Saturday, March 03, 2007

Oh, feh.

Sometimes, I hate my brain. Especially when it INSISTS on pointing out the obvious when it is exactly what I DON'T want to hear.

So I’m sitting here, thinking about Things, still trying to find something wrong with the Palace.

But what on earth could anybody find wrong with that beautiful, beautiful house, right next to the river…

River…fed by the water…from the delta…and…the…Sierras…


About three minutes later, I was wishing I hadn’t thought about it: The house is not only in a flood plain (shoot, most of the Central Valley is flood plain), but the development itself is cuddled right up against a levee.


Feck, feck, FECK.

I informed the husband.

He paled.

“You’re @*^&@ing kidding me,” he said.

We spent a few minutes feebly asking each other if we were, you know, concerned about that. (Um, I grew up in this general area – I can remember at least four !MAJOR! floods just in my brief thirty-{mumble} years. Yeah. I’m ‘concerned’ about it.)

After we got done pretending there was anything to talk about, there was a long moment of silence. We were both depressed. I personally was feeling that maybe, just possibly, $DEITY was indulging in a vicious joke.

I seldom want things that much. I really don’t. But I really, really wanted that house. And it’s rather hard to realize that there’s a major, a very real and immediate threat to not only that particular house, but the entire development.

That the thing I want so much requires living in a place that will flood again – it’s just a matter of time. The more I’ve looked at the maps, where the river is, where the dams are, where the water goes, the more I’m marveling that I didn’t notice it before.

This place is mental.

The area has suffered eleven major floods since the 1920s; the last one in 1997. There was minor flooding in that area last year (major flooding was about ten miles further east, where a ‘permanent-mobile’ home park was under a good eight feet at the worst of it.

On the one hand, it’s just part of life in the Central Valley. We all get nervous when the heavens open up, and watch the runoff reports in Spring. No matter where you are in the Central Valley, even in ‘low risk’ areas like where we currently live, Delta has a way of creeping out of her banks and joining you in your living room.

People talk about the levees and how much work is being done on them and so forth – but Delta is like the great Mississippi. She changes at her own whim. We try to control her, we try to block her from going here and keep her course going this way and keep her waters from spreading chill fingers across our lawns…but she’s going to go where she wants to go.

Levee, or no levee.

I wish I could hate Delta for being the way she is…but people, she is a beautiful and mighty thing. I’ve loved her since I was a kid, when my parents had a houseboat and we’d float along the sloughs and tracts. She’s quiet, deceptively so – you look at that bright surface and slow-looking water, and it’s easy to think she’s no big deal.

But she’s mighty. Oh yes. She is. She is a quiet life and death, implacable and calm, a water-spirit of ancient depth and shallows.

And if she decided she wanted to hop over the levee and see what we were up to on the other side? She would.

Sure, there’s no such thing as ‘safe’ from Nature. There are hurricanes in Florida and tornadoes in Kansas, and not a corner in California that can’t have a nice earthquake shaking things up.

But having realized that we’re basically moving right under the shadow of a dirt levee and trusting that hey – I’m sure that after that whole New Orleans thing, you remember, that hurricane-thing?, our gummint will be looking after these things and doing preventative maintenance and…



Probably not all that bright a move. It would be a matter of moving in accepting that, at some point during our expected twenty-thirty year tenure, we’d experience at least one major flood. Well. More like two or three major floods. One about every ten years or so.

Even with my somewhat casual approach to material possessions…I don’t think I can handle that kind of risk. Shoot, we’ve lived here for ten years and never gotten around to finishing the backyard or the painting – imagine if we had to repair floor damage every ten years?! “Hey look, honey, now we don’t have to deal with that cracked concrete back there I’ve been meaning to fix – the new flood swept it right away!”


Well, all things happen for a reason. I knew we were ‘itchy’ here in the Den – and since we’ve been discussing it a lot has surfaced. I didn’t know my husband was as unhappy as he is here, and both of us are just plain fed up with the direction of the city, from the streets to the schools.

I think we’re still planning to move. In a way, all that has happened is that a certain weight has been lifted from us – we’re not going to be worrying about when this or that division comes available, or getting any grief if the Den doesn’t sell in a timely fashion; we have more time to get the Den looking sharp for the new owners and if we don’t end up selling? Hey. We’ll have fresh paint, new carpets, and a (mostly) finished backyard, AT LAST.

Still want the Palace, though. And I may just have to go off and pout, sulk and otherwise behave childishly about it for a while. And wonder why $DEITY is being so mean…

Hey, that reminds me of an old joke. There is a mighty flood, and the water has risen hip-high in the streets. A rowboat approaches a man sitting on his porch and the occupants shout to him that they’ve come to rescue him.

“No,” he replies. “The Lord will provide me sanctuary.”

A few hours later, the water is now lapping at the second-story windows. A Coast Guard cutter approaches, and the brisk young men in uniform call out asking if he requires assistance.

“No,” he replies. “The Lord will provide me sanctuary.”

Soon, the water has flooded the entire house and begun lifting it from the foundation. As he sits on his roof, a helicopter descends and they attempt a rescue.

