Oh, Crapper

I was all set to install the new fill valve in the toilet, but I can’t get the old one out. After pulling and twisting and taking a break from it, then pulling and twisting some more, I decided to call a plumber.

One of the plumbers in town is still offended by the rejection of his bid for a job by a prior owner of this house. We learned this a few years ago, during a cold spell, when husband had to deal with rejected plumber’s complaining while we trembled upstairs. I can’t remember which is the rejected plumber and which isn’t. I called the other plumber. I hope.


The Slate is Cleaner

We made our fifth trip to the dump this morning. I shudder at my contribution to the landfill this summer, but it had to be done. There was just so much madness left behind.

Daughter came with me, as she has for most of these trips, to lend a hand as needed. We are quiet on these early morning rides. We try to get there soon after the dump opens at 7am. She wore tights under Bermuda shorts, rain boots, and a slicker. It wasn’t raining.

On the way home we stopped at a bakery for locally-made donuts. We sprang for the custard-filled today. A little, unspoken celebration of the last trip to the dump.

Holy Globe

I was ready to conduct internet research to figure out how to unscrew the globe when daughter called, “I did it!”

But now there’s a nut we can’t loosen to get to the lightbulb. Each of us perched precariously on the stairs and working through the stairway slats, I held the globe while she went at it. She held while I went at it. The nut would not budge. I paused and noted, “This is a job for the handyman.” Note to self: hire the handyman.

I May Be Throwing Small Appliances At My Problems

Bissell Pro-Heat Deep Cleaner

But there are some problems that small appliances can solve. That there is my new Bissell carpet cleaner. I loaded it up with Nature’s Miracle (with Enzyme Action!) and it lifted the dog urine smells from numerous carpet tiles. That beats my old method of tossing the tiles onto the balcony, tossing this or that cleaning solution on them, scrubbing them, sunning them, picking them up hours later to the same old, terrible, horrible, very bad smell.

I then turned to my fancy Dyson vacuum and cleaned out the pee-encrusted baking soda that it has been faithfully suctioning up for the last few weeks. I took off one part, cleaned it, took off another, cleaned it. I kept doing that until all that was left of my fancy Dyson vacuum was a stick atop a motor while the parts dried on the counter. It looks like Robert Patrick at the end of Terminator II.

‘Round and ‘Round

It shouldn’t have been this complicated.

A few weeks ago, the lights in the ceiling fan were sputtering. Then the whole thing went out.

I bought a new one at big box home improvement store. On the advice of my therapist, I splurged for an $80 installation. I spent half an hour on a Tuesday evening watching two guys try to enter in my information into their computer. Finally, I told them I had to feed the kids and would come back the next day. Probably spent 40 minutes standing there the next day. This was just to process the installation service.

While waiting, I saw a nice couple we know, also buying a ceiling fan. They didn’t need to pay for installation, because the husband would do it. Of course he would. I braided daughter’s hair to pass the time.

The store called a few days later and let me know that Randy and Kenny were going to NASCAR the next week, so they could send in a guy from the next store over or wait til Randy and Kenny came back. I don’t give a damn about Randy and Kenny and their friggin’ recreational activities and I just want someone to solve my problems and somehow I found myself telling big box lady to refund my money and I’d do it myself.

So I spent another week walking past the ceiling fan. I read the instructions and let those simmer. I put in a call to a recommended electrician, but guy was busy. One day daughter pulled out the box and was like, Let’s do this. We assembled it and got to the point where we’d wire it. I stopped at my new favorite electric and plumbing supply store (where the guys behind the counter treat me with the same respect they do the contractors) and bought some decent wire cutters/stripper. We were set to go. Then the electrician got back to me, and I told him, definitely stop by. Good thing he did. We’d made some minor mistakes in the assembly. He fixed them in minutes, but they would have defeated me. He also discovered that the wiring was out (because husband had rigged up the family room wires to the wiring in the bathroom) and the GFI outlet in the bathroom needed to be reset to get the switch in the family room to work. It was that easy. But we never would have figured that out.

Daughter and I hung out with the electrician. He gave us some tips about this and that. He took a look at the wiring in the house and advised us not to hire him to upgrade; we’re good and don’t need to spend the money. He charged $30.

Lesson: I do need to contract out, but I need to find reliable folks. I’ve got a few small supply shops around here I like for my own fix-it projects. But I need to strike the balance between Grrl-Power-We-Can-Do-Anything and Just-Hire-A-Guy. Now I’ve got to find guys like this electrician to help me do the stuff I can’t, or shouldn’t.

We’re Gonna Need a Bigger Boat

When I called a rat guy a few weeks ago, I felt like Chief Brody calling in Quinn. I’d tossed poison sticks and a live trap around the house, knowing that I was out of my league. When those didn’t work, I called the first guy I found in the phone book and he pulled up, in his unmarked white van, covered with dirt from the termite job he’d just been on. He looked more like Columbo than Quinn, but I was counting on him. He was full of stories. He had us measuring the droppings and consulting his hardbound copy of everything-you-need-to-know-about-pests. He threw down glue traps and snap traps with a special, professional bait. This was it!

I slept that night with a shovel nearby, in case I needed to ineffectually step in.

He came back to look the next day, and the rat had simply licked the bait off the traps and avoided the glue traps entirely.

