Saturday, August 16, 2014

Adventures in plumbing

We had a nifty surprise this week. On Wednesday, I noticed a spot of water in the hallway a few inches from my bedroom door. Because we have three cats, my first thought was a kitty misdemeanor, but it didn't quite look right and didn't smell like cat pee. I showed it to Sister A., we puzzled over it, then wiped it up, and went on out to dinner. When we got back...the water puddle was back, too.

OK, this is not looking good.

It looked even worse when I discovered water coming up between the floorboards in my bathroom, which, as the crow flies, is pretty close to that spot in the hall. I got a flashlight & poked around in the intervening areas and in the little closet space where the air conditioner/furnace and water heater live--no leaks there. A neighbor speculated that maybe the condensation line from the AC was clogged and shoving water where it's not supposed to go, but that appears not to be the case. We had a plumber out the next day and, yahoo, we probably have a leak in or under the slab under our house.

Double-plus ungood.

In this neck of the woods, since the end of World War II, many houses are built on slabs instead of over a basement or even so much as a crawlspace where a person could get to the pipes easily. I'm not sure why this was considered a good idea, since pipes have been known to spring leaks--especially 60-year-old pipes, like we have. Anyway, because of the location of this leak, our spiffy wood floors (that we just had installed two years ago) will have to be taken up in my bathroom and one end of the hall, and the slab will have to be jackhammered out in order to get to the pipe to fix or replace it. A guy is supposed to come out Monday to scan the floor and, hopefully, find out within 12 inches where the leak is. After that, the plumbers can start the jackhammer. Our kitties will NOT be happy that day.

This leak has required us to shut off the water to the house, of course, which means no showers, no flushing, no filling cat water bowls, no washing of dishes, hands, or anything else. For two ladies of a "mature vintage", the no-potty situation is the worst part (well, other than the hideous cost we were looking at!). As soon as we knew what we were facing, A. hopped on the phone to find out what our insurance coverage would be. Fortunately (BIG sigh of relief!), we'll be covered for all but about two grand. (We don't actually have such a sum on hand, but it's easier to find than, say, TEN grand.) And the cherry on top is that the insurance company has popped for hotel rooms for us until we can turn the water back on at the house. They'd also pay to board the cats at the location of our choice, but since the kitties use litter boxes (Minnie reluctantly, but she will if she can't get outside), they really didn't need to be uprooted. So we're acting as our own cat-sitters, going home now & then to feed, water, play with, and love on our poor abandoned cats.

The insurance company arranged for 19 days of hotel-living (separate rooms), but I sure hope it doesn't take that long! We should know what kind of timeline we're looking at by Monday afternoon. After the pipe is fixed, even if there's still a big hole in the floor of my bathroom (which is probably where the leak is), the house has two bathrooms so we can just shut that one off until we get the concrete poured and share a loo temporarily. Our favorite handyman will re-lay the uprooted floorboards; we have spare pieces of the tiger-stripe bamboo in the hallway and a piece of threshhold, so we should only have to buy a few pieces of the cork in my bathroom--if it can't be salvaged, which we don't know yet. We're hoping very much that the plumbers won't have to pull out my vanity or any other bathroom pieces, because that would lead to larger fixes. I think the insurance would pay for it, but still, what a pain.

The hotel the insurance company put us in is really freakin' nice--nothing we could ever afford! It's even got an indoor pool, which I intend to take advantage of. And a great breakfast spread, which saves us running back home & accumulating dirty dishes. Dinners may be a toss-up, but we'll try to keep it cheap. When we make our evening trip to the house, I'll put together my lunch for the next work day. And Alley will have her lunch at home while riding herd on plumbers, etc.

Except for the house getting torn up and the expense and the cats wondering WTF and the logistical challenges, it feels kinda like a vacation, what with the great housekeepers, the quiet, free HBO, and a king-size bed all to myself. And as soon as I turn the light off at night, it's PITCH BLACK! Sweeeet....

UPDATE: It would be nice if I could sleep normally, though. That would be very, very nice.... *grog*

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Another plan bites the dust

As you can probably tell (anyone who's reading this, which is no one), my photographic career came to a dead halt. It was actually part of an idea to promote fitness (mine, of course), to wit: go hiking, take pictures of critters and pretty things, lose weight. Well, that requires one to get up off one's hind end and actually go somewhere, which takes energy and/or enthusiasm, neither of which I appear to have. So I'll sell all the hiking and camera equipment (well, maybe not the last camera I bought--I kinda like that one) and move on.

Move on...to where? Hard to tell. I used to be quite a creative person, but that appears to be all but gone. I don't know how to recover it. The lack of it leaves quite a big hole in my soul. Ennui is not much of a filler.

I'm still gainfully employed, thank goodness, and I think that job is secure...although my employer has proven rather too willing to shift employees from one department to another, which doesn't exactly make me feel comfortable in my already-uncomfortable little cubicle (which, after having a private office for at least 12 years, I still loathe). Guess I'll just keep working until they move me or I qualify for retirement or I just drop dead from stress, whichever comes first.

I often think about moving somewhere with mountains and trees (unlike West Texas), a smaller city/town, and working at freelance editing/proofreading from home. But I'm not a fool--I know that takes money, which I don't have because it's all in the house I bought with my sister a little over four years ago, and in the remodeling loans we're still paying off. In retrospect, that "partnership" was maybe not such a good idea. Not that the house is bad or in a bad neighborhood--far from it, it's the nicest house I've ever lived in, especially with all the improvements we've made, and the neighborhood is great. But Sister and I butt heads fairly often (mostly when she feels an urge to run my life) and I wind up feeling hemmed in and wishing (strongly) that I could be on my own again. I lived alone for most of my adult life and liked it just fine.

But she's on what is euphemistically called a "limited income", so...where would she go? For that matter, is there anywhere I seriously want to go? As Pigkiller said in Mad Max: Thunderdome, "No matter where you go, there you are." Can't patch a hole in the soul that way.

Anyway...just whining.