Look! It's foreshadowing!
"Make sure you set the thermostat in an unoccupied house high enough so the pipes don't freeze. because if they DO then they BURST and there will be a FLOOD."
So when I checked out Mom's house last night and found I had neglected this fall to turn on the heat, I turned on all the faucets. Nothing came out the kitchen faucet or the master bath. White sediment and water belched out of the hall bath. The washing machine in the center of the house was fine. So some of the pipes must be frozen.
Mom's house is on a slab foundation, so I am very vague on where these pipes actually are. In my mind there is a big pipe directly under the center of the house buried in the cement to which all other pipes connect. I know that's not how it is, it can't be, but the house wears its sidewalk like a tight collar, so the pipes can't be on the outside at all. They have to be in the wall, but I know mom had pipes replaced yet the paneling was never touched. It's magic. It's a mystery. (It's like the "middle rack" in my oven. I have four racks. "Place casserole on middle oven rack." I don't have five racks. If I had five I'd have a middle rack. Hate that.)
Here's another mystery for you homeowners. Right now tell me where the water shutoff is in your house. "Somewhere in the basement" does not count. You must picture it in your mind's eye. Hah! You don't know, do you? I don't know where mine is, either. Worse, I realized tonight I don't know where Mom's is. I realized that right after I realized I'd left the heat on at Mom's last night, and in between those two realizations I realized frozen water is solid, while warm water is liquid and pouring out of my Mom's no doubt burst plumbing.
Gary offered to come along and help out with the flood. (This was brave, given that last night we found a fat tiny mouse. He died in his sleep on his belly with all his legs splayed out like the DaVinci guy. I saw him first, and gaped in horror until Gary came by and screamed like a woman.)
We came in through the garage and found the "turny-thing" (valve?) and were filled with hope. There was no sound of rushing water, and this valve even had 4-inch letters indicating which direction was ON and OFF. (Lefty-loosey righty-tighty, I say.)
This was a red herring. Inside the house, where there was no flood and even one sink that had healed itself, Gary poked around looking for the main water line.
Was it in my old bedroom?
Nope. It was in the laundry room. How did we know?
There's a label! "SHUTDOWN VALVE MAIN" Seriously, I am going to spend next weekend tagging every valve in my house. The plumber's coming to Mom's tomorrow and if he says he put that tag there I'll kiss him.