It looks like we survived our first winter in Wallowa County—the valley is green, frogs are getting it on in the swale, and the robins and swallows have returned. The moon and sun’s arc across the sky has shifted significantly since we first got here. Instead of turning the Seven Devils pink when the sun sets, the light hits the Zumwalt Prairie instead. I’m pleased to be unable report on the condition of things at three in the morning, as the puppies are old enough to sleep through the night. Though I miss hearing the great horned owls.
Things were quite manageable until February. The climate here is so dry that the snow hardly accumulates. A push broom was usually more effective than the snow shovel to clear our deck. Shoveling the driveway was unnecessary since there was never more than a Subaru could handle.
But, as I mentioned in a previous post, the snowstorm in the beginning of February was more than we bargained for. Biggest snow in fifteen years, some of the locals say. We shoveled the driveway until we ran out of places to put the snow. Its meltwater inundated our rental’s foundation and created flooding that lasted a week. But once it dried up and the soaked carpet pad was replaced, we thought we were done. Wrong.
About a month later, I was in the basement to collect materials for the workshop I wrote about earlier this month. I pulled out a small suitcase Mike used for Pancake Breakfast merchandise and noticed that the edge that has been against the floor had about six different colors of mold on it. Weird. I pulled out another suitcase, which I bought at a yard sale in fourth grade for my doll clothes and, more recently, have used in my ithaka display at Wordstock. Its little brass feet had left four rust circles in the carpet. Oh, crap. While there was flooding along the east wall that we noticed, the north wall had quietly been seeping as well.
Behind the suitcases was a cardboard apple box in which I stored all my reference materials for Get Your Pitchfork On!—horse magazines, county welcome guides, other moving-to-the-country books, and all my notes from screeners of the original draft. Everything up about three inches from the bottom of the box was ruined.
The paperboard backs to my new shelves were warped; thankfully the shelves themselves are metal. Then I looked to my left and winced. Mike’s banjo was in its soft case, leaned up against the wall. I pulled it out and it, too, had taken on a bunch of different kinds of mold. It absorbed so much water that the strings rusted and broke. The case for the bass guitar (which thankfully, was elsewhere) was also moldy.
Since this was water from outside (as opposed to faulty plumbing), our insurance company wouldn’t touch it. We considered asking the owner of our house to reimburse us but realized he was in the same boat. No one on a hill buys flood insurance! And he had a bunch of repairs to pay for.
As I mention in GYPO, it’s hard to find handypersons for small jobs; they all want to work on the big jobs with steady pay. The owner got someone to pull back the carpet, cut about eight inches of drywall away from the floor and put a fan on it. But he couldn’t get anyone to come back to clean the mold or replace the drywall! After a couple weeks of not being able to use the basement nor access the things that are packed, Mike has graciously offered to fill in. I know I said this last time, but now I’m really hoping we can put Water Event 2014 behind us.