Thursday, December 31, 2015

A Crappy (Literally) New Year

Anna June had a great December. Some of it I plan to blog about, and some of it I don't.

Right now, I am posting because I am at home, waiting for a plumber to arrive.

Ben had 2 off days scheduled during AJ's Christmas Break: Tuesday and Wednesday, December 29 and 30.

On Tuesday, I sent him a text to let him know I was signing AJ up for baseball, per her request, and he sent me back "Crisis here, toilets and drains in shower not working." He had been in the shower, which was not draining well, and then, the toilet started making a loud gurgling noise.

Oh no.

We had a plan for that day. That plan did not include plumbing that did not work. We had dropped my car off at the dealership to get a recall part fixed (on the brakes, so, it was important). Ben and AJ were to pick me up at lunch so we could go to the post office and take care of getting our passports for a possible trip to Canada in Summer 2016. It was a good time to do it, because minors have to appear in person with both parents and they only take applications from 10-3 on weekdays. We were going to grab hot dogs and zoom back to work and pick up the car after 5 and have a wholesome vegetarian dinner at home.

We had to go into Plan B mode at every turn.

Ben called our plumber, who determined over the phone there was something wrong with the sewer line, which was a job beyond his scope. He recommended another company and Ben called them, too.

Meanwhile, I decided to walk to lunch to meet my friend Leigh-Anne. We usually have lunch on Wednesdays but this was clearly going to have to change if we'd be at the post office getting our passports the next day. I spoke to the dealership, who had finished with my car. They found someone to come pick me up to go get the car, so Ben wouldn't have to come and get me.

The plumbers came and determined, after a couple of hours, that, yes, there was indeed a blockage in the line. They suggested having someone break it up and then send a camera, although they got everything in the house draining properly and working again, albeit temporarily.

We had dinner at Chick-fil-A.

Wednesday came, and everything was still working OK on this temporary fix. The plumbers called to send someone out to dig out the blockage, but Ben said everything was OK and he didn't want to spend his last off day of 2015 waiting for a plumbing company who wasn't too clear about how much everything would cost.

With that issue shoved to the side, we could deal with the passports, about which there was some confusion. Our post office takes applications, but only with an appointment, which the national passport info website did not mention. I did check ahead, and called to get us an appointment, but evidently, everyone else had the same idea, and there were no appointments available. I called the downtown post office (just as close to my office), and they didn't need an appointment. So, after a brief discussion on the phone that the passport documents he needed to bring were in the manila ENVELOPE in the kitchen, not in a manila FOLDER, for heaven's sake, Ben got the stuff and AJ and we all went to meet at the main post office.

We arrived at 11:00 AM. We left there at 12:30 PM. Like I said, it was a very popular day for entire families to get passports, so it took a really, really long time. AJ exhibited much more patience than the 4 younger boys in the line behind us (whose names I all knew by the time we reached the desk). Even our applications, which I thought were pretty straightforward (2 expired renewals and a minor first-time applicant) were met with appropriate scrutiny. The clerk thought the background of our home-taken photos was too pink, so we paid to have them retake our photos there to avoid coming back or having to mail something on our own. Ben had hoped to avoid this $15 per photo fee by meticulously setting up a makeshift photo studio in our kitchen one Saturday afternoon, and by carefully measuring dimensions and regulations. But the bottom line is that it is finished, even if it was more expensive and time-consuming than we had hoped. Since our ordeal, I've found out alternate locations and times and all sorts of other suggestions (this is what venting on facebook gets you) so if you're looking to apply for a passport in the Birmingham area, hit me up and I will share my newly-found wisdom with you.

So we went through the rest of the day, with Ben and AJ playing Monopoly and me at work. Dinner was fish sticks with macaroni and cheese and honey glazed carrots. The carrots were the only thing close to home made (made in the microwave!) but AJ and Ben both hated them. Sigh.

AJ took a bath, and as she was draining the tub, we heard the dreaded gurgling sound in the other toilet, and then saw a bunch of water back up into the other tub. It was happening again.

Like helpful, rational folks, AJ and I decided to bake red velvet "cupcakes" in her Easy Bake Oven.

Ben told us not to flush the toilets. AJ, slightly panicked, decided she had rather spend the night with Granddaddy and Nana. I went over there to drop her off while he tried some miracle drain product that the internet swears is sure to work. We debated our next course of action.

In the end, I decided to stay home and deal with the plumbers while he went to work, because he only had been scheduled for a half day (a half day on the new shift means working 6 to 10 am). Meanwhile, I picked up AJ to take her to our friend Margaret's house. They had both been looking forward to this play date (also known as babysitting) that I didn't want to cancel it just because I would technically be home, at least for a while. Then Ben decided he would be able to work from home for a while, so he came on home while I ate breakfast in the very quiet house, reading a book.

We're still waiting for the plumber to come, and then, after that, another company that has a camera they can run in the line to find out where the collapse/blockage/tree root or whatever is. After we can "see" what the trouble is, we can plan a course of action to fix it.

If there is a patron saint of indoor plumbing, please pray to him or her for divine intervention. We need all the help we can get, as tomorrow is a holiday and we want to be able to flush and bathe without repercussions.