Mr. Bill’s peculiar super power of attracting cyclones has not gone unmarked in this blog. It cannot be denied that these powerful storms find Mr. Bill irresistible, pursuing him across the hemispheres like a jilted lover. The latest stalking ended with the bang of a cyclone bomb and we have been breathing easy ever since. Despite that grand finale, Mr. Bill was greeted a bit warily last year, upon our return to New Zealand. However, the Kiwi are good sorts and they welcomed the storm magnet back, knowing full well, that calamity might not be far behind. I’m sure more than one household stocked up on emergency supplies, when they heard that he was back in town. Much to our neighbor’s relief, 2018 was cyclone free. Soon recollections of Mother Nature’s frenzied pursuit of Mr. Bill from the Pacific to the Atlantic, faded from the collective memory.
Life with Mr. Bill is never dull. We returned to gentle Ohope only to discover it abuzz with the sounds and disruptions of construction. Our temporary shelter from the storm was being renovated and the roads were torn up as well. I can clearly see now, that what I mistakenly assumed was a one-off experience, was yet another manifestation of Mr. Bill’s unique super power. When Mr. Bill travels, he creates a vortex of chaotic repetition trailing close behind. Whatever we have just experienced, becomes Mr. Bill’s own Ground Hog Day time loop, which we relive over and over again. Renovation and construction have been dogging us ever since we bid dear Ohope farewell, last November. After a winter’s respite in Florida, we returned to Connecticut to experience anew the joys of both.
In our absence, plumber Rob, had located the source of the leak, which had damaged the family room ceiling and contractor David, had installed new sheet rock. My vacation was over; it was time to paint. Fortunately I had an indispensable assistant- Mr. Bill. Usually painting is my domain and I am quite happy working alone. On this project, however, I discovered more of Mr. Bill’s hidden talents. In addition to moving the ladder and wiping the odd paint drip, he helpfully pointed out every spot that I had missed. Every last one. Under Mr. Bill’s watchful eye, I then tackled the outside doors, since painter Joe, was a no-show. With expert supervision, the doors were caulked, sanded, primed and painted. Now I realize that the only impediment to perfection, is a lack of proper oversight. With Mr. Bill on site, there’s no fear, of a less than perfect outcome.
Brushes cleaned and stored for another day, renovations for this season were complete. Our road is another story. The construction that began in August 2108 is still on going, nearly a year later. Clearly Mr. Bill’s keen eye is needed! It’s impossible to understand the project’s helter skelter excavation and work processes at a snail’s pace. The pipes that will separate storm runoff from the sewer line, are not being laid one after the other, as they were by the Ditch Witch in Ohope. Holes are scattered up and down the street. Our road resembles a giant ‘connect the dots’ drawing and we eagerly wait for the random holes to be linked together, so that the picture will emerge. If only we could have enticed the Ditch Witch to return with us to Connecticut. I am certain that she would have it all sorted by now. But wait! She’s here! One morning the Ditch Witch appeared on our doorstep and oh, what a sweet reunion it was! I had spied her out the window and excitedly called out to Mr. Bill, who dashed out the door. She was smaller, a mere shadow of her former self. Poor Dear, had she been pining away for Mr. Bill? Was she really here or was it an apparition, conjured by Mr. Bill’s desire to have his street paved? I was unconvinced that this was our Ditch Witch, for not only had she lost weight, she was shorter as well. Baby Ditch? Heavens no! After a wee chat, Mr. Bill had all the answers: she was a distant relative of our gal and was not here on his behalf but to lay cable lines for our neighbors. Still, we were happy to make her acquaintance and asked to be remembered to our Ditch Witch.
In the meantime, the word was out about Mr. Bill’s observational skills and he was pressed into work by the water department. Before our return, the water department had flushed dye down our toilet, in an effort to determine where our sewer pipe connected to the city’s line. Then they looked down the manhole in the street, to the left of our property and waited for the colored water to reveal the location. Unfortunately, the water never trickled by and they could not determine were our waste water went.(Hmmm, for nigh on one hundred years, it has been going somewhere.) Flummoxed, they waited for Mr. Bill’s return, to enlist his help in solving the mystery. Again dye was flushed down the toilet but this time Mr. Bill, expert spotter, was on the job. He was handed a pair of gloves , bottle of dye and instructed to flush the toilet and run the water. After completing his task, Mr. Bill ambled down the driveway and out into the street to the open manhole, which this time, was two houses down on the right. Patiently he peered into the black abyss and eventually little green drops, that glowed in the dark, drifted past. Mystery solved. Now we know, we flow to the right!
2019 delivered a glorious June. It was the perfect pause between spring and summer, what New Englanders call, “good sleeping weather”. Windows are opened wide, the heat is off and air conditioning is not needed. This year, as the summer solstice approached, the days were pleasantly warm, nights were cool and humidity had not yet reared it’s sticky, sweaty head. What could possibly disturb our sweet dreams and mar the best slumber of the year? Loud rumbling diggers outside our bedchamber was what! Mornings were ushered in at the crack of dawn not by birdsong but by the sound of heavy machinery roaring to life. This was the first time that we actually welcomed a heat wave, for it meant we could shut the windows, turn on the AC and enjoy a good sleep-in, once more.
Now like the Berenstain Bears, we live down a sunny dirt road. We cheered when the asphalt was stripped from the street, thinking that the roadwork was nearly finished. Sadly, our celebration was premature. The excavators have returned and there doesn’t seem to be an end in sight, to the Big Dig. Residents have been informed by the project’s spokesman, that by mid August, they should be able to announce a completion date. However, Dear Readers, as we all know by now, it’s entirely dependent upon Mr. Bill’s strange super power. I can predict with confidence, that the street will be restored, once Mr. Bill has taken his leave.