Wednesday, January 2, 2008

No Place Like Home Depot for the Holidays

EG often tells the story of his father and the toilet on Easter Sunday. It seems that the toilet malfunctioned and was uncooperative during the removal process, so EG's dad ended up ripping it out of the floor and racing it through the house and out the front door to shotput it onto the lawn in exasperation.

And thus began a family holiday tradition--home repairs.

Like many family traditions, it started out small--our neighbor, Norma, would clog up her garbage disposal every major holiday by making deviled eggs, and either EG or I would run over and unclog her sink. Norma has since passed on, leaving us to celebrate on our own.

Then, the year before last on New Year's, the sump pump stopped working. Rocky came up from the basement and reported that there was standing water all over the floor. We spent a good part of the morning after installing a new pump.

Last year, though, we brought the tradition to a whole new level. We had been experiencing wet areas around the toilet, and we had been blaming Rocky, who is target challenged. On Christmas Eve, EG went to church to do music at Mass, and I went into the bathroom. I noticed that the supply line to the toilet had drops of water on it. Exasperated, I went to wipe off what I thought was Rocky's latest contribution, moving the line in the process. Suddenly, water jetted out of what turned out to be a cracked supply line, spraying the bathroom.

I called poor long-suffering Kiki to monitor the spray and went into the basement, turning a variety of shut-off valves until I hit the right one. I then locked Rocky in his room, threatened the girls, and ran to the hardware store in the next town. I bought a couple of supply lines, as I did not know which one was the correct size, got some hazy directions from a guy who seemed unimpressed with my plumbing knowledge, not to mention my grubby sweats and uncombed hair, went home, and installed the line. When EG got home, completely unaware of the excitement, I proudly showed him my handiwork. Flushed with victory (if you'll pardon the expression) I then continued, opening the tank and telling him that part of the problem was that the float in the tank needed to be adjusted. I pulled on the float, trying to adjust it, and it snapped off in my hand.

EG, who is normally volatile, to say the least, just stared at me, speechless.

I ran back to the store, got a package of toilet innards, and came home to install them. I couldn't get the water flow just right, so I called my friend Nora, who was home for the holidays. She brought her father over, and he talked EG through the process of adjusting the flow. When he left, he told me, "Don't touch anything else!"

No problem.

This year, it was the back doorknob which malfunctioned. The tradition continues.

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