Marsha Canham's Blog

January 1, 2012

Happy New Year! Thank goodness the old one is finished.

Filed under: Caesars Through the Fence — marshacanham @ 5:42 pm

I was going to title this:  how I spent my Christmas week, but figured it would be better starting off with a cheerful greeting…because I *am* cheerful. Managed to get out of the snow and had a clean, fun drive down to sunny Florida where the temp is supposed to hit 80 today. Palm trees are swaying. Birds are chirping. No snow. Bonus.

However. The events leading up to this bliss deserve a recounting and as I said up top, thank goodness the old year is finished. Seems like every time I turned around there was some new calamity. Looking back, one could say it started when I got home from Florida last spring and found the house ice cold and the furnace on the fritz. Had to sit around all day waiting for Furnace Guys to install a new furnace and get some heat in the house. Ching ching, welcome home.

On to some retrospective thoughts….

Through the summer, had to fix a collapsing wall at the side of the house. BIG ching ching.  Had the choice of rebuilding the collapsing wall from the walkup basement or just filling the damned thing in. Chose the lesser of two ching ching evils and just filled the damned thing in, but that also required building new walls in the basement, new drywall blah blah ching ching.

And then of course there is always the joys of Stupid rearing his ugly head. Nuff said there.  He always seems to pick the month or so leading up to Christmas to do his shtick. And once again, grandfather of the year he ain’t. Not a card, not a phonecall to his grandkids. He should hang his head in shame every time he wears the Grumpy shirt they bought for him. I damn near ripped it off his back when I saw him wearing it. Nuff said.

And then there was the knee surgery. Not fun getting scoped the first time around. Less fun the second time around. Hopefully it delayed getting a full replacement for another year or so, but still…limping around with a knee the size of a balloon whilst recovering is NOT fun. It did, however, prompt me to get all my Christmas shopping done and wrapped well ahead of time, not knowing how mobile I would be. So I could just drive by shopping malls and laugh hysterically watching those last minute shoppers trying to find a place to park.  Lining up a half hour to buy groceries seemed a small enough inconvenience.

