max grinning and realized he had known his brother was behind me the whole time.  I looked at him and glared.  “You need your arm frogged?” 

Max was unrepentant and laughed, the sound of it finally less rusty and unused. 

I shook my head and asked Zane, “So you can help?” 

“Let me have your keys and I’ll bring your truck around so you can get your birds some feed.  While that’s being loaded you can throw the other stuff on there too. 

********** 

“Are … uh … are you sure you know what you’re doing with all these plants Syd?” Zane asked after following me back to the cabin and helping me unload the truck. 

“I’m going to transplant them into nice terracotta pots and put them in the sunroom.” 

“There’s still not much heat in that space.  If these things get too cold …” 

“The stove in there is going to help on the coldest nights and most of the varieties I got here do have some cold hardiness to them.  I know some of these may not work out but I’m hoping most of them do.” 

“Fine, none of my business anyway, but if you are putting all this in the sun room, what do you need the outdoor greenhouse for?” 

“I’m not sure what my parents have planned for it.” 

“So the whole greenhouse thing was something your parents wanted and not you?” 

“Not exactly.  The sun room was my idea but Daddy wound up liking it too after I showed him some plans that I had found in a book.  The greenhouse is something Momma always wanted but never had time for even if there had been money for it.  Now the greenhouse is more of a coldframe type thing the way to reworked it … step down into it but it’s well-drained because of the slope of the hill … and that means we needed less Plexi and Lexan.  Daddy really ate that up.” 

“Don’t take this the wrong way Syd but the way your dad pinches a penny I’m having a hard time seeing it.  He got a little green around the gills there for a minute.” 

“And then laughed and said it was a good idea,” I reminded him.  “It was actually Mom that winced when I told them about roll downs that I wanted to put on the sun room.  But Daddy OK’d it – and Mom did too – when I found those roll downs in that scrap yard.  And in case I never told you … thanks for believing in the craziness of the plan to help me achieve what I was trying to do.  I could envision the tracks the door would slide down but I couldn’t quite figure out how to make it work without getting in the way of the rest of the construction.  I almost wrecked everything.” 

The top of Zane’s ears were a little pink at the praise but he smiled and said, “Next time though let me do the measuring.  And you buy your … er … accessories before we start building.  Deal?” 

“Deal,” I said with a grin.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Chapter 18


I heard Daddy’s startled voice coming up from the cellar griping, “What they hey?!” 

“Oops.  Watch your head!” I called. 

“Sydney what on earth is in all of these mesh bags?  Are these … wait … are these peanuts?!  How many … are you … Sydney what have you been up to?!” 

From the kitchen where I was throwing some more juice and veggies into the vegetable stew I had planned for lunch I yelled, “There’s a flashlight at the top of the stairs if you need it.” 

Zane walked by with his big spot light and said, “I’ll take this to them.  I want to show your dad the problem with that wiring.”  I silently wished him good luck and went back to trying to stretch the noon day meal for my parents’ unexpected arrival. 

Fifteen minutes later Mom walked into the kitchen where she’d been inspecting things with Daddy and we hugged.  “Oh Syd, I had no idea.  There’s so much.  You have no idea …” then she burst into tears. 

“Mom?!” 

As I patted her back she got herself under control and said, “Oh don’t mind me.  It’s just such a relief.” 

“From what?!” I asked having her sit down and pouring her a glass of water. 

“Seeing that you can do this.  That you’re making it work.  We’ve been so worried.” 

“Again, about what?  I’ve been keeping you updated.  It’s not … I mean … yeah, it’s work and sometimes there aren’t enough hours in the day but it’s like this at home.  Is … is it anything else?  Aunt Rhonda?” 

She patted my hand.  “Honey she’s never going to be what she was.  They got the cancer but the treatment caused a secondary infection which caused a clot then caused a stroke and some nerve damage in her face.  We’ve tried not to make a lot of it because Rhonda is so depressed and seems to hear every little word said and takes it out of context or exaggerates it.  She was always so vain and this has really hurt her.  Herschel tries as much as Rhonda lets him but she’s got a long road ahead of her, made harder ‘cause she is so stubborn.” 

