Drips of severe weather


I heard the hum of the lawn mower and smelled the fresh-cut grass blowing into the window in our upstairs bedroom. I was in a Zoom meeting and was able to look out the window to see the flowers on the pear tree blooming. I heard the rumbles from the brakes of semi-trucks heading with full loads to the grain facility, reminding me to keep my microphone on mute. I had the background blurred, so the others in the meeting couldn’t see that I was sitting on a chair near the bed.

I would usually take a call downstairs at the kitchen table or in the barn office. On that day, there was a flurry of activity downstairs with the remodeling still taking place. We have made great progress. The living room is done except for the trim. The office is nearly finished after new drywall replaced the badly cracked walls. We have painted both rooms and have put in light fixtures and switch plates. The flooring crew will be here for the office floor soon.

The noise comes from carpenter Dan and the drywall/plaster guy, Harry. We have neglected many things that needed fixing, and the list seems to be never ending. This disregarded area is in our downstairs bathroom. There is a tiny leak in the ceiling that has caused the drywall to slowly pucker and droop lower than the rest of the ceiling. When the rain comes from the east with strong winds, the ceiling drips. I would hear the drip, drip, drip, and then, I would shame myself for not getting this taken care of earlier.

Harry was visiting us a few years back, and I mentioned the leak. He immediately got out a ladder and assessed the situation. Apparently, the window above must not have been caulked well enough, and the rain gutter had a bend that was splashing the rain water up under the edge of the roof. I shared that with my husband.

I didn’t think about it again until the exact weather occurrence happened maybe a year later. The wind was blowing like crazy, with lightning and thunder. Weather alerts were issued for severe weather. This storm refreshed my memory, and I wrote myself a note after I put a towel on the puddle to catch the drips from the leak.

I am sure within a few busy days, the note was lost, and I dismissed the need to give the leak the attention it deserved. During the next storm, I was reminded again. And, then again. It’s not that I forgot. It has a little to do with not feeling safe on a ladder and not too sure how to caulk around a window. I was making excuses but was still putting it off.

This began me thinking about a song my kids used to sing about the crazy, old man with the leaky roof that didn’t fix it because it only leaked when it was raining. I am ashamed to think I was that crazy, old man. My anxiety about fixing it led me to not do anything about it.

But, now, Harry and Dan opened up the ceiling, took out the insulation, inspected the wood beams and the wood where the roof is on. They both thought this would be a nightmare, and honestly, so did I. I was worried about what it was going to look like. I waited until after my meeting to go down and look. Come to find out, there was only a very tiny hole in the caulk around the window, and the curve on the gutter was removed to stop it from happening again.

Harry and Dan did a quick fix and took down their ladder. They announced they would also be here later on to put up more drywall in the bathroom. So, as we all looked at the ceiling with the hole, it was mentioned that we should update the light fixtures and switches and also plan on painting the bathroom. As I mentioned earlier, the fix-it list seems to be never-ending, but this fix is one that has been weighing on me for many years. I will be so happy to know that I will not have to fear the drips of severe weather.

Tina Hinchley, her husband Duane and daughter Anna milk 240 registered Holsteins with robots. They also farm 2,300 acres near Cambridge, Wisconsin. The Hinchleys have been hosting farm tours for over 25 years.


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