The Dragon or Windmill Has been Tilted!

The Dragon or Windmill Has been Tilted! February 4, 2024

Back in 2007, my oldest participated in a contest which pitted teams from Catholic schools across the archdiocese.  The question, “Who is Don Quixote’s sidekick?” came up.  “The Man of La Mancha” is my son’s favorite musical.  He wrote his initial college application essay about Cervante’s knight errant.  He knew this one.  “Sancho Panza,” he buzzed in.  However, this was prior to the age of ubiquitous internet, and the answer key held a typo.   Flip phones didn’t cut it.
They told him, “Sorry, that’s incorrect.  It’s Pancho Villa.”

His team would have come in second if they had recognized the error.

The story stayed in our house, as other siblings auditioned for the opportunity to compete when they got to seventh or eight grade.

Seventeen years later, the youngest child is chosen.  She knows the story. In fact, all of my kids know the story and have stressed, “if you get asked, who is Don Quixote’s sidekick?” Everyone in my family knows the answer.

Today, she and her classmates competed in the event.  The question barely escaped the moderator’s lips when my daughter buzzed in with the answer.  Her older sister and I looked at each other, we couldn’t believe the question.  Her teacher likewise had been around when the older brother answered.  She looked at us too.  Incredibly, the moderator and three judges paused, questioning whether she was correct.   However, she was not to be denied.  She insisted. I suspect she would have belted out the song if a quick verification had not made her answer stand.

His sister defeated the ghost of seventeen years.  Her team took home second, but the celebration at home focused on the singular question.
Don Quixote is a 1955 sketch by Pablo Picasso of the Spanish literary hero and his sidekickSancho Panza.

We celebrated with chicken fajitas and Alexa playing, “The Man of La Mancha” with a chorus of siblings belting out their best.

So what lesson did my kids learn?  Go on tilting at windmills.  Sometimes,  you’ll slay the dragon.    File this under adventures in parenting don’t expire, they just develop into more interesting stories.

So…where have you been Sherry?
An update is in order, as I am fighting my own dragons.

As of December 22nd..

I need to rant, because the grass stunk. Worse, the grass oozed like quicksand. I walked the lawn. We knew. Christmas loomed, and the septic died.

I called the plumber we used. He said to call septic. I called septic. Septic said he would come; he said, “Call Water.” I called Water. Water, plumber and septic arrived. Water brought trucks, a backhoe and a tanker. They assesssed. They said, “Not our problem.” They left. The plumber charged for the visit. He said, “Can’t help you.” and left. Septic said he’d come and pump the tank for a fee, but as it was Christmas, not the fee for weekends, and left.

The process drained me but not the lawn.

Everyone agreed. The drains failed. Everyone agreed, I’d need the county. Everyone agreed, it would have to wait for 2024. Offices closed for the holidays. Everyone agreed, it would cost.

I need to rant because the email arrived and I read it. I would need to print and sign the papers and drive them to the office or mail it for work to begin. Why I could receive an email but not sign and send it or pretend to be living in 1990 and fax it, I do not know. I do know, driving to Wheaton would require time off from work. I bought stamps at the store.

Signing with a contractor, I did research. I asked for references. I called people. I asked questions. The contractor we chose called me to check if I checked. The contractor texted me to see if we decided. We decided. We have silence. We hear nothing. I doubt the contractor lives.

The forecast indicated snow. Snow and digging with a backhoe to assess lines and fix or replace tanks do not mix. My prediction? The mail will arrive with the snow. The snow will close the offices. The snow will close the county. The ground will freeze. We will be waiting for the groundhog to see his shadow, and for the backhoes to upend the lawn.  My prediction mostly came true.  They were delayed to the third week of January before the hole could be dug.

They told us, we needed the plumber to come back, because they saw lots of fresh water.  We possibly had a leak in the house or leading from the house, filling up the septic.  They would not dig until we got it checked.   So I now needed a plumber to come and check the lines to give us permission to fix the septic.

This too, took a week.  There is no leak. There is no explanation as to why there is fresh water running.  I am suspecting a magic spring welled up under our home.   The contractor has again, gone silent but promises to send a contract.

At what point did my life become this?

We will have the joy of shelling out the equivalent of a semester’s tuition for a hole in the ground to drain well, you know. We will pay the county for the permit to pay for someone to dig the holes. We will pay out the wazoo to be able to empty our wazoos. We will pay. We will wait. We will pray to be patient. We will pray not to be preyed upon by predators who take advantage of our shituation by being less than ideal.
We will go to the gym for showers, the laundromat for clothes and dine on paper and plastic in January and now February. I am trying not to lose it. Reality is not helping. The grass stinks. People in the house are starting to cheat. They sneak baths or laundry. I explain, “Think of septic backing up into the house.”

The thought haunts brushing teeth, washing hair, and dishes. It haunts shopping for groceries…as I remember the estimate.

It haunts cooking. I don’t want to wash pots and pans by hand. Family doesn’t want to wash by hand. They leave the pots for me. With family unbothered by the warnings or the need to wash dishes, I may need to charge children rent to drive the point home or stop feeding them.

I have a solution. It is irresponsible. I will take what I would have paid the contractor, and get a suite in Miami. I will stay. I will take showers. I will order food. I will enjoy not talking to the not talking contractor. The money spent being, will be enjoyed, as opposed to the alternative; money for nothing but  for a hole in the ground into which water from known and unknown sources shall flow.

And I’m betting, once I make plans…the contract and the contractor shall reappear.
Lesson from all of this?  Sometimes, the dragons and the windmills win.

Tune in tomorrow to see if I get a second wind to tilt at that windmill.
(None of this is spiritually enriching, but it is funny, a real bit of my life, and the reason why my writing has been awol in the month of January).  I’m waiting my turn for the shower.  

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