Thursday, May 13, 2010

Can You Dig It?

"I've successfully dragged myself to the shore of the lake; I've got my trowel; and I've got a plan." The crazy lady was feeling confident. She reached out to break ground on her aquaduct. "Ha-ee-yah!" she said as she jammed the trowel into the yucky black clay. And she pulled on the handle of the trowel. ...and found that her body was moving towards the trowel, not the other way around. Oh dear...

The crazy lady heaved on the trowel. Nothing happened for a long time and then it suddenly wrenched free with a sickening slurp. She shook the trowel at the puddle. ...and the glob of icky black clay stayed firmly stuck to the trowel. She tried again but only succeeded in wrenching her wrist.

The crazy lady went after the clay-encrusted trowel with her fingers. Five. Minutes. Later. She declared victory. Clearly this was not going to work.

The crazy lady threw the trowel towards the terrible tiny door and put her head on her hands to think. And maybe to swear a little. And possibly fight back tears.

Eventually, the crazy lady got cold. And angry. She clawed at the clay with her hand. To her amazement, fingers were successful where the trowel was not.

"Bloody hell."

The crazy lady frantically dug a channel from the lake to the sump wiggling backwards on her stomach in the cold, wet mud.


The blissful sound of water dropping from the end o the channel warmed the crazy lady's heart and gave her the strength to drain the kitchen lake as well.

No amount of soaking or scrubbing would remove the black clay from the skin on her hands, but the crazy lady didn't care. She slid down under the bubbles with a satisfied smile. And a glass of Merlot within easy reach.

Looking for the Meaning of Life

When we last saw the crazy lady, she was sitting on the damp, cold concrete of the porch wrestling with existential questions.

"Why did I buy a house?"

"Why did I buy this house?"

"If it fell down in an earthquake, could I pick out my rubber stamps and the cat and just start over?"


But the crazy lady was not willing to admit defeat. She took the trowel in her teeth and started the long, exhausting dive through the terribly, tiny crawlspace door.

Thinking it made sense to start at the furthest puddle and work back towards the sump, she set her sights on the under-bedroom lake.

Up over the sewer pipe she went, stopping only to spew expletives at a half-buried chunk of concrete wanting a closer relationship with her left leg. From there, it was a fairly easy elbow drag to the shore of the inky black lake.

The crazy lady could see clearly that all she had to do was dig a small trench from the lake to the sump, and all of the water would drain. Piece o' cake...

Monday, February 2, 2009

Storm In The New Year

There was a doozy of a storm New Year's Day. The wind howled, the porch cover shuddered, and the waters, they were a risin'. Under the house. Ms. Ruby had VERY wet feet. The crazy lady once again donned her miner's light and sludge sweats.

Out on the porch, the table and chairs, blown by the wind, were huddled against the garage door. The crazy lady waded through the tangle of PVC until she once again faced the terrible, tiny door...

Ms. Ruby didn't always have such great taste in humans, and some past human had allowed her back patio to be poured above grade. Sigh.

The crazy lady flipped open the hatch and propped it with a board. Down on her hands and knees she faced the not-so-gaping maw of the crawlspace. Flipping the miner's light on, she walked her hands down into the opening, then forward, then down into the crawlspace, then up over the sewer pipe ("Don't put any weight on that. That stuff is known for breaking. They don't make sewer pipes out of that stuff anymore.") in a tortuous almost-handstand push-up, all the while dragging her body across the nice, sharp concrete corners. "It's good to be a less-than-full-sized person." thought the crazy lady, pushing aside nightmare visions of getting stuck in halfway through the crawlspace door like Pooh at Rabbit's house.

To the left, a glistening lake under the bedroom. To the right, a reservoir under the kitchen and dining room. Straight ahead, lots of inky black, damp-to-wet clay. Right under the crazy lady's nose, the sump mostly empty. Hmmm...

The crazy lady got into plank position over the sewer pipe and walked her feet up onto the concrete. Grateful that there were no witnesses, she then walked her hands back over the sewer pipe and her feet up and out of the terribly, tiny door. "Mustn't let my arms collapse," thought the crazy lady. "A face plant in this nasty smelling mud might just push me over the edge." Fueled by her frustration, she pushed with her arms and walked her toes until she was lying on the patio.

