Been There, Done That by Laura Nethken

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We went from no water when the pump in the well died, to no drain when the main drain was clogged, to no toilet when the downstairs toilet "expired" at the ripe old age of 17 or so.

We fixed all that stuff, completely destroying our very tenuous budget in the meantime. You'd think we'd be done by now, but oh no, our water woes continue.

We were in a deep freeze for a while weather-wise, so when the washer water didn't drain right away out of the shower in the utility room, I assumed the drain was frozen. It does go directly outside -- sort of.

The water leaves the washer during the rinse/drain cycle and then goes through the hose into the pipe behind the washer. Then it hangs a left at the Tee in the pipe and follows that to the shower where it fills up the whole tub.

When the washer hits the next cycle, the water would follow the pipe back to whence it came and go out the drain.

Not so much now. Oh, it'll drain. It just takes forever. Like hours. Which left a very nasty mess in the tub.

To clean the tub, I moved the hose from the water softener thingie out (just for a minute). Satisfied with my work, I closed the door and went to bed.

The next morning, before I even had a chance to brush my teeth or get a cup of coffee, I heard the tell-tale sounds of the water softener thingie kicking on and dumping a million gallons of water on the floor because I forgot to put the hose back.

So I waded in there and shoved the hose in the tub, which only helped for a second because the drain's frozen. I wanted to shove the hose out the window, but the window was frozen shut.

So bucket after bucket, I toted the water out the back door and dumped it. In hindsight, I should've gone a little farther out because later on it froze and I nearly busted my tail walking out there.

Also in hindsight, it might have been a plan to turn off the water softener thingie, but keep in mind that I don't even know what it's called. I certainly have no idea how to turn it off.

So, I sopped up the water off the floor with bath towels, which then meant I had to run the washer again. Great.

With the space heater in there, the floor dried out pretty nicely (eventually) except for one spot right by the corner of the puppy's crate. Considering the location, I thought he may have relieved himself on it. And who could blame him? Dogs don't belong in cages anyway.

But as I examined the spot a little closer, a drop of water smacked me right in the top of the head.

I went on the back porch to get the bucket to catch the drips and the whole roof out there was leaking like a sieve with all that melting snow up on top. (It's the same roof that covers the utility room. Go figure.)

So I moved the stuff that really shouldn't be getting wet and gathered up anything and everything I could find to catch the drips. My husband said it looked like a total hillbilly ranch and even to a redneck that's a bad thing.

With a lack of anything else to do to fix the situation at the moment, I continued setting out pots and pans and preferred to think of it all as a "fragmented rain barrel."

When the top roof of the house started leaking a few weeks ago, we got an estimate on the cost to fix them both. OK, that's not happening anytime soon. It'll take us six months to get back to even from all the other stuff we've had to pay for.

My Dad came up with what I think is a brilliant plan to buy some time and get the pots and pans back into the kitchen cupboards. He said to put up a giant tarp over it, cut just to the size of the roof. I just don't want one of those standard big blue ones. Make it gray or brown, so we can avoid that whole hillbilly ranch thing.

Since everything was melting, I kind of wondered about my theory of the drain in the utility room being "frozen" but right then I had bigger issues. I just didn't know it until I tried to turn on the sump pump in the basement. I hadn't needed to during the deep freeze, or so I thought.

No water came out of the hose, so I went to check. Normally, I don't go anywhere near the basement. And this time I didn't have to worry about being creeped out down there because the door was frozen to the ice on the floor and wouldn't open anyway.

Fortunately, we got a January thaw and the temperatures hit the 50s the next day or two. Our oldest son and his girlfriend donned 5-buckle artics and wader boots and headed down there to bust up the ice floes in chunks small enough to haul out.

Now the weatherman is calling for colder temperatures and more snow. What a wonderful winter wonderland we live in.

Copyright 2013 Laura Nethken

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