Christmas at the son’s house. He always has a party Christmas Eve, so it’s nice to go somewhere and just sit, put the leg up, relax, let the swelling go down, sip wine, catch up with friends.  I’ve been sleeping over the past two years so I can share the fun of watching the kidlets rip open their Santa stuff.  This year, however, I was up at 4:30 with heartburn so bad I thought I had a blowtorch in my chest. Tiptoed downstairs in search of Tums or Rolaids in the kitchen…nuttin. Got a glass of water from their machine thing which gurgles…sat quietly in the dark knowing I couldn’t lay down and trigger the blow torch again…then I heard skulking down the stairs. It was Jefferson, looking fierce in his tighty whiteys, wakened by the DIL who thought she heard a burglar in the kitchen.  We sort of met in the middle of a dark hall and did the Home Alone scream at each other.  Great fun. After we scraped each other off the walls, we skulked back upstairs where he found me some Tums and I watched Opra classics till the kids got up.
Watched them dive into their gifts in the morning…raced home to cook turkey #1 for my cousin and his family, who are always ALWAYS late and never NEVER in the past 15 years arrived before 6:00. They got here at 4:30. I was in shock, hadn’t even prepped the whore’s doovers, but happily recovered, had a great evening, up late doing dishes etc, hit the pillows around 3ish. Up by 8 to prep turkey #2 and do a second shift of cooking…family arrived around 12:30ish, kids wired and bouncing off the walls. We poured drinks, retired to the family room, had a blast for the next two hours opening stuff and playing with stuff. Other company started arriving…20 in all…chatted and laffed and drank for a while, then dinner. Everything went great, went smooth. I should learn to read the signs *snort*.
After dinner, just getting ready with coffee and desert when someone comes out of the bathroom saying the terlet is plugged. Great. Two screaming kids running around ( belonging to my girlfriend’s son) and my first thought was that one of them probably shoved a toy or 4000 sheets of wadded terlet paper down the loo. Out comes the plunger. Nope. Still clogged.  Jefferson and assistants start in on the mountains of dishes and Tim, who has taken control of the plunger steps back with a look of horror as all manner of food being rinsed from dishes in the kitchen is now appearing in the toilet, which has now overflowed the rim and is spewing volcano-like all over the bathroom and out toward the hall and dining room. Guests dash upstairs for towels, Tim shouts for Jefferson to stop rinsing the dishes, kids scream from the basement that it’s raining on them. Yup, volcanic spews of water are flowing down through the baseboards to rain on the kids, who, while they may have been innocent of flushing anything suspicious down the loo, are still screaming and running in circles.
Jefferson finally responds to the full throttle choke hold and stops running the water in the sink. Tim continues plunging, to no avail. Someone uses the bathroom upstairs and new things flow out of the terlet on the main floor. People yell EWWWWWw and now everyone is screaming and running around in circles. More towels are fetched. Main waterline is turned off while sopping up goes on. Kids are still screaming, but upstairs now, where their parental units just watch them with smiles that say “aren’t they just so cute”  Yeah, real cute with wet socks running across the carpets.
Meanwhile, back over the terlet, Tim still suspects a blockage. Really? He forages in the garage for a snake not bothering to wonder WHY I would even have one, much less know what one is, and thus settles for the garden hose, which he hauls through the laundry room and kitchen and starts shoving it down the terlet. He shoves, swears he feels something was dislodged, orders the water turned on again…flushes…stands back to admire his cleverness with the garden hose…and gets rewarded with an even bigger flood than before…gushing, spewing water all over the damned place. More people scrambling for every towel I own, even terrycloth housecoats and tablecloths, rugs, anything that will soak up water. Constant bailing is going on as well. Water line is shut off again and a neighbor appears at the door with a real plumbing snake. Hose is withdrawn, snake is shoved in to the terlet as well as the sink, which is also showing signs of filling with undesirable elements.  Corn and mushrooms and threads of saurcraut appear to be the lightest and most prevalent objects.
I grab the yellow pages and call a 24hr plumber. He calls back an hour later to say he charges $250 just to show up at my door on a holiday day. Great. Tim is yelling no, no, we’ll figure this out. He’s still playing with the snake, reaming out my poor (and now covered with black scratches and saurcraut) terlet bowl. All the men are now involved, most with their socks off and pants rolled up. Most of the women are still running around with towels, which are running low. Two hours later, Tim declares the snake is not working. Really? A second plumber returns his page and says it doesn’t sound like a plumbing problem. He asks when the septic tank was last sucked out. AUGH! But I know I’m within a 5 year suck-out, on 2500 gallon tanks that I was told would be good for at least 7 years without another suck-out. Nope, he says. Sounds like a system back up or a clog.  I swear to god Tim’s ears perked when I relayed the word clog. He is now in love with the plumbing snake.  There are no 24 hr emergency septic sucking services on holiday weekends. So we have to keep the water off, have to leave all the dirty dishes, have to stuff all fifty or so of the sopping wet and full of ewwww towels into big green garbage bags for a morning haul to the laundromat.
