The weekend *started* off good. Saturday I slept in until all hours. Sleep has been eluding me lately, so it felt really good to not have to drag my sorry butt out of bed until it was ready. So we got a late start on the day. It was mostly errands that turned into exercises in futility. Got to Costco, fill up the gas tank (ouch!) Go to Lowes, fail to find what I’m looking for. Go to the Home Depot in Bristol, and discover that particular Home Depot doesn’t carry the cabinets that I was there to order. At that point my blood sugar had bottomed out, and I was just stupid. So since Agway was already closed, we headed out to dinner for Mother’s Day. I’d asked if we could go Saturday instead of Sunday in the hope that it would be less crowded. It may or may not have been, but it was a nice dinner nonetheless.
Sunday we had to get up early. Any time my alarm has to go off on a weekend I categorize it as "early." We needed to be in Hebron at 10:00 for a site walk-through for Acorns & Pearls II. I think the walk-through went really well. The Lions seem to be bending over backwards to accommodate us, and the site contact seems to just be a really nice guy. I had a chance to crawl all over the post and beam barn thatvynehornand I will be setting up as a tavern with a measuring tape, so we should be able to plan a good layout before getting there. Unfortunately, because it’s not very warm yet I didn’t take the sun into account and didn’t bring a hat. I have a bright pink sunburn on my face and neck. It doesn’t hurt, I’m just nice and pink and all my coworkers are commenting.
After that we stopped at the Milldale Home Depot, ordered my cabinets and bought a round point shovel, a pole saw, and a book on how to build retaining walls. From there we hit Agway, where I failed to find any moss roses (they were out,) and instead consoled myself with a flat of annuals. A little bit of color for the front will be cheery, and annuals are a nice no-commitment choice. After that – home to play with the pole saw. Bob was able to take three problem limbs off of the beech tree on the west side of the house. Not the neatest job, but it’s the first time either of us had used one of those. Frankly, that whole tree should probably come down, but it’s probably one that we should hire out. No budget for that this year, so we’ll settle for what trimming we can do. I think that just those three limbs will put a lot more light and air on that side of the house, which is my main concern. The pole saw is a fun toy. I could be a hazard with it.
It wasn’t until fairly late in the evening that things started to go wrong. Bob was on the phone with his daughter, and I headed in to the library to get a book. The mental dialogue went something like this:
Sniff. Sniff. What’s that smell?
Sniff. I think it’s coming from the bathroom.
Sniff. Oof – someone really did something awful in the litter box and didn’t cover it.
Sniff. But it really doesn’t smell right.
Looks in litterbox – nothing there.
Checks toilet – nothing there.
What on earth could that BE?
For no apparent reason, pulls back shower curtain.
I will spare you all the grisly details, and no, there will not be pictures. Although I did think about it for one very brief moment. After a frantic check of the plumbing in the crawl space and basement that determined that nothing bad was happening down there, we began testing the various appliances. The conclusion that we came to is that there is a clog in the main waste pipe from the downstairs full bath, because water (we’ll call it water) backs up into the shower stall if any of the fixtures in that bathroom are run. There is no affect if we run fixtures from the kitchen, the ground floor half bath, or the upstairs full bath. Which is good, because it means that we still have two functioning toilets and a shower. The bad part is that because the clog is apparently in that main pipe, there are three outlets upstream. That means that all plunging will accomplish is sloshing the "water" back and forth. Bob tested this hypothesis extensively and determined it to be true.
Needless to say, there was the obligatory phone conference with my father. That’s what we do when things go wrong. Most people call plumbers or electricians or Geek Squad – I call Dad. This time Dad didn’t have much insight beyond what we’d already more or less figured out, but he went online and did our research for us and sent us a link to the snake (they call them "hand augers" now) that he recommended. Unfortunately I discovered this problem at 9:00pm. Home Depot closed at 7:00, Lowes at 9:00, and the assorted Ace Hardware/True Values generally close at 5:00. So we were out of luck until the morning. He also blamed it on my hair. My father has blamed every plumbing backup since 1987 on my hair – including the one seven years after I moved out. It’d be a neat trick in this case, since I’ve never used the downstairs shower...
So the practical question when this was first discovered was: how, exactly, do we clean this mess up? The first answer, unfortunately for Bob is: I can’t. I didn’t call my doctor to check, but I’m pretty sure that dealing with sewage is off the list of approved activities for pregnant women. We can’t flush it down the drain – if the drain was draining we wouldn’t have this problem in the first place. So I channeled the only television show that I watch religiously ("Dirty Jobs") and thought, "what would Mike do?" I thought of the episode with Mrs. Frasier’s basement, and went to fetch Bob latex gloves, a shovel, a garden trowel, a heavy trash bag, and a whole lot of paper towels. I don’t know what happened behind the closed door after that, and I don’t want to know.
The cats were dying to get in there. I’m not sure if it was indignation at being locked out, or if it really was that fascinating. Sometimes they horrify me.
So the worst of the surface level mess was cleaned up and removed to the great outdoors, the window propped open, and the door tied shut to keep the cats from exploring. After showering, that put us to bed in the vicinity of midnight, which is way past my bedtime. I’m really dragging my butt today. Bob left early this morning to stop at Home Depot and buy the auger, and he will be tackling that when he gets home this afternoon. If this doesn’t work, we’ll confer with Dad again and see what he says.
Ah – the joys of home ownership.