by Claire on Jan 18, 2010

Monday, 7:38 pm:

It's raining outside. We didn't notice until we realized we forgot our clean dry clothes on the line. Too bad rain is forecasted for the next five days. Awesome.

$4,000 Dollar Weekend

by Claire

This weekend and its surrounding days saw us spend 4,000 dollars. It was mostly spent on poop. (Here is the time you can bow out...the following post may involve some bathroom humor. Well, I suppose when it costs this much it can't quite be classified as humor. If you wish to continue, don't say I didn't warn you!)

Friday, 6:15 am:
Nick wakes up with a splitting headache, and contemplates using his first sick day of the year.

Friday, 6:45 am:
Nick steps out of the shower to find a half-inch of standing water in our little bathroom. 

Friday, 6:55 am:
Nick and I are both on the floor with sponges panicking about how much it will cost. And what is in the first place. At this point we remember our home inspection from two months ago…and that we would need to replace the main sewer line in the next few years. Downcast looks and sighs.

Friday, 7:28 am:
Nick takes his first sick/personal day, and I head to work.

Friday, 7:30 am-12:10 pm:
Nick dismantles the toilet to discover the flood source: A broken toilet seal, and standing water in the drain pipe. He replaces the seal, and spends time calling various plumbers for information and estimates.

Friday, 12:11 pm:
I am on my lunch break, Nick calls to let me know the good news! A local plumbing/sewer company thinks they can solve the problem for a couple hundred dollars and a scope.

Friday, 3:37 pm:
I am home from work and standing in the yard with the plumbing guy and Nick. Bad news. The sewer line is clogged, and will need replacing. They will need to tear up the street. We ask what we can do in the mean time, he tells us to try to not drain too much water. Washing hands is okay, and a toilet flush once in a while is fine too, as long as we use the toilet Costa Rica style. (This means no toilet paper goes into the pot, but rather the nearby trash can.) Anything more could be a problem, as the clog makes the line drain really really ridiculously slowly. It will be 3.2 thousand dollars, and they might be able to fix it Tuesday or Wednesday.

We’re discouraged, but yet feel confident about toughing it out for a few days. Who needs laundry or a dishwasher? Not us.

Friday, 7:11 pm:
Dinner dishes are washed in the sink over our large soup pot; the gray water is emptied on the ancient bush on the corner of our lot.

Saturday, 5:10 am:
Dottie whines. It’s my turn to take her out so I do. I congratulate her on “doing her business” then notice that she seems to be using the grass as toilet paper. Worried that she has diarrhea again, I run inside to grab a flashlight. It is a solid log, but WAIT! GROSS! There are little pieces of white rice crawling all over it.

Saturday, 5:12 am:
The internet confirms my fears. Tapeworms. I wake up Nick, and we call the emergency vet. They say we can come in at 9:00, and that it will probably cost about $150 dollars.

Saturday, 7:00 am:
Nick and I run three miles, panting out words like sewer, savings, and stool.

Saturday, 8:00 am:
I take a shower, awkwardly dancing around a five-gallon bucket to catch the run-off. I dump its contents on said bush.

Saturday, 10:10 am:
The vet ends up giving Dottie two more vaccinations, a blood test, heartworm preventative meds, the tapeworm killer, a skin scrape for mites, an antibiotic for mites, and a medication for mites. The vet says I should wash all of Dottie’s bedding with a little bleach, and we should wash our clothes as well. I write a check for $550.23.

Saturday, 10:17 am:
I am driving home when I remember that we can’t use our washing machine.

Saturday, 10:23 am:
We start a load of wash anyway. We arrange the drain hose from the machine into the beloved five-gallon bucket sitting in the drop sink.

Saturday, 10:37 am:
Apparently the five-gallon bucket isn’t big enough. We are on the floor in the laundry room with sponges again.

Saturday,  10:41 am:
Dottie does her business again. Nick immediately inspects and bags it, then bleaches the ground. We both wash our hands, Nick from legitimate fear, me from the heebie-jeebies.

Saturday, 10:44-49 am:
We are in the laundry room waiting for the second rinse cycle. It arrives, and we create a two-person assembly line that hauls water from bucket to bucket to bucket to bush. Success!

I’ll leave the rest of the weekend up to your imagination.

Sunday, 11:32 am:
Nick and I realize just how much water we have been able to repurpose to the corner bush. We think we want to try to continue conserving like this after the sewer line is replaced.  It feels a bit like Little-House-on-General-Chennault.

To end on a positive note, thanks to Ben from D.C. for the lovely visit! You were the high point in an otherwise crappy weekend. 

Dottie Learns to Sit

by Nick on Jan 3, 2010

Dottie Preparation

by Nick on Jan 1, 2010

This spring or summer Claire and I are planning to build a cedar fence which will extend our backyard to enclose a large cottonwood tree on the south side of our property.  This will allow us a lot more living and gardening work space plus the shaded comfort the tree will supply.  Because we were planning on building a new fence in the spring, we were not planning to repair a mortarless section of the existing block fence.  That was until we knew Dottie might be coming to live with us.  Sunday afternoon at 2:00 p.m. we realized that we needed to fix the fence before Dottie and her human companions came to inspect our back yard.  After a trip to the hardware store, some trial and error with the cement's consistency, and a few hours in the cold wind, our block fence was finished just before sunset.  This was my first time doing any masonry, and I was quite impressed by Claire's knowledge and experience building a patio as a child with her father.

A condition for our adopting Dottie was that we provide a place for her to be able to stay warm when we are not home.  At least for this first winter on really cold days she will be staying in the kitchen where we have built some wooden gates to keep her from getting to the rest of the house.  On warmer winter days Dottie will be staying in an insulated dog house we built for her.  My sister Maggie and brother-in-law Leni had a dog house which they no longer needed, and were kind enough to drive it down from Los Alamos where they recently moved.  Leni and I removed the top of the dog house brought in the walls several inches, and added recycled paper insulation (GreenFiller) we purchased at the hardware store.  (For those of you playing at home, the R-value for this type of insulation is 13-60 depending on the thickness of the wall.)  We then added a recessed roof, added insulation to the top, and put the original roof back on.  It turned out well, and I am thankful to have been able to work on this with Leni.  The final step is to line the floor with cardboard.  We chose this type of floor insulation because it has a reasonable R-value when stacked several inches, and is easy to replace should Dottie, ahem, eliminate on  her bedding.

And for those of you who read this far, here are some pictures of Dottie!