Thursday, December 22, 2011

Exhilarating! (or so I kept telling myself)

That's what most of my date night looked like last night. 

And walking into the kitchen this morning to make coffee was akin to returning to the scene of a crime.

But -- now, under my sink it looks like this:

Look at all those new, clean, sealed, pretty white PVC pipes!  That don't ask water to defy gravity!! The clouds parted and the angels sang -- the second time we turned the water on to test it...

The first time, not so much.  And by "not so much" I mean, a different pipe gushed more than the pipe with the original problem we were fixing.  Me?  I wouldn't even turn the water on to test it -- I was enjoying the briefest moment of ignorance and bliss, admiring Red's work and believing that all was well.  So he was the brave one who turned it on while I watched the pipes.  "Okay...  OH!  Turn it off!" 

That turned into a trip to a 9 p.m. run to Home Depot  Lowe's WalMart, because that is who is open at 9:15 on a week night who sells plumbing parts.  As we headed out the door I pronounced that it was sort of "exciting" to be going to Home Depot so late at night -- an adventure! I said.  Until we realized that both Home Depot and Lowe's were already closed for the night.  That's when we realized we were heading to WalMart.  Three days before Christmas.  Oh boy. 

In true WalMart style, we witnessed a cat fight by two grown women in the electronics department that had garnered an actual audience -- it was as though every shopper heard there was a show in the electronics department and mosied on over.  As far I could tell, nobody was making any effort to shut it down -- I mean these ladies were screaming.   Maybe it boosts sales... I don't know.  I dragged Red away before it escalated to hair pulling.  Which might have been as much fun as he would have all night long.  Sorry.  On the way home at a red light I exclaimed, "This is exhilarating, being out so late!  And Wal Mart!  Before Christmas!"  We both just laughed.  Ah, yes.  Exhilarating indeed.

And so for a grand total of 4 hours of Red's time while I sat on the floor nearby providing critical (I'm sure) moral support and critical (I know) gopher duties, I have a functioning kitchen sink again.  For probably about $50.  I'll say it again, "Thank you, Red!"  I didn't get to dance in the Home Depot aisles (because Red is such a boy scout that he went there and bought parts before he came to my house!) and between the plumbing and the required "wind down" afterwards, we only got about 4 hours of sleep, but I saved a tidy sum of money and I learned a thing or two about plumbing.  But I won't lie:  As he was tightening the fittings that adjoined the 81 year old pipes I couldn't even look.  Couldn't.  Even.  Look.  I tried really hard to keep admonishments such as "be careful!"  "Don't over tighten it -- please" to myself, but I know a few slipped out. 

So now, it's dry under there.  I know my p traps are clean (go ahead, raise your hands if you can say that!  And how many of you have TWO?  I do.)  And I learned that apparently my garbage disposal has enough horse power to qualify as a "beast" -- I'm told it has so much horsepower that I could drop (animal of COURSE, ahem) bones down it.  Perfect for a vegetarian who composts and recycles... ha ha 

Today when I am out and about I'm going to look at some laminate floor tiles or something to put down on the floor in that cabinet.  Something NEW.  Maybe even pretty.  And then I'll put things back unde the sink.  Red off handedly suggested that I pull up those boards, suggesting that I could replace them, or, depending on what is under them, just leave them out.  I just stared at him.  And then I said, "You know that if I rip those out I am going to just keep on going and that whole thing is going to come out, right?  Because I won't be able to stop -- it will be so satisfying to have it all just gone gone gone."  Er, right.  Don't take those boards out.  I'm sure they are fine...

This morning over coffee we day dreamed about casting our own concrete countertops, or industrial/commercial stainless steel tables for counters, and sinks in styles like this:

Or this:

Whatever it ends up being, whenever I get to do demolition, we'll be thinking outside the box.  Kitchen remodel day dreaming could be a zillion posts all on its own, and I can't go there now.  For now, I've vowed that if I get Monday off work that I am going to finish ripping the sheetrock off the wall in my bedroom and at long last get the new door trim that has been patiently waiting on the floor on a beach towel installed.  One project at a time, right?  We just aren't always in charge of the schedule...

