Not in the clamor of the crowded street, not in the shouts and plaudits of the throng, but in ourselves, are triumph and defeat.--Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
REDIRECT ALERT! (Scroll down past this mess if you're trying to read an archived post. Thanks. No, really, thanks.)
Due to my inability to control my temper and complacently accept continued silliness with not-quite-as-reliable-as-it-ought-to-be Blogger/Blogspot, your beloved Possumblog will now waddle across the Information Dirt Road and park its prehensile tail at http://possumblog.mu.nu.
This site will remain in place as a backup in case Munuvia gets hit by a bus or something, but I don't think they have as much trouble with this as some places do. ::cough::blogspot::cough:: So click here and adjust your links. I apologize for the inconvenience, but it's one of those things.
Monday, February 24, 2003
Well, hello there!
Come with me now as we hear the wondrous sounds of Happy Birthday; Rain; Sweet Home Alabama; Four Whiny Children; An Odd Clang; and Backfiring; otherwise known as My Weekend.
Friday evening was blessedly free of having to haul anyone anywhere, so we got to stay home and do the normal week’s wrap-up of gathering up the laundry, and getting the kids ready for all their stuff Saturday, and the real big event, Little Girl birthday cake!
Shoklit cake an shocklit icin, with blue flowahs, and six glitter sparkle candles AND a big candle with an electronic base having a flashing number 6 that we have had for years and always forgot about until when I changed the microwave several weeks back and had to clean out the cabinet. (I think this might have needed to be two or three sentences. Oh well)
Anyway, we sang and Cat beamed with pride and blew out her candles and immediately started yanking them off, “I wanna lick the candles!!” An entire cake full of sugar and shortening, but PLEASE, some things are more important!
We got through and it was off to bed for them and it was time for the parents to watch a movie. “I got this the other day—you want to watch it?” Sweet Home Alabama. The thought of plowing through YET ANOTHER chick flick, and this one with the added craptitude of Hollywood’s vision of my home, was almost too much to bear, even if it was on DVD.
“Sure! Come on, and we’ll make some popcorn, too!”
Remember fellows, if mama ain’t happy, nobody’s happy.
So I sat there and watched it. Including the outtakes. And the alternate ending. What a dumb movie—can’t decide whether to Make A Statement or be A Lighthearted Spoof, and in the end fails to do either. If the whole movie had been as good as the scene where Reese cold-cocks Murphy Brown, it would have been okay. It does have one thing going for it, Rhona Mitra as one of the fashion model hangers-on/Friend of Reese. Wow. But, no matter—I got to spend an hour and a half snuggled up with Miss Reba listening to the rain. That manages to cover a multitude of crappy movies.
Although the sound of the rain wasn’t quite as dreamy as it should have been. Seems our chimney leak has gotten more pronounced—I could hear drops hitting the top of the fireplace insert. Not good. Saturday was going to be investigation day.
But, before the forensic fun, there was getting the kids to their final horseback riding lesson. Up early Saturday, got dressed, answered some e-mail, ate breakfast, and rounded the three older ones up to go. I was really, REALLY hoping they would get a break, and figured with all the rain the night before that they wouldn’t have to ride. I called the barn and some woman answered and said she thought the lessons were going to be cancelled because they were going to a horse show. Hmm. I don’t mind being put off due to weather, but Another Commitment sorta irked me. Anyway, off to the camp and found out that, at least according to the instructor, the wind was too strong and it kept blowing deadwood out of the trees in the woods up the hill and was spooking the horses. No riding. Obviously, I didn’t want the kids on the back of a spooky horse, but after having had the earlier conversation, I was a bit dubious about the real reason. Not that I said anything—I had other things to do anyway, and there was also the matter of the lunchtime Chinese dinner for Cat’s birthday, and seeing what I could find in the attic.
Back home, kids out of their horse clothes and into something—ANYthing—else to wear. And I got me a hammer.
As you recall, the homebuilder came out last week and pronounced that our water troubles were all the fault of missing caulk on the corner boards. Remember, homeowners, corner boards are meant to be trimwork, not part of the building envelope, and that absence of caulk should have no effect on the watertightness of the exterior. He was convinced, however, that since there was flashing at the roof and at the small bumped out sections of the chimney, that they had done all they were supposed to do. Some things he should have noted in his “thorough” inspection—
1) The trim had separated only on one corner of the chimney. All other caulking was intact.
2) The interior damage was not of a type which would typically occur if their was a leak at the corner.