“She wouldn’t be Aunt Rhonda if she wasn’t.  How’s Patrice?” 

Mom laughed and said, “Every bit her mother’s daughter, but she’ll do anything for Herschel.  He’s trying to get her to socialize with people her own age but she’s still not ready although there is one young man at the civic center that seems to be able to get passed her barriers.  He brings his twin brother for the adult day care program while he works.” 

“Patrice was always finicky.  And none of that is my business according to her so I’ll stay out of it.  What about you and Dad?  How are you doing?” 

“Well I’ve picked up two in-home patients.  They expect I will be able to pick up more within the month if I want them.  They are sending more people home from the hospital with orders for palliative care only.” 

“They’re sending terminals home?  Just like that?” 

“Last year many wouldn’t have been considered terminal at such a point in their diagnosis.  Used to be it was only automatic at Stage 4b.  The two I have are Stage 3 but both are on what the panels call their 2nd failed remission.” 

“That’s rough.  They’re … not kids?” 

“No.  I already told them I’m no pediatric certified.  My referrals are coming from Gerontological Services.  One lady also has dementia.  She’s a sweety.   Her husband has cancer as well though not as advanced.  No family beyond each other.  No savings.  The state has already seized every other asset of value in their estate.  Difficult situation.” 

Worried about her I asked, “You talking to your group?” 

She gave me a one-armed hug.  “You know the service says it’s mandatory; it keeps turnover low.  I’m fine.  But pray for your Dad.  He’s getting more hours but only because he survived another round of layoffs and got essential worker status.  Some of the younger men are jealous because they’ve got families to take care of.  His car was keyed and two of his tires have been slashed.  They increased security in the parking lot because he wasn’t the only one but now Hershel has started to drop him off at work when their shifts intersect, saves on gas.” 

“Daddy has a family too!  How dare they blame him for something out of his control.”  Before I could say anything Daddy and Zane came up and I could hear them sniffing before I saw them.  “Oh!  My muffins!!” 

Nothing was burnt and everyone dug in.  Daddy said, “Pretty good Sister.” 

“I would have had something better if you’d let me know you were coming.  A dessert at least.  And you have to go back tonight?!  But this is the first time I’ve seen Mom since August, and you too Daddy.” 

“I know Baby Girl but …,” he stopped and turned troubled eyes to Mom. 

Zane, picking up on the undercurrents said, “Why don’t I step outside and …”

Mom gave a definite, “No.” 

Daddy agreed.  “Zane you might as well hear this too.  See what you make of it.  You’ve been more than fair in your dealings and I wouldn’t feel right about not warning you.” 

At that ominous statement Mom said, “We’ll take some of the dried food with us but we will leave everything else here.” 

“But …” 

“Sydney.”  At my cease she continued.  “I want you to keep doing everything that you can to fill the cellar up.  When was the last time you made a major grocery run?” 

“Two weeks ago but it was to the Mennonite place.  It was closing and then went the woman saw the color of my money she sent me out back to her husband and that’s where I got those hams and shoulders and those cockerels out in the new pen.” 

Mom nodded.  “That’s something you just won’t find in the city.  Herschel is taking part of his pay in leftovers from the restaurant.  I make soups and stews up from that and can it with the jars I kept.  It gives us some reserve. And so long as you can make do, I would avoid grocery stores.  Not that you’ll find much.  Shelves are getting very bare of selection and thinly stocked of what variety they do have.” 

Zane added, “Prices are bad too.  If Max hadn’t been helping Syd I’d never had thought to look for groceries in some of the places that she’s gone.  I got Gran and Mom to that Mennonite store just in time.  I’m taking them to Dog Belly tomorrow.” 

“Syd has said so much about Max I wish we could meet him.” 

“Syd has the touch.  I’ve never seen him warm up to anyone like he has her.  Usually he’s uh … er …” 

Daddy said, “Like the rest of you were at that age is he?” 

