Horatio Goes Away, Mrs. Murphy Comes Back

Long time ‘Diatribes’ readers will remember that Mrs. Murphy was an occasional visitor while Horatio was deployed 2010-2012.  He has been back for quite some time now and I guess she missed us, because as soon as he left for two weeks in Taiwan, she let herself in without asking.

To refresh your memory, or for new readers:


Mrs. Murphy’s Corollary:
It will always happen
when Mr. Murphy is traveling.

The Polar Vortex invaded the US this week, as we all know.  As a result of the Arctic temperatures, the pipes in my kitchen froze.  Dwight tried to turn on the faucet on his canceled day of school Tuesday morning and nothing came out.  He called out to me, worry in his voice, “Mom, the water isn’t working!”

frozen pipes

My blood pressure soared for a minute.  Then I remembered my good friend ‘Perspective’ and calmed down.  In the scheme of things, it wasn’t so bad.  After my moment of panic, I did what any other seasoned military wife does when crisis hits-  I called the person who introduced me to Mrs. Murphy: my mom.  (As I’ve written previously, my dad traveled a lot when I was a kid, so my mom knows a lot about pesky Murphy and his evil wife, Mrs. Murphy.)

I asked my mom if she knew of what I should do and she had great advice: call a plumber to ask the question.  So, that I did.  The phone operator at the plumbing company we’ve used in the past said that all we could do was wait.  Well, that’s just not the answer I was looking for; I can’t just do nothing!  So, I consulted my next go-to support network: Facebook.  As a result of my posting asking for advice, I learned that opening the cabinets to let the house’s heat warm the pipes, and, if possible, directing a space heater under said cabinets, can be effective.  Thank you Facebook friends!  I also remembered that letting faucets drip slowly can prevent them from future freezing.

At least now I had a plan.  Even if the plan didn’t work, taking action makes me feel better than just letting things happen.  So, I first dashed to all of the other sinks in the house and checked their functionality.  They all functioned well, so I let them all drip… all day… I won’t think about the water bill right now.  I’m just trying to prevent bursting pipes and thousands of dollars in water damage.

Since the problem was isolated to the kitchen, I focused all of my effort there.  I opened the cabinets and aimed the space heater under the sink.  At about 3:00 in the afternoon, warm water began to drip from the open faucet.  I rejoiced, until I realized that the cold water pipe remained frozen.

I didn’t even know there were two separate pipes.  You learn something every day.

At 8:00 at night, a dear friend insisted on sending her handy husband over to investigate.  After carefully surveying the problem, he deduced that we were doing all we could.  He left me with another space heater, to speed along the process, and I felt better knowing that someone else confirmed there was nothing else I could do at that point.

When Horatio called on Facetime that night and I told him about the pipes, he asked me if I’d checked to see if there was anything that I could do to fix the problem…  Really?  I’m not sure why he would think he had to ask me that.  I wonder if he forgot that I handled plenty of Mrs. Murphy’s visits over the cumulative three plus years he has been deployed (not to mention all of the other travel and shift work he’s done) since we’ve had kids.  (Yes, in case you can’t detect it, that was said with sarcasm.)

This afternoon, as I chatted with another concerned friend, I reflexively turned on the hot water to wash a dish and lo and behold, the water flowed!  Hurray!  I checked the basement to see if we had leaks from a cracked pipe.  So far, it is dry as a bone down there.  Problem averted.

Only one more week until Horatio returns.  Hopefully Mrs. Murphy leaves us alone!


About Commander in Chief At home

Erin is a military spouse and, sometimes temporarily single mom to 4 boys. She's a parenting coach, writer, teacher, special needs (Autism) mom, and much more.
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