No simple task about the home


First rule of home ownership: There is no such thing as a simple project.

All I really wanted was for my kitchen sink to act like a sink and not like a reservoir. After various unsuccessful attempts at easy fixes including using noxious chemicals and cleaning out the trap below the sink, I came to the conclusion there was a long section of pipe in the basement that needed to be replaced. It had been installed slightly after Mad Anthony Wayne marched by and instead of having a nice fall it looked more like a road in West Virginia — lots of ups and downs.

So my son came over and we ripped down the old pipe, which in places had about a pinhole’s amount of clearance left. Then we — well, actually he — put in the new pipe and we were finished in two hours. The sink now works better than Scylla and Charybdis. I was ecstatic. For a while.

My son went home. Unfortunately, I already was home and my work had just begun.

Before we replaced the pipe, we had to move a bunch of stuff in the basement out of the way. Do you think my wife would allow us to move it back to where it was? No, this was the perfect opportunity to clean.

We reorganized the camping equipment and the toys for the grandkids and started two piles: one full of things for trash or recycling, the other for a garage sale. My wife loves garage sales. I wanted to make one big pile but she kept pulling things out and putting them in the second pile.

Where, I asked, will we store all these garage sale items? Well, in the attic, of course.

So I started hauling boxes up the basement stairs and up the attic stairs to the attic, which we just cleaned out last year. I think some of the things I hauled up there were moved to the basement when we cleaned the attic. I guess now they’re home again.

While we were at it, we decided we needed to move a bookcase in the basement. So all the books came off, the bookcase got moved, and all the books went back on. We even went through the books and put some aside to take to the used book store.

Once the bookcase was moved, we had to move other things to make space. The old record player and records, the old computer, tables and chairs, bins full of toy soldiers and model trains — all had to be shifted to new homes. Along the way, we discovered some long-lost posters and other long-forgotten items.

My wife looked at my work bench, which is really mostly bench and hardly work, and I knew what was next. A massive clean-up was needed. I have to admit when I got to work I discovered things that could not possibly serve any useful purpose — tiny screws and roofing nails (what was I doing with roofing nails?), bits and pieces of wood and enough old T-shirts saved as rags to clothe half of Ethiopia. I put the useful things back where they belonged and threw everything else into the pile — and not the garage sale pile.

We were on a roll now. We staggered up the stairs and my wife started cleaning out cupboards and closets. We moved plants. We moved furniture. I hauled more stuff up to the attic for the future garage sale. My wife cleaned the oven and the silverware. I hauled the mower off for repairs.

After about a week of whirling dervish activity I finally sat down in the chair in the living room (which was moved there from the bedroom) to take a break. I actually felt pretty good, except for my back, which was just a little sore from going up and down all those stairs. But it was worth it: things haven’t looked this organized around our house for a long time.

Except there’s one problem. The sink in one of the bathrooms is now getting backed up. We’re going to have to do something about it, and I can’t even imagine what that will lead to.

Maybe I should just call a plumber.