It was my girlfriends, venturing downstairs between gin and tonics, who dismantled the Xmas decoration storage/place where rat made a nice home for itself with dog food in wrapping paper rolls and stolen socks (Smartwool socks. Damn rat!) from the laundry pile. They helped us to locate spots to stuff steel wool. I moved the dog food bowls upstairs. And with that, the droppings disappeared.

…until last week, when I found a single dropping in front of the dryer. Maybe it’s an old dropping, I thought, hopefully/in denial. Then I saw dusty old dog food in the corner. Not finding its usual dog food bowl, it dug out a few lingering pieces it had stashed in the insulation in the wall.

So I called a new guy. He pulled up in a company truck. Young and professional. (Hello, Richard Dreyfuss! Did your character even have a name?) He took his flashlight along the wallboards, outside, and in the crawl space and is pretty sure he can trace the path of the rat(s). He laid down some bait boxes. It wasn’t cheap. He said it’s not so bad…yet.

While we were in the crawlspace, daughter and I pulled out a bunch of stuff to donate to the thrift store. We had to do that, anyway. Might as well get it done while a rat guy was in the house.

I Used To Read the New York Times on Sunday Mornings

The dogs woke me up. I let them out, started coffee, and put away dishes while the water brewed. Then I spotted dog poop in the living room. I peeled up the FLOR tile, tossed the poop into the bushes, added some Nature’s Miracle and let its enzyme action do its work. I gave them two great walks yesterday, including one right before bed. So why all this pooping?

Walking back through the living room, I found she’d peed on two more tiles. More Nature’s Miracle on those tiles and–sigh–on the wood floor under the tiles. Four tiles were ruined last week. I’m hoping to save today’s. Note to self: figure out why the dogs are going. Figure out how to get these smells out.

I went to fold the clothes that I’d asked daughter to bring upstairs yesterday. They were soaking wet. She, apparently, doesn’t have the hang of turning on the dryer yet. Asked her to come with me to put clothes back in the wash (because I want a witness if the rat is here). Re-washed them in the hot cycle, with Borax. Showed her how to start the dryer while we were there.

On the way upstairs, I saw little pieces of the stair carpet littering the floor. I mused as to whether the returned rat is doing that (because we hid the dog food from it), or whether the dogs are doing it (because I don’t walk them enough and they’re getting feisty).  Will let that puzzle simmer while gathering more evidence.

Lugged the dehumidifier upstairs to target the mustiness from the wet clothes. Saw carpet missing from an upstairs step and was ready to conclude that the dogs are tearing the carpet.

Realizing that my tasks were one step forward and two steps back, briefly considered my list of things-to-do and wondered if I would ever get to installation of the the ceiling fan or the toilet fill valve. I’ve read the fill valve instructions. The box said there were 3 steps. But the instruction sheet has about 18 steps, with variations. The steps are simmering in my brain until the installation moment strikes.

Then my back hurt. If my back goes out, we’re all goners.

Went to my bed and had a good cry. Then I lay there and thought. I have been waking up with tight muscles. My hamstrings are as tight as they were when I was training for the half marathon. I’m pretty sure now it’s from being chronically clenched. So I rolled my sorry self out of bed, laid on the floor, and held my legs vertical against the wall in my favorite hamstring stretch. From the floor, I read a chapter or two of my Swedish detective novel and took a phone call from my son, who was not yet ready to be picked up from his sleepover. My daughter appeared next to me and browsed the bookshelves. In the corner of my eye, I saw her reading an illustrated book about the Declaration of Independence. I returned to my Swedish detective novel. Wallander is melancholy and reflective.

Came out of the wall stretch. Stretched out my back. Made a banana bread with my daughter. While it baked, I joined her on the couch in the family room. Found the last screw for the anchor box that holds up the ceiling fan–numerous screws flew across the room when I took down the old fan down–and realized that the time for the fan installation may strike soon. We started an episode of our current British tv show (which streams so nicely now) and I promptly fell asleep, hard and slobbery, for about 10 minutes.

The new Sunday morning.


My daughter and I were trying to lull ourselves to sleep last night with a British tv mystery. The wifi connection in the bedroom was terrible, so we closed the laptop and lay in the dark. Then my son started musing about the router from his mattress on the floor.

See, my husband died this spring, but you’d hardly know it if you ran into my kids. They are active. They keep up with their sports and activities. They have friends over. They go the family therapist and raid her mint bowl with glee. You’d only know about their grief in the little ways, like the way that they have pretty much slept with me every night for the last few months. It’s like Attachment Parenting–Ten Years Later: Where Are They Now? [Answer: Back in my bed.] At some point we admitted to ourselves that this was really happening, and we dragged in my daughter’s mattress, which my son sleeps on, on the floor. The dog bed is in another corner.

So he’s lying there, musing about the router, and the bad cable, and says that if I can just get him to Radio Shack, he thinks he can fix it. I drove them out there today. He talked to the nice salesperson, chose some product, and I pulled out my card. My daughter walked in with her little CD boom box and a purse of birthday money and bought a new power cord for herself. When we got home, my son pulled out the step ladder and hooked up the router to the modem and got the Wii set up, too.

Now I’m here in my room alone, waiting for them to drift in here, enjoying an excellent wifi connection. So I started this blog.