Tuesday, 21 January 2014

The weekend it rained in the kitchen.

The sound was somewhere between a slap and a snap. I couldn't place it as I slowly woke up Saturday morning. But as I swung my feet over the edge of the bed it dawned on me: falling water. I was hearing a leak in the kitchen. That propelled me out of bed rather quickly. 
I stared at the pool of water covering the kitchen floor without understanding what I was looking at. Back to the bedroom for my glasses. Returning I could see the ripples reflecting on the kitchen ceiling. This was a lot of water.
I ran upstairs, convinced that Jamie had left a tap on over night. But he wasn't home. Pascal heard me roar back down the stairs and was already getting dressed as I started shouting "GET UP! We've got a problem!". 

We stared at the water raining through our kitchen ceiling and started making guesses as we grabbed towels and a soup pot to catch the water. Broken pipe? Toronto had just experienced a serious deep freeze followed by a major thaw. Toilet malfunction? Leak from the poorly built addition caused by melting snow? Hole in the roof? In the second floor bathroom there was moisture showing on the exposed brick wall and we could hear water dripping behind the shower. The problem had to be on the roof. 

Pascal had the ladder up and was naming the issue as he climbed: ice dam. After Toronto's holiday ice storm, followed by the deep freeze and now a +6C melt, ice had formed along the edge of the roof and was preventing melt water from reaching the eaves troughs. Water had pooled around and eventually underneath the flange around the venting pipe. Essentially the melt water from the roof was draining into the house, from top to bottom, with a brief stop in the kitchen ceiling.  Pascal knocked out the ice and created a channel for the water to escape. The interior rain stopped almost immediately but not in time to save 2/3's of our kitchen ceiling.
Over the last month we've worked on finishing the second floor of Peace Flag House. When the leak started we were mere days away from a complete house. Now we were ripping down soggy drywall and pulling out wet insulation. Needless to say, it's was hard to find the "zen of renovating" whilst pulling apart our own hard work from the past few years.
In order to prevent further damage and to stop any opportunity for mold growth we needed dehumidifiers and fans immediately. I started texting anyone that might have either of those items. The recipients of my texts started texting their friends. By Sunday we had three dehumidifiers, a heater, two fans, labourers helping pull down drywall and cleaning up, all our meals prepared for us, Relish taken care of, a bottle of rum and a bottle of wine. We also received many expressions of sympathy, a room to stay in if needed, offers for more labour and lots of hugs.

I think that sometimes the zen of renovating isn't in the renovation work at all. Pascal and I have worked on Peace Flag House for four years now, moving from task to task, slowly rebuilding the house from the brick up. It can feel like renovations are all about hammer drills and dry wall. But this weekend's disaster reminded me that it's actually about people.  
Over the last four years we've had a lot of help from the folks around us. Family, friends and neighbours have been instrumental in the growth of Peace Flag House. People have brought us food, walked our dog, shared their knowledge, offered their expertise, hauled out garbage, hung drywall, painted drywall, lifted floors, laid floors, pulled wire, connected toilets, reconnected toilets, lifted lots of heavy items and sanded walls. People have shared meals with us when our only furniture were lawn chairs and helped me wash the dishes with the garden hose in the backyard. From the moment we began this project there has been a continuous stream of people supporting us.
Sunday evening we had the ceiling drywall down and the mess cleaned up. I was describing the past 48 hours to a friend as we when shared a much earned drink when  the washing machine sprung a leak, spilled its water all over the kitchen floor and I seriously began to wonder if we had been cursed. Our friend didn't hesitate; she grabbed towels, mopped up the floor, unloaded the cupboards and poured more rum.  

In that moment, when yet another problem erupted, I found my zen again.

The trick was in remembering that we have never been alone in this.

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