3) The mere presence of flashing does not mean that it was installed properly, nor that it is watertight.
4) He didn’t do any sort of hose test to ascertain at what point the water might be infiltrating.
SO, then, mystery fans, come with me up to the attic. Watch your step and don’t go through the ceiling, please! Okay—here is where the flue enclosure is attached to the gabled end of the roof—there is a waferboard panel over it to keep it separated from the attic space. Uuuumph-creeeak-thump. (That was me pulling a nail. Repeat five times)
Okay, the board is loose, and I now swing it slowly over to the side and… (wow, sorta like opening Al Capone’s vault, ain’t it!) and HOLY LOAD OF …the entire side of sheathing on the outside wall of the enclosure is black as coal, from the TOP TO THE BOTTOM! It even has little shelflike bits of fungus growing out of it like a tree trunk.
This is Not Good.
Okay, so we have ascertained that it is indeed leaking, so where is it coming from? I shone the flashlight up to where the black line stopped. There was a nice concentric white mold stain right around…a nail. A nail that had penetrated the flashing on the outside, which just happened to be the one little tiny bit of roof that sloped INTO the side of the chimney.
Well, it’s pretty clear now what happened. That little bit of slope directed water against the side of the chimney. Which is not a great thing, but not the worst thing, which is that the flashing that was put there to catch the water has a nice hole in it. Allowing water to run around the nail and start soaking into the sheathing. From Day One. As the sheathing grew saturated, the water continued to drain down over the years, puddling up at the various metal flue spacers and spreading around, until if finally got to the bottom and met Mr. Fireplace and decided to come on in to the den and visit for a while. The sheathing, having soaked up so much water, began to expand, which is what caused the corner boards to separate and the caulk joints to open up on that one corner.
BUT, as you know, solving the mystery and solving the problem are two different things. I can see this being a long and involved contest of urinary output. But I take comfort in the words of a former client who works for the Postal Service Facilities Division. Once, when advised by a contractor that surely he didn’t want to get involved in such a battle of wills, he rather loudly said—“I eat barbed wire, and I piss napalm—the FIRST thing I want every DAY I WAKE UP is a pissin’ match!!”
Forewarned is forearmed, gentlemen.
Then it was time for Catherine’s Big Chinese Lunch! (Talk about your segues!) I had told my mom to just come by our house at 12:30 and follow us over, since she is skittish of going anywhere unfamiliar with a deadline looming. So she showed up at our house at 12. While I was still dripping wet from my shower. ::sigh:: Can’t get my wife and kids to not be late, can’t get my mom to not be early. Somewhere in there is SURELY a happy medium I like to call “On Time.” Yeah, I know, who am I kidding.
Anywho, got finished getting dressed and we were out the door. As always, Palace was very nice, and for once, not crowded. We got in and got a table with no problem. Of course, for some reason, Reba’s mom decided photographs were in order. And not just one. Or two. Or three. AAAAGGHHHHH!!! Make it stop!! Oh well, it goes well with her habit of commenting loudly about other people she sees or overhears. Bless her heart. Got all through and quite full, and then it was time to go to…WAL-MART.
Catherine had gotten some money for her birthday, and the other kids wanted to shop, too, so we went exploring. Cat’s selection was some Betty Spaghetty dolls (OOO, I just LOVES Basgheddy Getty!!), and a Barbie Sing With Me Microphone, a deal that hooks to your belt and has a microphone and a headset and multiple sound effects. The operative word being SOUND. Why is it I keep getting things that make noise? (Although, being the devious parents we are, Reba and I managed to show the children the horrors of such an instrument by singing Paul Anka’s Breaking Up Is Hard To Do with the echo effect on. Actually, we sound really good together, even on a cheap toy microphone, but it drives the kids absolutely BONKERS anytime we sing together. Heh.) Other selections included Spirit, the Mustang of the Old American West Which Is Also An Animated Movie, And His Family—With Loving Wife Horse Rain, and Baby Horse Which Has No Name, (But Does Go On To Be Immortalized In Song.) “OOOOOhhh, I just LOVES Spiwit!!” Actually, any toy horse is fair game to her. She could have them all, and would only want to get more. Got all through, after about 12 or 15 hours or so (might have been longer—I believe I lost consciousness in there sometime), and then it was home and time for scrubbing the kids and fakepooing their easily tangled hair. Thank goodness I have one little boy whose head can be washed and dried in five minutes. I was beat once they got into bed, and Sunday was going to be another killer.
