Tuesday, September 29, 2015


The characters in my books do some quirky things, and strangers often ask, “Where on earth do you come up those insane ideas?” Friends never ask. They know.

I spend most of my days sitting at my computer and making up stories, interacting with imaginary people. I shop on the Internet. I visit with friends on Facebook and e-mail. I live a quiet life, a somewhat isolated life. Yet disasters find me.

The most recent was worse than last fall when was staining my porch and dumped oil based stain on my head, didn’t notice because it was the same color as my hair, and, hours later, had to soak my hair in paint thinner twice to be able to unbraid it.

A couple of weeks ago my back was hurting so I decided to clean the jets in the Jacuzzi so I could sit in it later that evening. I planned to fill the tub, dump in some bleach, turn on the jets and let it do its thing until I felt they were clean all the way through. But it’s a big tub and takes a very long time to fill, so I got bored waiting and came into my office to work on the book.

And lost track of time.

Until the smoke detectors started going off.

I charged through the house to the bathroom and found the water running over the top of the tub, across the bathroom floor and into the air conditioning vent in the floor.

Now, you’re probably asking, “If the tub was running over with water, why did the smoke detectors go off?”

And that's a very good question.

Swearing vehemently with a writer’s extensive vocabulary, I turned off the water, opened the drain in the tub, and tossed some towels on the bathroom floor. Still cursing (I do think I have an impressive vocabulary of swear words), I grabbed more towels and headed to the basement while the ten smoke detectors in the house continued to shriek at me.

In the basement I found the reason for the smoke detector outburst. Water was pouring through the one in the ceiling directly beneath the bathroom. I wasn’t sure about the ramifications of that, but I was pretty sure it wasn’t good.

I threw my pile of towels on the saturated carpet under the stream of water.

My cell phone rang. My roommate, Matt, calling from work.

“Hi, honey.” I tried to sound casual as I hurried to the closet downstairs for more towels.

“Is everything okay?”

“Yes, absolutely.”

“ADT just called to tell me the glass breakage detector in the basement is going off.”

Who knew ADT would be such a blabbermouth tattletale!

“Everything’s fine.”

“Why don’t you grab a gun and go check the basement, just in case?”

“Not necessary.” I moved the soggy towels out from under the urinating smoke detector and tossed down the dry ones. “I’m in the basement. There’s no one here but me.”

“What’s that noise in the background?”

“Oh, that’s just the smoke detector. That’s probably what set off the glass breakage alarm.”

Smoke detector? Is something on fire?” He gets excited very easily, and I could tell from his tone that he was moving up the excitation scale rapidly.

“No, nothing’s on fire.”

“Then why is the smoke detector going off?” Nearing the top of the excitability scale.

“It has a little water running through it.”

“What?! Do I need to come home?” He spilled over the top of that scale just like the water over the top of the Jacuzzi.

“No, no. The bathtub ran over a little. I’ve got everything under control.” I dragged the soggy towels into the downstairs bathroom with the intention of putting them in the bathtub. Water gushed from the ceiling through the light fixture above the tub. “I may not have everything under control.”

By the time he got home, all the towels in the house were soggy as well as the carpet in the basement. But the water had stopped running through the smoke detector. He was not as soothed by that fact as I thought he should be.

For the next five days industrial fans and dehumidifiers occupied the master bedroom upstairs as well as the hallway and bathroom downstairs. ServPro even drilled holes in the ceiling and ran tubes up through them to dry it out. The place looked like a sci fi movie and sounded like an airport. As of this date, we still have workmen coming and going. They finished the ceiling and walls in the downstairs bathroom a couple of days ago. Matt commented that it looked very nice, better than before what with the fresh paint.

Wanting to be helpful, I asked, “So do you want me to flood some more rooms so we can get them all fixed up too?”

I won’t repeat his answer, but it was a negative response.

I believe the moral of this story is that I should stick to writing and forget about cleaning.



  1. Now that you (and the house) are okay, I can laugh. Okay, I admit it, I was laughing while I read it. Apparently you're related to my character Keri. The only reason she hasn't flooded her house is she doesn't have a bathtub.

    1. I will be showering rather than bathing for the rest of my life! That tub sneers at me every time I pass it.

  2. Sounds vaguely like my adventure with a temperamental washing machine last week...although we're all on one floor!

    Ah well, fodder for our fiction -

  3. Replies
    1. Unfortunately, I have more than a few of those kinds of days!

  4. Nice that you can laugh about it so quickly...:-)

  5. I've never been someone who laughs when a person slips on the proverbial banana peel. But your light approach to your disaster brought a respite to my own stressful day and I admit, I chuckled. Thanks for sharing your story. And maybe, one day in the future, I may be contacting you to borrow some of those censored words. Smiling,

    1. LOL! I have plenty of them! A few years ago when my new car (another story what I had to go through to get that car!) was hit from behind by a semi and pushed across three lanes of traffic, my passenger applauded me for staying so cool and guiding the car as best I could to avoid other drivers until I got it stopped. Then he said, "I'm really impressed. I had no idea you knew that many swear words." I don't recall saying a word, but he said I cursed with vigor and enthusiasm from the instant my car was hit until I got it stopped.

    2. Hats off to you. That's exactly the proper time for many swear words.

  6. You (whoever you are) are making me feel better about overflowing a bathroom sink last week. I heard the trickle of water before it got too far. It's the sort of thing that can happen to anyone, so you don't have to hide your identity unless you really want to . . .

    1. Darn! I thought my name was on there! It's Sally Berneathy. And I told my boyfriend/roommate that it could happen to anybody! But he says I'm special, that I have more than my share of those things.

    2. Hi, Sally! Appropriate as it really could have happened to anyone, but you deserve credit for the writing. ;-)

  7. Sally, your true life stories never fail to amaze me. You can turn a major mishap into a laughable moment - at least for us. I guess you'll do anything for the chance to redecorate:-) Kidding. Sounds like you could use some chocolate therapy!

    1. Well, there was the time when I was married to the Maxhole and he refused to let me get a new counter top in the house we bought even though we were using my money and the counter top was gold...so one day I forgot some potatoes. Same thing. In the other room writing. Came in to find them smoking! I yanked the pot off the stove and looked around for somewhere to set it. Gosh, in my distress over finding the ruined potatoes, I wasn't thinking clearly and set that pan right on that ugly gold counter top.