Monday, October 25, 2010

Diana's Rants: the cast of characters

So it occurred to me that I have a lot of stories about my cats, and I have a lot of cats.  So I figured it would be a good idea to write an "introduction to the cast of characters" post.  This way, when I get to the posts about the cats or what they're doing, I won't have to explain who they are.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

This is a problem we are having, apparently (and also, not just me!)

My doorbell just rang.

It was the city.

They're turning off water to the entire street.  For half an hour.

Apparently, my neighbor across the street has a busted water main.  I saw a plumber's truck out there last week.

I am simultaneously horrified for my neighbor, and intensely, smugly gratified. Although not at my neighbor's expense, but in the "SEE!  I TOLD you!" way.

Apparently, the city is fixing his problem for free as well.  For which I am truly grateful for my poor neighbors.

I should bring them cookies or something this weekend.  And commisserate.


Sunday, October 10, 2010

Adventures in home ownership: the soap dish edition

A few months back, for no apparent reason, I was flailing around wildly in the shower.  And I managed to flail my fist right into the ceramic soap dish, which promptly smashed off the wall and shattered into smithereens.  I managed not to slice my body to ribbons, and have basically just done without the soap dish for a bit (I have a hanging rack on the shower head anyway, and I tend to use gel soap, so, it really was no big deal.)

On one of the MYRIAD trips to Home Depot to fix the spare bathroom toilet, I got a new soap dish, some Liquid Nails, some grout and a small chisel with which to fix the soap dish.

Of course, I wasn't smart enough to measure the thing in advance, so I was left with a guesstimate about the size.  Fortunately, they come in fairly standard sizes, and I've actually a pretty good eye for measuring things, and I got the right sized soap dish.

Still being frankly hacked off about the issue with the back door, I figured some physical labour and breaking of something, with the subsequent fixing of something might prove satisfactory.  The chiselling away of the old adhesive was very cathartic, but it only lasted about seven minutes.

I slobbed about 3/4 of the tube of Liquid Nails on there (some was used this morning on the back door bottom weather stripping), put the soap dish in, smeared it around for good effect, and duct taped it to the wall, where it will sit for the next 24 hours before I grout the sides.

So now my soap dish is fixed, which is good.

I'm still angry, though.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Adventures in home ownership: the door edition

After a great deal of (literal) blood, sweat, tears and at least one pulled muscle, and after two Xanax and me depleting my savings account, I now have a new back door.  Fortunately for me, I already had a saw hole driller, because the spaces for the locks was about four inches off on the new door (and yes, I put it on right side up.  There was weather stripping for the bottom.  It only fits on the bottom.  It's facing the floor.  Fuggoff.).  Also fortunately for me, I was able to get this done so that the door will CLOSE, and that I will be able to lock the locks, because I do not have the money for new locks.  I will on Wednesday.

I just replaced that lock like three months ago.

I still also have to get weather stripping for the top and sides of the door, and the frame frankly looks like a drunken epileptic chimpanzee on meth did the repairs, but I no longer have to worry about my house being IMMEDIATELY burglarized.  I have to pay Christ only knows how much to get the alarm adjusted *in advance*, as well as likely being required to enter into a minimum of a one year contract, though, and I am absolutely furious about all of that.

I am absolutely outraged at this turn of events and don't wish to discuss any more about it.  And I will be getting a new toilet after all, despite having conquered the bolt.  Which is a whole other story in and of itself.

The kicker of it is, I was seriously contemplating doing the tile in the bathrooms, since I had the toilet up already. I even found some tile I like.  But THIS has pushed that comparatively small project back several months.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Adventures in home ownership: the toilet edition (episode 2)

If you haven't already read this post, you need to read it (yes, the entire thing) before you read this one.

Just trust me on this one, it's not going to make any sense if you don't.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Adventures in home ownership: the toilet edition (episode 1)

My house has four bedrooms and two bathrooms. The toilet in the master bathroom got clogged sometime last year. However, I got laid off last year and wasn't making stellar money in the first place, plus my car broke down several times, I almost went into foreclosure, I was going through a divorce, my cat got deathly ill with renal failure, and I had to declare bankruptcy. Needless to say, I just haven't had the money to call a plumber, and I have a second toilet, so I've just used that one.

Granted, I did try to get the master toilet unclogged; I tried snaking it with no luck, poured gallons of caustic chemicals down the thing to no avail, bought a canvas blowbag and several rubber counterparts to it and used them only to get water all over the bathroom, etc. I think I've done my due diligence. The only other thing I can think to do is blowbag out the mainline, which I would have to climb on the roof to do. I might even be willing to do *that*, except my roof is seriously at like a 45 degree angle and although I'm not particularly afraid of heights, and although I like the sensation of falling, that sharp stop at the end can be a real bitch.

About two weeks ago, the spare bathroom toilet handle broke. This is generally not a big deal. A new handle is like, a buck fifty. So I went to Home Depot (trip 1) and bought another one. In the process of replacing that, the overflow tube broke. Annoying as hell, but also not a big deal. If you buy the all in one toilet innards kit and get the expensive one, it's $20. And the new Mr. Diana reminded me that I'd broken it once before, because he mentioned it looked glued. The tube is ten years old. It's a two dollar part. It's probably due for replacement.

I went to Home Depot (trip 2) and got an all-in-one kit, figuring to replace the valve (which of course also started leaking about this time) and the float while I was at it.

