December 27, 2009

All I Want for Christmas is a Toilet that Flushes

All I wanted for Christmas this year was a toilet that flushed.  Well, technically our toilet flushes, but then the water (and other stuff in the toilet) swirls madly around in a circle, threatens to overflow and then subsides with no beneficial result. All that happens is I have to go lie down for a while with a cold compress on my forehead. And when I do that it's like an open invitation for my boys to jump up and down on top of me as if I were a trampoline. I don't know why they do that.  It's not like a my abdominal muscles have particularly good rebounding capabilities.  I'm not even sure they did when I was in my 20's.

But back to my toilet, which stopped working somewhere around last Monday (one week ago) all our plumbing stopped up. I became suspicious when I was taking a shower and kept hearing a "BLUB... BLUB... BLUB..." coming from the toilet. One's toilet shouldn't blow bubbles. If yours starts doing that I recommend just moving to a hotel for a week while you try to get it fixed.

The plumber finally came out but said he only had 100 feet of line to run through the pipes to look for stoppages. For our lines he needed a 200 foot line to get all the way to where we connect to the city sewer lines at the street. As we'd have to drive 80 miles round trip to rent a longer line, the only other remedy was to dig a hole in our yard, open up the sewer line and run the line in two stages.

If you don't understand plumbing, let me be very clear what this means -- it means that someone has to dig a hole in our yard, crack open the sewer line which is filled with human waste matter and clear the whole thing out. Said person was NOT the plumber who is an old man on the verge of retiring. He doesn't do that anymore. What he does is coach the homeowner on how to do it, the homeowner in this case not being me, but my long-suffering husband who calls me late in the day and says he's spent the afternoon gagging in a cesspool with our contractor's 17-year-old son/helper who, I forgot to mention in my last post, happened to come up to the glass kitchen door the other day while I was parading around in my underwear. I'm not sure who was more shocked and embarrassed -- me or him.

So, on Christmas Eve the plumber had unhooked our toilet from the sewer line so it drains out into the yard. And then there was a hole in the sewer line halfway between our house and the street. And the plumber said he would come back and hook us back up that afternoon. What a relief.

Except he never came back.

The saying goes, "Necessity is the mother of invention." This is true and thus, on Christmas Eve, was born to us The Bucket Loo which we have been using for what feels like about 85 days.

And after 85 days I can say you get used to just about anything.

However, one's guests do not. We canceled Christmas dinner (succulent turkey with homemade stuffing and all the goodies) as nobody wanted to use our bucket for their business.  Who can blame them.

The good news is our floor in the living room is back. And the pissed off poltergeist who has been punishing us for ripping the floor out has gone away and given us back our toilet flushability. Hoorah!

Remarkably, I spent little time mentioning the aforementioned hardship. After whining about it for about 45 seconds I realized there were people in the world who didn't have a bathroom, yay verily didn't even have a HOUSE for heaven's sake. I thought about all the people living under bridges in the cold. I thought about all the people who don't even have family to reject them over a stupid bucket in the first place. I thought about all the people who didn't have food to even contemplate having Christmas dinner to cancel. Every time I went into that bathroom I smiled and sent upward a little note of thanks for all that I do have.

It seems strange that my mantra over the holidays was, "Thank you for blessing me with plumbing that can break." Yet that's what it was. And it felt so good to smile and genuinely mean it as it would have been so easy to be cranky and bitter about it.

Wherever you were on Christmas, I hope you had a calm, lovely and blessed holiday.

December 22, 2009

Where's Wendy?

True to form, I've been having various and sundry adventures. None of them were adventures of my own choosing.  Had they been of my own choosing I would be reporting back that I have been sitting at a beachside cafe with a hot cup of tea and a book or some knitting and copious amounts of exotic fingerfoods and nothing but the roar of the ocean coming at me as the tide rolls in.

But no.

