The Sordid Sink Story

Here’s the scoop:

Day 1: It’s my first day in our new house. Kevin is at work. We’ve only slept here one night, and I didn’t sleep so well. The house is dusty, and the heater kicks up dust off the very dirty blinds whenever it comes on throughout the night. Since I’m still recovering from a nasty cold and am still coughing a lot anyway, I’m feeling pretty rough. Plus, breathing all the cleaner fumes and dust from cleaning the bathroom just before we went to bed got me off to a bad start for the night.

Nevertheless, it’s morning, we’re more or less moved in, and I’m determined to make some cleaning headway. I start with the stove and the smallest cabinet unit in the kitchen, both of which are thick with dust--construction and otherwise. So I’m scrubbing removable shelves and stove pans in the sink, then rinsing them. I turn the water off--but still hear water running. Freely.

That probably shouldn’t be happening.

Looking for the source of the bubbling brook, I find the remaining drain pipe from the little sink that has been removed from the now-second bedroom. (Remember that random sink?) It is gushing. Uh-oh.

Putting two and two together like the genius I am, I quickly surmise that the drain pipe from the kitchen must be connected to this drain pipe, which was left open for now (That room isn’t finished yet, remember.). I quickly call Kevin. He is busy at work, can’t talk, and tells me to call our contractor friend from church, Jim. He’s at the hospital with his mother, and I know this--but what am I going to do?

So I call, he affirms my genius deduction and says he’ll call another man in the church and ask him to come by and fix it on his way home from work.

Excellent. And, on the bright side, the gushing pipe is right next to the hole in the floor, so all the water is pouring messily into the basement--which is already messy and can’t be hurt. Besides, it’s gushing down right next to the hole in the basement floor where the sump pump is to handle flooding.

So I continue my cleaning, being careful to run all my kitchen water into a dishpan, so as not to cause further drain flooding.

Unfortunately, the man Jim calls about dropping by to plug that pipe goes home sick in the middle of the day. Jim says Kevin can probably figure out what part to get at Home Depot after he gets home. We can handle that.

Then! A banging on the door! Who is here? Does anyone even know I live here now?

Yes! Our pastor does! He was conveniently out this direction, heard what was going on (I’m still not sure how, exactly) and dropped by to fix the problem. He has the wrong part, but returns a few minutes later with a replacement and--voila!--no more open, gushing drain pipe.

I drain my sink full of water. No leaking (except for the small one under the sink, where the trap is corroded--I haven’t mentioned that yet, but it wasn’t a big problem. . .thus far).

End of Chapter 1

With the gushing drain pipe plugged, I am free to use my kitchen sink again, and I am glad. There is a lot of washing to be done, after all.

That evening, however, the sink drain slows to a trickle. Two inches of water in the sink, ten minutes of draining. Three rinses and waits to drain to keep whatever debris is in the water from drying all over the sink. Apparently, with no open drain pipe to gush from, the kitchen sink does not wish to drain at all.

We try Liquid Plumber, and the leak under the sink suddenly becomes worse. Still, it’s not too heavy. In the next day or two, Kevin replaces the corroded trap with a new one. In the process, the threads from the next section of drainpipe, break off. Now the leak is more serious. And the drain is still painfully slow.

I finally finish my four-day section-by-section first mopping of the kitchen, and the 5-gallon sheetrock mud bucket I was using for mop water becomes my slop bucket. I wash dishes and run all kitchen water in a dishpan, which I then empty into the bucket. In the evening, Kevin empties the bucket in the utility sink downstairs. Over the weekend, we consult with Jim again and he advises what to do about the next section of drainpipe (it’s copper and welded on. . .not a simple unscrew and replace job).

Monday, I go to Home Depot while Kevin is at work, hoping to get the sink parts for him and save him a trip (we’re both there enough these days, as it is). The men helping me find what I need have very difficult time understanding what I’m looking for--quite probably because I don’t know what it’s called and my description is. . .decidedly inexperienced. I do, however, finally get the idea across and emerge with the parts.

