December 8, 2004
I noticed it around lunch time — a tiny dark spot on the kitchen ceiling just above the section of the counter I lean over each morning to read the newspaper while the coffee brews. The area surrounding the dark spot looked a little, well, bowed. I decided to tell myself for the moment that it was a shadow caused by the very bright sun that floods the kitchen now that the backyard trees are all bare. But I knew. When I looked at it again a few hours later the spot looked a little darker. Still, I decided to think about it later. Like after my party. Eleven days from now.
Ron never takes an approach like that. When he sees a problem he faces it head on and begins to figure out how to solve it. “There’s a pipe leaking into the kitchen ceiling,” he said.
The other day I mentioned that this is the twenty-ninth Christmas for this house. It’s a two-story suburban tract house, about 2000 square feet, with good-sized rooms and a nice lot that looks out on a wooded area. Mine was the second house occupied when the neighborhood was developed out of a farm field. It was a lot of house for newlyweds on a tight budget, but it was much better than lower-priced “starter homes” nearby. We remodeled the kitchen in 1995 (because that was the only feature of the house I really hated), put on a new roof in ’98, and got a new front door and a new garage door last year. I love the house as much as I did the day I moved in and I sometimes forget that it’s no longer a new house, but an old one.
Ron got a stepladder and climbed up to inspect the spot more closely. He reported that it was cold to the touch while the surrounding area was warm. This was definitely a leaking pipe.
Several hours later the spot was darker and the bulge in the ceiling was noticeable even without the shadows cast by streaming sunlight. Ron decided that it might be a good idea to open the ceiling there to allow the water leaking to go someplace besides a wider and wider area around the leak.
He climbed the stepladder again, applied only a little pressure with the end of a screwdriver, and then caught bits of soggy drywall in his hand. He made the hole big enough to look in with a flashlight. An elbow joint in the copper pipe was corroded with what looked like a green mold. It’s leaking at the rate of about one drop every two or three minutes.
We’ll call the plumber in the morning, and our builder for a recommendation about someone who can repair the drywall. We know the plumber will come nearly at once, and that’s the important part of the job — to stop the leak and avoid further damage. The cosmetic fix might take longer.
I used to be a very anxious, unhappy person. I worried about everything, and any problem that arose, especially one that involved expense to fix, would send me into a tailspin of anguish. I have a lot of prep work to do in that kitchen the next ten days, and of course there’s that hole, but I am strangely calm. If the hole is still there the day of the party, we’ll stuff a Santa hat into it and go on with our merrymaking.
There’s a hole in the wall, but not a hole in my heart. Life is good.
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