To do all that, you have to turn the water off to the toilet. Again, not a big deal, except that when we turned the water back on, the valve started leaking.

Trip to Home Depot the third commences, for a hacksaw (for some reason, the pipe coming out of the wall was a single piece with the valve; apparently that's common in this area at that time of construction), some copper pipe, a new valve and a mechanical splice that they called a "shark bite".

On this particular day, I'm at work, right, and Mr. Diana is at home (we work different days). Right as I'm scheduled to get off, there's a tornado in the city I work in, and security isn't letting people leave the building. Once that tornado passes, there's a different one in downtown (I think there were 7 tornado touchdowns in the metropolitan area during that storm), and it's going along the same route I have to drive to get home. So I decide to sit my fat white ass down in my office chair and mind my own business until it's safe to drive.

Once that tornado passes, there's a HORRIFIC thundercell right over my house. For the life of me, I can't get a hold of Mr. Diana, and so I'm fretting that he's either blown away when the roof tore off the house, or that he's trapped at Home Depot (since he had to go back for a fourth trip for something) without his phone. (It turned out to be neither).

In any case, by the time I get home, it's dark. The pipe coming out of the wall is leaking. (Dripping, not spraying.) It's humid like whoa. And I'm generally just aggravated beyond belief at all of this.

But we've not even gotten started.

A friend of mine sees me sign on to Facebook. He's been desperately trying to get me to sext him all day because he's at home bored, and I've been in training and he's just not taking no for an answer. In an effort not to destroy my friendship with him, I basically snarl at him that I'm in an epically vile mood and to leave me alone. He asks what's going on and asks if I have called the city, which I have not. I did mention that it was after hours, but after thinking about it for about two minutes, I figure it's worth a try. (What are they goign to say, "no"? That leaves me no worse off than I am now, other than a potentially high water bill.) So I call the city and ask if they can turn my water off remotely. The nice policeman who answered the phone informs me that no, they can't, but asks me what's going on. I tell him about the leaking pipe, and that I cannot see the valve to turn the water off because it's under two feet of water (owing to the earlier rains). (Note for the record, it is just about twenty-four inches from the ground to the pipe. I'm not exaggerating about the two feet of water.)

He's like "oh, that's nice," and I'm reply quite sarcastically "oh, yes. I'm just DELIGHTED. Let me tell you." He laughs and takes pity on me and calls utility dispatch who ALSO take pity on me, and some poor sod who was happily minding his own business, warm, dry and clean in his house at 9 pm, drives all the way out to my place to turn the valve off, getting completely soaked and muddy in the process, explains to us how to turn it back on (now that we can see it and know exactly where it is), and leaves to go back to whatever normal thing it was doing when normal people are at home at night.

With the water successfully turned off to the house, we cut the pipe in the bathroom, put the mechanical splice and new section of pipe on, replace the valve, turn the valve on, go outside and turn the water on.

The plan was, I was going to stay in the house and watch the valve, and Mr. Diana was going to go outside and call me from his cell phone. That way, when he turned the water on, I would be able to tell him the condition of the valve (since it's easier to talk on the phone than scream at each other through walls, closed doors and across the yard over the sound of water).

We'd used this method previously for trying to blowbag the master toilet out, and it worked very well.

Not so this time. Mr. Diana drops his Blackberry in the hole the valve is in, which is once again full of water. (Why he didn't use his Bluetooth headset is utterly beyond me.)

He rescues the phone, yanks the battery out and sets the phone out to dry (which later turns out to be fine), and we turn the water back on, and the new valve and pipe are leaking. Quite a bit faster than before, but still just *leaking*.

Now, per the guy at Home Depot, if the mechanical splice leaks, we're to just keep tightening it. Which is what we did. And the thing promptly popped off and in the minute and a half that it took us to get the water shut off back outside, twenty gallons of water sprayed all over the bathroom floor.

By this point we're pissed off, hot, sweaty, sore and fed up. Of course I didn't think that we'd have this many problems (or ANY problems, really; by this point, I figured we'd had our share!) so I hadn't preemptively filled any buckets up with water. This leaves me what's left in the pipes to bathe with and brush my teeth with. And I have to work in the morning.

In the morning, when it's light (and the water from the rain has finally receeded), Mr. Diana goes back to Home Depot (trip number FIVE!) and explains the situation. He buys a special tool (for something ludicrous like $5) to turn the water main on and off with. He fixes the valve in the bathroom so it doesn't leak. He goes back outside, and turns the water main back on...

And discovers the main has broken.

On my side of the demarcation point.

I thought I was going to cry.

Thankfully, the same guy from the city (who was just as congenial as he could be from start to finish, I might add,) came out and fixed it and said that it was close enough to the demarc that he fixed it for no charge.

So now my spare toilet is working, but the master toilet still is not. But at least I have A working toilet.

The next step on the master toilet is to take it off and A) blowbag the toilet and B) blowbag/snake/pour cleaner down the pipe (I'm not exactly sure where the clog is--if it's in the pipe, or the toilet). However, the anchoring bolt is rusted through and I can't get the damned thing off. I tried using the hacksaw but it didn't even TOUCH the bolt. Someone at work lent me a Sawzall and if that doesn't work, as God is my witness, I'm taking a sledgehammer to the damned thing. Because a new, reasonably high tech dual-flush toilet is $98 from Home Depot, and this has caused me significantly more than $100 worth of emotional distress and parts.