The crazy lady suppressed a groan. No sense in alarming the neighbors.

Sitting on the cold, damp concrete, the crazy lady began to question her sanity.

Saturday, August 4, 2007

Los Conquistadores de Agua

The crazy lady dug out the graph paper and various measuring devices. She drew the layout of her lot and designed a drainage system that would flow all of the ground and roof water out to the street and avoid soaking Ms. Ruby's foundation. Plan in hand, she picked up the phone...

The parade of landscapers, contractors, and landscape architects went on for a couple of weeks. Optimists ("You only need the pipes about 4" under the surface.") and pessimists ("We'll have to dig out the whole foundation and waterproof it.") were eliminated. Right smack in the middle of the price range was a nice Mexican man who had just done the same job at his sister's house a couple of miles away. Bingo.

His crew showed up a couple of days later and covered the yard in plastic, so it wouldn't be so drenched after an upcoming storm. The nice man said they'd start in as soon as it stopped raining.

The crazy lady left for the Holidays secure in the knowledge that she'd come home to work in progress.

Well, it was a nice thought...

Monday, July 16, 2007

When it Rains...

And so the crazy lady learned to mow. And weed. And prune.

The crazy lady thought the puddle under her room had something to do with the tippy toilet...

The plumber came. He replaced the toilet with a free low-flow model from the city.

The puddle remained.

The crazy lady started spending lots of time angled down through the access to the crawl space holding her weight on her elbows. She noticed that the puddle seemed to grow when the sprinklers ran.

Now the owners of old houses will tell you that yards rise over time. And Ms. Ruby's was no exception. Her back lawn was an average of 17" higher than the point at which the back wall hit the dirt.

And then it started to rain. And Rain. And rain... And...

"WHAT IS THAT SMELL?" the crazy lady shouted into the cabinet under her kitchen sink.

She thought something had died under the house, and once again she strapped the LED light to her head and slithered through the crawl-space door.

Water. Everywhere. Deep smelly water. Yuck!

The crazy lady turned on the sump pump (not the right way to deal with this particular water-under-house problem, but thank heaven it was there!). Most of the water dutifully flowed up and out through the hose. The rest sprayed out through pinholes aimed conveniently at the crazy lady's face.

"Houston, we have a problem" said the crazy lady. And then she started to cry. And worry. And totally freak out. Her remaining functional brain cells gave the signal to remove the smelly-water-soaked clothes.

The crazy lady took a bath.

Meet Ms. Ruby

Once upon a time, there was a crazy woman who lived with her cat and dog in a very nice, brand spanking new condo. Newness pleased the crazy woman, because she commuted three hours per day, worked long hours on top of that, and greatly enjoyed movie marathon weekends.

And it was good.

For five years, it was good.

And then the crazy woman got the crazy idea that maybe there was more to life than sitting in the car and sleeping on the couch. "I need a new job or a new house, and I don't care which it is." she declared.

The job market was tight, but the real estate market was not. Her head filled with thoughts of owning her walls and keeping a swath of dirt between her castle and the neighbors spurred her onward. A Realtor was called....

"Too much stuff!" said the Realtor. "It's gotta go. Now." The crazy woman puzzled. How to vacate the one before buying the next? She puzzled some more. She went away for the weekend. When she got home, the Realtor presented her with an estimate from We Bash It Ding It And Leave Tape Goo All Over It Movers Inc. They would pack the too much stuff and take it away to storage. When the crazy woman had her new home, they would bring it to her there.

With the stuff taken care of, the Realtor and the crazy woman went shopping. They shopped for detached condos. They shopped for single-family homes. The Realtor vetoed most of the crazy woman's favorites. But one frumpy old gal stood out. The Realtor, the crazy woman, and The Society For the Emotional Support and Protection of The Crazy Woman all approved.

The crazy woman bought Ms. Ruby. And Ms. Ruby got rocks. And a few things needing attention and repair...