Zane slowly grinned and said, “And then some.” 

There was general laughter and then Daddy sighed.  “Sydney, Baby Girl, you’re going to think we’re being hard but … well … the reason your Mom and I made this trip is because we don’t want you coming home for the holidays.” 

Shocked like they’d suddenly slapped my face I gasped, “Wh … what?!” 

“We need you to stay here and keep things … ready.” 

“But …” 

Before I could help it I felt my eyes water and tears slide down my cheeks.  Zane looked around the table and then asked quietly, “You think things are that close to popping?”  Daddy gave Zane a hard look until Zane said, “I’d be crazy not to figure out what is going on.  Syd keeps her lips locked tight but I’ve got eyes and I see how hard she’s working.  Junior brings home gossip he hears from the tourist set, Josh too, and Annie has the pulse of the local businesses.  Old folks around town have been feeling things in their bones for a few years now and I’ve still got buddies that are active duty.  Add it all up together?  It ain’t pretty.” 

“You got that right Son.  Your family?” 

“Soon as it cools off we’ll be hunting.  Gran was a canning fool until her knee gave out.  Mom and Belle help too but Belle isn’t what you would call a self-starter and needs … encouraging.” 

Thoughtfully Daddy asked, “You up for hunting Baby Girl?” 

“It’s been two years Daddy.  I’ll need to practice.” 

Zane snorted, “You already impress Max with your snake shooting skills.” 

“Snakes?!” Mom yelped. 

I said, “In the wood pile.  They tore down the blown up house and ran a bunch of rattlers this way with all of the big equipment squashing up the ground over there.” 

“Sydney …” 

Still sniffling away the shock they’d dealt me I told her, “Don’t worry Mom.  I’m careful and always wear gloves.” 

“Well I should hope so.” 

Zane said, “If she can get a license she can come with us.  Josh has a friend that has a Health Department certification where we can process and tag the venison.  We also try and pick up a feral pig or two.  Do you remember my Uncle Hightower?” 

“Hi?  I sure do.  We played together as boys.  Knew him better than your father to be honest.  What about him?” 

“He bought Gran’s daddy’s place from the family that got it at the auction years ago and has moved back.  He’s built what he calls a sausage factory and makes all sorts.  If I ask he’ll show me how.  Even if Syd can’t get her license for whatever reason, if she’ll help process we can do things by shares.” 

Daddy looked at me and asked, “Syd?” 

I shrugged and then trying to get into the spirit of things said, “I’m game.  Or I can barter a share or something.  Junior says he can’t keep the dry mixes I make on the shelves.  The made-over t-shirts sell pretty good too.  So do the scarves, scuffies, and braided necklaces.” 

Daddy said, “Well then you two work that out between you.” 

It went on from there with Zane leaving then Mom and Daddy leaving a couple of hours after that.  We talked about future plans for the cabin but would barely respond with half answers when I asked about what was going on with the family.  I freely admitI cried and cried after they left.  I tried to understand their reasoning but I felt more along rather than less. 

Part of it was because Mom pulled me to the side while Daddy unloaded the trailer and then loaded some supplies from the cellar into the car’s trunk.  “You haven’t asked about Keven … or Dan.” 

Uncomfortably I responded, “I haven’t known how.”   The truth was that I had put them from my mind and rarely thought about either one if I could help it.

Mom missed the white lie for which I was thankful.  She patted my hand.  “Half the time I don’t know how to ask Herschel about Kevin myself but I still force myself to.” 

“Ok then, how’s Kevin?” 

“Not good Honey.  They finally moved him to the minimum security side of the facility but the damage has already been done.  Herschel says he has tattoos and looks much harder.  He’s definitely not a boy any longer.” 

“He wasn’t a boy when the accident happened.  He’s the same age as … anyway, he wasn’t a boy and had no business acting like he was still one.  That was Aunt Rhonda’s doing, tying him to her like that, getting in the middle of everything serious relationship he almost had.” 

“Well …”  I nodded knowing there were just some things Mom could never say aloud.  Then she asked, “Do you want to hear about Dan?” 

