Tag Archives: plumbing

Surprise Blooms and an Unidentified Blockage

red flowers

About a month ago, I was either getting the mail or taking out the trash when I noticed something red on one of the bushes in front of my house. I rarely use the front door, except to water the jasmine that’s out there, so I never look at the bushes. I smiled as I approached the bush — it had a few of these cool red flowers that I’ve never seen on it. I have lived here for almost two years without this bush blooming to my knowledge.

red flowers
Standing in front of the surprise blossoms was like having a conversation with a friend who still continues to surprise. There are many more things to know about parts of our lives — inanimate or not — than we consider.


And then there are inanimate things that we — or I — could live a happy life without “consider”ing. Desert plant buffs, prepare to cringe. Before the holidays when my amazing neighbors came to help hack down all my bushes, they suggested trimming this plant by tying up part of it and just trimming whatever was underneath it. Part of this was to deter pack rats and spiders and promote the general health of the backyards that all four intersect in the corner where the plant resides. Come spring, I was throwing a going-away party for a co-worker and thought this to be a good time to approach this task. I whined and cried and pissed and moaned as I crawled around under that thing for maybe two hours with a pair of gloves and a small pair of handheld gardening clippers. The spiky fronds kept pulling at my hair and scratching and stabbing pretty much my entire body. Add to that the spider webs I found, the old dead rotten oranges fallen from the neighbor’s orange tree, and intermittent and sudden “scurrying” by lizards, and I was not a happy girl. I had a huge pile of spines and other plant parts by the time my wrist was ready to throw in the towel. I am still only half finished. If you see a tweet in the feed about me opening a beer at 7:30 in the morning, you’ll know I am tackling the rest of those damn dead fronds. As I was working I kept thinking that the previous owner should’ve trimmed them AT LEAST once (!!), but to be fair, I have lived here for a while now and could’ve done it much sooner too.


Just to add a little more fun to the subject of the almost-succulent from hell, a stalk has grown out of the top of it and is, of course, leaning toward my neighbor’s yard as it begins to flower. Really need to keep an eye on that sucker as the monsoon approaches. Ah, the perks of DIY landscape maintenance.

As a horrific note, my sons thought it would be a good idea to fill my compost can with water . . . and leave it sitting there . . . in the heat . . . without telling me about it . . . so that after a few days it was positively putrid and full of f_______ flies. I had to drain a bunch of the water; hated that. I put a bunch of dirt in the can to dry it up and the boys heard about it from me.

Moving indoors, I repaired a towel rack last week. My Monkey Children like to swing on the towel racks, naturally.

towel rack

I bought a Tiny Screwdriver set as suggested by Video Joe Knows. It came with a standard and a phillips head screwdriver, mini, as the name suggests. Turns out all you have to do is screw the part that holds the bar into the little flat piece mounted on the wall. That took about 1 minute to do as my son cleaned out their bathroom drain:


That’s the first time it’s ever stopped up that much. And the water is murky because they continued to use the sink to brush their teeth and rinse out their mouths in it. So that is my eldest son’s hand in the photo as I am instructing him to untwist and pull out the stopper of the drain. He asked why he had to and I explained that it’s their drain and he needs to learn to do it, that he’s a boy and boys like gross things, and lastly that I would vomit if I had to do it. After some complaining and wrestling with the stopper, he got it out and we were faced with this:


Bleh. He wore a glove because he wanted to and used about 187 toothpicks to pull all that crap out. He thought it was hilarious how unsettled I was by that gunk. He was proud to have gotten it all out though. Little punk. He even WAVED some of it at me. Gross.


I had him clean out the sink after that and put all of our tools away where they go. I don’t understand what that is in the drain and I don’t want to know. Perhaps some preventive maintenance is in order. It’s funny the things I am still learning about running a home. I don’t know if these things are basic or obvious but I suppose the important thing is that I am learning them.

My basil seeds sprouted on Wednesday.

Time to make a drink. Good night.


Step One

The drain in my shower upstairs is clogged. When I shower, water backs up and gets up to my ankles and drains very very slowly. It’s hair in there, I know it is. And I hate pulling hair out of drains. Who doesn’t, right? So step one was to check out youtube.com for a video on how to clear the drain. This was the best one I found:


Informative and horrifying all in one. Entertainment, folks. This afternoon I gathered up some newspapers to catch the clog, a screwdriver for the plate in the tub, and my rubber gloves that thinly protect me from nasty things. I started to unscrew the screws and . . .