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

The Cookie Gods are Laughing

I expect you are just as busy this week as I am -- last minute preparations for the holiday weekend and all that goes with it.   I have a lot to cram into this week like everyone else does, but admittedly I do my best work under a tight deadline.  I am a list maker (and a dish soaker, but that's another post) and I of course have a tidy list of what I plan to do each morning and night this week to knock out all the things that must happen.  A little less sleep, a build up of unwatched shows on my DVR and it's all going to get done.  Except...

So, night Monday night, in the torrential rains, I did what I'd hoped was my last grocery store run for the week/weekend.  (Don't be impressed; it turns out I missed some things and was going to go back last night...)  I had assembled various recipes -- mostly for cookies and bars -- (oh my gosh and this really divine looking chocolate salted caramel tart) and my well oiled machine of a schedule dictated that I would make the doughs last night, and bake tomorrow night for Friday night and weekend consumption.  And irrational as it sounds, I cleaned up the kitchen before I started the dough making.  You know, a clean slate to mess up.  My kitchen trash is under my kitchen sink, and I had the cabinet doors open as I tidied.  Some things went into compost; (a lime wedge from last night's beer) some things were going into the trash; and then dishes into the dishwasher.  I was humming along, wrapping things up, and I did a quick zip of my garbage disposal.  And my knees got wet.

A moment in time, that.  A moment of confusion.  I looked down into the sink.  Some mental gymnastics:  "Are my knees wet?  My knees feel wet."  And then, realization:  My knees are wet.   And my socks.  I back up and peered under the sink.  Oh yes, water.  Where water shouldn't be.  Not gushing, but definitely more than a drip.  JOY.

Out came the trash can, and the tray of scrubbies... and the gallon jug of vegetable wash... and then I saw it.  The gravity defying pipe had finally corroded enough that there was about a 3 inch horizontal jagged gash in it.  Honestly.  Really?  Christmas week?

I got a towel, mopped things up and assessed:  Was it still dripping?  Yes.  How "attached" is that pipe?  e.g. Is it a 7 foot pipe with 17 connections (obviously exaggerating)?  No, about a 15 inch pipe connecting two pipes.  Okay... seems somewhat manageable.  And then I did what I always do after I realize I have a problem on my hands that may be larger than I want to tackle alone:  I called Red.

I gave him the cheery, "Hi!   How are YOU?"  He knows better.  "Well I'm fine -- but what's going on there?"  Ahhhh.  I explain.  We decided we will try to replace it, and if we can't, I'll call a plumber.  He warily asked if this was something I wanted to do right away, or could it wait until tomorrow night (Weds.) when he's over anyway for date night.  (We now have a VERY romantic date night planned, involving the plumbing aisle at Home Depot and laying on our backs under the sink.  But Home Depot plays the best music, and much to Red's chagrin I usually end up dancing in the aisles, so there is that.)

The unfortunate back story here is, when I bought my house, a plumber looked under the sink and laughed and proclaimed that someone before me had done some reverse engineering.  Engineering that defies gravity.  But, it was mostly working -- some water would always sit in the pipe that is sloped up instead of down -- and it was connected to some original (read "old and fragile") pipes, and frankly he didn't want to fix that and cause a larger problem in the process.  Fast forward to tonight. Yeehaw. (The bath tub plumbing has suffered a similar fate, I suspect at the hands of the same "I can fix this" homeowner.*  Talk about waiting for the other shoe to drop.)

So here's what we're looking at.  Here's the overview:

Let me help you because that's just a crazy photograph.  The foil on the back wall is insulation held up with black duct tape.  That's an exterior wall, and being a 1929 house my walls do not have insulation, so I added that when I ripped out cabinets (when I realized that it was, um, COLD under there.  Where my pipes are.  Uh huh.)