I winced.  “Mom …” 

“Honey I know you were hurt but you can’t hide from reality.” 

“I’m not hiding.  It’s just been going on two years.  I've ... I've been moving on.” 

“And you still haven’t even acted like you were interested in dating anyone new.” 

“Don’t take this the wrong way but do you really think Daddy would have wanted me to?” 

She sighed.  “Sydney, don’t deflect, it isn’t healthy.” 

“Honestly …”  I stopped and tried to see things from her side and put it the way she would understand it.  “Mom, I’ve just needed to … to focus on keeping my priorities straight and not having a pity party.  Dan … hurt me ... he hurt me badly.  And all that came after it, the way people acted and probably still act if they’re given the chance … that … that hurt me too.  But it also woke me up to some stuff.  I’ve just need to, like I said, focus on things that move me forward and grow me up in the right direction.  I’m not that old.  There’s time.  And when I do really feel like dealing with Daddy’s issues … I’ll be in a better, stronger place to do it.”  

Mom looked at me then gave me a hug.  “I love you Syd.  Just remember that we don’t want to see you hurt or stunted by what’s been thrown at you.” 

“Too late for the hurt part but I’ve dealt with it.  As for the stunted part … I don’t want that either so I’ll go as slow as it takes and wait for what feels right.  And so far nothing - or should I say no one - has.” 

She let it go at that but her eyes said there were a lot of things she wanted to say and maybe not all of them I was ready or willing to hear.  I let her look slide.  Sometimes moms are just going to be moms.  But I still couldn’t shake the sadness of not being with my family at the coming holidays … or the anger that they were the ones taking that decision out of my hands in a very intentional way regardless of their motivations being the best of intentions.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Chapter 17


“Thanks for coming with me Max.” 

Max crossed his arms and stared out the passenger window.  “Yeah.  Right.  Gran and Grams just asked you to babysit me.” 

“Actually they did say something but only after I asked if it was ok to hire you away from Junior for the day.” 

“Sure.” 

I reached over and poked him causing him to jump before asking him, “Haven’t we agreed to speak the truth to each other?” 

He looked at me suspiciously then asked, “You really asked first?” 

“Yeah, I did.  I racked my shins day before yesterday carrying a basket up the stairs.  You saw the nasty bruise on top of the big knot.  But I’ve got to go picking apples today or I won’t get to.” 

“Why?” 

Sighing I said, “School is about to get ferocious.” 

“You go to school?!” 

I guess I had surprised him though I honestly thought he knew.  “Yep.  Online, same as you only mine is college.” 

“You can do college online?” he asked like I just got a whole breed of interesting. 

I explained, “Most of it you can.  I clep’d a bunch of classes – that means I took a test that let me skip some introductory courses – and dual enrolled some classes in high school too that I got credit for.  Last year I was in the classroom for a full load.  If I hustle I’ll have finished my bachelor degree by the end of the spring semester.” 

“Whatcha wanna be?” Max asked curiously. 

“I’m double majoring … Public Health and Nutrition.  Unless I have to pick up a couple of other electives and it will be Public Health and Biomedical Sciences.  And those degrees will help lead me into eventually being a doctor. 

“Sounds boring.  Why you wanna be a doctor for?” 

“I don’t.  At least not right now.  Maybe later.” 

“You don’t sound all that excited about it one way or the other.” 

“Why do you say that?” 

“When Zane gets started about electrical stuff and fixing things he never shuts up.  I’ve never heard you talk about … nutrition and the bio whatever stuff.” 

“It’s actually pretty interesting.” 

“But?” 

I looked at him and recognized a kindred spirit in the “feeling” department. 

“But … I don’t know.  It doesn’t make me wanna hula nekked in front of a stadium full of people.  On the other hand, I don’t know if anything should be that exciting.” 

“Probably not,” he agreed with wide eyes and red ears.  “What do you want to do?” 

