Thursday, January 6, 2011

P is for Plumber, Please

Anecdotal Background information first: please note  

Several years ago my husband and a close friend who engages in remodeling and construction for a living were working on a bathroom remodel in our aging home. When we moved into our home in 1997 the downstairs bathroom had a wall-mounted toilet. Eventually it needed replacing and Dale and Bob had to install a floor-mounted model which required some new plumbing.

They were both so proud of their work and when I came home my proud husband demonstrated the beautiful new pipes in the basement. I smiled and observed as he flushed the downstairs toilet and we all admired the slick whoosh of water traveling efficiently toward our septic tank.

About 15 minutes later, after I used the upstairs toilet, loading it with more than simple urine, I heard a strange noise in the basement, ran downstairs, and to my horror and disgust watched the crap literally fall from the basement ceiling.


He came running down to see how I could have possibly broken the new system with one poop and a flush . . . .

 . . . . when he realized his error. I was already on the phone screaming at Bob, "Robert, there is shit falling from my ceiling!Get over here right now and fix it!"

Bob knew what happened as soon as he heard my shrieking and simply said, "I'm on my way."

They had cut the pipe from the upstairs toilet in order to re-route the downstairs toilet and failed to cap the lower end of the cut pipe. I called my father in complete drama queen mode. It remains the only time in my 25+ years living with Dale that I threatened to take the children and go to a hotel for the night. He was not invited to join us. Bob arrived and calmly started on the fix and I calmed down and put the boys to bed and had a beer.

Fast forward to more recent events.

Tonight Dale replaced the downstairs bathroom faucets and the kitchen sink fixtures as well.

** Dale has demonstrated that he is NOT a plumber **

He and Bob recently replaced our hot water heater and our water softener. Dale immediately plugged up the brand new water softener by using the left-over salt. When the softener ceased to function he discovered the salt had caked into a solid mass, plugging up the system. He said "I guess you're supposed to use the pellets." I asked "What pellets?" "The kind it says you're supposed to use in the directions." Wait a minute! (I think you get the drift . . . )

We have also been experiencing a complete lack of water pressure in all of the sinks, hot water is almost non-existent in said sinks, and the showers on both floors are not much better. I've been whining about it for months.  The boys have complained. I had a melt-down about it last week and Dale shrugged it off with a comment like, "at least we have water. . . ."

"I'm gonna call a damn plumber," I pledged. But Dale said he would try replacing the fixtures because he thought that since they were leaky that was the problem.

So tonight, after the bathroom fixture was in place, and was displaying an impressive stream of pressurized hot water, Dale moved on to the kitchen sink in the wake of his initial success.

After banging on pipes in the basement, swearing, and several trips up and down stairs, he trudged into my office and announced that I needed to call a plumber. "We have no hot water for now. The pipes are shot. I think it will all need to be replaced. It's going to cost a lot."


So who knows the best plumber?

And which of you has the best shower? I'll be over first thing in the morning!

Monday, January 3, 2011

O is for Old(er)

My young mother turned 69 a week ago today. I flew down to Arizona to join my sister in celebrating her birthday together. I got clocked at Scrabble (my younger sister won) and had fun reminiscing with our mother about old times when we all lived under the same roof with our hip Mommy and Daddy in the 60's and 70's.

My mother's 69 years compared with my father's 71 years on this earth are a contrast in aging. You would never guess my father's age by looking at or listening to him. Last summer he was climbing mountains in Montana with us. The only difference from when I was a little kid is that I can keep up with him now, only because he has finally slowed to a reasonable pace! He takes blood pressure meds and has to watch his cholesterol. But he's still thin and fit. He thinks he might retire some time this year.

My mother's blood pressure and cholesterol are fine, but she suffers from peripheral neuropathy and some other circulatory and nervous system complications due to hardening and plaque. She isn't very mobile any more and walks with a cane. She finds the world a less and less convenient place in her self-proclaimed old lady-hood.

I look at these two humans, from whom I gained my genetic material, and I think very hard about nurture vs. nature. My sister and I have always experienced very different medical developments, in spite of our shared genetic heritage. Much of our mother's afflictions are attributable to lifestyle choices. Our father's challenges seem to be more hereditary.


I prefer to age gradually and gracefully. And playfully. I hope it's not too late to change some of my less healthy lifestyle choices to embrace the good genes that I know lurk in my code somewhere. So when I turn down something offered that you know I love, please take no offense. I'm simply trying to prolong my life so that I might enjoy all my amazing family members and friends longer and with a positive attitude and fuller capacity for fun.

Skiing anyone?