Next we have some lovely shelf paper, upon which are resting two drinking glasses, holding up two 9"x13" baking pans with towels in them to catch drips.  (I have a fan blowing into the cabinet to dry it.)  And then... see the horizontal silver pipe running from the garbage disposal on the left, uphill to the right hand sink pipe?  That is the culprit.  I wrapped it in duct tape (which really didn't help much.)  When I squeezed the pipe with my hand, it was sort of soft -- I'm not a plumber, but I am fairly confident when I say that isn't a desirable attribute for a pipe.  That's the pipe that continually holds water because of the whole gravity defying thing.  So no huge surprise that it finally corroded.

Here's a view of where it connects on the left, on the back of the disposal -- the disposal that I would just as soon just take out and reclaim that space under the sink:

My common sense assessment of how to solve the upward slope issue is that basically the right hand side of that white PVC p trap needs to be longer/higher so that the pipe is at least horizontal, if not sloped the opposite way. 

Here's the right hand side:

The other pipe with the p trap visually looks like its corroded, but it still feels solid when you touch it.  But do you see the vertical skinny pipe in the background against the insulation?  That's 81 years old.  Me no want to touch that. 

Meanwhile, after I got the pans and towels in place, I needed to see how wet things were under there.  e.g. how long has this been going on and I didn't know it?  The inside of the cabinet door was just barely dirty, telling me that it hadn't been getting the power blast of water every time I ran the water.  And I very rarely use my garbage disposal for a host of reasons -- that probably bought me some time.  I pulled up that shelf liner paper** -- well past its prime anyway.  Under it were planks painted white -- clearly original, damp but not rotted.  The bead board on the right wasn't wet at the bottom... I looked in the next adjoining cabinet and it seemed dry. 

All of the looking around inside cabinets (and I use that term loosely) just heightened my already very strong desire to gut my kitchen.  The counters don't exactly sit on cabinets -- they sit on a wooden wall with doors cut into it -- and I know from ripping out the cabinets before that it would all pull out very easily.  And the counter tops -- that 4" square white ceramic tile with grout that is supposed to be white?  Loathe.

You can read about my previous kitchen demo antics here
and here

(Sorry for the clunky links.  I know there is a prettier way to do that but I haven't taken the time to figure it out.)

I frankly think I could be pretty happy with planks on saw horses in there, (that is not an exaggeration, I really like camping) just to be rid of the cabinets... but I will muster my restraint.  Rationally I know that (a) I need to finish the bedroom wall project first; and (b) a kitchen remodel of any scale is not in my current budget.    But ohhhh the temptation now is even greater.  Must.  Remain.  Strong.  And, at least for the next meal or two, eat out, and, probably buy cookies for Friday night that someone else has baked. 

As per normal, I think we can probably fix this ourselves.   Okay, so maybe I'll be home from work on Thursday, waiting for a plumber, but at this point I am still optimistic.  It's sort of an adventure, right?  Earlier this week I re-caulked my bathtub with great success, so I'm feeling all plumber-y!  Stay tuned for updates... Let's all hope that the next post opens with a cookie sheet of freshly baked cookies...

*  I suspect the same homeowner who truly believed  that everything could be fixed with caulk.

**  I probably should have saved it when I ripped it out -- I'll bet there is some obscure State Fair award category for it.

Monday, December 19, 2011

A Celery Experiment

I read on Pinterest that you can plant the end from a bunch of celery when you cut it off and that it will grow.  Really?

Really.  This goes into the category of "Who Knew?"

I made sure it was an organic bunch of celery... and I don't have any illusions that I'll never store-buy celery again, but nonetheless.... who knew?

If I had a Hammer...

Here's a photo of that cute hammer Christmas ornament that I mentioned in the last post:

Isn't it charming?  It's my new favorite.  I don't believe that I'll actually take it to a Habitat build, though.  (Someone might steal it.)  :::grin:::