Thursday, January 21, 2016


     Winter has arrived, all at once. It got cold this week, and we had our first snow last night. I laughed when I heard that the warning us that we could get one inch of snow. But then I drove home in the one inch and quit laughing. If there's ice under the snow, and no snowplows, that means lots of fish-tailing and accidents. I was grateful to get home without running into anyone. A new snowstorm is predicted this weekend, and they've already preemptively closed my office and the surrounding schools on Friday.
     I've been sick for the past few days. I count myself lucky, because when I get sick it usually means that I just need to sleep for two or three days. As I lay in bed all day long, I can hear the cat gently snoring next to me, and the dog snuffling in her sleep in the crate. It occurs to me that this is what these animals do, every day, all day long. What a life...
     In this downtime, I did a final tally on my plumbing expenses. The plumber had quoted me $4k to replace all the plumbing, and I received a credit for that amount when I bought the house. I spent $850 on supplies, so my father and I, splitting the excess, each made $1600 and experienced the ineffable joy that is plumbing DIY. The new plastic tubing has an added bonus - since it's less conductive than metal, and the path between the hot water heater and each device is shorter, hot water arrives almost instantaneously when I turn it on. I can't tell you what a thrill I get every time I turn on the shower. Running hot water is the gift that keeps giving.

Friday, January 08, 2016

This and that

Today I've just got two pictures, to show that my life is more than just work and plumbing.

I snapped this picture in the old house, and it's one of the few that have both the cat and dog in it. My pets are good company, and they keep my quiet house from being a lonely house.
I went to see a friend in my old neighborhood last weekend. When I walked by my former garden, I noticed that a huge patch of fennel had taken root from spilled seeds sometime after I cleaned the garden in early October. It's been so warm this winter that they hadn't frozen, so I picked the whole crop, one day before we got a hard freeze. I love fennel, and this (accidental) crop is the most I've ever grown at once. I've been eating fennel salads all week.

Tuesday, January 05, 2016

Running water - a gift from the gods

     I feel like I just completed a boot camp for home owners. The holidays celebrations were pretty minimal: Christmas consisted of one fairly simple meal and opening gifts, and New Year's Eve was the night we all went to bed early because we were so tired. Almost every day, I woke up and had coffee with my mother, then she started painting. My dad, the night owl, woke up around 9 or 10 am most days (but he would have preferred a less early morning routine). We'd work at a steady pace, stopping mainly for meals and dog walks. I'd crash by 11pm, because I'm now used to an early work schedule, but my father would keep going. In fact, he pulled two all-nighters, something I haven't done since my undergraduate days.
      We were vindicated when my father sawed out the 70-year-old galvanized steel pipes. The corrosion was so thick in the water supply pipe that all the water for my house was coming through a pea-sized hole at a few points. Replacing them has definitely made a big difference: I can run two water-consuming appliances at the same time, and the washing machine doesn't take ten minutes to fill.
 Behold the corrosion.
An expert plumber and his proud apprentice, showing off our handiwork.
     The house was completely plumbed on Saturday morning, and by Saturday at 2pm my parents were packed up and had begun the trip to their next destination, Minnesota. I definitely couldn't have done this without my father's expertise. He soldered to the existing copper, devised creative solutions to the inevitable difficulties that arise when you work on an old house, and taught me as much as he could in nine days. (I suspect that he rather enjoyed the teaching.) 
     I still cannot plumb a house on my own, but if you need a single fixture like a new sink, I'm your woman.