A Soggy Easter

A Soggy Easter April 5, 2024

A pompom chicken among broken Easter eggs
image via Pixabay

Things had been going too well lately, so I should have been ready for a bit of trouble at Easter.

The Holy Saturday liturgy was, as I said yesterday, a beautiful one, but awfully long. The new bishop preached for half an hour. We had only a few minutes to pick up the last few things for our Easter feast at Walmart before the store closed. When we got  home, it was nearly midnight.

We’d been in such a rush all day, I hadn’t even done the baking or boiled any eggs to dye yet. We were going to have a giant, rather eclectic meal, because I’d bought the tiniest ham to cook and then the grandmother of the Baker Street Irregulars had given me a turkey that the food pantry had given her, which had been cluttering her freezer since Christmas. This was the largest turkey I’d seen in a long time. It looked like an ostrich. But I didn’t know exactly how much it weighed, because the label had fallen off.

Adrienne was exhausted. She agree that we could do our Holy Saturday Easter egg dyeing on Easter morning while our meal was cooking, and we all went to bed.

Somewhere in the back of my mind, I was conscious that the toilet tank in the upstairs bathroom was running a little more loudly than usual.

At two o’clock in the morning, I heard Michael in the kitchen, exclaiming about something or other. I thought he was frustrated that he’d forgotten to finish straining the coffee grounds out of the new pitcher of cold brew. I tried to go back to sleep.

“Plug the tub! Plug the tub!” Michael exclaimed a little louder.

The bathtub drain is a rig job that sometimes comes loose and leaks into the kitchen if we don’t pull the plug in just the right way after a bath. I wondered why Adrienne had decided to take a bath at two in the morning. I got up to scold her for forgetting to be careful with that plug.

Adrienne was not in the bathroom, however. She was in bed.  The bathroom was unoccupied. The flusher of the toilet was broken. The toilet tank had been steadily draining all over the bathroom for the past hour; the water was a few inches deep, and it smelled. I had to wade through it to get to the source and turn it off.

Downstairs would have been comical if it had been a television show instead of real life. The water had seeped through every weak spot in the bathroom floor and puddled against the ceiling tiles, where it was raining indoors, all over every surface, in big noisy drops. It had already leaked all over the clean dishes in the drying rack. It had soaked into a brand new package of toilet paper, ruining a week’s worth. It was leaking into the pitcher of cold brew coffee that had been left to steep on the counter for morning. And it took a dramatically long time to slow to a stop now that the toilet was cut off from the rest of the plumbing. One of the ceiling tiles bowed and then broke open entirely, dropping crumbs of gypsum into my coffee pitcher.

I didn’t know what to do except to text the landlord and go back to bed, but I can’t say that I slept well. I kept having the sensation that the entire second floor would cave in.

Next morning, the landlord dispatched Roger the grizzled Appalachian handyman who can fix anything. Roger works on all the landlord’s properties in the tri-state area. He could probably build his own house entirely out of salvaged parts, the same way Jimmy the mechanic can do with cars. Roger corresponded via text messaged photos, diagnosed the problem from afar, and then got all the way to Lowe’s before remembering that it was Easter Sunday and Lowe’s was closed. We would not have an upstairs toilet until Monday.

I ended up going to the store one more time to get coffee and toilet paper, while Michael washed and sanitized every single object in the kitchen. Adrienne came along as my copilot, munching Easter candy all the way. When I got back, I finally had time to whip together the Easter cake and the sugar free cheesecakes and throw them in the oven. Then, at long last, I turned to that turkey.

The turkey was still frozen in the middle. I had to run tap water over it for another hour. By the time it went into the oven, it was one o’clock in the afternoon.

We got so hungry that we ate the ham for lunch. And then Adrienne tried to shut the kitchen pantry cupboard which is right up against the ceiling, and another shower of soaked gypsum fell all over the counters, and I lost my appetite. Michael got up on a ladder and ripped out some of the ruined ceiling tiles, and cleaned the kitchen again. Adrienne and I finally got around to coloring Easter eggs sometime after that.

I kept basting the turkey every thirty minutes until the time it would take a twenty-five pound bird to be finished. That bird was at least thirty pounds, but I thought I could take its temperature every time I basted for the next hour or so. Of course, it was only then that I realized my digital turkey thermometer had died sometime since last Thanksgiving. Adrienne and I rushed to the car to drive to the grocery store for the third time in twenty-four hours, playing the Batman theme on my phone just to make it a little more dramatic.

By the time I ran into the kitchen with the thermometer, the turkey was so brown it looked nearly burnt.

I took its temperature– perfect. I couldn’t have timed it better on purpose. The turkey rested while I made mashed potatoes and plated up the desserts.

Half an hour later we were in the dining room, eating the other half of our Easter feast, having a happy evening.

I realized that I hadn’t had a panic attack all day.

It’s remarkable how much easier the worst catastrophes can be, when your mental health is good.

 

 

Mary Pezzulo is the author of Meditations on the Way of the Cross, The Sorrows and Joys of Mary, and Stumbling into Grace: How We Meet God in Tiny Works of Mercy.

 

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