Our house is having an early mid-life crisis. Even though it's not quite 30, it has definitely had issues this week. Its previous identity as a responsible and mature home has come under fire. Responsible, it isn't. Mature? While practical jokes at 29 are still okay, expensive practical jokes are frowned upon. Seriously frowned upon.
For instance, Monday night I woke up to a torrential rains thundering down, and within a few moments Jules was awake too. Even though I'm not a big fan of middle-of-the-night feedings, since I was awake then I decided to indulge her. As I fed her in her room, I heard an unsettling sound.
Drip. Drip. Drip.
By the dim glow of the night light I could see water dripping from the ceiling. Fabulous.
I woke Jason up, and even though it was the night before the first day of school he had to crawl up into the space above Julianne's room and find the leak. He found it, and I did my part by handing him a bucket. Even though a leaky roof isn't a good sign, it wasn't something we were really worried about. We have a tile roof. It was a cracked tile. Jason fixed it the next day. End of story.
Then Saturday night I hear a peep from Jules room, and since I had once again found myself awake then I thought I would go check on her. She would have gone back to sleep, but even from the other side of the door I could smell the diaper that needed changing. So, in I go, change the diaper, and--since it was extra smelly--I decide to put it outside.
As I walk past a floor vent (which leads to the crawl space under the house) I hear a funny sound. A funny rushing hushing sound. It's the middle of the night, and my imagination, as it has been documented, is extra active in the middle of the night. I say this to explain what I at first thought the sound was.
I feed Jules, then go get Jason who had woken up when I opened the front door. "What's wrong?" he said.
"I hear something under the house."
"Like what? An animal?"
"No. Well, maybe. You better come listen."
He drags himself out of bed and walks down the hall to the floor vent. "Listen!" I say. He listens. I tentatively offer my suggestion.
"I think it's bees." I'm wild with fear that a swarm of bees is under the house, has somehow found solace there in the middle of the night, and will at any moment come swarming up through the vents and attack us.
Jason stares at me incredulously. "Bees?" he stammers. He makes a little motion with his hand that is supposed to indicate flying insects, but which looks to me like he thinks I'm referring to swimming bees. "Bees?!"
"Like a swarm of bees. Yellow jackets."
"Aren't bees dormant in the middle of the night?"
It's 3:30 in the morning and we are having a discussion about the nesting habits of bees. I strain to recall information from a junior high science project. "Don't their wings still move at night?" I flutter my arms helpfully.
"It's not bees," he says with authority. I am only mildly convinced.
He goes to the coat closet to remove the floor panel that leads to the crawl space. On the upside, we had already replaced the batteries in the flashlight from Monday's leaky roof incident, so without further ado he leans into the hole to take a look around.
I am still quite concerned that the moment he flashes the light around a swarm of bees will come tearing up through the floor, so I stand back, ready to run at a moment's notice.
"There's water dripping," he says. "I can hear it." He leans further in the hole, and sees a burst pipe spraying water all over the underside of the house. "A pipe broke."
And in an instant I really do wish he had seen bees instead of a broken pipe.
Jason gets the water main turned off, and we somehow try to go back to sleep, our minds wondering how on earth we will pay for a broken pipe. In the morning we call a plumber, but since our house was inconsiderate enough to have its pipe-breaking party on a weekend then we have to pay an extra $100 emergency call fee.
Plumbers comes, look at damage, and deliver the bad news: It's a broken pipe, but as it turns out all our pipes have serious corrosion and need to be replaced. The one that broke isn't even as bad as some of the other pipes. Copper pipes have a shelf life, which ours seem to have come to.
Short term fix just to get the water working and allow me to shower: $700.
Long term fix: $7000.
We're calling our insurance company, and hope they have some better news to offer us on this point. There's no way we're paying seven grand to re-pipe our house. We'd be better off just waiting for the pipes to break one by one. Of course, now I'm afraid any sound I hear is a burst pipe.
I'm not sure if that's better or worse than imagining the sound of bees.
So in one week, Jason has had to make trips to the top and bottom of the house. We're keeping our fingers crossed that the far side of the house (where the central air is located) isn't the next issue for the house. No more water pranks. No breaking down. No sowing wild oats. It just needs to buck up and accept its status as a responsible house whose sole job is to protect its inhabitants.
Either way, if Jules cries in the middle of the night tonight I'm not getting up. Because whatever it is, we can't afford it.