Thursday, June 21, 2007

Clanging pipes and a power cut

One day each week I work from home. (In case you've forgotten, or have just tuned in, I'm the writer for hire, temporarily giving up the dream to pay a new mortgage, renovations, etc.). With a bit of time-off looming, I've been looking forward to reclaiming my home office and perhaps returning to creative writing. (Please hold your collective hallelujahs.)

The last three weeks have boded ill for the writing-at-home gig. Note the following (and keep in mind that I am not exaggerating!):
This week: After spending two hours on the phone with Revenue Canada (Canadian equivalent of Inland Revenue), with a very UNSATISFACTORY conclusion, I managed three hours of productive writing before the pipes in the basement started clanging in a most frightening manner. After ascertaining that the downstairs toilet was acting up, I was in the process of peering into the tank when the electricity went off. An hour later, after imagining all sorts of gloom and doom — for surely the two problems were related, or so I figured — I had temporarily fixed the toilet and discovered that the local power company had shut off the power without notifying us first. By then it was time to pay my overdue taxes, so off I trotted to the bank, and then to pick up my daughter. Total hours worked out of the expected 7.5: 3.
The previous week: As my daughter recently turned 10, and wanted nothing more (besides an Ipod!) than a sleepover with her friend, I gave in and allowed her to have it during the week (school is out for the summer in any case). The girls played nicely in the morning, and at noon we set off for the park for lunch. I did some editing after our picnic but the girls soon tired of running around and proclaimed themselves boiling hot. So we returned to the air-conditioned house (see below) and to a message from the other mom inviting the girls back to her place for a swim. I called and she promised to pick the girls up in half an hour. TWO HOURS later she showed up, whisked the girls away, at which time I started tapping frantically at the keyboard; after all, it was four o'clock by now — if I was lucky I could get in two hours of additional work before it was time to collect my daughter. FORTY MINUTES later the mom was back; apparently she'd locked herself out of the house. At this point I called it a day. Total hours: 4.5.
Two weeks ago: I had two sets of workmen in the house, one set demolishing the decrepit front porch, another installing a new air-conditioning system. Plus at noon my daughter and her friend returned home early from school, as it was their last day. The girls I hardly saw. The workmen, on the other hand, kept pestering me with questions such as these:
  • Can we use the bathroom?
  • Which power outlet outside may we use?
  • Could we have a glass of water, please?
  • The garage door won't close and we want to go to lunch. We don't want our ladder stolen. Could you come out and see what is the matter with the door?
  • Where is the nearest Home Depot (DIY store)?
  • Here is the list of supplies we need. [Five minutes later] Oops, I forgot to include x on the list. May I see it again?
  • [Several hours later, when I'm in bed in my pjyamas, editing] Hello, so sorry to have rung your doorbell five times, but we forgot [big expensive piece of equipment] in your backyard and it might rain tonight. Could we put it in the garage? Good night, now.
Am I doomed? Tell me it isn't true.



Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh Eva, you poor darling! God bless you for even attempting to write in the midst of what I'm guessing is the 13 Trials of Eva (and shame on the gods for not notifying you that they would be running you through the gauntlet).

I say diarize everything and use it as fodder for your next novel. In the meantime, eat copious amounts of chocolate, cuddle up to your gorgeous man, borrow Daughter's i-pod, and give your self a very weel-earned break.

Totally sympathise with renos and contractors. We had our house done 3 years ago, and I still get twitchy when I see paintbrushes.

8:25 pm  
Blogger India said...

Big fat heartfelt sympathy. I so know how frustrating it is. But hopefully all this means the major upheavals are finished now and you can look forward to a summer of peace and writing...?

9:58 am  
Blogger Eva said...

Thank you for your sympathy, both of you!

Actually, India, the workmen have yet to return to build the new porch - it's as if they staked their territory, then flitted off to do another job. Right now there's a 4-foot drop should you happen to stumble out the front door, bleary-eyed, looking for the morning paper.

To get into the house, my husband hikes himself up; I take the automatic garage door opener with me and enter through the back door via the garden (much more civilized). Earlier in the week, however, I forgot the garage door opener and was forced to climb the neighbour's fence. The slit in the back of my skirt is, as a result, considerably more dramatic.

So the renovations are far from complete. However, the end of my contract is drawing near - three weeks to go - and the ideas are starting to flood in. I shall blog about that another time.

And, yes, Brown, I should definitely chronicle the trials and tribulations of Eva. In addition to the torn skirt climbing a fence, last night I had a visitor peering in my bathroom window - the raccoon that makes a point of blundering through my daylilies. I must exact my revenge somehow; if not in real life, than certainly in fiction.

The over-sized rodent...hmmph!

1:42 pm  
Blogger India said...

Ahhh! From here in rainy Cheshire a racoon looking through your daylilies sounds unbelievbly exotic-- and so sweet!!

Am so glad about the influx of ideas. Pin a few down now, or else in three weeks time you won't be able to remember a single one...

2:55 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


What I wouldn't give to have been a neighbor watching as you scaled the fence, or the racoon, for that matter!

I do sympathise, Darling. Laughing, but sympathetic.

4:22 pm  
Blogger Eva said...

Where in the world is Annie these days? I'd have thought she'd have something cheeky/ribald to say about the raccoon mucking about in my daylilies.

5:58 pm  

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