Brother Mark came down from St. Louis to help me with some domestic repair jobs. Mother has two toilets that have taken to running at odd intervals and driving up her water bill. I’ve thrown new flappers at them the last couple of visits, but that doesn’t seem to have fixed the problem.
Let’s get one thing established: I am not a friend of plumbing. Like I’ve said before, I can go to change a simple washer and before long somebody is digging up the street in front of my house. Electricity obeys simple rules: It works or it don’t work. Plumbing is insidious. It’s a plotter. It appears to be perfectly happy for years, then picks 2 a.m. the day after you leave for a two-week trip to go berserk. I always peek in the window before I open the front door to see how high the water level is if I’ve been gone more than a couple of hours.
Anyway, Mark claims not to afraid of pipes, so I ceded the task to him. He says we need to replace the Douglas valves. He says that with such certainty that I feel comfortable until he adds, “It’ll go smoothly if the screws aren’t rusted (they are) and we don’t crack the ceramic (OK, thanks for telling me the kind of disaster we’re going to confront in advance). Oh, yeah, there’s one other issue. There’s no shut-off valve on the basement toilet, so I hope you can hold it until I can put one in.”
He’s going to be touching pipes that were installed 57 years ago. See any opportunities for problems?
Plumbing had to wait
But, plumbing had to wait. We had something else to tackle because it’s supposed to rain Sunday. The last storm ripped some tin from the roofs of our buildings in Dutchtown. There’s not much in them that can be hurt (the floods of ’73, ’93 and 2011 have pretty much taken care of that), but we didn’t want the wooden beams to rot.
We’ve got a short extension ladder down there, but I suggested to Mark that it would be faster and safer to rent a taller ladder that would get us (I use “us” in the royal sense) to the rooftop. I played the Medicare Card, telling Mark that once you have one of those in your wallet, you’re not allowed to prance around on rooftops. To my surprise, he agreed. That worried me. That must mean he was planning to drop heavy objects on my head.
I called a rental joint at 2 minutes past 5 only to hear the phone ring and ring and ring. Then I surmised that Wife Lila’s Brother John would have a ladder we might borrow. You might remember John from when he came to Florida to help us with some repairs.
He not only had a ladder, he was willing to loan me his manly pickup truck. I’m pretty sure he weighed the amusement value of watching the two of us try to figure out how to carry a 24-foot ladder in a Honda Odyssey against how much he liked his ladder and didn’t want to find it bent and broken on the side of the road. I thought I was going to need a stepladder to get INTO this beast. Wife Lila would have been appalled to see me cruising down the road with a pair of Truck Nutz dangling from the back of the truck if she hadn’t been the one to buy them for him as a gag gift. I don’t think she thought he would not only put them ON the truck, but he paints them to go with the season. They’re still red from last summer, but that’s OK because Missouri has had a warm winter, he justified.
We made it to Dutchtown and Mark tackled the main shed first. He said only a couple of panels of tin needed to be replaced or patched over. It turned out to be pretty much a one BLEEP! job when he discovered that a thumb that is caught between the nail and the hammer causes a large blood blister. He insisted on sharing his wound with me.
“This probably isn’t good”
We checked out a smaller row of sheds that we knew had some damage last summer. This turned out to be a two BLEEP!!! job. When he came down off the roof, he showed me his left glove thumb which was red at the end. “This probably isn’t good,” he said.
I assured him the red was simply the manufacturer’s way of color coding the glove so it was easy to tell which one was for the left hand.
When he went on the roof to make one final touchup, he wanted me to document his owie. I would have shown him more sympathy if I had known for sure that he hadn’t secreted a packet of ketchup in his coat pocket.
I can’t wait until we (meaning him) tackles the plumbing tomorrow. My job is defined as standing by with 9-1-1 entered into my phone and my finger poised over the SEND button. If you are the lowlands of Cape Girardeau or live along the Mississippi River between Cape and New Orleans, you might want to pay close attention to your alert radio. If John can do THIS – and he’s a trained professional – you can only imagine what Mark is going to do.
Mark would like you to click on the photos to make them larger so you can appreciate his sacrifice. Just remember: packets of ketchup.