Last week was rough. Especially the second part of the week. I have absolutely no crafting photos, only Lizzie photos. And I am going to share those photos in the manner most resembling how she makes our lives better. We go about our business, even in stressful moments, and she just makes goofy faces for us, or does goofy stuff, just to make us smile, easing the stressful moments.

So, on Thursday morning at work, I found out that in addition to all the grants we were working on, we had two more needing to be submitted, with the due date of Monday. We immediately got started on them, but as is the case so often, we have to wait for additional information that cannot be gathered by us, nor can we really push the process along. All I can say is that trying to pull together a grant in less than 3 business days is just not acceptable, and very stressful. And more stressful still on my staff, two of whom are still very new to this process. One of my new team members was already working on two of her own, so I split the two new ones between me and the newest team member, figuring I’d train her as we go along. By 11:30 on Thursday, I got a call from the school nurse saying that Miss Butterfly was sick and wanted to go home. So, my grant work came to a halt, and I got Miss Butterfly from school. I stayed home with her because I didn’t really trust that she was that sick and I didn’t want her to have the afternoon with her devices.


Now, Miss Butterfly had a show choir performance on Friday directly after school. And naturally, she didn’t feel bad enough to miss that. Show choir hair requires that we straighten it, tease it, spray it, and get it up into a poof. And all that needed to be done before I went to work on Friday morning. I leave at 7. So, on Thursday night, I asked her to please get a shower so that we could dry and straighten her hair on Thursday night, making Friday morning less stressful.

And now is where I need to tell you a bit about our plumbing. We are in a raised ranch. The main drain is below the main floors of our home. Our basement/garage is under that. So, when in our garage, you look up and can see our main drain pipes. Because of this, we have an ejector pump in the basement. This is similar to the concept of a sump pump but it’s fully enclosed, and collects grey water from the washer, the dehumidifying part of the furnace, and the creepy basement shower when we use it. The ejector pump runs when the pit fills, pushing all that water up through a one way flap, the flap closes again, and that water heads out of the home in the main drain. Sometimes the pump can run two or three times in quick succession if we are doing laundry.


Well, on Thursday night, Miss Butterfly was taking her shower, and the ejector pump ran at the same time. What we didn’t know is that we had a clog in the main line heading out to the street. With the lines already full from the shower, and everything else that we’d put down the drain that couldn’t make it past the clog and out, and then the ejector pump pressing more water into the system, what happened next was rather epic and awful. All the drains upstairs blew up. We had waste water in the sink, we had what had just been in the toilet come up the shower drain. Both toilets flooded over. And then we went to the garage. All that pressure had blown through the wax seals of the toilets, pushing water all over the garage as well. Right on top of our motorbikes and Mr. Ink’s toolbox.

Let me just get another Lizzie picture in here, since I know your stress level is rising just reading all that.


While Mr. Ink cleaned off the motorbikes and got them moved, I tried to get in touch with a plumber that could come out that evening. I was unsuccessful. We had to wait until the morning. We cleaned up as best we could without using the drains, thank goodness I replaced all our towels recently and put the old ratty towels in the rag bin. We used them all.

The next morning I did Miss Butterfly’s hair, and then went into work to¬† see what I could get done with my grants before I had to leave again to meet the plumbers. That was when I discovered that those grants were not due Monday, they were due that very day. I got as much possible done on mine. I double checked the work of my newest team member. I then let my most senior team member know exactly where I was with the grants so that she could take over. I emailed all those involved in the transition of the grant to senior team member. I delegated the rest of my work for the day to other team members. And then I was prepared to rush home with the plumber called. I got two hours of work in.


The plumbers arrived, and were extremely nice guys. They quickly got to work and I saved us quite a lot of money because I knew exactly where the outdoor access point was hidden, and where our lines connect with the city, and could show them. They tell me that sometimes just trying to find hidden outdoor access points can be the part that takes the longest. Of course, one of them said “How on earth did you figure out this access point was under this particular rock?” And I said “Because we discovered it fully covered in lawn when we put this garden in, and we figured it was important so we covered it with this particular easy to spot rock.”

Thankfully the clog was the only real problem. The garage disaster was just something that happened because the water was under so much pressure and had to go somewhere. We probably will need to consider taking a look at and possibly replacing that portion of ceiling in the garage but it can probably wait a bit. After the plumbers were done, I considered going back in to work. However, I’d given over my tasks so carefully that I feared that going back in would just be even more disrupting. So, I decided to allow what I’ve trained that team for to happen. Let them fly without me. I was worried about this decision. On the other hand, this disastrous week was precisely why I am training them so carefully. This could happen to any of us, at any time. There will always be situations which come up that take priority over what is going on at work, no matter how important work is. I want my team to be able to seamlessly (even if sometimes grumpily) take over for each other in times of need. And you know what? Plumbing disaster is one of those things that’s pretty much universally understood. My team didn’t actually seem to be too grumpy to take over, they were more “GO HOME, we got this, it’s ok, we understand.” And you know what? They do “got this.” I am positive. I think I just saw the super hard work I’ve been putting in for a very long time even before transitioning to our current team, and the work I’ve been putting in on training since October pay off.


So I stayed home and got to work on cleaning, scrubbing, and sterilizing all the areas which were hit by this disaster. Then running loads of rags in the laundry, getting a load of dishes run through the dishwasher as they’d totally piled up, and generally trying to put our home back in order. I am telling you, there’s nothing so fantastic as the sound of WORKING plumbing if you’ve been without it even for a short time. Mr. Ink came home from work at lunchtime and made me lunch so I could just keep after the clean up. And as is his nature, took the time to notice my work without being asked, and thank me for handling it. (I swear this is one of his most precious qualities.)

It was an extremely exhausting week. Extremely. But, it ended on a very high note! The weather yesterday was 50F. And it just so happens that our biking group was gathering for a cold weather ride. Even though it wasn’t so cold. Mr. Ink and I were wishy washy on if we’d go all week, but in the end decided that a bike ride and time to reconnect with our friends was going to be valuable for us. IT WAS. We rode from our home to the ride, spent time with friends riding and goofing off and having late lunch at a bar, and then we rode all the way back home. Once home, Lizzie Bean who had missed us greeted us with her usually exuberance and sweetness. So we ran around in the yard playing with her for a time before settling in to a quiet evening.


A perfect ending to a stressful week.

(Though we also got the plot twist of finding out that some of Mr. Ink’s family will be moving back to our city in May, and that sent us on a bit of a tailspin trying to figure things out as they aren’t the most reliable people. It’s sort of like the “next time on Life of Shells” ending to this blog post, as this situation is bound to add some interesting stress and drama to our lives in the upcoming months.)