Wednesday, April 05, 2006

The Mushroom Factor (typical rural drama)

(pack a snack, kids, it's a long one today...)

So, yesterday I get the wild hare to finally start in on redoing the dining room, like I've been threatening to do for well over a year now. As they say, the journey of a thousand miles begins with one step...or to put it in local parlance, 'Ain't nuthin' to it, but to do it!'
I finally got the gumption to do it.

Current situation has forced me into it. See, my younguns share a room, have all their lives, and as sisters are wont to do, the sniping, hostilities and general on'eriness that goes with sibling rivalry has reached a breaking point. The time has come for separate bedrooms. If just so's Mom can maintain what fragile grip she has left on sanity.
Ah! But even though we do have 3 bedrooms here, it's not as easy as it sounds.
For 20 years the 'spare' bedroom has been just that, a dual purpose room, sorta set up for company but also a respository for miscellaneous things-we all have a room kinda like that. With the advent of getting online services out this way many years ago it also became the logical spot to set up the computer and while my ol' man was around it was also "the office" for his assorted construction and remodeling ventures.

So now it had evolved into a multi-purpose room, a polite way of saying that now it resembles one of those 'Before' rooms on Clean Sweep! The room is a mess. Cluttered up with all kinds of crap. And I ain't even gonna b/s ya and say it's an 'organized' mess...cuz it's not. Back when I re-did the front room, a lot of unused and unneeded crap got parked in here temporarily from the front room during it's makeover. The crap is still here awaiting the trip to the thrift store that never happened, some of it was destined to be used or moved to the dining room when that got done. Which brings me back to that.

See, in order for Sis to have her new room, the dining room has to get done first, so that some of this stuff can be relocated there, the desk and computer moved out and set up in the dining room area, and all the excess junk can be cleared out once and for all! Plus there's the matter of changing the doorway to the spare room; it's current location is just plain ig'nert! I want to move it so it opens up more central to the center of the house. Namely on one of the dining room walls that it shares. This will involve some construction techniques at a skill level that I'm competent at, but I'm gonna have one of my go-to guys on stand by, just in case, when I get to that point, seeing how I'm a little leery about electrical stuff and there will be an outlet to reposition in order to frame the new door in.

So, yesterday I got busy. Started moving all the dining room stuff to the center of the room so I could get to work on the walls. There's 2 walls of abjectly hideous circa 1979 wallpaper to remove and 2 walls of equally abjectly hideous dark fake paneling to prime and paint over. (That crap you find in all the older farm houses around here, it's a decor cancer that must have ran rampant back in the late 70's. The local hardware store must have got a good deal on it and had a sale of epic proportions cuz I swear, it's everywhere around here!)

Now I could just pry the paneling off the walls, but I'm too smart for that-see, in these parts, no telling what horror story you're gonna find behind that paneling! Could be just plaster and lath, could be that and some even more decrepit wallpaper (about 6 or so layers deep!) or even better, old newspaper pasted to the walls as was the custom here in the 20's and 30's. (I've been in homes where they still actually have that on the walls! Mostly the Sunday funnies or old full page advertising.) I know I do have some of that under the paneling in the kitchen-I once pried up a loose side and peeked before tacking it back in. If there is good drywall under it, dime to doughnuts, the id'jets used Liquid Nails or some such crap to affix the paneling, so even trying to remove it would be a major can of worms that I ain't even gonna venture into, so prime & paint it is! As I have learned all my years here, just because one can see nailheads doesn't mean that they used only nails to stick something up. When Liquid Nails came out, these hillbillies just fell in love with it!

The major hang up I encountered was the floor moulding. Because of the way it was done this has slowed up my progress. I figured I could just gently pry it off and take outside to paint.
Nope, remember where I live. Nothing is done in a normal fashion here.
There's nails in this thing about every 3 or 4 inches! Some are the small headed nails one would use for this kinda job, others are 10 penny, some are even drywall type screws!!! What the screaming hell is that all about?!
So, progress has been frustratingly slow. I may have to bite the bullet and buy all new moulding, because it's looking like I won't be able to salvage it all. Damn!

Anyway, Tuesdays are my younguns dance class days afterschool, so I had to happily knock off early to go get 'em and run 'em to the dance studio. It was also local elections, so I had to go do my civic duty while in town as well. By the time we all got back, it was going on 6 pm. OK, I'm done for the day-I'll just go at it first thing in the morning.
The kids were outside in the back, shooting hoops and I was washing the dinner dishes. Typical evening here, and then the kitchen faucet got to sputtering-WTF?- then quickly quit altogether.
This is bad...This is very bad. This means well trouble. It was the abruptness that worried me-normally from my experience, you get some warning that your pump is about to quit. This was just BLAM! Not good. Already I could see about 2 grand sailing out the door.

I went out to the wellhouse to see what was up. Our wellhouse ain't one of those glorified doghouses you see around here-no, ours is a nice little building, about 12 x 8 and you can actually go in and stand up in it. The chest freezer is in there and shelves for stuff and a little workbench. Hubby's antique 'beer fridge', an old Hotpoint is in there, too, the well tank and such only takes up a small corner of the building and is inside a little room with heavily insulated walls. When I opened the door to it I couldn't see anything obviously amiss, aside from the pipes hissing and making gurgly sounds from being emptied and no pressure. I needed to switch on the light in there since it was getting dark outside to really get a better look.