By now the men are wiping their feet and hands with lysol sheets and antibacterial stuff so they can resume drinking and eating desert and opening gifts so that the screaming children will stop screaming: “we want our gifts”.  Austin is ready to throttle the youngest one cuz she’s obviously fixated on him and clings to his leg wherever he goes, requiring him alternately to hide behind the Christmas tree or the couch. The parental units are still sitting there smiling…one because he was Jefferson’s best buddy all through high school and they’re both working hard on draining a bottle of Crown Royale.
 So we do the gifts and …yes…the first person gets a strange look on her face.
She has to pee.
But there’s no where to pee. No water. No working terlets. The men guffaw and all troop outside like boy’s nite at the campground and write their names in the snow, but what do the girlies do?  Why, some declare they are are their equals, and go and squat out in the dark, cold night. Others declare cottage rules and pee is fine, poop is a no no, don’t flush, just fill.  Following this first exodus to pee, everyone…with the exception of Jefferson and Gerry, who were now into the bottle of Wisers…has stopped drinking because to drink is to pee and to pee is to….yada yada…
Oddly enough, everyone remained in high spirits.  Bags of towels got hauled away that night, not that I needed any because there was no water. Thankfully there were bags of ice, which melted enough to provide water for coffee in the morning whilst I dialed through the list of septic suckers.
Third attempt, got a real voice instead of an answering service, said he could be out within the hour if we can dig out the tank covers. Hallelujah?  Jefferson had slept over to protect his mommy from any further perils of potential flooding, so he was ousted from his comfy couch and dispatched outside to lift up the patio stones so the septic sucker could get to the tanks. Long story short, he worked that full hour with pick axe, chisels, hammers and shovel and managed to get maybe half a dozen stones lifted from the frozen ground. Tim and his wife returned just then bearing armloads of freshly laundered and folded towels and Tim…he who was in love with the snake…now took over with the pick and gave my sweating and exhausted son a rest. Around the corner next is a neighbour who wondered why we were all out there digging up the patio. He grabbed a shovel and started digging too. Next came the contractor who showed up to get a key for the house and ended up ankle deep in dirt shoveling and digging for septic covers with the other three. It must be a guy thing. See a shovel and you need to dig?
FOUR hours later Septic Man shows up. He drags his honkin big hoses through my garage because he doesn’t have enough to go around the side of the house;  tramples through my garden and shrubs like they aren’t even there. LAYS down on the ground and hangs over the opening of the tank—which is full to the brim with disgusting stuff, I must say—and declares that the “level is fine, there must be a blockage somewhere in the line between the house and the tank”  No mere snake or garden hose here, cuz Septic Man has the big kahoona. The big-ass hoses that he shoves up the pipe and after sucking for a few seconds, spews forth several chunks of solid white congealed grease. It looked like candlewax and as soon as they got sucked out, water flowed like a river. Jeffer turned the house water on. We all watched with glee as he flushed and the pipes ran clear and fine. Victory!  Almost!  Apparently the tanker truck was already half filled, so Septic Man could only suck out half of one of my tanks. He was leaving there to go for dinner with the inlaws and my parting thought was:  I hope he has real good soap.
Through all of this, there was a planned departure for Florida, supposed to happen on the 28th at 4:30am. Well that was obviously out because I now had to wait for Septic Man to come back in the morning to finish sucking out both tanks. Thus,  I informed my travelling partner about the Septic Situation and told her to stay home an extra day and hopefully we could reschedule for the following afternoon after all was pumped and cleaned. Informed the house-sitter he had to fend for himself another night as well unless he wanted to sleep on a couch and pee on the grass.  He chose to stay at his sisters.
Jefferson had thankfully packed the car for me the day before while we were waiting around, so when my copilot arrived around 1-ish, I said don’t even bother taking off your shoes, we are OUTTA HERE before any more calamities strike.  As it turned out, it had snowed overnight…a mini blizzard, so it was doubtful we would have left at 4:30 anyway.  We were pulling out of the driveway at 1:30 and on our way…made it as far as Summerville West VA that first leg o’ the journey, stopped about 10:30. Slept till not quite 6, were up and on the road by 6:30 and pulled into the Florida driveway at 7:30. 70 degrees, NO SNOW.
Last night, New Years Eve, 8 of us went for dinner, brought in the new year listening to Epcot Centre explode with fireworks. I found a corner in my screen room where I could stand and watch the fireworks just fine, thank you, without joining the bazillions of people who tried to cram into the parks. My poor little doggins was sick…she doesn’t travel well and sort of gets, er, blocked up, and last night she was all shakey and barfy. This morning her pipes were cleared, so to speak and all is well again, she’s her normal perky self, but I couldn’t help thinking of septic tanks and snakes and how ironic it was she shared a similar blockage *snort*
 And that’s how my old year ended and the new one began. Clean pipes all around LOL.
Happy New Year Everyone!  Just as a reminder, Across A Moonlit Sea is free until tomorrow night from Amazon. Just a little perk to start the year off right.


