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Friday, August 29, 2008

I do plumbing and what I wear

My house is very old - the house under the house was built sometime before 1790, when the first deed was recorded.  My apologies to my friends in England, but originally my land was a grant from the King to William Penn.  The Penn Family was...ah hem...loyal to the King what with all the land gifting and after that little relationship hiccup we call the Revolution, the disgruntled newly autonomous Colonials took all the land and gave it to the people who had been squatting on it.  I am sure there was all sorts of outrageous justifications all around, because these same squatters had ousted the Lenni Lenape Indians who were here first.  The well documented currencies of exchange for these transactions are very interesting to me as a Realor (or Land Agent - which is what I think they call us in England).  For instance, the Squatters like my John Alford gave the Lenni Lenape small pox which drove them out, and then, in 1790,  gave the new Government of the United States $204.00 in newly minted dollars and any of the Penn Family that showed up on May 4 each year thereafter one black peppercorn.  I don't know what year the Penn Family opted not to collect the peppercorn, but I have one framed next to my front door in case they ever show up.  At any rate, eventually the house under the house became too small and somewhere around July 1876,  a state of the victorian farmhouse art was built on top of the one room stone home.  With 32 windows and lots of intricate gingerbread, ample porches and high high ceilings and warm golden pine flooring, it must have been quite a sight.  I have a map which shows that we were much larger (at 162 acres) than our mere 8 acres now.  If I ever win the lottery, I won't move - I will just buy all the houses I can see from my upstairs and return my view to what once was.

It's the best place I have ever lived, even though the source of most of my frustrations and adventures.  When Charles and I bought what I now call Blue Sky Farm twenty years ago, it was a hot mess.  Most of the plumbing had been installed during the Rural Electrication Period following WWII and we made it the first priority in decades of repairs.  Now, it all needs to be done again, and this time, just by me.

About three months ago, the shower drain upstairs just slowed down.  I would be taking a shower standing in several inches of my own soup and that water would stay there for hours.  The mold from this was outrageous! Not to mention the foot fungus.  

I tried plungers.  I tried a traditional cup shaped one, and one I found in the barn with a more aggressive bulb kind of thing.  Nothing but burping. I tried everything on the shelves at the grocery store - foaming things, burning things, gel things, foul smelling nasty things.  Blue, Green, Red.  Twin Bottles that ominously mix only in the drain, where the magic is supposed to happen.  All these potions and mixtures are supposed to dissolve grease, hair, and I guess flesh and bones.  If these didn't work - and they didn't - I was AGHAST at what might actually be causing the clog!  I mean, what the HELL could be down there?

I started a very thorough search for another effective method.  Which means simply that I started whining to everyone I know about the water and the clog and the slow drain and my soupy feet.  My Daughter In Law, tired of hearing about it and suspicious that somehow this was going to end up a project for her overworked Husband My Son, finally said, "Why don't you get one of those blaster things?"


 She said SHE had a clog in her shower drain and she went to Home Depot and bought a WEAPON which had cartridges and BLASTED the CLOG out with a HUGE AND TERRIFYING NOISE!

Now THAT's the ticket!

I went directly to Home Depot, described what I wanted to several working members of AARP wearing orange vests and no one knew what I was talking about.

I stopped at the office and whined at Patient but Amused Male Business Partner.  He said, I have one of those and it really works but the noise is AWFUL.  Patient but Amused Male Business Partner is hearing impaired so I could not imagine what that meant.  

I convinced him that he should get in his car right now and drive me to Home Depot and show me exactly what shelf, what pegboard fixture he got this miracle from.

We found it right away. It is about two feet long, oddly like a bicycle pump with a red knob and yellow handles.  The package had four cartridges that looked like bullets which Patient But Amused Male Business Partner explained were CO2 cartridges.  I felt comforted by their bullet like appearance.  Like - if it looks like a bullet, then it must be effective, right?  I also found BLACK FLEXIBLE TAPE to use on the kitchen faucet which was spraying water out the top right at my breast bone, through holes eaten in the metal tap by our water.  (note to self - get a water treatment system, don't BE a water treatment system) They also had a huge array of parts and crapdedoodle that I know I will eventually need as I rebuild my house piece by piece.