Hmmmmmmmm. Uh Oh. I hit the light switch and the 60 watt bulb only glowed a feeble orange, again, Not Good. It wasn't getting enough juice! Something might be shorting out somewhere-this much I knew. I since I always equate electrical shorts with potential fire danger, I went and slammed the main breaker for the wellpump off. Damndamndamndamn!
I checked the fuses...they weren't hot and appeared to be alright. I sometimes have a hard time with fuses, cuz unless it's real obvious that they're blown-like little scorch marks on the inside or something, I can't really say one way or the other. But these looked to be intact. Kinda hard to tell in the half dark.
Naturally, these kinda things happen after regular business hours!
But, fortunately around here, most these guys work from home. I just hate calling them after hours...and at dinnertime, to boot. So I called up one of my neighbors to see if he had any ideas as to what the problem was. He agreed that it might be a short somewhere, but other than that...but he did refer me to a guy nearby who might be able to help. So I called him. He wasn't in yet, so I talked to his wife, briefly explained the trouble and she said he'd call me first thing in the morning.
He didn't.
I had to call him. And then after hearing my tale of woe he told me that it might be a short in the pump motor and he don't do pumps anymore, just straight electrical, so he gave me another guy to call. I called him. He was flummoxed. But gave me some things to try-like checking the main box at the pole, etc. I did and reported back that everything was fine there.
"Huh! Well, ya gonna be in later today? I gotta job this morning but I oughta be done wit' her by lunchtime...ya gonna be home? I could swing by then."
Excellent! Please do!

So that's where it sits now. I can't really get going on the dining room, cuz I don't have water to help scrape the wallpaper off or to clean paint brushes. I can't do laundry, cuz I don't have water. I can't do much of diddly except whine and moan on the ol' bloggo here.
Luckily, there's still water running in the creek nearby, so I can go over and get a bucket or 2 of that so we can flush the pot. Might just do that right now. It's gettin' purty spooky in the bathroom right now. I did break out the 'emergency' stash of water-3 milk jugs that I keep around for just such things so I was able to have my coffee this morning and we could get cleaned up abit. But that'll only hold us for a day or so.
So this guy better show up today! And hopefully, it won't be a gazillion dollars to fix.
At this rate, lil' Sis just might get her new room by Christmas!

UPDATE: Well, damn if that don't beat all! I'd no sooner got back from the creek, luggin' a bucket of creekwater when here come the electrician guy! Oh happy day!
He did some mojo with his meter thingy. Pondered the wires running from the pole to the wellhouse, checked the breaker box at the pole, did some more cogitating and then resorted to the ultimate characteristic hillbilly method of troubleshooting : He picked up a stick laying in the yard, reached up and whacked the wires running into the wellhouse! I had to laugh, surely it wasn't that easy!!
Sure enough when we went back in there and he flipped the lever- the light shone brightly, the pump motor started to hum, the freezer and fridge kicked in.
"Sunnvabitch!" was all I could say.
He just laughed. "Now ya know whut ta do the next time it happens."

Well, can you fix it so it won't happen again, Mr. Man?

He did, went up there and tightened some connections and then taped them up. The tape that was on there had gotten old, brittle and frayed exposing some wires and shorting them out and that was the problem. A simple (Thank Ya Jeezuz!) fix and he only wanted 45 bucks for his trouble. More than fair enough!
Now I gotta get going and try to salvage what's left of the day.


Blogger Cookie..... said...

WTR...I really enjoyed read'n this very much I did...I see ya even used the wurd that Lem turned me onto..."Flummoxed"...this was great entertainin read'n it was...glad it all wurked out fer ya. Oh BTW...I can relate to yur house and the walls n stuff....y'all ain't got a monopoly on "dark paneling" or newspaper covered both of em here in Upstate NY we do....good story....Cookie

4/05/2006 3:33 PM  
Blogger Patrick Joubert Conlon said...

Whew! Thank God your well hadn't run dry which ours did last summer. We had to haul water in a 400 gal tank on the back of the truck (talk about sea-sick from the slosh) for 6 months till the winter rains kicked in. Since then we have rigged up a pump from the creek just in case....

Sounds like you've got your work cut out for you this summer.

4/05/2006 4:18 PM  
Blogger Kathy said...

I was gonna say, "C'mon over here and do your laundry" but it looks like you've got it covered!

4/05/2006 8:54 PM  
Blogger Lemuel Calhoon said...

Glad things worked out for you. There are few things I hate more than well problems.

4/05/2006 10:37 PM  
Blogger white trash republican said...

Boy,I can't tell you all how happy I was that is was a simple fix! Never in 100 years would that occurred to me, to just whack the wires! My luck I just knew it HAD to be something major.

Once a few summers ago we came perilously close to having it go dry. This was at the peak of a many years long drought in this area. I had turned on the hose and after a few seconds, gunky clay and silt began to squirt out. Oh crap! We rationed ourselves for about 2 weeks to allow the water table to get back to normal, but even then we held our breath.

Yep, Cookie, I bet your hillbillies are descendants of those here who made the move north eons ago to find better jobs, that kinda bad taste just don't happen by accident!

Kathy, if it had gone on longer than a would have been hearing from me fersure! 'Preciate the offer, hon!

4/06/2006 9:18 AM  

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