The reality of my adventures involve, first, a road trip of necessity with my mother (and as you know any trip with my mother never fails to deliver on material). This was quickly followed by my living room disappearing and simultaneously my family of four being unable to use the one tiny little bathroom that we value so much. And neither of those have anything to do with one another except that they are both making me crazy. For some reason I am taking it very personal which has the side effect of annoying my husband who keeps asking me, "What is wrong with you?"

But I'm getting ahead of myself.

The road trip story will come later because the urgent matter is the fact that my living room has gone AWOL.

It all started about ten years ago when we first remodeled a house I have owned since I was 18. (The benefits of having a nagging mom who was a Realtor and understood and imparted the wisdom that owning is better than renting.)  Said house is quaint and old and had been pretty much destroyed by renters while I was gone for a few years. In an effort to encourage us to move back my mom said, "little bit of wiring, little bit of sheetrock and you've got a brand new house." About $40,000 later, we did have a nearly-new house except for the fact that we all pretended there was nothing wrong with our floors because we didn't want to deal with it at the time.

And at that time being kid-free, we chose a nice off-white wall-to-wall carpet. At the time it was a reasonable thing to do as we figured we'd be childfree humans for all eternity. Two babies and one puking dog later our carpet is hideous and we've decided to pull it out and put down some hardwood flooring.

Have I mentioned that my husband is a perfectionist? He absolutely cannot do anything merely "adequately". It must be done absolutely the best proper way, high quality and for long-lasting benefit. I simultaneously admire and loathe him for this quality. I can say this about him now because he is nowhere near a computer as he's currently somewhere under our house and has been for days.

The first day I came home it wasn't too alarming. There was nothing in the living room and the carpet was gone. We did a joyful carpet-free dance and the kids spent the evening in the living room running up and down and shouting "Hoooo Hoooo Hoooooo" so they could hear the echo off the empty room.

The second day I came home and there was particle board blocking the two doors to the living room and the entire house smelled like chemical outgassing from the glue. We were now officially living in about 600 square feet with no place to hang out except our bedroom. Four of us spent the evening piled up in our bed playing and watching television. It was cool.

The third day our living room floor went away. Underneath that were support beams, some good, some not. In some places there was a building mystery -- walls that were held up by nothing but air or a miracle of God. Our contractor puzzled over that one for quite a while. Again that night we played in our bedroom, laid out blankets on the floor to have picnic dinners. After dinner, we piled up in the bed again and made balloon animals. All these things we'd never have done had our lives been normal. It was cool.

The next day not only was our floor still gone, but the joists and all the support beams were gone. I stood in my driveway peering in through the living room window and sighed. They promise our floor will be done by Christmas when company is coming over. We are supposed to be making a turkey. We've not bought it yet and started thawing it. Our furniture is on our back porch. We have little trails going through the kitchen because there's no place to put all the stuff that was in our living room. We've run out of restaurants to eat at because there's so much stuff in the kitchen now that we don't want to cook.

While in the kitchen I kept seeing a workman go by with a wheelbarrow.  The first few times I didn't think much of it.  The kids were running amuck with all the excitement.  I spent most of my time taking big deep breathes of chemical outgassing and trying to calm my nerves. After about the 50th time the wheelbarrow passed by I put on my shoes and went around the house to the living room and discovered my husband standing in what used to be our living room with a shovel.

"We're excavating, honey!"

Apparently it would be beneficial to have 16 inches of clearance between the dirt and the beginning of the living room floor so there was my husband digging it up and putting the dirt into five-gallon buckets that were being hauled away by the gangly teenage sons of our contractor. What remained of my living room hung out in a surreal vision of normality (sheetrock, trim, curtain rods, ceiling fans, light switches) suspended several feet in the air above nothing. I breathed in the loamy scent of earth, smiled grimly and said, "I never did mind about the little things."

That same day our bathtub stopped draining in a hostile act that said to me that our house is really pissed off about being violated. And the toilet won't flush. And the plumber won't return my call and it looks like I will have to start dropping my mother's name because he always will make a house call for Kitty.

