December 18, 2012
There are worse things than coming home from a vacation to find a large puddle of rainwater in your floor.
For instance, according to the Mesoamerican Long Count calendar, Friday is the end of a 5,125-year-cycle. It's a date some believe will usher Armageddon, effectively annihilating our universe.
Like I said, there are worse things. But you couldn't have told me that Sunday night.
After driving seven hours through hard rain from the edge of northwestern Kentucky to visit friends, a sizable leak was not a welcoming sight.
The rain was dripping down from a corner of the skylight, splattering on the hardwood floor, and a small water stain had already begun to form along the ceiling.
It was a problem that had actually started months earlier when I first noticed it in the attic, but the water had never gotten into the office before.
We'd contacted Ameriprise Insurance, but they wouldn't cover it because there was no physical evidence of a natural disaster or storm damage.
So Sunday night, I pulled down the hatch, armed with a flashlight, paper towels and tupperware bowls.
When I got up there, it was even worse than I'd imagined. There was no apparent pattern to the water that beaded and raced down the wooden beams above. Streams of liquid ran this way and that, leaving glistening trails.
I put bowls beneath the spots where it dripped to the attic floor, seeping beneath ancient piles of pink insulation and working its way down.
I padded down problem spots with mounds of paper towels. Descending the steps, I shut the hatch. It was the best that could be done for the night.
The next morning I awoke with a vague sense of dread: that feeling that all problems were not resolved before going to sleep the previous night.
Rain poured down, the tap-tap-tapping against the skylight was a sickening reminder of all the water that was likely filling the attic.
Putting on an old hoodie, I headed out to the shed. I grabbed a ladder and a big, blue tarp, and I pulled a couple bricks out from under the shed. Climbing up onto the shingles, cold rain splattered against my skin.
I began to work, looking for the source of the leak, leaning down to examine the shingles as the water soaked me from head to toe.
Toiling on the roof, it dawned on me that I was a slave to these tiny beads of water that threatened our investment. Meanwhile, if the Mayans were correct, the fate of the planet dangled precariously before a dark abyss.
How might this tarp fare against Apocalyptic fire?
Here I was, standing proud atop our home on a modest chunk of land, muddy bricks in each hand, mitigating what amounted to the worst of my problems.
It was a blessing in itself to have a roof at all, not to mention a loving family, a beautiful wife and good friends (some of whom recently put up with us for a whole weekend in Kentucky).
So, as I stood shivering in the pouring rain, I felt re-energized. Using the bricks to anchor it against the shingles, I draped the tarp over the skylight and covered the likely problem areas.
It was a band-aid to be sure, but I had to buy some time before we could come up with a real solution. And a real solution was going to cost some real money.
That is, unless, the Mayans are onto something. Does homeowner's insurance protect against the wrath of doomsday? Will Ameriprise buy me a new roof when flaming comets rain down from the sky?