Painful Repairs

Dearest Rachel –

For what it’s worth, I didn’t spend a lot of time at the ‘office’ today. After talking about it for some weeks, the day is finally here, and Dad is going to have his cataract surgery. Surprisingly, he’s not all that nervous about it; personally, I’d be an absolute wreck. The mere idea of even a puff of air at my eyeball causes me to wince (my optician, when he tested me with this, acknowledged my recoil reflex was so strong that “you know, I don’t think laser eye surgery is for you). I can’t even bring myself to put contact lenses on; and can’t for the life of me fathom how others do it. But while he admits to having put this surgery off for some time, he adds that his procrastination was a no more than a case of delaying the inevitable.

“It’s just a part of growing old,” he explains to me, and I find myself thinking about how little I’m looking forward to that part of the process. One more reason for you to be envied, as you’ve managed to avoid this sort of issue.

Then again, I think you were actually kind of looking forward to when you’d pass through menopause, and no longer have to deal with ‘falling to the Communists,’ as we would sometimes jokingly refer to that time of the month. Of course, you never even got the chance to start in on that process, so who’s to say if that would have been a pleasant experience in and of itself or not?

In any event, since he and Mom were scheduled to report to the hospital around noon, I figured I might as well head out at about the same time. Partly because, since they park their car in the middle of the garage, they need to drive just a little bit around me when I’m in their driveway, in order to get out and go out, but also partly because I have to deal with a few fixes on my end at home.

As eventful as yesterday was – and as productive as it was – there are always a few things that I couldn’t take care of. Not that I have the talent or skill to do so… or, let’s face it, the motivation to do so even if I had the other two attributes. Although, I did actually call to make arrangements to have someone come over with all of them.

You see, a couple of weeks ago, I’d gotten a notice on our door from the village, not unlike the one we got a few years back after we’d been on vacation for several weeks, and some neighbor complained about the length of our grass (I didn’t know until then that there actually was an ordinance that grass could only be so high – like eight inches – until that point). This time around, it wasn’t so much a violation as a heads-up; apparently, they’d just read our water meter, and it registered usage that was way out of line compared to what we normally use.

How out of line? The water bill, when it arrived, was twice as large as I’d normally be expecting.

To be fair, I knew what the cause was. I don’t know how long it had been going on, or when it started (or why), but both of the toilets that we use (more on that in a moment, so you don’t need to interrupt me about the one downstairs. Although you might not have even thought to mention it, as the last you would remember, we could barely get to that particular bathroom for all the stuff there) had been running intermittently. The one by the master bedroom was a fairly steady trickle, to the point where it didn’t seem to need flushing – any liquid would be diluted to nothing over the course of an hour or two. The girls actually suggested I replace the flapper (yeah, it’s actually called that) when they came over for the chocolate tasting – or was it the time before? Anyway, that gives you a rough idea about what a known issue it was.

Upstairs, I wouldn’t have noticed were it not for the fact that I actually use the office from time to time these days, but every five minutes of calm is followed by two or three of the tank running like it was trying to completely refill. And of course, the one downstairs was completely dry, like it had been shut off years ago.

So yesterday, I got the number of a place my folks recommended, only to find out we’d used them five years ago for something or another – you would remember, but I don’t. It might have been the piping connecting our septic system to the village sewer line, but I couldn’t prove it – to see when they could get a professional out to deal with this laundry list of repairs (at least the laundry wasn’t a thing that needed repair). Miracle of miracles, they had someone in the neighborhood this afternoon, and would that work for me? You’d better believe it would.

But since there’s no predicting how long a job will take, I was given a window of between noon and four p.m. that the technician would show up. And that’s why I headed home, after barely a couple of hours at the ‘office,’ at the same time as the folks left for the hospital.

I should point out that, while I let Daniel know about the appointment as soon as I got off the phone, I must not have spelled out the fact that the plumber would be taking care of all three facilities. Last evening, when I was relating the situation to the folks, I was filling them in (to let them know I wouldn’t be staying long at their place, at which point they reminded me of Dad’s surgery – so that all kind of worked out), and Daniel… appeared to react poorly to finding out that I was having the toilet upstairs fixed. On our way home from church, he said something to the effect that “you wouldn’t understand,” before lapsing into silence for the rest of the drive home. I did not know what to make of that.

This series of repairs was starting to look like it was going to be more painful than it should be.

Thankfully, once we were home, we could both enjoy (at least, until I fell asleep like I do) a new channel we found on YouTube, where this gamer simply plays a series of sandbox games as wrong as he possibly can, just to see what happens. It’s funnier than it sounds, but his voice, while appropriately snarky, is evidently in that low register that causes me to fall asleep after an hour of watching the effects of his antics. Still, laughing together is so much better than stony silence, or any of those preachers, so I’ll take it as a win.

So after leaving the office (and stopping for groceries, as we could use a little more fruit in our diet – to say nothing of the fact that chocolate spread works pretty well on the stuff, and we have a lot to consume before it goes bad), I got home and waited for the fellow to show up. In the meantime, I got regular updates from mom via text, wherein dad was getting checked in, the surgery was starting, and finally, everything was done and they had arrived home. Nice to know that went quickly and smoothly; now, if only we could get started here at the house.

But finally, I got a text that turned out to not be from The folks; it was a notice from the technician, stating that he was on his way. Sure enough, barely a couple minutes later, there was a knock on the door, at which point I let his in and showed him around.

The two running toilets he had solved almost before I could explain it to him, but what I didn’t expect was that he took a look at the master bathroom, and told me he could fix that mineral buildup in the pipes (and how that might have been part of the problem, as well). He poured a sulfuric-acid based solution into the tank, before going on to work on the others – ‘got to let the acid wash do its work,’ he said, warning me to remove myself from the area for a while due to the fumes.

The color is attention-grabbing enough, but the photo doesn’t pick up on the fact that it was actually steaming a little bit – or at least, there was vapor rising from the commode
Upstairs, he simply changed out the flapper and…I think he called it a fill valve. In any event, he didn’t even need to shut off the water, like he did for the master bathroom, and he was done before I could even think to take ‘before’ and ‘after’ pictures.

Downstairs – while something about afterthought in comparison to the other two toilets – proved to be the real challenge, in part due to the time since it last contained water, and partly due to the reason it might have been shut off in the first place. Apparently, there was a leak between the tank and the bowl that would create a puddle on the floor in rather short order. We probably had it shut off way back when because of that – and because we rarely ever bothered to use that bathroom (or the basement in general).

But when it’s dry, it’s more or less harmless.

At this point, I remembered I was dealing with a plumber, and decided to get out of his way – no sense wasting his time, especially since it runs $140 an hour. And a little more than an hour later, it was all taken care of.

So what if the bill will take five months of reduced water bills to pay off? Everything is up and running – but only when it’s supposed to be – and those months will come and go before we know it. So it won’t be as painful as that, after all.

Wish you could see these results, honey. Wonder what you’d think of them.

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I am Rachel's husband. Was. I'm still trying to deal with it. I probably always will be.

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