We had church, and then a nice banquet afterwards that for once I didn’t have to clean up after (the congregation was honoring the elders and deacons, so they gave us a break. This time.) After that, Cat had HER final horsey lesson, and Rebecca was simultaneously supposed to be at a soccer practice, and then not long after that, we were all supposed to be back at church for them to take a Bible Bowl quiz. Whew. And if the soccer fields were closed, we were supposed to practice some other place. And the team mom would leave a message to tell us where.
That didn’t quite happen.
No messages when we got home. We got Tiny Terror and Middle Girl changed (and this time I changed, too—no wandering around a soccer field in church clothes!) and Reba decided to take Catherine, and I got the other three and headed for the park. Black flag flying, which meant the field was closed, but even if it was closed we were supposed to meet there. But there was no one there. We waited, and then I announced we were going to Clay (the supposed alternative site) and see if they were there. Clay is just a bit northeast of Trussville—just up the road a bit, so off we went. Got to the field, annnnd. No one. Not a soul. Drove back by the fields at the elementary school. Annnnd, no one. Well CRAP! “Let’s go back home, kids!” Like they could disagree.
Back down Deerfoot Parkway—beautiful blue sky, redbuds starting to bloom, wonder where everybody was, wonder if Reba is back at the house, at least I’ll have time to change clothes, the kids won’t be late for their Bible Bow...GRRRRRRRRTHUMP-UMP-UMP-UMP-BDDRDRDRDRDRDR—CLANGCLANG-CLANG-THWOMP-rumblerumblerumblePOP!
“WHAT WAS THAT DADDY!?!”
That was me, crying as another gaping hole appears in our bank account. I glanced up in the rear view mirror and saw something metal and serious-looking bounding down the road behind us after having been dropped out from under the hood. I didn’t have power steering left, but at least the engine was still going.
“We seem to have lost a very important part of the engine, kids.”
“WHAT PART, DADDY!?!”
I pulled off, “Lemme go see.” I parked and walked back up the road. Well, there she was. Idler pulley. Same thing that had sheared off on the Olds, and now it appears it was time for it to come off the van, too. I stooped down and grabbed it and looked at the mounting stud. Clean break. ::sigh::
Back to the van, lifted the hood, and thankfully, nothing else looked bent or broken, but there was no sign of the serpentine belt anywhere. This connects the power steering pump and the water pump and the alternator, all of which are necessary things to have. I closed it back up and started trying to figure out how to get Reba to come get me. She had the phone, but I knew it wasn’t on. I decided to find someplace and call home and wait for her to come get us. I thought if I could make it up to the vet clinic ahead I would at least have a better place to pull off and wait. I gingerly cranked it back up, half expecting to hear it explode. It didn’t. Hmm. I put it in gear, half expecting to hear it explode. It didn’t. HMm. I started off, and aside from having manual steering fighting against the front wheel drive and a pair of big Goodyear gumballs, it seemed like it was driveable. Poor little kids were now in the clutches of It’s Never To Broke To Drive To A Garage Daddy Man. My goal—Gray Automotive. Distance—Five miles or so.
Except for an occasional transmission hiccup (I figure caused by the fluctuating battery current, since I had lost alternator power) and a temp gauge that got a bit too high for comfort, I actually got to Highway 11. Even if I got no further, this alone was pretty impressive. Not satisfied, though, so I turned right and figured I would go till it quit. Got to the traffic lights in Trussville, and who pulled up beside us and blew the horn? “HEY!! It’s MOMMY!” They were coming back from Camp Coleman and had managed to cross our paths at just the right moment. I rolled the window down and told her to follow us, and we got all the way to Gray’s.
Success. Of a sort.
Benny was even in the shop, although it wasn’t open, but he wrote up my ticket anyway and I left him the key. Back home, changed clothes, and we all piled in the car and made it back to church with ten minutes to spare. (Forget that part I wrote earlier about being “on time.”)
So, they did their thing, and I read the paper, and we got back home, and we put them to bed, and I went through and put the snacks in the backpacks and signed the notebooks, and this morning thanked the Lord that I have Franklin the F-100 to fall back on as alternative transportation. Although Ashley was embarrassed to be seen in it as we pulled up at the middle school. Lucky for her it hadn’t started backfiring yet.
And that’s it. Two fun-filled, action-packed days in suburbia.
And how was your weekend?
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