Sunday, September 9, 2007

More Fun Than Disneyland!

Well, in truth, I’ve never been to Disneyland, but I still think we had more fun yesterday than folks wearing mouse ears while riding roller coasters. It definitely was more fun than riding a bike while carrying a cat in a cat carrier, but that’s another story.

It all started a couple of days ago when a delivery man fell in an invisible hole alongside our back walk. It was invisible, because the top layer of sod and grass was intact. He just happened to take a shortcut across the grass and went in up to his knee. Thankfully he was fine. Initially we couldn’t figure out what had caused the hole to develop. Unfortunately it soon became clear. Apparently our old clay waste pipe had developed a slow leak. The leak gradually eroded the ground beneath it. Now the seven decade old pipe was without any ground support, with just a canopy of grass some 18 inches above. So when the delivery guy went in the hole, he must have hit the unsupported pipe. This was not obvious because it was dry as a bone in the hole and the sod and dirt that fell in was obscuring the pipe.

Fast forward to Saturday morning. Yes, of course it was the weekend. We called our plumber who has worked miracles on our ancient plumbing before. We explained what we knew and our theories. He suggested that we didn’t want to pay his guys time and a half to excavate. Time and a half? No - not really. So he said dig the hole out, expose the entire length of the damage and call him back.

It was over 90 degrees yesterday, sunny and very humid. Weather records were broken. I began digging. Chuck soon joined in. It was fairly delicate work because we didn’t want to add to the damage. Soon this is what we saw:

I called the plumber back to report. He then went to check to see if he had the proper parts in stock. He didn’t. Suddenly, even the option of paying time and a half for any weekend work or repair was out of the question. But we really wanted to run water and flush the toilet and take showers...

Our plumber is a practical guy. He deals with this sort of thing all the time. He said we could just enlarge the hole and let the chips fall where they may, so to speak, until his guys could arrive. Then they would deal with the accumulated atrocious mess. I described the girly-girl, non-plumber, jury-rigged plan I had in mind. There was a long pause on the end of the line. Finally, he said: “Well, you could try something like that, but it’s probably not going to work that well.”

So Chuck (ever the good sport and obliging husband/co-conspirator) and I drove down to Home Depot. We spent a fair amount of time in the plumbing department, my little sketch in hand. We assembled an odd assortment of PVC pipe and aluminum duct funnely things - and one giant roll of industrial strength duct tape! As we drove home, our 35 dollars worth of stuff in tow, we encountered a ferocious thunder, lightning and hail storm! Was this an omen?

The storm lulled and we assembled the bits and pieces. We cleared out more of the hole and cleaned up the two ends of the pipe, while a light, warm, steamy mist fell. Chuck volunteered to get in the hole and do the final assembly. Have I mentioned what a good sport he is? Lots of improvising with duct tape, four pairs of chopsticks and one bungee cord later, we had managed to bridge the two pieces of broken pipe. Then came the test. First we ran water in the kitchen sink. The contraption held. Then came the truly scary test. Chuck ran upstairs and flushed the toilet while I monitored our work of art. It held! And it has continued to work through showers, dishwashing, more flushing and even a load of laundry!

I tell you, when that improbable assemblage worked, it was a bigger rush than any roller coaster ride. It meant we had adapted and spent only 35 bucks for parts instead of spending a couple of nights in a hotel room. Chuck claims I’m easy to please and a cheap date. I think we just know how to have a good time!

Here’s the working gizmo, which should have the plumber laughing hysterically when he arrives tomorrow:


dancingmorganmouse said...

Oh well done you. I have nightmares about this sort of thing happening to us - given the ancient state of the plumbing at the Brown-Mouse house. I'm very impressed with the girly-girl fix it and you should poke the plumber in the eye if he laughs at it :)

Jeff said...

Simple and elegant! This is definitely the work of a natural-born engineer.


Anonymous said...

holy crap!

You are a true Renaissance Woman!!


Pink Granite said...

Hey DMM -
Thank you!
If anything ever goes awry with the plumbing at the Brown-Mouse house, I'm just an e-mail away!
The plumber can laugh all he wants as long as I detect a hint of admiration in between the chuckles!
- Lee

Hey Jeff -
Thank you!
According to my high school guidance counselor (and my Kuder Interest Inventory results) I was supposed to be an auto mechanic! Perhaps I missed my true calling!
- Lee

Hey Gail -
Thank you!
What a perfectly appropriate exclamatory sentence!
- Lee

Anonymous said...

Hey Buttons,

I'm very dangerous when I try to repair anything ...included a light bulb.
But "necessity is the mother of invention".( NOTE - Mother! )
When it's important to me I'll try to jerry-build almost anything.
My best and most daring was using a baby bottle brush (metal) to hold some little tubes in place in a TV back in the early sixties! This is not a talent we inherited from Dad!

Nice going! (no pun intended :-)

Anonymous said...

Did you happen to watch ICarly on Nick Sat. or Sun. night? They ran two episodes back to back.

Jerry was great! He really rocked as "Spencer" repeats may be on next
Sat. or Sun.
The grandchildren loved it!

Roo said...

Hey hey - you where right - I am impressed - but what the hell are the chopsticks for ?

Pink Granite said...

Hey Kat -
Thanks for the pat on the back! So happy you didn't get yourself electrocuted back in the 60s!
I have no idea how I came to be able to fix certain things. Heaven knows I rarely read directions!
- Lee

Hey Roo -
Thanks! Glad you got a kick out of the whole saga!
You can see the chopsticks in the picture. They were an attempt to both line up the funnely things and give the duct tape another surface to cling to. Not even the industrial strength duct tape would stick to the clay pipe!
- Lee