  1. OMG- sorry about all the plumbing issues, but I was laughing SO HARD over your description of the events, I just couldn’t stop!! Tears were running down my cheeks as I could only read a sentence at a time, I was laughing so hard! A good thing you’re away from the mess, now, & not hassled with cleanup. Thanks for the great laugh- a fantastic way to start the new year!!!

    Comment by Karen — January 1, 2012 @ 6:09 pm | Reply

  2. Loved the story. Laughed and laughed. I have to identify. Thank God we have a bathtub for it all to come back up in so It’s saved us the flood numerous times. But ain’t it always on the holidays that all this happens? My wishes for you this coming year, are numerous best sellers and clean pipes.

    Happy new year,
    Teresa R.

    Comment by Teresa Reasor — January 1, 2012 @ 6:30 pm | Reply

  3. Oh Marsha, Marsha Marsha!

    Yet again I am so glad to be home whilst reading your post! You have managed to make what happened to us so much like nothing. Our ching ching were not as disastrous as yours, but close enough. They do say when it rains, it pours and in your case they meant it ‘literally’ 😦

    In our case, we were flying hi when my DH announced that we’re in surplus this year so he was happy to tell me that FINALLY I could get some descent drapes for our DR & LR. We end up spending a tad more, but after we hung them we were so happy how ‘THESE DRAPES TIE THE ROOM’ that a bit extra was all worth it…two days later, I arrive on my lunch hr home and I can’t take the ignition key out of my car, so I run in, have my lunch with my DH (he works second) and we talk a bit and just as I’m leaving I tell him ‘Hon, how come I can’t take the ignition key out of the thing? Do you thing something’s wrong?’ He looks at me and says ‘We’ve been here an hr shooting the breeze and you mention this NOW?’ and runs out…I follow and as he’s trying to get the thing started his foot FLOORS the brake and the look of horror is on his face…WTF? is the look on my face…How did you stop this car?! Now he’s just confusing me or maybe this is a trick question?! I just drove in the driveway and STOPPED! WTH?! he tells me that I have NO BRAKES!!! NONE! NADA! He puts the car in N and moves it a tad and a HUGE puddle tells him my brake fluid is gone and tells me thank God the key got stuck as if I went on that highway at 60mph?! ching ching! and a Christmas Miracle as my DH is referring to it.

    The eve before New Years Eve he is on the comp, and calls out to me ‘FUCK now the comp crashed’…Best Buy here we come (the other one was old and it was time it retired anyways, but still NOT just yet), so another ching ching! Oh, and last month I must have stepped in a huge whole and had a tire blow out on his baby Benz so that ching ching was felt right before the big surplus…Like I said when it rains it pours. BUT I now have this REALLY cool comp with a touch HUGE screen, camera in it AND all is in one and wireless!!! How cool is DAT?! Apparently after the warranty a big $1000 ching ching COOL! Oh, well, shit happens, and in your case…LOL! Sorry, I just couldn’t help myself [and now that I said it, watch bad Karma get me]…I take it back….

    You have to let us know what you come back to and how did the house sitter fair 🙂

    Here is hoping that your chng ching’s do not chin ching too much in the new year.


    BTW: Got the book and thank you so much for a great New Year’s gift 🙂

    Comment by Bookworm — January 1, 2012 @ 6:55 pm | Reply

  4. Marsha…Happy New Year. Let’s hope 2012 is better. Meanwhile, today I posted my Best Pirate/Privateer Romances list on my blog ( and of course your many books involving love on the high seas are on it!


    Comment by Regan — January 1, 2012 @ 8:31 pm | Reply

  5. Happy New Year, Marsha. I laughed so hard reading your story! I imagine while it was happening it was awful but you have a way with words, no doubt about it. If you ever write a contemporary novel you should definitely put this in. Thanks for the gift!

    Comment by Susana — January 1, 2012 @ 10:09 pm | Reply

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