A "Simple" Plumbing Job

plumbers putty Thirty years ago my mother's father handed my father this container of plumbers putty as he passed on a seemingly simple piece of wisdom.

"Here, you'll need this."

What I remember of my grandfather (I called him Nannu) was that he was quiet, nice, and knew how to make or fix anything.  He had this giant metal lathe in his basement and he was the kind of guy that would take a block of metal and turn it into a motor.

When a guy like that says "Here, you'll need this." a smart man listens.

Fast forward 30 something years.  Christine asked for a new kitchen faucet for her birthday and our family delivered. She went out on a Friday night and I decided to install it while she was away. I figured it would be a nice surprise.

I was half right.

Fixing the Sink

What I didn't know getting into this project is that 40 year old plumbing is held together by the will of a deity that is patiently waiting for a good laugh.  Parts have either fused together in some form of unnatural molecular bondage or they break apart if you look at them funny.

As it happened, the faucet handles which I was trying to remove were fused at the molecular level, and the shut off valves as well as the dishwasher drain connector were poised on the edge of sublimation. Very convenient...

As I lay there half submerged under the counter sweating profusely, with Alex standing on one of my legs, Conner on the other, and Allison laughing at who knows what, I realized the stream of obscenities coming out of my mouth were of such a nature that Alex didn't even know to remind me that I had said a bad word. I decided to put the kids to bed.

Three hours later Christine arrived home just as I had managed to remove the existing faucet.

"SURPRISE! The sink doesn't work and don't touch the dishwasher!!" 

The next morning I left at 5am to pick up a replacement for the recently martyred dishwasher drain connector.  I swear I never touched it.  I finished installing the new faucet before Christine woke up. All that was left was to turn the water back on.

That's when things got ugly.

The shutoff valve under the sink started leaking. My father came over to help and we went into the basement to find another shutoff valve so that we could fix the one under the sink.  My basement has not one, not two, but three water heaters. They are connected to each other via a tumultuous ballet of future plumbing bills. Needless to say, it wasn't easy.

With my father's help we managed to find the proper water heater configuration and two shutoff valves needed to stop water from going to the kitchen. Of course one of those shutoff valves started leaking. We eventually had to shut off the main water ingress to the house. Fortunately that one didn't leak because the next step was to set charges and blow the town reservoir.


With the leakage stopped, my father took a small plastic container out of his toolbox and went to work on the  shutoff valves. He had everything fixed in just under 20 minutes. We tested out the new faucet and breathed a collective sigh of relief that we weren't swimming at that moment. Start to finish it was a 19 hour plumbing job.

Just before he left, my father handed me the small plastic container of plumbers putty he had used to fix the shutoff valves.  It was the same container my grandfather had given to him years ago. He said "Here, you'll need this."

Allison's First Steps!

Allison took her first step tonight! I grabbed my camera to catch the second step and she did this!

My little girl is a fast learner!

I am Clark Griswold

IMG_2673Last Thursday night we piled into the car and headed out on a road trip to Story Land. Earlier that evening our lodging had fallen through and we were in a rush to get to a one room hotel in the middle of nowhere in hopes of salvaging the weekend. As I pulled out of the driveway, with my wife at my side, in a minivan packed full of luggage, with three screaming kids in the back I realized that I had become Clark Griswold. And Story Land was my Wally World.

Ok that's a lot extreme. We met up with John, Sara, Emily, Reza, Teresa and Julian and had a great time. We even got into Story Land without taking any hostages! Other activities included playing on a playground, BBQing and, hiking. I fell in a small waterfall while trying to climb out on a rock. At night we hung out, and Reza John and I finished 65% of a Wii game where you shoot rabbits with plungers. It may well be the greatest video game ever made. Here are some pictures from the trip.

Reza and I puked on the tea cups at Story Land. The boys found this to be hilarious.

I got to visit the worlds biggest ion cannon.

Alex drove us around. He's a pretty good driver.

Conner made a new friend while we were BBQing outside...

I don't even know what to say about this...

We came so close to a full family photo! Allison was asleep in the stroller.

Garden Year Two Begins

Garden Week 0

The boys planted our new garden last week. The new yard has a lot of shade so we're using pots on the back deck. The tomatoes, cucumbers, banana peppers, and basil are store bought plants.

The hybrid peppers were grown by my uncle Sam using the seeds from last years possible bell-chilli pepper mix. Mendel ain't got nothin' on us.

Alex's take on The Cat Door

Following the appearance of foxes in out backyard we blocked the cat door in an attempt to keep the cats from getting out and eaten. Tweety snuck out and was trying to get back in which lead to this Alexism.

“Mommy you have to open the cat door and let Tweety in. I wish Jerry had lost a leg; he's too fat to fit through there.” - Alex

Tom's Recovery

Me and Tom

Nine days after having his right rear leg amputated mid-femur, I took tom to have his staples removed. That night he jumped up on the couch, sat on my lap and purred. Christine captured that happy moment in the picture above.

Frankly, I've been floored by this entire experience. Tom was on his feat the day after surgery and just got better every day after that. When I took him to have the staples removed the doctor said he was completely healed. In 9 days... Cat's are amazing!

The part that seemed hardest for him was having to wear an Elizabethan collar during his 9 days of healing. He was downright pathetic. He moping around whenever he had it on but the moment I took it off for some supervised play time he started acting like a kitten.

At this point his recovery seems complete. Tom eats, plays and sleeps pretty much like he used to. He's been laying on my lap a lot tonight and he just ran off to chase a moth.

I never thought I'd be thankful for concepts like YouTube and Blogs, but this experience has put a completely new face on them. Random people's ability and willingness to share all sorts of experiences has provided me with a wealth of perspective that journal articles and doctors failed to impart.

For example, Lizartpix posted a series of 30 second videos of her cat recovering from a leg amputation. I read countless articles and spoke with 3 doctors about options for Tom's condition. In the end it was videos like lizartpix's and the numerous comments from blog posts like this one that lead me to choose his surgery. There's simply no substitute for first hand accounts and seeing actual recoveries when faced with this sort of decision. People's willingness to and freedom to share made that available to me.

Tom's back on my lap with his paws on the edge of my laptop. He just let out a big sigh and is probably pining over the moth he didn't catch. Leg or no leg, Tom was always a crappy hunter.

So he's home and thankfully this episode in our lives appears to be over. I'm grateful to all the people that came out of the woodwork to share their stories and thoughts long before I new I needed them. I'm sure Tom is grateful too, but I'll have to ask him later. He just took off after that moth again.