So I bring the shooter thingie and the tape home.  Grandsons and Sons are drawn to it as moths to a flame, until they find out that it is for opening drains.  Eldest grandson begs to be allowed to shoot just one cartridge, nana please, c'mon, let me shoot it just once to see what it does i won't point it at my brother.

I'm sort of curious about this huge noise it is supposed to make so I tentatively agree to the experiment, as long as it is on the lawn and not pointed at any one or thing.  At just this point I am distracted by some other near catastrophe and forget all about it, for a couple of days.

Meanwhile, the open package is sitting on the steps.  I walk past it every day.  I glance at the cartridges, a SPLATTER MAT thoughtfully included but not noted earlier.  Rubber Washer Things.  Multi page instruction manual with many many translations into foreign languages. Cautionary Alerts in BRIGHT ORANGE AND RED.  Circles with Crosses.  People missing eyes.  No, I made that up, but you get the drift.

So, of course, the thing now looms large in my imagination.  I actually dream about it, puncturing my ear drums and shattering the pipes in the dining room ceiling.  And every day I am standing in that water with my now stinky feet and moldy bathroom walls.

As often happens with me, the fog lifts one day and I mend the kitchen tap.  Well, I wrap the stretchy black tape around it and feel totally inappropriately proud of myself.  Now, you may be wondering why I just didn't get a whole new tap, but the kitchen is going to be gutted any day now (this would be comical if I hadn't been saying it to people for twenty years) and it doesn't make sense to buy a new one if I can literally put a bandaid on this one.  See video below  of how well this is working.  Daughter In Law said yesterday that it was going to blow.  Noooo it wouldn't.  I wasn't dressed for work.

With the faucet repair so successful, I decided to tackle the plunger blaster thingie.  I don't read the instructions - I can't find the english ones anyway.  I unscrew the top and insert a CO2 cartridge.  I screw the top back on.  So far, so good.

I ignore the splatter mat.  (I'm in the shower stall) I strip down.  Why get my clothes wet?  I put on a shower cap and safety goggles.  No picture.  Thank me.

I place the plunger blaster thingie over the drain.  I pull the handle.

A farty, slightly like a balloon losing air noise.  Some white foam.

That's it.

I simply can't believe that this worked and I still have my hearing.  I wonder what ails the rest of them - what were they doing that I didn't do?????  I run the water.  It goes right down.

Right. Down. The. Drain.

No noise.

Just to make sure, and because I now have a ridiculously high level of confidence about plumbing, I do it again.

I run the water.  EVEN BETTER.  Much congratulation of self.  Much ironic reflection of how proud C would have been, maybe.   Can't wait to tell Patient but Amused Male Business Partner.  

Maybe I will buy a new faucet and install it myself.  And I have that new chandelier in the dining room I could tackle.........


Greentwinsmummy said...

I am sat here soo tired & yet again your writing made me laugh out loud,I have to explain to my husband now that I am laughing at a farty drain buster thing :oO
Now dont fret about the King giving away some land :o)its quite ok I promise,I might be demanding that peppercorn tho,have you seen the price of them?? well over here they are going thru the roof gaaaa,I can see us resorting to more bartering,hey Mrs D I will do some of your weeding in return for a small bag of peppercorns or I shall clean your kitchen for a sack of flour...... :o)

Cassie said...

I need one of those farty plunger thingies for my shower. Huh. I wonder what dh will say when I ask him to go to Home Depot and buy a farty plunger thingie?

bowiechick said...

Since you found me I had to check out your blog too. And the bit: "Daughter In Law said yesterday that it was going to blow. Noooo it wouldn't. I wasn't dressed for work."

That made me how with laughter! Because that is exactly how it would go! I'll shall read on Princess. Thanks for stopping in. I think I'll put you on the blogroll.

Cheers! Tana

PS: Thanks for the farty drain buster tip. The shower on the Bowie has the same issue..

Ragged Roses said...

Thank you for visiting my blog, I have really enjoyed my visit here. What a great post, so very funny

rob said...

Well you didnt visit my blog but Thats OK! :o)) I have a pump up version of the CO2 gun and when I first used it on my bathroom basin I didnt know enough to seal off the overflow back into the basin so kneeling in front of the basin so as to get as much oressure on the waste outlet I leg go the full force adn (low and behold) I recieved a total face (eyes nose and mouth) full of sink gunge, Ho hum iy sure taught me a lesson. Nice blog by the way. Oh was it pitt the younger?