That night there was less cuddling on the bed, the children found some noisy alien laser blasters and like an idiot I actually replaced the batteries for them which necessitated me having to hide the guns from them while they weren't looking. From under a pillow my husband muttered, "I don't know what you were thinking putting batteries in those." I explained that, for once, I was trying to be a nice. He asked me to stop, so I did.

Which brings us to where we are now. I came to work in the clothes I wore yesterday and showered here. The boys go to the bathroom in the bushes behind our house and we're still no thawing a turkey. Tonight is the cub scout Christmas party potluck for which I must cook something in a kitchen that has every surface covered with stuff from the living room, books, electronics, pictures, too much of everything. My office has a kitchen but the oven element is not working and so I'm just sitting here rocking back and forth moaning in a modified fetal position so I can still type.

If I made new year's resolutions, my resolution for 2010 would definitely be "fix or get rid of all things that are broken" and in conjunction with that "get rid of stuff". My new rule will be that I should be able to reasonably fit two rooms of stuff in one room and still function. This is vital to my sanity because when the living room is done, I have heard rumors that a certain person wants to start on the kitchen...

December 7, 2009

You'll Be Happy to Know... Tori Fixed the Moon

The other day we were driving home from daycare and came around the corner to see the big, fat moon perched high in the sky. Full enough to call it a full moon and early enough in the evening that it looked enormous overhead. I pointed it out to Tristan.

From the back seat he yells, "The moon! The moon! It all fixed!"

My child is astute -- I had no idea there was even something wrong with the moon. "Was it broken?"

"Uh huh."

"What was wrong with the moon?"

"Ownno."

I've been working on him lately to improvise and elaborate. At night he practices by telling us bedtime stories which always go like this:

"One time there was bad Spiderman. He was sticky. He shoot web and it was sticky. Don't touch him. He sticky."

That's the entire story. However, considering it's taken us nearly three years to get him to say that much, I think he's doing great.

But back to the important matter of the broken moon...

I tried another avenue. "Who fixed the moon, Tristan?"

"Ummm... Tori."

"Really? Tori fixed the moon?"

"Uh huh."

"How did she do that?"

"Big wadder."

"Wow, that would have to be a really big ladder."

"Wiwwy big wadder. Tori stwong. She have big muscles."

* * *

On a related note of celestial importance, there is also the matter of something being wrong with the rain.

It was raining the other morning when we were on our way through town. We passed by Wal-Mart which is a very exciting thing because Tristan knows there are toys in there and he's a big stimulator of the economy in that way. (Nobody can accuse us of not being patriotic in a recession.)

The rain was pouring down and as we passed by the parking lot I heard a huge gasp from the back seat.

"WHAT'S WRONG WITH THE RAIN?"

"What?"

"IT'S RAINING ON WAL-MART!"

Tori hasn't gotten around to fixing that problem yet, I guess.

December 6, 2009

December 4, 2009

Domestic Chastising

My husband and I banter a lot. Some of it is amusing. Some of it is definitely NOT amusing.  (Those are the times when I'm always right and he's always wrong and just won't see that he's wrong.)

We sit about 15 feet from each other and sometimes instead of actually talking to each other we just send email. We're just tech-trendy that way.

I recently sent him an obnoxious email outlining what I perceived as a shortfall in one of his particular obligations. It was sarcastic and annoying to be certain.

This is the response I got back by email:

From: myadorablehusband@fakeemail.com
Sent: Tuesday, December 01, 2009 10:54 AM
To: annoyingsarcasticwife@fakeemail.com
Subject: Re: Fw: Land For Mrs. Whats-her-name
Careful, I understand the 2006 Elfin High Council passed referendum #10232-a which states "The frequent use of sarcasm is grounds for coal consideration". Certainly you must be close to your quota for the year. 



Sometimes I forget how cute he is.