This Old House

Now I know why the woman chose to live in a shoe…

Last year, after two knee surgeries to repair a torn meniscus in each knee, my flexibility took a hit. I’m not Gumby, damn it. Gardening has become a bit of a challenge. It’s no longer possible to drop down in the dirt without a care. Think giraffe attempting to get a drink of water.

            In an effort to keep me from mooning the neighbors, my husband and I took on a planter box project. Free material was the ultimate deciding factor in this home improvement. My dad had lumber he wasn’t using and offered to trade me for homemade salsa.

            Every project required a trip or two or three to the hardware store even if most of the material was free. The planter boxes were no exception.

            I was unprepared for the piece of Hell that greeted my return. Pipes littered the kitchen and bathroom floors. The basement was worse. Sections of the plumbing were missing. Sludge rats pocked the floor. What the muck? I was gone less than an hour.

            “The kitchen sink was clogged.” Hubby said.

            Speechless, I pointed to crushed vitamins on the kitchen counter.

            “I bumped your pill case. I might have stepped on them.”

            I swept the fragmented pieces into the garbage can. If he touched those pills with his mucky mitts, they wouldn’t touch my mouth. Goodness knows what he’d steeped in and dragged through the upstairs. If the path was any indication, it was just one degree less than poop. I know shit. Our sewage backed up in the basement once. It was a nightmare I’d rather not revisit. I guess the planter project would be delayed.

            This old house was slapped together in 1943. The person who built it must have regarded slanted floors for marble races as highly important. His tool box surely didn’t hold a level or a square.

            When we moved in thirty years ago, everything was original. Some of it still is. We never completely remodeled the house like people on home shows with budgets that were more than what we paid for our house. A few of the projects we completed needed replaced again.

            Wedding showers are thrown for couples before they marry. There should be replacement showers for empty nesters. Homes took a beating after kids. It took a barrel of paint to cover the teen angst red and black bedroom. After sopping all the water off of the floors, we could also use new towels. The almost eighty year old electrical and plumbing systems needed more than duct tape, swear words, and whatever the racket the hubby was making downstairs.

            Instead of a carpenter’s assistant, I became a plumber’s helper. My job was to turn the water off and on to check for leaks after the pipes were reattached. I heard a lot of, “Shut it off! Shut it off!” Then I had to clean everything. I was afraid to run to the store for more disinfectant should another piece of Hell encircle our abode.

            My sister stopped by and asked, “Why is your dining room table covered in tomato and pepper plants?”

            “Because the sink was clogged.” I said.

            She wrestled with the urge to continue on the subject, but decided against it.

            After farming in the dining room for a few days, the plants finally made it to their new home outside. I can hardly wait to start our pending kitchen project. That should be a riot. Meanwhile, my aim is to spend as much time as possible in the garden. I’m going to need bushels of stored peace and tranquility.

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