Learning How To Make Sandbags

I didn’t plan on spending this past week up at the Red House learning how to make sandbags, but I did. My TOP TEN list of things I could have done this week included:

  1. Sleeping
  2. Making ice cream with my new ice cream maker.
  3. Sleeping some more.
  4. Having a pitcher of Mojitos.
  5. Grilling outside rather than trying to “cook” inside.
  6. Sleeping.
  7. Going to a lake (any lake).
  8. Going to a winery (any winery).
  9. Sleeping some more.
  10. Weeding the garden.

This, however is what I did instead.  I spent a lot of time in a cold smelly basement trying to figure out with Lynn where exactly all the water was seeping in from.


See the weekend after we got our hot water back, we had a serious rain storm.  So severe in fact, that the water started pouring in from the walls like one of those crazy fountains you sometimes see in Italy (but minus the cute little angels or quirky gargoyles). The water simply shot forth from every nook and cranny, small fracture in the cement or hole in the foundation that wasn’t visible to even corrected eyesight.

Then there was the floor.  We saw water leaking not only from the walls but pouring in from the floor, too. We knew we were in big big trouble. As it kept raining, the water kept pouring in; I put on a pair of boots and grabbed a couple of buckets. Lynn grabbed a broom, and we tried to capture the water – first with the buckets, then with the broom pushing the water into the sump pump.  This took us nearly 2.5 hours when finally it stopped raining and the water stopped coming in.

The next morning we got up early (the day we were supposed to tackle #7 on my list (that would be going to a lake, any lake) and instead went to the big box hardware store to try and buy cement or something that we could use to shore up not only the walls but the foundation, too.  Problem was that the big box store RAN OUT OF ANYTHING that you could use to do such a task because apparently everyone else in the county I’m currently residing in had the same exact problem.

We got in the car and kept driving until we found a mom and pop store that had the last two buckets of “leak stopper” cement and a couple of brushes.  Oh yeah, we bought extra brushes, masks and a really big container of stuff you wipe on the walls after you’ve patched all the visible holes.

We also wanted to buy some work lights since we had none (which the big box store had) and sand bags (which they didn’t have.)  So, I ended up ordering the sandbags online and had them sent Fedex, then picked up some play sand that the big box store had in stock.


Meanwhile, it hadn’t rained in nearly 24 hours so we decided to try and do some patching. Let’s just say it was an experience, and when we were finished nearly 12 hours later, I SIMPLY TOOK OFF MY CLOTHES IN THE LIVING ROOM AND THREW THEM AWAY. This is what the basement (patched and supposedly waterproofed) then looked like.


Problem was the floor was still wet and actually with the mess we made trying to stop up all the holes and waterproof the walls, there was more paint on the floor than on the walls. This proved to be a good thing.  Why? Because suddenly we had a little river of paint that was running where it always collected (under the staircase) and hence, we were able to detect a few leaks in the corners that we had missed.


Even though the smell of all this surely cancer-causing stuff was making me sick, I was actually thinking about food.  What I had wanted to make (peas from the garden with gnocchi) was not to be because this little guy ate all my peas!


I still, however, had all the scapes I had cut from the garlic a few days prior, and decided to make a scape pesto.


Now, while the scape pesto looked gorgeous, when I tasted it, it was vile.  I mean, really garlicky and bitter.  I did something I never ever do.  I actually threw the entire batch out.  Yet, now that I’m looking at the consistency, kind of like the cement we had been using to patch the basement, I wondered if perhaps it could have been used for that instead!

I did, however, leave just a tiny smidgen of scape pesto on the food processor blade (to give it a slight garlic flavor), went out to the garden to pick some fresh basil, and made “real” pesto that I then tossed with some linguine instead.


And then I went to sleep! (At least I’m doing some of the things I wanted to do on my list!)

The next morning it was around 120 degrees, okay it was really 86 degrees, but the humidity was right up there and I was thinking if I had to do a still-life of what my summer should look like it would resemble this:


I wanted a pitcher of Mojitos, buffalo chicken wings, and crunchy celery sticks with blue cheese. And geez, yes, I was able to make all of these good things although I did substitute blue cheese for Roquefort since that’s what was on sale at the supermarket.

I also wanted ice cream.  Meaning I wanted to make my own.  See, we have a really great Goodwill store in the town next to ours (that’s the town with the only supermarket, too!) and the last time I was there I picked up not just an “ice cream maker” but a La Glaciere for a mere $4.50!


Yes, I did read the article that was floating around recently about how much the CEO of Goodwill makes (millions) versus how much he pays his disabled workers (22 cents an hour) but the fact is if I didn’t buy the La Glaciere someone else would have beaten me to it. So I did and I brought it home and washed it out and realized I had nothing to make ice cream with (ingredient-wise) but I did have store-bought vanilla ice cream, walnuts and a jar of hot fudge (hidden between the rum and the hot wing sauce in the picture.)

But first we had to make the sandbags. Now, if you’ll remember I paid extra to have them sent Fedex, so they would arrive in two days.  And while they did arrive in two days, in our town you have to go down to the post office to pick up any Fedex packages!  I didn’t ask why this was, I was just glad the post office was actually open, and that I was able to get my box of sandbags and take them home.  Once home we attempted to cut the bags of play sand open and dump them into the white bags.  Now play sand is for kids, right?  What would possess any manufacturer to put that much sand in a bag (50 lbs) so that mom or dad could easily break their backs trying to transform an old plastic tub or baby swimming pool into a sandlot for junior?  Really, I never knew these bags would be so frigging heavy!

Anyway, we managed to not spill half as much sand on the driveway as I thought we would, but poor Lynn, he’s a really strong guy but was just struggling with the weight of this sand.  We eventually filled all the bags and then had to carry them down into the basement.


Lynn managed to carry two at a time, I was struggling carrying one. We laid them flat, like sausages, trying to make a barrier in front of the furnace, hoping that if we get 3-4 inches or more of water in the basement again, at least the furnace will be protected.  I don’t know if this will work out not, but at this point I was running out of ideas and it was the only thing I could think of.


So back to the list.

#1,3,6,9 – We did sleep a lot. (Fitfully however, because of the day and night noise of all the county trucks going past our house carrying large loads of rocks that they were dumping in the creek north of us to try and stop the flow of water onto people’s properties.)

#4 – We did have a pitcher of Mojitos (and a couple of pitchers of vodka martinis (no vermouth!) too.

#5 – We did grill (mostly steak and the occasional hamburger).

# 7 – We did get to a lake (twice).

#10 – We did attempt to weed the garden but said screw it, there are too many weeds and it’s just too damn hot.

So, while I didn’t get to try out my new ice cream maker, I did learn how to make sandbags. And yes, gussied up store-bought ice cream with fresh strawberries, hot fudge sauce and walnuts was the perfect sweet ending to yet another Red House “adventure.”


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