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...