Kevin is working in D.C. now and doesn’t get home until almost 7 o’clock. But he spends the evening fixing the sink anyway, and is successful! Well. . .kind of. The leak goes away. But the slow drain does not. Apparently, the clogged pipe is not part of the trap.

End of Chapter 2

A week later, we’re still dealing with the slow drain. I run water in the sink when I need to, letting it drain completely and rinsing it several times (little by little) to keep it relatively clean. I still dump a fair amount of water in the mud bucket, and Kevin empties it every couple of days. I need my mop bucket back, though. . .so something needs to change there.

It’s Monday, and I’ve been delaying washing dishes (no dishwasher until we remodel, remember) for several days, because the sink is a pain and it’s easier to do them all at once than a few at a time. Now, however, the time has come. So I put the stopper in one side of the sink and commence running water. Now, understand, when you run water in one side of the sink and it doesn’t drain well, it backs up into the other side. And my stopper is. . .somewhat incompetent. So it leaks water, which quickly backs up into the other side of the sink. Whatever. I keep the hot water running barely, to rinse dishes and keep my sink with enough dishwater in it. It takes a while, but I get everything washed.

I release the stopper. . .not like that will make the sink drain faster, but it’s what you do when you finish washing dishes.

Suddenly, there’s a loud pop and a gurgling, and I jump back, unsure what is happening. BOTH SIDES OF THE SINK SPONTANEOUSLY DRAIN. I run to the plugged drainpipe.

It’s still plugged.

I check under the sink.

No leaking.

I run down to the basement, sure that water is pouring out of a pipe somewhere.

No water.

Eureka! Elation! Ecstasy!

The sink DRAINS!!!

Chapter 4

Later this afternoon, I did call Grandad. I just had to make sure it wasn’t unreasonable to assume that whatever blockage there was had broken itself free, finally. He assured me that could be exactly what happened and probably was, if we couldn’t find any leaks anywhere. All the pipes are exposed in the basement ceiling, so there’s nowhere for leaking water to hide.

Hooray! Something has fixed itself! May this be the precursor of many spontaneously solved problems to come!

The News

Remember when we first moved to Maryland and were without Internet service for the first six weeks? Ever heard that history tends to repeat itself?

We’ve been living in our house for a bit over 2 weeks now, and it will be another 2 and ½ before we have Internet access. Thus, sparse blogging. Again.

In house news, we’re making (slow) progress. The kitchen and I, while still battling furiously, have reached a grudging, two-fold understanding. What, you may well ask, is the substance of that understanding? First, it is that I will survive the kitchen. That is, when all is said and done and this kitchen has passed away to Kitchen--well, we won’t venture to say where this kitchen will spend eternity, as judgment is not the purview of man--but when it has gone to its eternal place of rest, I will still be here with its successor. Second, in this war of wills between cleanliness and grime, I will win. That, I hope, is self-explanatory.

So far, 4 of the 6 storage units (call them cabinets and counters if you will) have been scrubbed inside and out, papered, and inhabited by our kitchen accoutrements. The other 2--the largest and most intimidating 2--are awaiting their scouring. The floor has been swept and mopped once, resulting in one layer less of dirt. It begs for a repeat performance and will get it in due time. The stove absolutely gleams--as long as you don’t lift the stove pans. I’ve only cleaned (really cleaned--I did vacuum out all the loose dust and cobwebs) under 1 of the 3 of those. The chrome on the stove looks like chrome again, and the gas burners and I are getting to know one another admirably. The oven has not yet been touched. I refuse to clean it until we’re sure that it works, and, since the pilot light is out and has to be manually ignited to turn it on, I’ve not yet done that. The exhaust fan over the stove, after 90 minutes of scrubbing and 2 sore arms, is about half clean--the half you can see, though, so I feel better about it. I’ve vacuumed cobwebs and dust from the ceiling, windows, walls, and baseboards; washed and given away the curtains; sprayed and wiped down the walls and baseboards behind furniture. And, amazingly enough, we have at least half of our dishes and foodstuffs unpacked.