. . . paused to take a photo so you could see the process and what I found. I was looking for an attachment similar to the one in the above video that connects a long metal part from the plate down to a spring designed to hang near the drain and catch debris. The idea is that you can pull the plate off and with it the clog. Then you replace it and shower clog-free. I found that I have no such attachment and next week you will find a post from me on how to use a plumber’s auger, or rather, my experiences with a plumber’s auger. Also known as a “snake”. Sigh.

Take Your Time

Sit back, reader, and prepare to learn. Or laugh. Or yawn, roll your eyes, or X out of your browser. Today’s topic is Repair a Leaky Faucet. Officially. A few years ago I watched videos on how to do it. I don’t remember anything coming of it except for confidently dismantling my own faucets to clean them. I know, exciting! I noticed that the sinks in each of the bathrooms here in our humble abode occasionally leaked and it wasn’t until the boys left their sink stopped up one night and it was full of water the next morning that I knew we had an issue. I honestly put it off for so long because I’ve been irrationally dreaming about new vanities in each restroom and thought that repairing them meant accepting them forever.
So I began to review repair videos. This one I enjoy very much.

They pretty much all said the same thing, just a different moustache to pair with each sink. One comment did stand out to me though and that was to take your time and make sure you have everything you need. What a good point to make. Why rush through when the job will still get done and maybe done even better if I just take my time and enjoy it? I have both styles of screwdriver and a wrench and I’ve had “assorted washers” sitting in my glovebox for months from when I admitted to myself it was time to repair the faucets. I waited until after I picked the kids up from school to tackle this one. I have decided to give them every opportunity I can to learn about tools and building and breaking. I rounded up my wrench, my standard screwdriver, my phillip’s head screwdriver, the boys, and my washers and headed to their bathroom. We turned off the water supply to the sink and turned the faucets “on” just to be sure they were empty. We then plugged the sink, just like the video. I then removed the “decorative cap” from the handle like so:

caps off

After that, I unscrewed the center screw to release the handle from the valve beneath it. There was a plastic ring around the valve so I pulled that off too and arranged it so you can see all the pretty pieces. I would like to mention here that we took this opportunity to clean the handles.

handle off

These parts weren’t difficult to remove at all and didn’t have as much buildup on them as I thought they would. Next, my youngest helped me to pull the valves loose with the adjustable wrench we keep laying around:

loosen the valve

At last we could get a good view of the valve and this infamous washer I was supposed to remove, dispose of, and replace. valve removed

As you can see, there is no washer here. At least on the bottom. At this point the kids were ready to move on to something more exciting so I let them. I removed the other valve thinking that maybe this was just a singular washerless piece of equipment. None of the valves that I removed, including those upstairs, had a washer on the bottom like the ones in all the videos I so studiously watched.
I went back to the drawing board (www.youtube.com) to try a more specific search on the valve, or “component” or to at least find a video that featured a faucet or valve similar to mine. So far and up to this minute, I have not found a video or product comparable to what I have in my hot little hand in that photo. No, no, it couldn’t be that easy.
I did inspect all four of the washers that are there and none seem to be cracked or damaged. They feel a little dry as far as rubber goes so I will replace them anyway. I just need to go to the hardware store again. I tried fitting some of the different washers on the valve at the bottom just in case they were just removed but never replaced. I put both faucets back together and this week I will replace the washers I do have just to be sure that they are not the cause of the dripping. Maybe that’ll do the trick.

I also wanted to briefly share with you all that the other day I came downstairs to find the ceiling fan not on. I usually leave it on just to circulate the air and I was upstairs showering while the boys played downstairs. I checked the switch and it was set to “on”, thinking the boys turned it off, flicked it on and off just in case, and checked to make sure the power was on. A few days later, I was relating this fact that the ceiling fan just stopped working when my eldest son interjected: “Mom, here’s what really happened. The other day I came home from school and took my shoes off and my socks off and I threw my socks up into the air and one got stuck on the fan! We had to get it off so we started throwing things at the fan — not heavy things — pillows and toys, to get it down. And then we threw a shoe at it and it finally came down but then the fa turned off.” I just stared at him. It’s incredible how many emotions we humans can feel at the same time. I was proud that he chose to come right out and tell me what happened, angry that he threw his socks, angry that he threw other stuff and disappointed that he didn’t find another way to get the sock down or at least come to me for help with it.
At least now I know.

Thanks for reading, everyone.