“That’s easy.  What I’m doing right now.  One of the reasons Daddy asked me to come take care of the place is because he knows I love it and like … well he and Mom call it piddling around … cleaning, organizing, refurbishing stuff, things like that.  But these days you can’t make a living at that so …” 

“So you do stuff you don’t like so that you can do stuff you do like.” 

“I wouldn’t say I don’t like it.  I just like doing other stuff better.” 

“But why not do stuff you like better all the time?” 

“It’s complicated.” 

“Is it because your parents expect you to be a Nutrition bio whosiwhatsit?” 

“OK, it’s not totally complicated,” I admitted since he’d already guessed.  “Yeah some of it is about what my parents expect.  Some of it is I had expectations.  And some of it is just … some stuff has been happening in my life and it’s turned my expectations upside down.” 

“What kinda stuff?” 

I gave a very abbreviated and age appropriate view of the last eighteen months in my life and he got thoughtful before saying, “Well that explains why Zane told me he’d give me a swirly if I asked if you had a boyfriend.” 

“Zane’s a nice guy … mostly,” I told him with a wink.  “Though I kinda got the swirly threat myself if father talk came up with you.” 

“Oh.  I don’t got a father.” 

“Mrs. June’s son doesn’t …?” 

“Nope.  Don’t want him to either.  He’s weird.” 

“That’s not something that can’t be overcome.  Look at me, you think I’m weird.” 

“No.  You’re strange.  He is just weird.  He fried his brain huffing meth.” 

“Oh.  Sorry.” 

“I’m ok with it.  It’s Grams that feels bad.  She shouldn’t.  And she and Uncle Dirk try to do stuff for me that a dad would do.” 

“Who is Uncle Dirk?” 

“Grams’ other son.  He almost drowned when he was a kid so … they call it something, I forget what.  Uncle Dirk is kinda cool but he couldn’t be a dad because people have to take care of him.  He lives in a house with other people like him now because Grams says he needs more independence and friends his own age and interests.” 

“What about Josh?” 

“Eh … he’s all about his step kids.  They’re ok.  When they lived here we used to hang out a lot.  But they’re mom doesn’t like us anymore because she got tired of living feast-or-famine and wanted a man with a more stable income that Josh gets as a river guide in the summer and a trail guide the rest of the year.”  Then he surprised me by saying, “Zane would be a cool dad.  He knows stuff and isn’t as grumpy as he used to be.  As long as I get my school work done and get good grades he doesn’t mind if I go with him places.” 

“You’re a good helper.” 

“But he lets me come even when I can’t help.  Sometimes I just read.” 

“He must trust you to stay out of trouble.” 

“I’ll do anything not to have to go with Junior.  I don’t mind working at the shop, I just get tired of Junior bossing me all the time.  And Pattie is always hanging around and they do stuff Gran wouldn’t like when they think no one is looking.” 

“Ew.” 

He made a horrible face and then said, “You ain’t kidding.” 

“Well speaking of helping … here we are,” I told him as I turned into the U-pick farm and orchard. 

I was more grateful than I could express to have Max with me for the whole day.  We picked many boxes and bushels of apples of each kind that was currently available.  Golden Delicious, Red Rome, Rome Beauty, the tail end of the Winesaps, and a beaucoup bunch of Arkansas Black and Granny Smith.   

Winesap apples are tart and crisp and great for baking or snacking on.  Golden delicious are good for pies, making apple butter, and for eating fresh or in salads.  The Rome apples are also used for cooking because they are nice and firm and don’t fall apart when they are heated.  The Arkansas Black is a long keeping apple that tastes nice and tart when first picked and then mellows out during storage.  Granny Smith is the famous lock-you-jar green apple using for pie baking and fresh storage.   In addition to canning I planned on using a mixture of Rome Beauty, Golden Delicious, and Winesap apples for making several gallons of cider. 

Not only did Max help me with the picking he helped me get all of the apples into the truck and then from the truck into the house and down into the cellar.  In addition to a day’s pay – something he apparently didn’t know he was going to get – I fed him and told him to take home a box of the best apples.  “Make your grandmother happy, you might be surprised what she is willing to overlook the next time.” 

