Grit Blogs > Domestic Episodes of a Rodeo Princess

Feather Comforter Versus the Dogs: Wet Feathers

A photo of Shirley Rodeo VanScoykWhat was I thinking?

I gave our two dogs an old feather comforter to lie on in the basement. One day, they ripped it to shreds. Of course. Clouds of feathers drifted into the corners, stuck to the windows, the water heater and the dehumidifier. As episodes go, this one was at least fluffy and sort of funny, but I was in my January hibernation mode and thought I would postpone sucking them up with the vacuum until I had nothing else to do. In this kind of mood, I would postpone breathing until a more convenient time.

On a day that was unseasonably warm and sunny, I crawled out of my cave, scratched my back on a tree and decided now was the time. C was nagging at me to get it done, and it might even be fun!

A trickle of water snaked out from under the outside basement door toward my feet the minute I opened it. It was dragging a feather. And another. And another. I stared while the feathers pooled around my feet. I tried to push the door open but I could only budge it a couple of inches. It was like there was something behind it. Through the window I saw that something. Feathers. Wet feathers.

The floor was covered with pools of water and pools of feathers. A breeze from the open door blew some of the dry ones onto the wet ones. They became wet ones, loosing their fluffy white purity to become menacing and grey.

I had to wade through piles and piles of dirty wet feathers and gallons of muddy water to get to the shop vac. It was parked next to the laundry tub, which was overflowing. This tub collects water from the washer on the third floor of the house and directs it out into the back yard and occasionally clogs up with lint. Once I found a drowned rat head down in the drain. Another story for another day. Today there was no rat, just the dread of finding one.

Just from wading across the floor I was looking tarred and feathered. Each time I moved, drifts of feathers stirred and, lemming like, jumped to join their buddies in the puddles. Too late, just as I plugged in the vac, I realized I was standing in a puddle – waiting to be fried like Wiley Coyote.

I directed the nozzle at the biggest lump of wet feathers and it sucked for about thirty seconds before it clogged. I got a thin piece of PVC from the corner and shoved it down inside the hose. Scrunching the hose up like an accordion, I managed to push out a 7-inch wad of wet feathers and mud. Did I mention our basement floor is dirt?

This is where the snow shovel comes in. See, snow is sometimes soggy and heavy, and sometimes dry and fluffy. Just like the feathers! I did use the vac on the dry feathers. The occasional piece of gravel sucked up actually made the dry feathers move through the hose better. They sounded kind of cheerful rattling up the hose. Twigs and small pieces of paper caused even the dry feathers to clog the hose. I'm only relating this because I have a naive notion that someday this will happen to someone else.

I have a vacuum canister full of feathers, and I am going to have to ask C to help me empty it. It weighs somewhere around a thousand pounds. This is going to lead to some nasty man/woman discussions involving antique plumbing woes, the behavior of my dogs and the way women solve problems. I also have three trash bags full of wet feathers.

I am so glad we tip our garbage men.