We bought the first microwave of our married bliss. Kevin replaced the leaking, corroded trap under the sink (the kitchen sink’s story entire is a whole post in and of itself). He put up towel racks in the bathroom, put knobs on the closet doors, and is in the midst of reinforcing the clothes rod--another task that turned into a bigger ordeal than planned. Soon (hopefully), we’ll find a light fixture for the dining room and material to make curtains for the kitchen, dining room, and living room. There is light ahead.

In baby news, this Thursday will mark 20 weeks, halfway. We have an ultrasound and checkup scheduled for next week, though we’re not going to have the baby’s gender revealed to us. I’ve been feeling well most of the time, and my eating schedule has settled into something more manageable than every 75 minutes. I got a few maternity clothes at one of the local church’s clothes swap this weekend, and we also came home from there with an electric swing in great condition. Our church is giving us a shower in April, while my mom is here to visit. Kevin’s mom and her mom are planning to come up for the festivities as well, though they’ll only be here for that weekend. So, we registered for baby things at Target on Sunday--at least, for most of the bigger stuff. I balk at registering for the little things--onesies, sleepers, crib sheets, blankets, bibs, etc.--because they’re more fun to choose, and we’d rather receive whatever people want to pick out than what we specifically request. Mostly, we searched for the model of each item with the fewest number of bells, whistles, and flashing lights. What does a baby need with battery-operated accessories, anyway?

In random news, Kevin has been working in D.C. for the past week and will continue to do so for this week. That means he leaves the house a bit before 6:30 each morning and gets home sometime between 6:30 and 7:00 each evening. It’s been tiring for both of us, but only for a few more days now. There are trees, bushes, and flowers blooming and budding in earnest here, and I’m thrilled to watch them. Spring is a beautiful thing. We’ll need to buy a lawn mower soon for the meager grass our yard boasts. I hope we’ll get at least a small garden planted this year--tomatoes and peppers, if nothing else--but we’ll see how that goes.

That’s our update for the past week. I promise to take more pictures after the war with the kitchen is over. It takes most of my energy these days. . .none left for artistic pursuits, even simple photography. Have a lovely week, and we’ll meet you here, same place, next week for more news.


Easter - 18 Weeks

I think this picture--or this dress--actually makes me look a little bigger than I am as of yet, but I'm sure it won't be long. :-) We took this one one end of our enclosed porch, one of the few spaces--if not the only--in the house where we could find a background clear of construction or boxes.


Happy Easter

Easter is my favorite of the holidays. I like that it's less-commercialized than Christmas (There are 3 aisles of paraphernalia at Wal-mart instead of 15.). It is, really, the essence of Christianity--without Easter, there would be no reason for Christ. It is the time of year that the Crucifixion and the Redemption it brings are the most real to me, the most present in my thoughts and life.

Tonight we went to the Good Friday service at church. Some thoughts:

One of the elders, discussing Christ's cry, "My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?" mentioned that nowhere else in the account of the Passion does Christ cry out. He does not respond to the charges against Him. He does not--as far as we know--cry out at the physical abuse: the whip, the thorns, the nails, the spear. He does not reply to the mockery. He does not respond to anything, until the full wrath of God--the wrath that met justice's demands for our sin--weighs upon Him. In short, the unimaginable suffering cannot do what my sin accomplishes in a moment.

It is appropriate, if perhaps cliche, to offer George Herbert's Easter Wings for your perusal this weekend. The formatting may be lost, for which I apologize. Be blessed in the grace that is ours by the mercy of God.
Lord, Who createdst man in wealth and store,
Though foolishly he lost the same,
Decaying more and more,
Till he became
Most poore:

With Thee
O let me rise,
As larks, harmoniously,
And sing this day Thy victories:
Then shall the fall further the flight in me.

My tender age in sorrow did beginne;
And still with sicknesses and shame
Thou didst so punish sinne,
That I became
Most thinne.

With Thee
Let me combine,
And feel this day Thy victorie;
For, if I imp my wing on Thine,
Affliction shall advance the flight in me.


