We’ve been busy lately….

…fixing screw-ups.  Alas.  Such is life as a pair of OTG doofus’.

I am NOT really being too hard on myself but the truth is the truth and some inadequacies manifested during our building years are coming back to haunt us.  We built to the thirty year rule and that was 15 years ago.  But, as it turns out, some of the building was inadvertently done to the 15 year rule because we were too doofusy to really KNOW how to achieve the thirty year standard at the time.  I can now see a few things done to the 20 year rule, too.  But, as Sal says, “Oh, well!”

When you build and do so under the combined pressures of inadequate skills, absence of knowledge, limited funds and a somewhat pressing issue of time (nowhere else to live), you are prone to making some errors.  That’s kinda fun, part of the adventure and, eventually it becomes the ‘education’ and hard-earned knowledge one was was seeking in the first place.  In fact, we figured we actually built this house twice already at the very least.  First you build something, realize that you made a mistake, take it apart and do it again.  Often three times.  Then, if it is functional but still not-quite-right, you move on to the next task saying such phrases as, “Oh, well.”

Or, as we learned to say from real construction guys: “No one will ever see that.  The trim will hide it.”  Or; “It’s good enough for the girls we go out with!”  

I was always amused when Sal uttered that last one.

Our latest ‘work party’ (these past two weeks) was a combination of our previous and current doofism and the nature of inanimate systems.  Our water system would not function upon our return from Arizona.  That can be a smidge aggravating because part of the malfunction caused the main (and previously full) cistern to drain away.  So we had no water either.  Well, we did.  We had the emergency cistern which was mostly full but then, in our haste to access it, let half that drain away, too.  Doofism comes in threes.

With that fixed, we realized that the creek wasn’t flowing either so the week of frozen creek did not add to our sense of well-being or personal hygiene.  It was good to get water flowing to the cisterns again.  But, lo and behold….wouldn’t you know?  The pump all-of-a-sudden wasn’t working right.  So, it had to be taken apart and fixed and so it was and yet, it STILL did not work properly.  Pressure just would not build.  Flummoxed, I started to replace various components of the system including the float valve in the toilet which, mysteriously, did NOT shut off.  And on and on and on we went with this plumbing mystery.  First this, then that, then a new one of this and then a new one of that.

I am not really the patient type.  Finally, I said, “To hell with it.  I am redesigning the entire system and buying new components.  Time to go big!”  

And so the last week was spent doing just that.  It’s all new.  If it ain’t new, it has been ‘refurbished’ and/or ‘reconfigured’.  A lot of spare parts have been accumulated (because a new part was bought and the old one was fixed).

But here’s the real news, the point of the story, the bottom line……with the exception of a lower ball valve freezing and allowing all the cistern water to drain, nothing was really done wrong.  NOT really.  Well, kinda….but not entirely because of us….here’s what happened…..

We get stream water.  Stream water has sediment.  We have a few sediment catchers.  We caught some of the sediment.  Turns out, we did not catch enough.  We had sediment in our pipes like 80 year-olds have cholesterol/plaque in their arteries.  The sediment was everywhere.  The interesting thing about this system is that, if I had cleaned it enough, it would have made the thirty year rule.  So, I screwed up but, well, in much the same way as I am likely screwing up my own arteries.  I was good.  But I was not good enough.

Plus I let the ball valve freeze.  But that was – in a way – a bit fortuitous.  The ball valve leaking and the subsequent ‘rebuild’ of the system happened when we are capable of making a ‘full recovery’.  Had it happened five or more years from now, we may have been much less able to get the job done.

Age.  Age and the thirty year rule……


9 thoughts on “We’ve been busy lately….

  1. The elements take a toll and around my place maintenance is on going. A stucco wall was infiltrated when a down pipe was plugged by a wooden ball that came to rest and became swollen in place. This was not to happen ever but a section of the wall became damp and ants moved in and chewed up the 2 by 4 stud wall. How did this problem start? A wooden ball thrown on the roof rolled into a gutter and got stuck in a down pipe.


  2. Our cabin is now 20 years old. I wonder what is approaching it’s age limit. The good news is that we have John to help us with the problems as they arise. – Margy


  3. We have Johns, Scotts and Dougs. Couple of Rogers, too. But the rule-of-thumb is that you have to try at least twice before calling anyone. I also have Sal-the-limber-and-helpful. With Sal, we can pretty much do it 90% of the time. Without Sal, I’d be hooped! Today, I got in under the house bottom with pipes and crap…had all my tools…..could hardly move….as the work progressed, Sal went to the shop three times, passed me tools and found two dropped parts. Sometimes we reverse roles depending on our yoga skills. Two is a magic number when it comes to house repairs.


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