Max’s eyes widened and then so did his grin.  When  I dropped him off at the store Mrs. Slowthower came out and before she could say anything Max said, “I brought these for you Gran.  I made sure they didn’t have any worm holes or anything.”  He went on about the different kind of apples and that he always had thought she had the best fried pies.  “And Junior cain’t have these for the store.  They’re for you Gran.” 

Mrs. Slowthower looked duly impressed and then smiled at me when Max wasn’t looking.  I was invited to dinner but politely declined.  I had a ton of apples waiting on me back at the cabin.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Chapter 16


“Dingety Dangety Frazzle Snots!!” 

“Zane!  She’s talking strange AND dancing this time.” 

“I’m not dancing!” I yelled up to the kitchen.  “I stubbed my toe!” 

Zane yelled back and I could hear the laughter in his voice. “Break anything?” 

“Ha ha, very funny!” 

It wasn’t though, not to me.  It had been raining steadily for a week and I had come down this morning to find a corner of the cellar was damp.  I didn’t know what to do but I did know that damp wasn’t good.  On top of that Zane had a prior commitment running electric to a workshop and hadn’t seen him for a couple of days and didn’t know if he was even available to help. 

I sat and panicked for a few minutes before getting up the nerve to call Zane anyway, only Max answered. 

“We were just gonna call you,” he said. 

“You were?” 

“Yeah.  Me and Zane wanted to know if you were gonna be around.  We have an unexpected slot opening in our work schedule.” 

“Is that a fact?” 

Zane could be heard saying, “Give me that Monkey.” 

“Zane?” 

My tone of voice must have alerted him to something going on. “Yeah … uh …” 

Deciding to just go for broke I said, “Please say Max wasn’t kidding.” 

“Er … no … no he wasn’t.  Got finished with the other place a day quicker than I expected.  What’s up?”  I explained and he asked, “The floor of the cellar is wet?” 

“Yes.  The north east corner where the floor slopes.” 

“Just wet on the floor?” 

“No.  It looks like it is running down the wall right there.” 

“Hmmmm.  OK, you know how to turn the water off from the well?” 

“Yeah.  Daddy said turn the ‘lectric off at the well then turn the red spigot handle to the right.” 

“You do that just in case it is a broken pipe.  That corner is right under the kitchen and bathroom and that outside wall.” 

Not any less worried when presented with the new possibility I asked, “That’s fixable?” 

“Most things are.” 

Not appreciating his sense of humor right at that moment I said, “You know what I mean.” 

“Yeah.  But there is no need to panic.  I can hear it in your voice that you’re thinking about running that direction.  Now stop being upset.  Cellars get wet and pipes leak.  Then you fix ‘em.” 

“If you say so.” 

“I do.  Did anything besides the floor get wet?” 

“No, but it will if I don’t move stuff.” 

“OK.  You start moving stuff – I’ll need the area clear to work one way or the other – and we’ll be there in about thirty.” 

********** 

I got lucky.  It wound up only being the hose bib on the outside of the house.  But clean-up was harder because a lot of wood got wet where the water ran between the blocks and into the drywall of that part of the cellar.  Plus it took two long, orange extension cords to have power for the wet vac. 

Shaking his Zane said, “Syd I still don’t understand why your dad won’t let me run any additional electric.  The panel will support it.” 

Carefully I tried to explain, “Well part of it is he’s only allocated so much money for renovations.” 

“I can understand that but with all the money you’ve saved him …” 

“Plus when we are up here we try and live without ‘lectricity as much as possible.  He wants … hmmm …” 

With a small smile of what turned out to be understanding he said, “Some weird family thing?” 

“Not weird exactly, but … ok yeah, it’s weird and it’s a family thing.” 

“Ok.  But you need to try and at least talk him into letting me update some of the wiring and fixtures.  If safety isn’t a concern then he might like the idea of a smaller utility bill.” 

“That might do it,” I admitted with a relieved grin that he wasn’t forcing the issue.