Moving In

Congratulate us! We've now slept in our new house for 3 nights. Cleaning and packing and unpacking still in process, but here are some pictures:

The Kitchen, Before

My first corner of sanity

Our Maple tree is budding. . .

and would look like this, if it hadn't recently been butchered. Errr. . .trimmed.

The fat, happy robin doesn't seem to mind.

No time now to relate all the gory details. . .maybe later. Maybe not. Suffice to say progress is being made, and sanity will spread.

17 Weeks


For Love of Flannery

For any of you who I've yet to convert to Flannery O'Connor aficionados. . .

Here is a good write-up about her art, and what comprises Christian art.


More on The Hole

The Hole (see last picture of previous post) was created by removing floor boards to replace the plywood rectangle in the dining room where there was, at some point in the house's past, a floor furnace.

I suggested to the men that it wasn't safe to have a hole like that in the Baby's room, but they insist it won't be a problem. (Joke. That was a joke.)

On the other hand, I suggested it could be an enduring object lesson--to go with Jonathan Edwards' great imagery in Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God. You know, the part where we are all dangling like spiders over the pit of Hell and are only saved from falling by the mercy of God, which could end at any second?

Sorry, that's probably only slightly funny--even if you are Reformed, recognize Edwards' sermon, and have my slightly twisted sense of humor.

Not to worry, the hole will be repaired long before Baby arrives.

Moving Soon!

Hooray! We have some furniture actually IN THE HOUSE now (the pieces we bought with the house are back inside from their temporary storage on the enclosed porch), and we expect to move the rest of our furniture by the end of this weekend. We could actually have Easter in our new home!

There's still a lot of work to do, of course, as there will be for several years to come. The baby's room is still in a woefully unfinished stage, as it is not immediately essential. The trim--baseboards, window, door, etc.--has yet to be stripped, painted, and replaced. The new half bathroom is only an unfinished little square--without drywall, even--and the master bath is replete with tacky metallic wallpaper. The kitchen--well, that's not on the agenda yet.

Nevertheless, the walls and floors and lights are ready in our bedroom, the living room, and the dining room. The master bath has a temporary shower in place. The kitchen, vintage 1950's, is functional. And that is all we really need.

For many reasons, we are ready to move. The decrease in Kevin's commute time will literally cut our gas budget by at least 50%, if not more. Proximity to his workplace will also make it easy for me to have the car when I need it for grocery shopping and such during the day, instead of making Kevin go with me in the evenings. It will be so much easier to work on the house when we have a little time, rather than needing to set aside hours or days to go over there. There will only be one utility bill. And, last but not least, it's almost SPRING, and I want to PLANT things!

Here are a few pictures of the latest progress:

Flowers in the Backyard, almost ready to bloom

New Closet doors for the New Closet in the MBR

New Shower

Our New-Used Furniture, not yet cleaned of construction dust

Just to keep things in perspective--the gaping hole in the Baby's Room

Could that, perhaps, be a safety hazard???


The Great Thing About Wood Floors Is. . .

they make excellent cutting guides!

I was cutting some fabric this afternoon. While I do have a rotary cutter and mat, they were inconvenient for my task. However, I do not trust myself to cut a long straight line with scissors. What to do?

Wood floors to the rescue! The slight grooves between the boards are just perfect to guide my scissor tips, providing a perfectly straight line for my now-perfectly-rectangular fabric. Genius!

Gracious Betrayal

My newfound similarities with the shirefolk prompted an urge to watch the Tolkien movies again--and to read the books, but I am determined to finish Paradise Lost first. So, in the past couple weeks, we've watched the first two of the trilogy. And I was thinking. . .

(Of course, Tolkien's series are rich in analogies to life, and perhaps this one isn't new. Nevertheless, I'll share it.)

In The Two Towers, Frodo and Sam are captured by men from Gondor. Gollum, serving as their guide to Mordor, is (initially) not. Hungry for fresh fish, however, he goes fishing in the "forbidden pool" outside the soldiers' caves. Rather than see him killed, Frodo confesses that Gollum is bound to serve him and then tricks Gollum into being captured.

