Well sir, it's roughly 7:30 AM on Thanksgiving morning--we never know exactly what time it is in Indiana--and I'm lowering myself down the basement stairs on a foot that's still inanimate from sleep attached to a brain that's not much better, and it gradually dawns on me that not only is there not supposed to be a moat in the basement there's not really an explanation for one, since at most we got 1/4 inch of snow on Wednesday and it's long since melted. There's a strip of carpet at the bottom of the stairs which has a crescent moon of an underarm stain on it, and I know from previous flooding activity, as they say on teevee, that this is not good news in terms of water volume. There's enough room to grab some cat food without doing any wading and feed Mr. Stinky, who has noticed that something's changed down here but votes for food over panic. I must have said something along the lines of "what's this fucking water doing down here?" because once I get back upstairs in search of suitable footwear my wife is there with a flashlight preparing to dive in. She goes north, I go south, a reversal of the circumstances of our births, and I hear her say "it's coming from over here" as I'm dragging two bags of cat litter to safety. I peered behind the washing machine. The hot water supply, much like my Uncle Floyd a week previously, had ruptured its aorta. I squeezed in behind it and hit the shutoff which, miraculously, actually shut all the way off.
So I made some tea and told my wife I'd be staying home to to dry the thing out. This is not a culinary loss by any means, and since I'm supposed to avoid gluten most food gatherings are a mixed blessing at best even when someone who can cook is cooking. There is, of course, the family dynamic to think of--my wife understands, I think, that I'm not seizing the opportunity to avoid her family. I like her family, probably more than they like me; it's always been fairly clear they'd have preferred her to marry someone with, oh, social skills and/or a set of priorities more attuned to their own. But we all smile and try make nice. Rather, my wife and her father are just not best of buddies, and her sister at midlife is turning into a deranged cat lady from the deranged suburban Jesus lady of her youth. 'Nuff said. I spent the day filling and emptying the Shop Vac, a process complicated by the fact that the one functioning drain down there will only handle a small stream of water, so you have to crack the waste valve just enough and then find something else to do while it empties. I used the time to start protecting roses in the single-digit windchill, and clean up around the house, and think about things to be thankful for. Like a functioning sump pump.