Anticipating my Friday lunch date with Elaine, I gathered our laundry a day earlier than my usual routine. I reserved Saturday for extracting honey at my place with a fellow beekeeper.

My bees gave up the ghost last winter and left thirteen frames of honey. Praise God, our labor is not lost! One positive report to offer Elaine after two years of postponed companionship.

At 10:30 a.m., I descended the basement steps to throw in the last load, then I’d gussie up. My husband stood on the opposite side of the laundry area in puddled water, mop in hand. The place stank like an outhouse.

“What happened?” I asked.

“The toilet in the powder room overflowed.”

“That’s never happened before.”

“You go on and meet Elaine. I’ll take care of this.”

My housewifery wisdom knew better. “Everything this water touches must be disinfected.”

I called Elaine and the restaurant and cancelled, then ACE Hardware in Romeo.

Plans revised, I filled our largest bucket with soaked towels and emptied them into the washing machine. While Mel drove to Romeo and back, I transferred all small, contaminated items to the basement’s dry side.

After three hours of wiping, mopping, purging, condensing, and rearranging stuff, ODO-BAN’s original eucalyptus scent prevailed.

Glad for a scrubbing break, I drove to DUCK ‘N’ COOP in Columbiaville to purchase our new flock of six Isa Browns.

Typically shy in the transfer to their new home, our young layers hid under the nesting board. I mused that the henhouse is one place where we value manure, scoop it up with straw bedding to dry into an ideal fertilizer.

For $66, those Isa Browns are the best deal around. I rejoiced the farmer hadn’t sold out. It would’ve been a double bummer considering our leaky pipes.

After Mel’s hamburger soup dinner, it was high time to dust my mother’s cedar chest. Long neglected, I moved her 1940s Lane from the south basement wall to behind the sleeper sofa. A more respectable location.

After a superficial effort, I promised to return with Howard Restore-A-Finish and retreated to bed.

Saturday I woke to wind and snow and postponed our honey extraction until a warm, sunny day.

“I’m glad,” the wife of my beekeeping friend said.

Nursing a fully flowered sinus infection, I rested, inhaled lavender steam, and drank cups of herbal teas. Retreated from the basement for the day and slept.

This Sunday morning I smelled the same stench coming from the powder room, disinfected the floor again, and washed the rugs.

And yes, the pipes leaked again. Every old beach towel remains spread on the basement floor, and Mel’s spoken with a plumber.

Dear Reader, in life’s repetition of revise, rejoice, and retreat, it’s comforting to know there’s an occupation to meet our needs. I’m looking forward to meeting the plumber. Hear his diagnosis and cure for our leaky pipes.

Afterward, I call Elaine for another lunch date. Watch the weather to snatch an ideal day to extract honey.

Contact Iris at