I recently realized that I haven’t been blogging as much as I’d like. Real Life seemed to keep throwing curve ball after curve ball – derailing any blog ideas that I might have.

First up was B’s mother’s open heart surgery. We had known this was coming for some time, but a recent checkup turned it from “some time in the future” to “in the next three weeks.” The surgery itself went smoothly, but B’s mother was very weak and in a lot of pain afterwards. This was normal – the nurses described the procedure as if you were pummeled by a professional boxer inside and out. Still, B’s parents needed as much help as they could get. Understandably, B wanted to be with her mother every second she could. It fell to me to juggle working my day job with taking care of the day-to-day parenting tasks that B normally does. Of course, I had no problem with this, but I was exhausted at the end of the day.

Of course, during this time was when I blogged last about my computer being fried. I got a new computer (a nice touchscreen model from Dell) and took some time to set it up. Luckily, my old hard drive wasn’t fried. A quick USB enclosure purchase from Amazon and I have an external hard drive with all of my old data. Of course setting up this new computer took days and contributed to not-blogging.

After B’s mother improved, things slowed down a bit, but by now Passover was on the horizon. Passover is the Jewish holiday that requires the most work. I need to clean the kitchen entirely from top to bottom, put all non-Passover utensils/pots/appliances/food away, and take our Passover supplies down from the attic. Complicating matters was a visit by some of B’s family the weekend before Passover. Though it was busy, Passover went by relatively uneventfully – except for the last day.

I was sleeping late as I was off of work when I was woken up by screaming. My kids were yelling at me that B needed me. As I became aware of what was happening, I first figured out that B was in the basement and feared she had fallen and hurt herself. Then, I heard her mentioning a flood in the basement. We have a utility sink down there that floods if it’s not cleaned out. My first thought, as I put on clothes and shoes, was that the sink overflowed and I’d need to stick my arm into that disgusting water to clear it out.

Oh, how I would soon wish it was that.

Turns out that our pipes had backed up and sewage was running in from a drain we have in the center of our basement. Specifically, a combination of sludge, toilet paper scraps, and feces. There was a lot in there and the smell was awful. B called a plumber and I opened the basement windows – at least the two that I could open without crossing the nasty pond. The plumber came by and figured out immediately what was wrong. Within a half hour, he cleared a U bend pipe of build-up and all of the water flowed back down.

Notice, I just said “water” and not “everything.” When the water went down, a lot of other stuff remained. His portion of the job done, the plumber left this for us to clean up with the wet-dry vacuum. Now, having handled diapers for two kids, I thought I had been toughened up in handling this type of stuff, but nothing could have prepared me for this. I used our wet dry vacuum to suck it up, but the combination of the smell and sight of what I was vacuuming threatened to make me hurl. I put on headphones, cranked the Hamilton soundtrack as loud as it could go, tried not to look (as much as was possible) as I waved the vacuum around the ground, and held my breath. This helped and I soon cleaned up as much as I could.

Then, I had to take the wet dry vacuum outside, empty it into a garbage bag, clean it off, and spray the basement floor like crazy with a bleach-water mixture. I also went to Home Depot and got a few big tubs filled with crystals that absorb water from the air. This helped to dry the basement up more. That night, despite being exhausted, I had trouble sleeping. Any time I closed my eyes, I was back in the basement looking at – and smelling – everything that was down there.

In between all of these events, I’ve been working on my Ghost Thief sequel – tentatively titled “Outcasts and Artifacts.” I’m up to 41,000 words now and the story is just getting started. I’m juggling a lot more plot threads than in the first book and a lot more characters. It’s slow going, but I’m making continual progress.

NOTE: The “Busy desk” image above comes from Wikimedia Commons` and is in the Public Domain.