Monday, Monday – Adventures in Plumbing

Kage Baker did not deal with repairmen. For all I know, she might have been good at it – but she just didn’t do that, so we never found out. It was just the way she was. She’d retire to her room and read – couldn’t even write, not with strangers wandering about the living room.

But there were rarely repair emergencies in her room, so it was safe to hide in there. And it gave us somewhere automatic to put the parrot – Harry would either get insanely territorial or insanely affectionate; either way, it was awkward having to pry the bird off the plumbers or the phone tech. I have confined him to his night-time cage right now; the baby gate that keeps the Corgi from licking the repairmen to death is no bar to someone with wings and a set of pliers for a mouth.

Today, we are hosting plumbers. They are good plumbers but as they have to work in both the kitchen and the bathroom, the entire house has been disrupted. Mind you, we now have a new bathroom vanity, complete with new plumbing and fixtures – and shortly we’ll have a new garbage disposal as well. I love garbage disposals, more than even dishwashers. Washing dishes can be sort of soothing, but a good garbage disposal will keep your kitchen pipes from clogging up.

Until it goes feral and turns on you, of course. Once it joins the Dark Side, there is nothing worse. It’ll even prevent the dishwasher from working, whether it’s a machine or human hands, because nothing will drain … one of the chief minions of evil, is a bad garbage disposal.

However, even with good things happening today, there are problems. The old, old, old plumbing has set a few ambushes – the end of the inflow pipe crumbled to rust when they took off the original faucet. Removing the old bathroom sink revealed a hitherto unsuspected old gas pipe (capped, thank goodness) that had to be accommodated …  you can’t just saw those things off like rose suckers, you know? Decisions have had to be made on half-a-dozen last minute spatial relationships: the sink had to be moved to one side of the gas pipe, which pushed a bookcase out of the way, which re-arranged the corner behind the toilet; and so on  ad infinitum, or at least what feels like it.

Removing the old garbage disposal revealed that the pipes in the kitchen were installed with 3 or 4 unnecessary u-bends and traps. No one can exactly tell why, but it sure explains why it drains so slowly … now weird noises are emanating from the kitchen, where I think they are removing a hyperspace portal from under the sink.  Man, it looked like an old Windows screen saver in there.

And did you know that the engines in garbage disposal are measured in horse power? That’s kind of scary. I okayed a half-horse power motor, which is more than the lawn mower has; and that’s on the low side. Apparently I could have installed something capable of getting rid of small branches and body parts.

It’s all these new experiences and snap decisions and sudden catastrophes attendant upon household repair that Kage simply would not handle. I think she would have preferred if plumbing were all plug and play, like DVD games – but even in modern houses, that’s not the case. And this house, despite the electrical outlets and hot water and heat-conserving insulation, despite the unit-per-person wireless computer network my nephew and I have proudly installed, is at heart a lathe-and-stucco California cottage almost a century  old.

You gotta be flexible to keep a house like this running. Kage could handle all the wildest vagaries of history with batting an eye – she could look a volcanic eruption in the eye, and raise it a plague of locusts on the side; she could sum up a civil disturbance on a scale from art riot to the siege of Kabul and take the appropriate measures. (Which was handy in some of our adventures …)

Plumbing’s tougher. But it will be soooo great when it’s done.