“NO!” he screams up at them. “THE LORD WILL PROVIDE ME SANCTUARY!”

Within moments, he is swept away by the flood and drowns. When he arrives at the Pearly Gates, he storms up to God and reads Him the riot act.

“Lord, I trusted You! Why did You betray me?!”

God rolls His eyes. “Look, Sparky, I sent you a rowboat, a Coast Guard cutter, AND a helicopter – what do you WANT from Me?!”

Thank you, I’m here all week.

…and, apparently, the week after that, and the week after that, and…


Anonymous said...

My experience with homes has been that when something I've wanted hasn't worked out, something that is even better (for whatever reason) has come along shortly thereafter. So maybe you'll have the same kind of luck that I've had. Hope so!

Anonymous said...

Oh, we are definitely twins separated at birth! OK, only if the births were twenty years apart, as I'm older than you, but anyway...that's one of my very favorite jokes! Especially as I live down here in the buckle of the Bible Belt and hear Sparky's kind of rhetoric all the time.

I'm sorry to hear about the flood plain, but you'll find something else.

Bev in TN said...

re the flooding thing...I technically live in a 100-year flood plain, but although my road is fairly often deluged by heavy rain, I never fear that it will rise to the level of my home which sits atop a hill, a very high hill (although I might wish for just such a deluge 'cuz this is a turd of a house and a very bad decision on my part). Anywho, any chance that the McMansion sits on just such a hill? Meanwhile, the romper is adorable.

Unknown said...

Gosh, what a let down. Although less of a let down than if you discovered this flooding thing by finding yourself knee deep in fast moving sludge, I guess.

Even houses half way up a hill and with the river below them on that hill can suffer flooding (with inadequate drainage)as we recently found out. (Diggers have been busy, I have the ditch to end all ditches now!) (And more sandbags, just in case)

It's good you know about how each other are feeling about your current house though. And if you ever consider moving on a scale, then New Zealand is the land of milk and honey. And sheep. And chocolate. And really good cafes. Subtropical in the north, skiing in the south, heavenly beaches everywhere.

Just saying, is all.

Anonymous said...

If you are going to move wouldn't you rather be closer to the metropolitan area in which you and your husband work? I know that means the houses per square foot cost way more which means you end up in the anti-palace but still - wouldn't less time for work and more time for family be better?

You must chant this over and over - "house lust is toxic.... house bling is unhealthy.... who needs space when you can have all that love....."

Sorry about the palace but I'm really glad you figured that out. Flooding is very, very nasty.

Jeanne said...

Oh, bummer! Well, at least it went from obvious GREAT to obvious NOT GREAT without any room for debate in between. I think maybe $DEITY was trying to open up channels for you and hubby to get talking about how you feel, which it has. If the current environment has gone stale, it's time for a move. Now you don't have to panic, you can approach it with open eyes. Aren't you glad you know all this now? :-)

PipneyJane said...

Damn! So sorry to hear it.

At least you've had the opportunity to double check the flooding issue. This way, you'll know which areas to not focus on when you do go house hunting.

- Pam

Amy Lane said...

Okay--I live in this area, and all I can do is thump my chest with my fist and shake my head and say "True that, my sister, true that..."

I've seen this area flood and flood and flood again and my Mate and I have both come to the conclusion that we would rather live in the black vortex of crap(equivalent to your den of chaos) than the palace on the flood plain. But I feel your pain...I've seen those palaces and they are sin on a green-mowed lot.

pacalaga said...

Man, that sucks.

Marty52 said...

Y'know... if that builder has other developments in your area, you may be able to find the same model/floorplan... minus the flood plain. Just a thought!

froggiemeanie said...

That bites. Big time. Better to know now though. I'd hate to hear that you had to venture into a flooding basement to rescue some do-dad belonging to one of your children (cause kids are all about the 'stuff'). C'mon up to Canada....sure, we've got ice and snow but not many hurricanes, tornados or earthquakes.

Anonymous said...

Wow, I feel like I'm living in a parallel universe right now. We found out this weekend (thank you google satellite maps) that the absolutely gorgeous country house we were sinfully considering is right at the end of a runway.
I completely feel your pain. While it's definetly for the best, since we know we shouldn't have been looking for a house quite yet anyway, part of me is still thinking 'I could learn to live with 87 airplanes a day - the house is so pretty'

Very Herodotus said...

Well, it's good you caught on when you did. Good catch, that one. Keep looking - you'll find your new den! And please keep us posted.

Anonymous said...

That's my FAVORITE joke. I use it all the time.

You don't want to be where it floods. Today I'm: reading "The Great Deluge" about New Orleans, while my local paper commemmorates the great Louisville flood of 1997. That was the year we moved here, so that's why the neighborhood called "The Highlands" looked good. Still does!

Rena said...

I think I've said it before, but DANG. A house I really wanted, that was totally perfect in every way, was full of termites, which we discovered during the inspection. Good thing to know before forking over lots of money. So we bought this piece of carp, I mean, lovely home...

Don't worry, you will find something really beautiful, SOON.