Gollum, understandably, is furious at Frodo's betrayal. He does not know that his life has been spared, only that at Frodo's persuasion, he has fallen into captivity and abuse. The trust that he had developed in Frodo's good intentions toward him is dissolved, and, shortly thereafter, he hatches his plan to lead Frodo and Sam to their deaths.

We are sometimes in Gollum's position, happily going about our business--as Gollum is playfully enjoying the water and the prospect of fresh food--when we are jerked up short. We may be caught by pain or temptation or an unpleasant situation. And, like Gollum, we turn reproachfully upon our Master as if he had betrayed us--never realizing that, in subjecting us to the circumstance, He has saved our lives.

If Gollum had seen clearly enough to know Frodo's heart, to know the sympathy and kindness Frodo intended toward him, he would not have turned against him. He might have been confused, and certainly dismayed, but not bitter. Likewise, if we know our Father well enough to know His unconditional love for us, we cannot rail against the difficulties He allows us to endure. Although we may not understand how, we know that He is saving not only our lives, but our eternal souls.


I Confess to Being Conservative

At the risk of annoying some, I share this quote from John Derbyshire on The Corner on National Review Online.
The entire problem with healthcare is that it's a risk-reward curve. How far do you want to (or: can afford to) let people go along the curve? About 95 percent of the healthcare that people need can perfectly well be supplied by nursing assistants with a couple of years' training, or Third World providers like the ones I discussed. When you climb up into the remaining five percent, you are in the zone where real doctors and expensive equipment are needed. Keep going and you enter the zone of million-dollar drugs, teams of specialists, experimental technology, and months of intensive care. A billionaire can of course travel all the way along the curve. Should the rest of us be able to? Our system is organized around the answer "yes." This is probably untenable. Sooner or later you're going to die. Get used to it.

I grant that this ends a bit harshly. And I grant that I do not know enough to readily offer a solution to our current healthcare conundrum. However, I submit that, without many of our subsidized programs, the demand for expensive treatments would lessen, driving costs down--which would, in turn, increase the demand and restore some sort of market balance to the system. Just a thought.


Have you read this?

It is not often I see a book of contemporary fiction that truly interests me. My book-sense, I believe, is irrevocably married to the classics. This post from Wittingshire, however, begged investigation. And further investigation begs to read the book, which is classified as being in the tradition of the Brontes and du Maurier (hence, true to my classics-love).

It's called The Thirteenth Tale and is by Briton Diane Setterfield. The biography quote that first demanded by attention? "I'm used to living a really quiet life with lots of space to think. I'm not used to being so busy and social and meeting all these people. It's not that I'm anti-social, just that I like my own company, and I've been living with people who aren't real for the past few years – I find real people a lot more demanding."

Check out the book's promotional website (there's a link on the Wittingshire page)--it's wonderfully Gothic.



Please explain to me how some states prosecute unlicensed daycare providers and some states pay them--even if their only claim to provider status is providing daycare for a family member--and want to force them to form a union, so they can bargain for more pay and benefits. Benefits!?!

Will I get a state paycheck for staying home with our baby? I mean, if grandmas can be paid for childcare, why not moms?


By Popular Demand

For all of you clamoring to observe my progression to a larger-than-average waistline. . .here's your first glimpse.


A Hearty Laugh

I'm not sure I buy the distinct inner dichotomy Mr. Fea depicts here, but the opening paragraph is good for a laugh.

Can Presbyterians fall in love? Okay, everyone falls in love, but when people think of Presbyterians they normally conjure up images of stoic Protestants whose kids eat oatmeal and memorize the Westminster Confession of Faith. Reverend Maclean, the Montana minister and father figure played by Tom Skerritt in A River Runs Through It, comes to mind. Presbyterians don't "fall" in love—they rationally, and with good sense, ease themselves into it.

Presbyterians in Love, by John Fea